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The scary truth about women’s underwear

Halloween is just around the corner – so let us share a fact that’ll give you the heebie-jeebies.

Those clean knickers that are fresh out of the laundry?

They’re not actually that clean.

Even after a rigorous and soapy 60-minute cycle, experts reckon that pants can harbour up to 10,000 living bacteria. And if that thought wasn’t disgusting enough, in a study led by a noted microbiologist – Charles Gerba – the average ‘clean’ pair was found to hold 0.1g of faecal matter.


Underwear ready for washing 


Let that sink in for a second.

0.1g of poo… in your just washed underwear.

Gross, right?


Will it do you any harm?

Technically, no.

A few germs on your delicates won’t cause any health issues, per se. Bacteria has been present on our clothes for as long as we’ve been wearing them – and according to hygiene experts, there won’t usually be enough microbes in one pair of pants to cause any kind of infection.

The problem is, nowadays, people use low-temperature cycles as standard.

If you’re chucking your knickers in with your other laundry, the poo particles will contaminate everything else as well. Faecal matter on your tea towels and face flannels? It doesn’t matter how little may be present, that’s not a pleasant thought. 🤮

Plus, the germs will stick around, multiply and transfer onto all of your subsequent loads too. And if they build up too much, that could start to cause an issue…


Fresh knickers available at Tokyo Laundry



Is there a way to de-germ your underwear?

Don’t like the thought of poo-riddled pants? We get that. The good news is, this seemingly scary issue can be avoided by following a few simple steps:


1. Wash at a higher temp

The standard 30˚ or 40˚ cycle just won’t cut it.

According to Dr Lisa Ackerley – aka The Hygiene Doctor – to give yourself the best chance of banishing the bacteria, you need to wash your underwear at an absolute minimum of 60˚C.


2. Use a laundry sanitiser

Hot washes are fine, in theory.

But what about your delicate lingerie? The pants that say wash at 30˚ on the label? What about the impact it’ll have on the environment? Or the huge effect it’ll have on your energy bills?

If you’re not keen on turning the dial up, a great alternative is to use a laundry sanitiser or a detergent that contains peroxide. That way, there’s no need to worry about the consequences of washing at a high temperature and 99.9% of bacteria and viruses will still be killed.


3. Clean the washing machine

If you want to be extra careful, it may be worth disinfecting your washing machine at least once a month. Run it on the hottest cycle possible (90˚C or above) with either bleach or detergent, and without any laundry in it. This won’t stop the bacteria entirely. But it will prevent the germs from collecting in the machine over time – and potentially reaching numbers that could make you sick.


Women's underwear available at Tokyo Laundry



Time for some new underwear?

Ladies' underwear certainly doesn’t have an expiration date – and using the cleaning techniques above should help to keep the level of bacteria (and poo!) to a minimum.

But even so, it’s a good idea to ditch any pants you’ve been wearing for a year or more and replace them with fresh pairs. And not just to keep your underwear drawer as sanitary as possible.

After all, knickers get a lot of use.

You pull up at least 1-2 pairs every single day, so they’re bound to suffer more wear and tear than your average piece of clothing. And once they start to age, they won’t provide the comfort or fit they used to. If they begin to slip, the colour starts to fade or visible stains appear, it’s time to say goodbye.

Don’t just throw them in the bin, though.

Unsurprisingly, there isn’t a huge market for second-hand women’s underwear. But many textile recycling banks are located across the UK, that are willing to take laundered knickers – in pretty much any condition – and make sure they avoid the dreaded landfill.


Women’s underwear at Tokyo Laundry

Feeling sufficiently grossed out?

If the thought of dirty knickers will give you nightmares, it’s time to treat yourself to a few fresh pairs, and we have some fantastic replacements for you to choose from.

Tokyo Laundry is the home of women’s underwear. We have an unrivalled selection of pants available online, with styles and colours to suit all. And as they’re priced affordably – starting from just £9.99 for a pack of three – re-stocking has never been cheaper or easier.

If you’ve got any questions – about the icky facts in this blog or the products in our collection – you’re welcome to hit us up any time. We’re always happy to help. Just send your message to info@tokyolaundry.com and we’ll respond ASAP with further deets.



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