A favorite t-shirt is one of the cornerstones of any wardrobe. And, as such an important garment, it is important that it lasts a long time. The more often a t-shirt is worn and washed, the more wear it will have. A shirt that is worn rarely will always last longer than a t-shirt that is worn more often.
The guideline given for many t-shirts is that they will remain in good condition through about 50 washes as long as they are taken care of. However, a t-shirt can go through many more than 50 washes if the t-shirt is washed gently and not put into a dryer. The heat of the dryer is often what causes much of the wear to t-shirts and other garments.
The problem that usually occurs as clothing ages is that the fabric gets thinner and eventually holes develop. The dryer can make this happen sooner by making some of the threads come loose. If you’ve ever looked at your drier lint, you’ve seen how much of your clothes the dryer really pulls out of the garments. All of that lint was once a part of the garments, and each one dried will be slightly thinner because of it. No matter how a t-shirt is washed, it will last for more of those washings if it is not dried in a drier.
Another option to get more washes out of a t-shirt is to tumble dry your clothes instead of using the heat setting. This will let some air circulation dry out the clothes but will not blast them with the hot air that can cause them to age sooner than they need to.
To get still more life out of a t-shirt, it is possible to go without washing it after every wear. If the shirt has been worn for a short event, it might be able to be put away without washing it. Another trick it to not wash the t-shirt for a complete cycle, but rather to rinse it out in the sink. Rubbing the shirt with a little soap and then rinsing it off will cause less wear to it than washing it through a full wash cycle. After hand rinsing the shirt, lay it flat to dry.
There is no reason that a t-shirt that is well taken care of can’t last 100 washes or even more. A shirt will last through more washes if it is not washed on a fast washing cycle and the harshest detergents are avoided. Using bleach is certain to shorten the life of a t-shirt. A shirt that is consistently washed in bleach may last less than 10 washings. Using a gentler detergent, however, will dramatically increase that number.
To put it simply, there is no expiration date on a t-shirt. The number of washes it lasts is partly dependent on how the t-shirt is cared for and how it is washed. Caring for a t-shirt and spending a little extra time in the washing and drying process can make it last a lot longer.