This Is When You Should Think About Throwing Out Your Underwear

Fashion experts say that good clothes are meant to last. The right coat can withstand multiple winters, and your favorite jeans could accompany you through whole eras of your life. When it comes to your underwear, however, the guidelines get a little blurry. Thanks to a circulating viral TikTok video, there has been a whole lot of recent discussion centered around just how long panties should stick around for.

TikTok user @kittychemist posted a short dance video in early March. As the music played, text on the screen asked viewers how often they should replace their old underwear. At the end, KittyChemist provided the answer: every six to nine months. In a follow-up video, the user pointed to various news articles, including pieces from Essence and HuffPost, that supported her answer.

Commenters on both videos were not so easily swayed. Most women chimed in saying that throwing away their panties that often was far too expensive. Many stated they give their panties at least five years before replacing them, while others said the years didn't matter, only the quality of the garment. This has led many people to wonder, just how often should you really throw out your panties?

Look at the quality, not the timeline of underwear

Those who argue for short lingerie lifespans, point out that bacteria can allegedly collect in panties over time, regardless of washing. In an interview with ABC News, Dr. Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, stated that there is up to "1/10th of a gram of poop" in clean underwear. Further commenting on this, expert Philip Tierno, who teaches microbiology and pathology at New York University, made it clear to HuffPost that this is normal and doesn't pose a threat to anyone's health. Instead, he states that the lifespan of underwear has more to do with the "mechanics" than the microbiology.

"As long as they function properly and you wash them and the elastic is fine, and they fit fine, there's no holes or fabric erosion, you can use them."

This view is seconded by Dr. Taraneh Shirazian, M.D., a gynecologist with New York University Langone Health. In an interview with Health, she made it clear that there is no evidence that old underwear increases a person's risk of developing yeast infections or UTIs. For Dr. Shirazian, the question of updating a person's underwear isn't about how old it is, but about how comfortable it is. If the elastic is giving out, the size is wrong, or there are holes, she says, it's time for replacements.