Chances are you don't have your parents around to nag you about washing your sheets, to point out every minor stain on your shirt, or to graciously offer to take your blazer to the dry cleaners anymore. Those days are long gone. It's time to know, once and for all, what's okay, social acceptable, and generally gross where washing your clothes (and putting it off) is concerned. You're welcome.
After three to four wears. Although you may not have to wash your bra every day, you should give it a break every once in a while. The elastic inside essentially needs to "firm up" after one wear, so best practice dictates you put your bras on a regular rotation.
After every wear. But this we already knew, right?
Socks and stockings
One to two wears. One wear for socks, two for stockings. C'mon.
Sportswear and swimwear
After every wear. Do I need to explain why? (Okay, I will: due to closeness of the garment, both sportswear and swimwear are more apt to absorb body oils, bacteria, and odor.)
Hung jury. Okay, we know we said this was the definitive guide, but there's a lot of debate about this one. Some advocate keeping them away from water (never, ever put them in the dryer!) for up to six months. It's true that these guys do stay clean for a while, yes, so you're going to be the best judge of when it's really time to give them a good soak. If you're rotating them often, you can wait longer to launder, but if you're wearing them religiously, think maxing it out at three months. And when the time comes, here's how to wash your jeans. Keep in mind that certain types of denim need to be treated specially, like if you wear raw denim, in which case, check in with your specialty store on the best way to care for them, and how often to go about it. (It may involve a freezer.)
One to two wears. Withstanding any flagrant stains or arm sweat, obviously. The same could be said about washing your silks and whites a little more frequently, too. It really has everything to do with the situation at hand. Summer, for example, is a totally different ball game.
One to two wears. Two good tricks to prolonging time between washes: don't overdo your deodorant (one swipe is enough!) and take close stock of any existing stains before ironing, being careful not to hot press any pre-existing ones.
Pants, skirts, and shorts
Three to four wears. To freshen up your respective bottoms, throw them in the dryer on a low setting for 10 or so minutes. Never use fabric softener or dryer sheets on stain-repellent fabrics (most commonly khaki and non-denim pants) — it will diminish the effectiveness and appearance of the fabric.
Jackets and blazers
Five to six wears. Cheat a little with Laundress Fabric Fresh ($16). Be sure to check areas of the jacket that would most likely accrue dirt (collars, cuffs) and if it's noticeable, it's time to wash it.
Once every two months of wear. Since your coat rarely makes contact with your skin — what with all those other layers involved — you can get away with minimal washing. That said, particularly inclement weather (like being caught in a downpour) or unfortunate stains can bump up that time slot to 'immediately.'
Three to four wears. You sweat a lot at night. You also shed thousands of skin cells a minute. Need more convincing?