Skivvies, undies, underwear, under-roos, panties, boxers or briefs, chonies, neglige, unmentionables – whatever you call them, we all want the same things from our underwear. We want the general area where our legs connect to our torso to have all day comfort, breathability, and be free of moisture and odor. These are not lofty aspirations, in fact, they are well within reach. The easiest way to achieve a heavenly bum is, of course, by wearing natural clothing.

temperature & moisture regulation in your underwear

Natural fabrics, such as cotton, and semi-synthetic fabrics, such as modal and lyocell, are much better candidates for your undies than synthetics (polyester fabric, nylon or polyamide fabric, acrylic fabric, etc.) for a number of reasons. First and foremost, is temperature regulation. Natural fibers are much more effective temperature regulators. This means they keep you cool or warm as needed. With this particular piece of clothing, natural fabrics are most likely keeping you cooler. This temperature regulation helps prevent you from sweating and bacteria from growing. But you will sweat, and when you do, natural fibers are also much for effective for moisture control. Natural clothing is much more absorbent than synthetic fabric clothing. This will help you feel dry down there throughout the day, as well as prevent yeast infections.

bacteria in your underwear

Another biggie is bacteria. You might be thinking, “but I wash between each wear, it doesn’t matter.” Oh, but it does. A remarkable amount of bacteria can grow within the time of that one wear and we’re finding out that when it comes to synthetic fabrics, a wash might not clean the synthetic clothing as well as we think. Bacteria love polyester fabric and polyamide fabric. Additionally, many of us don’t wash our jeans too often – which is fine! – but this means there may already be some bacteria hanging around in that area (your crotch area).

Also, if you’re washing your clothing on a cold setting, the bacteria from your clothing is most likely not killed during the cleaning cycle. In fact, some scientists looking into the efficacy of cold cycle laundering call it ‘bacteria soup’. Or maybe a chilled bacteria gazpacho. Not only is bacteria not fully removed from the clothing it started on, but is also subject to cross contamination, spreading to other pieces in the wash. This is definitely something to remember next time you might have a persistent flu, cold, or yeast infection.

how to wash underwear better

Here are a few easy tips to help rid your wash of bacteria – and make sure your skivvies are pristine. All while being environmentally friendly.

  • Run your washing machine on a high setting every so often. This should take care of most of the bacteria growth in the machine. It will also help clear out any built up residue from detergent.
  • You can also add up to 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your wash. (Make sure to check the manufacturer’s suggestions for your machine, as some claim vinegar may damage seals over time.) White vinegar helps sterilize, deodorize, soften fabric, remove stains, and brighten colors.

Oh and fundie fact – the global underwear industry is estimated at $30 billion.

For more easy tips on how to have a sustainable laundry day, check out this post and for the full guide, check out Unraveling Threads: How to Have a Sustainable Wardrobe in the Age of Plastic Fabric.

Unraveling Threads


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