How many pairs of underwear should you own?

A line of freshly washed underwear

Despite being an item of clothing we wear every day, underwear isn’t really something that comes up in conversation very often. While you may discuss with friends, family or co-workers how many pairs of shoes you should own, or how many jackets one person really needs, people don’t usually talk about how many pairs of underwear a person should have.

Even though it’s not talked about much, your underwear is important to your health and wellbeing, so getting to grips with everything you need to know about it is a good idea. Keep reading to learn all about how often you should buy and change underwear, and how many pairs you should own.

Why do we wear underwear?

It might seem a bit of an odd question, but to fully understand how many pairs of underwear you need, knowing why exactly we wear them is important.

Part of the reason is hygiene – underwear acts as a barrier between the body and other clothes like trousers or skirts to keep them clean. Underwear is typically made out of a more breathable fabric than other clothes, such as cotton, which helps to keep you feeling fresh and reduce the risk of any nasty infections.

Another benefit of underwear – women’s bras and men’s briefs in particular – is that it helps to provide support. Some types of underwear can also have a ‘body-sculpting’ effect, accentuating the body’s natural shape.

How often should you change your underwear?

The general consensus is that you should change your underwear every day. For many of us, this is something we were taught to do as children. If you don’t already change your underwear every day, some of the reasons why may change your mind for you – and none of them involve a handsome paramedic who might catch a glimpse of your knickers.

As you might expect, your underwear gets dirty throughout the day, and dirty underwear is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens. If you don’t change your underwear every day, these pathogens build up, and you’ll have an increased risk of developing an infection. The same goes for bras, although these can usually go two to three wears before needing to be washed.

However, it should be noted that there are circumstances in which you may need to change your underwear more often than that - such as after a sweaty exercise session or if they become stained in any way. In this case, it’s best to change your underwear as often as you need to in order to stay clean and feel fresh.

How many pairs of underwear should a man own?

How many pairs of underwear you need will depend on two things: how often you expect to change your underwear, and how frequently you’ll wash them. 

For example, if you wash them once a week, you’ll need at least a week’s worth of underwear just to get you through the washing and drying process. If you air dry your clothes, you may need more.

Whatever you decide, it’s always best to have as much as twice as many pairs of underwear as you think you’ll need. This prepares you for annoying situations like broken washing machines, your favourite pair of undies giving up the ghost and unexpectedly needing to change more often than usual.

How many pairs of underwear should a woman own?

Much the same as men’s, women’s underwear can vary hugely in the amount one person needs to get through without running out. Women may even need extra pairs of underwear to complement certain outfits. These might include strapless bras, nude shades for sheer tops and body-hugging briefs to wear under slim-fit clothes.

Taking that all into account, you’ll likely need more pairs of underwear than you do bras. However, if you have lots of tops with varying necklines, you might need more bras with different strap arrangements to suit your wardrobe. Whatever works for you, remember to add a buffer to your final amount to make sure you don’t run out in emergencies.

How often should you buy new underwear?

So, now that you know exactly how many pairs of women’s and men’s underwear you’ll need to buy, how long will they last? 

Well, although they might physically hold up for longer, it’s advisable to replace your underwear (bras and undies) every six to 12 months.

This is because bacteria can still build up over time even when you wash your underwear frequently. Replacing your underwear helps to reduce the risk of infection. It’s also a good habit to get into so you don’t end up relying on a threadbare, baggy pair of pants with faulty elastic whenever you forget to do the washing.

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