How to Do Less Laundry
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How to Go as Long as Possible Before Doing Laundry

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How to Do Less Laundry
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Time to Lighten Your Load

Even in normal times, no one wants to do more laundry than they have to. But as the coronavirus pandemic makes ho-hum errands more of a risk, those without their own washers and dryers are likely looking for ways to cut down on trips to laundromats or communal laundry rooms. Here are 16 tips to keep those hampers and baskets emptier for longer.

Related: Do Diluted Detergents, Soaps, and Shampoos Still Work?

Don’t Wash It After a Single Wear
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Don’t Wash It After a Single Wear

We know, we know. Some things should only be worn once: Underwear, for instance, or a close-fitting blouse. But the vast majority of clothing shouldn’t be pitched in the hamper after the first wear. Good Housekeeping recommends washing everything from pajamas to bras to jeans once every three wears, a tactic that will not only cut down on laundry, but keep your clothes in good shape for longer by reducing wear and tear.

Stock Up On Underwear
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Stock Up On Underwear

A corollary to our first tip: Stock up on those must-wash items so that they don’t send you scurrying to the laundromat every few days. Underwear is an obvious choice, and it’s easy enough to buy pairs in bulk. But don’t forget those all-important undershirts and camisoles, which are often the unsung heroes of our top halves, as well as plenty of socks. Consider sticking to one color and type of fabric to simplify laundry days and reduce the amount of delicates that need special treatment.

Hang It Up and Air It Out
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Hang It Up and Air It Out

One way to feel better about this wear-it-more-than-once stuff? Hang up your clothing after you take it off. A set of over-the-door hooks is especially handy for this, or if you really want to get fancy, a dedicated clothing valet of some kind. Either way, it keeps air circulating around your garments and keeps them from getting too rumpled.

Opt For Natural Fibers
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Opt For Natural Fibers

There’s a lot to be said for polyester and other synthetic fibers: They’re often durable, wrinkle-resistant, and inexpensive. But they also tend to trap odors more than their natural counterparts. Fabrics that do a good job of keeping odor at bay include linen, wool, and hemp. While 100% cotton may be a solid choice for a sweat-free day, be careful: It takes a long time to dry and will start to stink in the meantime.

Try Out Some Travel Clothing
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Try Out Some Travel Clothing

If you’d rather not pore over labels to figure out which clothes are least likely to get rumpled and stinky, try shopping for specially designed travel clothing from brands like ExOfficio and Orvis. Pieces are typically made from quick-drying materials that are wrinkle- and odor-resistant.

Unstink Your Clothing in a Pinch
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Unstink Your Clothing in a Pinch

So you’ve worn a particular garment and it looks fine, but the smell is another story? It may not have to go in the hamper quite yet. There are plenty of ways to absorb the odor, including putting balled-up newspapers under the arms, hanging it outside in the sun for an hour, or sprinkling baking soda over smelly spots. You can also try a commercial deodorizer like Febreze.

Wear An Apron While Cooking
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Wear An Apron While Cooking

They may seem like a charming '50s throwback, but aprons aren’t just for when you’re feeling retro. They’ll protect your clothes from those impossible-to-remove grease stains, splattering sauce, and all sorts of other kitchen maladies that make more laundry inevitable. The Wirecutter recommends sticking to natural, breathable fabrics here, too; synthetic aprons will just make you hotter as you labor over a hot stovetop.

Become a Spot-Cleaning Wizard
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Become a Spot-Cleaning Wizard

Stains are annoying, sure. But before you pitch an article of clothing into the hamper, try your hand at spot cleaning, which can be surprisingly effective if you use the proper technique. For instance, blot the stain instead of rubbing, which can just saturate fibers more. And consider getting a nifty stain-removal pen that can make the process a no-brainer.

Hand Wash Important Items
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Hand Wash Important Items

Plenty of us find that we can stretch our wardrobes for weeks, save for certain critical items that we wear over and over again. So why not do a little hand-washing to eliminate that awkward “in between” laundromat trip? Real Simple has plenty of tips for everything from lacy bras to sturdy jeans and sweaters. And if scrubbing at the sink sounds like a drag, you can even try a portable washer.

Taking a Shower
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Shower Before Bed

The only thing worse than dragging a full load of clothing to the laundromat is dragging an additional load of bedding. Keep those sheets smelling fresh a bit longer by saving your shower for the evening, right before you slip between the sheets. That will help rid your body of the dead skin cells that flake off at night, providing a feast for dust mites.

Related: Why You Should Shower Daily, Even in Quarantine

Use Different Clothing for Yard Work or Play
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Use Different Clothing for Yard Work or Play

Whether the kids are outside running around or you have to do some heavy-duty yard work, make like Fräulein Maria and use a dedicated set of clothing you don’t mind getting (and keeping) dirty. This is a great chance to put those unfashionable but still-serviceable duds to work, keeping your nicer stuff dirt- and odor-free. Another option? Grab some already-smelly clothing from the hamper and rewear them.

Try a Capsule Wardrobe
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Try a Capsule Wardrobe

It might seem counterintuitive, but the more clothing you have, the more laundry you’ll likely generate — after all, the need to wear something more than once won’t be as pressing. An easy way to pare back your closet is by trying a capsule wardrobe, which relies on fewer but higher-quality pieces that can be mixed and matched.

Change Your Deodorant Habits
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Change Your Deodorant Habits

Pit stains are common, but avoidable. One of the easiest ways to keep your whites from that dreaded dirty tinge is by swapping out your antiperspirant for an aluminum-free deodorant. Make sure you don’t overapply, and let it dry completely before putting on your shirt.

Photo
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Don’t Cram Your Closet

Humans need room to breathe, and so do your clothes. A too-full closet will leave clothing smelling musty and cause wrinkles, too. Of course, removing stubborn wrinkles will require a long session at the ironing board or, worse yet, another run through the washer and dryer.

Store Your Clothes Properly
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Store Your Clothes Properly

Got clothing you won’t be wearing for a while? Lighten your laundry load once they do come back out by storing them away from heat, sunlight, and moisture to prevent premature aging and fading. And be sure to clean them before putting them away — any lingering stains can oxidize and yellow the fabric.

Spray First, Dress Later
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Spray First, Dress Later

Spray on your favorite fragrance before getting dressed, not after. Perfume can discolor delicate fabrics. If you do notice a stain, treat it with cold water as soon as possible.