Can You Wash Underwear With Clothes?

On many occasions, you can have filth collect in your underwear without even knowing. Sometimes, you can have remnant pee leak out after urinating, or even small bits of feces deposited, and you want to avoid pairing this kind of underwear with clothes in the washer, because they’re not sanitary! 

On the other hand, if your underwear is lightly soiled with no observable foul odor or trace of dried feces, then it’s perfectly okay to pair them with other types of clothes in the washing machine.

Below we deliberate more on this topic and also show you how to properly sanitize your underwear when the need for doing so arises.

Are underwear unsanitary?

Underwears are less sanitary compared to other clothes that you wear on them. And this is because they have more contact with the skin which means they absorb more sweat than your clothes. 

But this fact does not mean you cannot pair them with clothes in the washer. You can actually, and the only time you shouldnt is when you’re dealing with the following categories of underwear!

Feces in them

There are cases when your underwear can have remnants of feces in it, especially when you’re actively in the state of purging or have recovered from it.

In this case, because the feces can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria, you want to avoid washing that specific underwear with clothes. 

The bacteria can end up transferring to the washer water and make their way to your clothes and subsequently into your body.

After washing the underwear, you also want to make sure you perform a complete sanitization of the washing machine so that bacteria don’t remain on the inside and end up transferring to clothes in subsequent wash!


Aside from feces, you can sometimes have remnants of urine leak out a few minutes after your “let go”. It wouldn’t make sense to pair them together with other clothes in the washer. So if you have underwear that smells like urine, avoid washing it with other clothes. 

Too much sweat

Another category of underwear you want to avoid pairing with clothes in the washer are the heavily soiled ones. Those soiled from sweat! They smell really bad and must be given as much room as possible to incorporate detergents and wash water into them for proper washing. 

Failure to do so will result in underwears that consistently return smelly even after washing.

For these categories of underwear, you want to wash them in a heavy duty cycle, with hot water and a high-quality detergent having odor remover in it, for instance, Tide. That should banish the smell completely from the clothes!

When can I put underwear in the washing machine with other clothes?

Most of the time, your underwear isn’t going to fall under the category mentioned above. And they might only be lightly soiled. In that case, feel free to pair them together with other clothes in the washer.

If you have delicate underwear such as lace or silk, and they happen not to be many, wash them by hand to save detergent and water, and also to avoid damaging or destroying them in the washer.

If you must wash a small quantity of delicate underwear in the washer, use a short cycle. If the underwear is kind of bulky, put them in a mesh bag or pillow case then wash using the delicate cycle of your washing machine. 

How to kill germs in underwear?

Like we made mention earlier, there are times when you’ll detect remnants of feces and urine in your underwear, and in this situation, you want to not only clean them in the washer but also disinfect them, to eliminate the possibility of infection along the way! 

So how can you disinfectant underwear?

The answer is simple, use a color safe bleach, or if your underwear is white, you can use chlorine bleach. 

Chlorine bleach has greater disinfecting powers compared to oxygen or non-chlorine bleach, and so it does a better job at removing germs and bacteria that accumulate on your underwear.

If bleach isn’t an option for your underwear (from the fabric label), then you can always opt for laundry sanitizers which are formulations specifically made to disinfect clothes. 

Laundry sanitizers can come in different forms and are typically required to be added during the rinse cycle of your wash.

Make sure to follow the instructions on the product label to learn how best to use the product for the intended purpose of sanitization. 

Another option you have when it comes to disinfecting underwear is hydrogen peroxide. To use hydrogen peroxide, add 1/3 cups of it to your wash cycle. 

Target water pockets as you add it to avoid pouring the product directly on clothes which can cause damage. An alternative way to add hydrogen peroxide is directly into the empty drum, before you run a wash cycle. 

How often should you wash underwear?

If you skip washing boxer briefs or lingeries after every wear, you’re doing it wrong. You’re expected to have loads and loads of them to change from, so you never have to wear a single one twice.

For bras, there’s some allowance; at least after every 2 to 3 wears is okay.

Can you wash underwear with towels?

There are two problems with washing underwear and towels together. The first problem has to do with poor washing. 

Because larger items are naturally dominant in the washing machine, they can end up enveloping smaller items like underwear and preventing them from getting washed. But if it is a small towel, give it a try! 

The second problem is damage. Underwear is more on the delicate side whereas towels are more on the sturdy side. Pairing these two together means there’s going to be an in balance in the amount of force exerted by each cloth on the other. 

Because the towel is much sturdier, it would wear down the fibers of the underwear quicker, and as a result, your underwear would not last for a very long time with this practice put in place.

Final Thoughts

It is absolutely okay to wash underwear with clothes, provided that the underwear does not contain unsanitary items like blood, urine or feces. 

The underwear can have an unhealthy population of bacteria that can transfer to other clothes in the washer and survive the wash session. 

If you’re dealing with this kind of underwear, wash them alone using hot water, laundry sanitizers, and the longest cycle possible.