When my mom was a kid, they had something called school clothes and play clothes. School clothes had to be kept clean and play clothes was something one changed into after school. The washing machine is sometimes said to be the factor of the 20th century that liberated women. I do think though, that the maxim that a task expands to fill the available time holds here too. Thus once laundry got faster we simply started doing more of it.

All that washing wears the clothes out. It is obvious from the accumulating lint that drying wears the clothes down. This is why we line dry. However, clothes fibers also leave with the water. To prevent this, wash less often by changing clothes appropriately. I change clothes 2-3 times a day.

Here’s my schedule (subject to the “sniff test”)

  • Underwear and socks – 1 day.
  • T-shirts – 1-2 days depending on whether I got sweaty.
  • Pants and sweaters – 5-7 days, unless dirty.
  • Wool things – 7-14 days but gets aired daily.

We only do full loads, one cold and one warm. I have about as much clothes as to have run out of clothes once I can do a full load. This means that my wardrobe is intentionally matched to the laundry cycle. There’s really no reason to have more clothes than that.

Originally posted 2008-04-24 07:18:44.