Can I Wash Underwear Together With Other Clothes?

Can I Wash Underwear With Clothes
Mixed clothes
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Do you know that there are between 10 billion to 100 billion bacteria in a female reproductive area alone? That means, if bacteria were humans, the reproductive area of one female human contains enough bacteria to populate the world 12 times over. 

Now you know that our underwear is covering a warzone, the question is, “can you wash your underwear together with other clothes?”

Do not wash your undies together with other outer clothes. Even in healthy humans, underwear has a higher concentration of bacteria than outer clothing.


Another important factor is that laundering does not eliminate all bacteria from our clothes. Washing underwear with other clothes only spreads these bacteria to other regions of the body.

The average hot water temperature of 60 degrees does not kill most laundry bacteria. At 90 degrees celsius where more bacteria are destroyed, there is an increased chance that your lingerie fabrics would have ‘died’ long before you kill any bacteria.

The vast amount of bacteria in pubic region are good microbes that help to keep microbial balance in the private region. But when they move to other parts of the body, they can be a source of infection.

To protect these microbes from reaching other sensitive regions of the body and causing infections, it is better to wash your lingerie and other underwear separately from the rest of your laundry.

Although the word, ‘underwear’ can refer to most inner garments which include singlets and camisoles. This article uses the expression to refer to ladies’ and guys’ underpants with loose reference to bras.

Why You Shouldn’t Wash Underwear With Other Garments

Can I Wash Underwear With Clothes
Undies on the line
  • Risk of infection
  • Different water temperature requirements

Risk of Infection

Naturally, underwear has the possibility of retaining traces of urine remnants and fecal matter. These are dens of disease-causing bacteria.

Even people with good hygiene still stand a risk. The pubic region is home to billions of microbes, such as staphylococcus spp, streptococcus spp, fusobacterium spp, etc. 

Most of which are good bacteria, and help in maintaining a balanced bacteria “ecosystem” (the human flora). 

However they can prove harmful when they are displaced to other parts of the body, for example the face. As such it is important that undies are washed separately from other outer garments.

Different Water Temperature Requirements

Many people rely on water temperature to disinfect their laundry. However exposure to hot water is detrimental to most fabrics used on many underwear.

Cold water is ideal to wash lingeries. However many washing machine users prefer doing hot water wash. If this is your case, then you have an added reason to wash your undies separately, because the hot temperature needed to do hot wash is usually too intense for most underwear. 

Can You Wash Underwear With Jeans?

Jeans and underwear are at both ends of the fabric strength. They are different, not just in size, but also in the strength of material. Oftentimes, though, these two garments differ in color and dye formation.

It is advised to wash your underwear separately from your jeans. Just as mixing undies with other clothes is discouraged, jeans are no different.

Long washer setting used for jeans can easily damage your lingerie, pulling threads or slitting the light fabrics.

Hot water often used when washing jeans can easily wear out your underwear.

Bacteria from lingerie often do not get destroyed during laundry. Washing them together with your jeans only helps to spread this bacteria to other areas of the body.

So, if you only have one shot to wash both, you should rather wash the jeans in a washer and use hand wash for your undies.

Can Underwear And Socks Be Washed Together?

Now my biggest fear in this combination is the socks not contaminating the underwear. Just like the pubic region, the feet are laden with microbes, from bacteria to fungi, all find a resting place on our feet.

As it is known that the feet have the most contact with the ground and floors, making it easy to pick up disease organisms on the ground and dirty surfaces.

Even a clean feet can still be home to bacteria such as: 

  • Phyla firmicutes,
  • Proteobacteria and
  • Actinobacteria

And some fungi such as:

  • Protobacteria
  • Ascomycota and
  • Basidiomycota

Are some of the main organisms on our feet.

Don’t worry about their pronounciations. But as difficult as they are to pronounce, they’ll even be more difficult to deal with when they find their way to our reproductive parts.

And unlike the feet, our private parts are sensitive and prone to infections of all kinds.

Remember that most of the bacteria in the human pubic regions contribute to the human flora (good vs bad bacteria ecosystem)

An imbalance of these systems is a major cause of infections. Introducing microbes from other regions of the body is an invitation of trouble.

So in summary, it is bad idea to wash your socks and underwear in one wash. If you must do both, prioritize your undies, give them the needed care. And use hand-wash for your stocks. Or in the worst case scenario, you can choose not to wear your socks a time or two until you’re able to wash them.

Should You Wash Your Underwear in Hot or Cold Water?

Can I Wash Underwear With Clothes

One of the best things you can do for your undies is to wash them in cold water. This will help to preserve the quality of your fabrics. You will still end up with clean underwear ready to be worn. 

And on the side of disinfecting your inner garments, you can do so by other means.

Appropriate use of detergent will help to wash off microorganisms in your lingerie. Except you have a personal grievance with those microbes, your ultimate goal should be to get rid of them, and not to kill them. So if your soaps and detergents can wash them off your undies, whether they’re destroyed or not, you’d have achieved your aim of having underwear that is free from harmful microbes.

How To Disinfect Your Laundries in Cold Water

  • Wash with a generous amount of clean water.
  • Pretreat your lingerie by soaking in bleach before washing.
  • Vinegar is not very effective at disinfecting against bacteria and other organisms, but can be combined with other cleaning agents for good results.


So while the technical answer to the question: ‘can i wash underwear with clothes’ is ‘yes you can’. The better question is: “Should You” 

The emphatic answer is, “No, you shouldn’t”.

In a quest to be balanced in one’s view and not to be dogmatic, it is good to mention that a number of people don’t follow the rule of separating underwear before washing. And from the last count, those I know who do this are still alive. And most are yet to die from infections and STIs.

If you know someone like this, do not emulate them. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Some persons have developed resistance to some infection that can be life-threatening to other individuals. You do not want to emulate them.

As a writer, I’ve made these mistakes over the years. But now, I do things differently.

If you’re like me, you can choose to start doing things differently. But if you’re among the good guys, following the different laundry rules, do not stop, because your first time flaunting those rules might be your first time visiting the hospital in a long long time.

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