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America’s Dirty Laundry: 45% of Americans Wear Underwear for Two Days or Longer

Tell the truth: What’re your underwear hygiene habits? 

Are they clean and by the book, or would they make your mother cringe? Since underwear hygiene is typically kept behind closed doors, we were curious to see the habits of Americans — and air their dirty laundry. 

To find out more about the intimate hygiene habits of America’s, well, intimates, we surveyed 2,000 men and women to see how long they wear and keep their underwear. Spoiler alert: America could use an underwear overhaul. 

Read on to learn about the state of underwear hygiene, which includes: 

  1. The dirty truth about how long Americans have worn the same pair of underwear 
  2. America’s unhealthy mentality when it comes to keeping underwear
  3. The importance of buying new underwear to improve your overall hygiene 

    1 in 2 Americans Have Worn the Same Pair of Underwear for 2 Days or Longer

    Conventional wisdom — and basic common sense — tells us that we should change our underwear every day, or at least wash them after every wear. But how many people actually follow this golden rule? After surveying 1,000 Americans, we found that this basic standard of underwear hygiene is definitely not universal. 

    In fact, just over half of respondents say that they change their underwear on a daily basis. Forty-five percent admitted to having worn the same pair of underwear for two or more days, while thirteen percent claimed to have worn the same pair for a week or more. Talk about a dirty little secret.

    So, who are these repeat offenders? Perhaps unsurprisingly, men are the ones skimping on changing their skivvies — they’re 2.5 times as likely as women to wear their underwear for a week or more. 

    46% of Americans Have Owned the Same Underwear a Year or Longer

    When it comes to your underwear, here’s a hard and fast rule to live by: swap out your old underwear for a new pair every six months to a year. To see how Americans measure up to this standard, we asked 1,000 people how long they’ve kept their oldest piece of underwear. 

    The dirty truth? Forty-six percent of Americans have owned the same piece of underwear for one year or more, and thirty-eight percent claimed that they have no idea how long they’ve had their underwear. If the thought of old underwear brings up images of ratty tighty-whities, think again: These results were split fairly evenly between men and women, which throws any theories out the window that women are more hygiene-conscious than men, or vice versa.  

    If you’re part of the one-third of Americans that haven’t bought new underwear in a year or longer, you may need a refresher course in the health risks that old, dirty underwear pose. Here’s a not-so-fun stat: a recent study found that clean underwear can contain up to 10,000 living bacteria — even after being washed. 

    Over time, underwear accumulates various types of problematic microorganisms and fungal germs that can increase your susceptibility to certain illnesses, like yeast infections and urinary tract infections, among others. 

    Bottom line? Old underwear isn’t just cramping your style — it’s hurting your health. It’s crucial to update your underwear wardrobe every six months to a year to ensure you’re protected from harmful infections and health risks. Women should be especially careful, as they’re more at risk than men to experience health issues due to unclean underwear. 

    The Importance of Underwear Hygiene

    Just like brushing your teeth or taking a bath, changing your underwear on a daily basis is a must — and making sure you maintain your underwear wardrobe by swapping out old pairs for new pairs is just as important. Additionally, you should keep enough pairs of underwear on hand to last you up to two weeks — that’s 14 pairs in total, for those keeping track.

    Since you’re already cleaning out your drawers, why not upgrade? This means finding the perfect blend of comfort and functionality. Ideally, you should opt for breathable, cotton fabrics, since these will help wick away moisture and decrease the chances of bacterial infections. They’re also more comfortable for daily wear. 

    For men, anything from boxer briefs to trunks are solid go-to choices, whereas women definitely have more underwear options to choose from. Whatever your preference, it’s important to wash and maintain your underwear properly. 

    Here are some easy steps to keep in mind next time you’re washing your underwear to make sure they’re clean as can be: 

    1. Tumble dry your underwear on low heat for 30 minutes after washing. This will minimize the amount of bacteria your underwear gathers after a wash. You can also iron if that’s more your speed!   
    2. Don’t mix your underwear in the same load with your significant other or children if they’re sick. Doing so only increases the amount of bacteria hanging out in your washing machine. 
    3. Avoid washing contaminated underwear with other pairs and clothing. This is especially important for those who have bacterial infections. 
    4. Wash your underwear separately from clothing containing other bodily fluids. If any article of clothing is stained, it’s better to wash it separately from your underwear. 

      “You do you” is a great motto to live by — but not when it comes to your underwear hygiene. Just like finding the right fit using an underwear size chart, cleaning them is a must. Remember to wash your underwear after every wear and replace your old collection with new underwear every six months to a year. Mom would approve.