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How Often Do You Need to Replace Men's Underwear?

While many of you participate in the endless battle of boxers versus briefs, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’re wearing underwear that is past its prime, and it’s an embarrassment. Today, you’re going to learn the answer to an important question: how often do you need to replace men’s underwear?

Longevity and Microbes

Your underwear is going to have so much more microbial growth than any other clothing (except maybe for socks). Underwear sits closer to your body. It absorbs a lot more sweat and moisture. You wear it substantially more than any other clothing. Even breathable underwear is more clingy than a loose shirt, and the underwear can never fit looser than your pants or shorts.

It’s also the bottom layer. No matter how you try to fight it, your underwear is going to collect microbes and become a breeding ground for them. Does this mean you need to throw away your undergarments more frequently? Not exactly. Really, it comes down to why you have to wash your underwear more than other clothing and how that affects its longevity.

Considering everything you just read, you should realize that underwear has to be washed frequently. In fact, you should be washing it after every single use. That’s not necessarily the case for other clothes. Along those lines, you shouldn’t wear underwear for more than a day at a time. Even if you’re in full-on bum mode, you need to be changing your underwear.

All of the extra washing means your boxers undergo a lot more wear and stress than other clothes. That’s why it will typically last between 6 and 12 months. There are definitely exceptions to that, and there is a lot more to consider. We’ll cover it all, but this is the general rule. You really need to wash your underwear. Because of that, it will take extra punishment and not last as long as other clothing can.

handsome man in manscaped boxers

Signs Your Boxers Are Toast

Here’s how to tell that it’s time for new boxers.


This is usually your first big signal that the boxers are reaching the end of their lifespan. When the color fades, it’s because of chemical breakdown in the underwear. Ultimately this is going to happen from being washed too many times. It can also stem from being extra sweaty, which is why you might want to consider dedicating specific underwear for your workouts.

The earliest signs of fading don’t mean that the end is necessarily here, but it’s coming soon. It’s ok to replace underwear once you notice significant fading. If you think your underwear is fading faster than it should, double-check your laundry detergent and wash cycle to see if they’re really gentle enough.


Thinning is the big, glaring red flag. When your underwear gets thin, it needs to go. You should not be waiting for it to become see-through or develop holes. We’re better than that. Thin underwear is finished underwear.

If you think your stuff is getting thin earlier than it should, consider how you wear it. Wash cycles will contribute to thinning, but most of it will come from use. If you have a desk job that keeps you sitting for long periods, it can thin the butt of the underwear a little faster. Similarly, certain sports and activities can wear out the crotch (like bicycling). You can always think through what is causing the thinning and try to come up with solutions for the problem. Most of the time, you’ll just want to rotate your underwear a little better, but we’ll talk more about that in a minute.


Denaturing is a generic word to describe underwear that is losing its shape. Most of the time, you’ll notice it in the elastic first. You get little wrinkles in the elastic, and it loses firmness. That’s denaturing. You can find other kinds of denaturing in underwear. Sometimes the cotton will fray. That’s a bad sign. Underwear with a thick or strong weave might see the shape sag a little. That’s your last big denaturing signal.

All of these signs show you that the underwear is starting to fall apart. It’s better to replace it when these signs first start to show. If you ignore them, you might be in one of those awkward scenarios where everyone hears a gaping hole rip through your shorts.

Making Your Shorts Last

If you don’t want to be replacing your underwear too often, these tips will help them last longer.

Rotate More Pairs

If you have more underwear, you use them less often. It’s pretty easy to see how that improves longevity. On the other hand, we only have so much space for this stuff, and you don’t want to leave stinky underwear in a hamper (or the floor, for some guys) for too long. Finding this balance isn’t easy, but there are some things to think about that can help.

You definitely want to have enough underwear to last you a week. How many pairs that entails depends on your lifestyle. Guys who are in the gym every day need extra pairs. You shouldn’t stay in workout shorts. Besides being gross, it’ll make you itchy and dry out your skin. Other guys don’t need as many pairs to get through a week, but a week’s worth is your minimum.

How much beyond that depends on your habits. If you’re never going to wash your underwear until you’re out of clean stuff, then keep it at about a week’s worth. If you have the discipline to keep your underwear clean, then two week’s worth is a better margin. Of course, you have to make sure you have enough space for it. You don’t want boxers pouring out of every crevice in your home.

Get Better at Laundry

A few laundry tips can make the process a lot easier on your trunks. That will help them last a lot longer, regardless of everything else.

The first thing you want to do is to check your labels. The people who make your underwear know how to best take care of them. Roughly two seconds of reading can change everything. Use the suggested wash cycle, and if there are detergent recommendations, follow those too.

When you don’t have clear instructions, then you want to know what material is comforting your boys. Most of the time, it’ll be cotton. Cotton washes better in warm water (which helps a lot with microbes). You want the gentlest drying cycle. If you can, air drying is even better.

If you have some fancy microfiber underwear, you want to wash it in cold water on the gentlest setting. Do not ever put them in the dryer.

As for detergents, stay away from bleach and fabric softeners. Both of them wear out the material a lot faster. Most modern detergents are pretty gentle, but you can always read through the labels and browse some reviews to find the very best detergent for your boxers. It will help.

Choose Quality

handsome man in manscaped boxers

The very best thing you can do to make your boxers last longer is to invest in quality clothing. If you get a 10 pack for $10, well, you’re getting what you pay for. They won’t last as long. They aren’t as comfortable. They don’t breathe like the best stuff out there.

Instead, you want to invest in boxers that treat your jewels like the valuables they are. You can get anti-chafing boxers that keep your balls cool and feel amazing. They will completely transform your daily life. Some of you might scoff, but try them just once and you’ll be hooked.

You can also specialize your underwear. The best stuff for an intense run is not the same as what you should be wearing at the office. Diversify. It’s sound investing advice and it’s good for your junk. Who knew?

Don’t Swim in Your Boxers

The last tip is one that is overlooked by a surprising amount. Swimming is really hard on clothing, and you should never wear cotton in a swimming pool. That’s bad for the cotton and the pool filters. That said, you want to have something to wear under the board shorts. Those things get uncomfortable after a while. If you want boxers under swim trunks, that’s fine. Just change for the part that gets you wet. 

If you get caught up in the moment and get your boxers wet, they won’t instantly be ruined, but doing that on a regular basis will certainly shorten their life.

That covers it. You now know how to take care of your underwear.


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