Let’s face it: Clothes face an onslaught in daily life. Our socks carry the burden of our entire weight, our tops and bottoms move and flex with us as they protect us from the elements and embarrassment. And that’s only on one front — washing and drying clothes (even with perfect technique) will slowly degrade the fabric too, due to friction, heat and exposure to detergents. Like all things, common clothing items will eventually run the length of their lifespan. Yes, that means it may be time to lay your favorite lazy-day shirt to rest.

But how do you know when to consider saying goodbye to your Sunday binge-watching best? When do you finally turn those tired socks into recycling? Are you past due for new business attire? We’ve provided a handy list to help you keep track of how just about long you have until common clothing items are past their prime. All timeframes assume regular wear/use and average quality fabrics.

  • Socks – Cotton socks tend to last about six months with regular use, less if you work on your feet all day.
  • Undershirts – Undershirts should be tossed after six months to a year. Stretching and staining is usually an indicator the time has come.
  • T-Shirts – Cotton tops on average will begin to break down after about three years
  • Underwear – Outside of keeping that “favorite pair,” consider tossing undies after six to 12 months. Elastic tends to wear out, fabrics become rougher and that’s not to mention the unmentionables.
  • Bras – Consider retiring your bras every six to 12 months. Due to contact with sweat and skin oils, required regular laundering will wear out elastics and misshape cup materials.
  • Swimwear – Depending on frequency of use, swimwear can usually endure about two years of seasonal use before it begins to wear out.
  • Dress Pants – Dress pants can last between one to three years. Rotating between multiple pairs can help extend lifetime dramatically.
  • Sweaters – With regular use, sweaters begin to break down around the one-to-two year mark.
  • Suit Jackets – The average life expectancy for a suit jacket comes in around two to three years of regular use.
  • Denim – While worn denim may look great, stitching and hems falling out are inevitable over time. Two to three years of regular use will often wear denim out.
  • Heavy Jackets – Materials like leather, wool and suede will often last four to five years. Jackets like windbreakers, with a waterproof coating or film, often break down over two to three years.


Of course, no one is telling you to recycle or throw away your favorite items. We’ve all got clothes that we refuse to let go of. Like Marie Kondo asks, “Does this spark joy?”

Be sure to visit for tips on how to preserve and extend the lifetime of your clothes for years to come!