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Toss or Keep: The Shelf Life of Your Panties

Is your panty drawer looking a little lackluster these days? You might be guilty of holding onto a pair (or more) of panties for longer than you should. Whether it's convenience, comfort, or familiarity, it can be easy to forget to refresh this vital part of our wardrobe. 

Soma<sup class=st-superscript>®</sup> laydown of white, light blue, and dark blue panties in various silhouettes, cascading in a vertical row.

So how often should you buy new underwear? Maybe you’re wondering if there’s a set equation to this question. Is there a maximum amount of wash cycles or set number of months you should a pair of panties? We’re demystifying this panty problem and sharing all the factors you should consider when ditching the old and welcoming the new.

When Should You Throw Away Underwear?

When it comes to decoding how often you should replace underwear, the answer will look different for everyone. You need to take certain lifestyle factors and daily habits into account. 

Are you someone who does laundry every day or every other week? Are you a gym buff who insists on putting your workout panties in the dryer to kill germs? Or maybe no matter how hard you try, you still experience a bit of staining every month due to a heavy cycle. These unique factors can affect how many panties you own and how long they hold up. 

If you’re looking for a good rule of thumb, our in-house Foundations expert, Lauren Speed, recommends a refresh roughly every 6 months. It's an easy and enjoyable way to bring newness to your wardrobe throughout the year. She says, “We introduce new prints and colors in all of our collections every month, so it’s always fun to add to your collection at home.”

3 Tips to Make Your Underwear Last Longer

If you find yourself needing to buy new panties way too often, there may be a few things you can do differently. From changing the way you wash them to not wearing the same pair over and over, you can directly affect your panties’ lifespan. Take a peek at these three helpful tips to make your underwear last longer. 

Three images of a bottle of light purple lingerie wash, packaging of a zippered wash bag, and various bras and panties in a zippered wash bag.

Tip #1: Take Care of Them

A really crucial way to make your panties last longer is with proper washing techniques. Not sure how to wash underwear in the best way? Treat them like the delicate items that they are. 

  • Opt for Gentle Lingerie Wash: By using a detergent that’s made for delicates, it’ll gently lift stains without being harsh.

  • Use a Lingerie Bag: Protect your panties by washing them in a zippered wash bag. This is especially helpful when washing lace or mesh panties with other clothes to avoid snags and tears. 

  • Wash in Cold Water + Avoid the Dryer: Cold water helps prevent color fading and damage to any elastic fibers. Air drying is the safest option and will prevent shrinkage.

Tip #2: Have Surplus Stock

If you’ve found a favorite silhouette of panties you wear every day—say high-waisted briefs—then it’s a great idea to stock up. Panty packs are an easy way to do this, plus they’re cost-saving and convenient. By owning more panties than you wear on a weekly basis, you’ll rotate the pairs more often. Meaning, every pair of panties will have a longer break in between wears, leading to a longer life. In the end, you’ll find yourself needing to buy new panties less often.

Soma<sup class=st-superscript>®</sup> laydown of lace-trim brief panties in a variety of colors and prints. Soma<sup class=st-superscript>®</sup> laydown of thongs in a variety of solid colors.

Tip #3: Invest in Quality Panties

It might be tempting to buy underwear based on the lowest price, but this can cost you more in the long run. Investing in quality panties that are made with durable seams and elastic will give you more bang for your buck. Durability = longevity and you run the risk of panties falling apart after a couple washes if there’s poor quality fabric and craftsmanship.

3 Signs Your Panties are Past Their Prime

Soma<sup class=st-superscript>®</sup> model wearing black brief panties.

Are you due for new underwear? If you think it’s about time and you're looking for a sign to take action, here are three obvious ones.

1. Holes or Fabric Thinning

Big or small, if your panties have any kind of hole or tear, it’s time to toss. A small rip can easily and swiftly turn into a major problem. A warning sign of a potential (and likely inevitable) rip is fabric that is starting to thin in a certain spot. Unless you want to put in the effort to mend the holes in your underwear, it’s time to replace them.

2. Stains

As women, it’s common to occasionally stain our underwear due to our menstrual flow. But just because it’s common, doesn't mean we need to live with stained panties. Feel good about your underwear every day of the month and ditch the discolored drawers in your closet. 

P.S. Investing in black or dark-colored panties is a great way to avoid having to replace your period panties as often.

3. Overstretched or Out of Shape

So you’ve worn your favorite panties so often they’re starting to lose their shape. The band is stretched out or the leg holes are misshapen. Sound familiar? If it doesn’t fit the same way as it did the first time you put them on, get rid of them. You deserve to have the same level of support and a sleek look every time you wear your panties. 

Why is it Important to Replace Your Panties?

Soma<sup class=st-superscript>®</sup> model wearing a pink bralette and matching brief panties.

Now that you have a better idea of how often you should buy new underwear, it’s important to understand the why. Why is it crucial to replace your panties? 

For starters, our bodies go through many changes throughout our lives. Changes, big or small, can happen in a short amount of time. Whether it’s general weight gain or loss, pregnancy, postpartum, puberty, and so on, we need panties that support us through these changes. Are you going through any sort of body fluctuation? Be kind to yourself and replace your underwear drawer with styles and sizes you feel comfortable in.

Soma<sup class=st-superscript>®</sup> model wearing a light pink open blouse, bra, and high-rise panties.

Another reason why you might enjoy switching up your panty silhouettes is because your personal style has evolved. Maybe you used to be set on low-rise thongs because you were a ride or die low-rise jeans lover. Now that high-waisted pants are your go-to, you could benefit from high-rise panties that better match the silhouette of the bottoms you wear.

Lastly, your panty needs can change based on the season. You might find yourself wearing more skin-colored underwear during the summer because you love sheer and light-colored fabrics. On the flipside, winter can call for fuller-coverage or darker hues. Don’t be surprised if you find the need to refresh certain styles depending on the time of year.

How Many Pairs of Underwear Should You Own? 

Soma<sup class=st-superscript>®</sup> laydown of panties in various styles, colors, and prints.

When building your perfect panty wardrobe, you might be wondering: how many pairs of underwear should you have? You already know having a surplus in stock is helpful for longer lasting panties, but what’s a good number? 

This will be different for everyone, but according to our research, the average woman owns about 32 pairs of panties and regularly wears 18. The total number can include special occasion underwear or solutions-oriented panties she only wears every so often.

With that in mind, you can analyze how many pairs you wear on a regular basis. Then roughly double the amount—or increase to whatever number makes sense for your lifestyle. 

Shop Quality Panties at Soma®

Now that you’ve decided it’s time to invest in new panties, you might be wondering what goes into a quality pair?  We turned to our in-house foundations expert, Lauren Speed, for her insight. Here are three things she says to look out for: “great fabrics, comfortability, and pretty trims.” 

Soma<sup class=st-superscript>®</sup> laydown of lace-back hipster panties in dark blue, purple, nude, and light pink.

It’s all about the attention to detail and intention behind the design. “Soma® takes great care with our fabric choices to make sure they not only last but are extremely soft and comfortable on the skin" she says. "Our panties include details like 100% cotton gussets, beautiful trims and laces, and soft fabrics with great stretch and recovery.”

Get started on your panty drawer makeover or fill those much needed gaps with our selection of beautiful, perfect-fitting panties. If you’re unsure about your sizes, you can book a virtual appointment with one of our style experts to have your questions answered.