6 Rules for How To Wear Your Underwear

Wearing the underwear the right way can help your vaginal health.

There are a few things that play a role in having good vaginal health—including your underwear. From making sure that you take care of your underwear by using the right detergent and changing your underwear in a timely manner, there are a few recommendations to live by. Read on to learn more about Health's six underwear rules.

Wear Comfortable, Breathable Underwear

Tight-hugging underwear is often uncomfortable when worn for long periods of time. Wearing this kind of underwear is also not the healthiest situation for your vagina because it limits airflow and increases body heat and moisture.

Well-fitting underwear should also be made from the right material. Cotton underwear is breathable and circulates airflow better compared to underwear made with synthetic fabrics.

Also, underwear with a cotton lining is another option to consider if you don't want to limit yourself to cotton-only underwear.

Use a Skin-Sensitive Laundry Detergent

Treat the skin in your vaginal area as sensitively as possible. One way to do that is to use the right type of laundry detergent to wash your underwear.

There have been recommendations to avoid using fabric softeners or detergents with enzymes, known as biological detergents, when washing your underwear. Chemicals in some laundry detergents can be irritating to the vagina or the skin around it.

Instead, look for detergents designed for sensitive skin or delicate clothing and use those when you do your laundry.

Change Your Underwear As Needed

In addition to changing your underwear daily, you should avoid sitting too long in a damp pair on a sweaty summer afternoon—or worse, post-workout. Changing them is also important if you're prone to yeast infections. More yeast can grow if there's increased sweat in a person's genital area.

Whether you're prone to infection or not, use dampness as a cue to send your undies to the laundry basket, including dampness from your discharge.

Be Aware of Discharge

Your discharge can tell you a lot about your vaginal health. Normal discharge is typically white or clear. The amount of discharge that occurs and its consistency varies from person to person.

However, see a healthcare provider if you check your underwear and find the following:

  • Blood-tinged discharge
  • Brown discharge
  • Foamy or greenish-yellow discharge
  • Gray discharge

These can be signs of infections such as yeast infections or sexually transmitted infections.

Take a Break from Wearing Underwear When You Can

It's okay to go without wearing underwear at times. For example, it's sometimes a healthier option at night to sleep without underwear. It can allow for more airflow if you're experiencing any vaginal itching or discharge problems.

Still, there are a few instances where skipping underwear is not in your best interest. Wear underwear when you exercise and if you wear pants or shorts. If not, it's possible to experience the discomfort of chafing, or skin irritation that happens when skin rubs against skin or other clothing.

Invest in New Underwear When Possible

Underwear has a relative shelf life—there's no official time period you need to follow to get your next pairs. Yet, the appearance of your underwear can be a good indicator of when it's time to switch them out. Consider buying new ones in cases where you have pairs that no longer fit because they are too big, too small, or have elasticity issues.

A Quick Review

Your underwear is important for helping you take care of your vagina. Wearing underwear that fits comfortably and paying attention to any vaginal discharge that appears in your underwear are just a few habits to pick up. These and other practices can help keep your vaginal area healthy and infection-free.

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7 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Umami A, Paulik E, Molnár R, Bhisma M. The relationship between genital hygiene behaviors and genital infections among women: A systematic review. Jurnal Ners. 2022;17(1):89-101.

  3. MedlinePlus. Vaginal itching and discharge - adult and adolescent.

  4. Chen Y, Bruning E, Rubino J, Eder SE. Role of female intimate hygiene in vulvovaginal health: Global hygiene practices and product usageWomens Health (Lond Engl). 2017;13(3):58-67. doi:10.1177/1745505717731011

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