What to do With Clothes Worn Once That Aren’t Dirty Enough to Wash

What do you do with clothes worn once that aren’t dirty enough yet for the wash?

You hesitate to put them back into your hamper because they aren’t “dirty” per se, and could be worn again before washing.

At the same time, you don’t want to put them back in your closet because when laundry day rolls around, you will want to easily identify the worn items and add them to a wash load. 

So what’s a person to do about these worn but not quite dirty clothes?

Before your clothes start piling up on your bedroom chair, on the edge of your bed, or on the floor, consider one of the alternative options below.

Why You Shouldn’t Always Wash Clothes After Wearing

Washing your clothes agitates the fabrics.

This agitation helps clean the fabric, but it also wears the fabric down, so it’s in your best interest to only wash your clothing when necessary.

Sturdier clothing items like denim, jackets, or items like sweaters that are worn over a layer can often be worn many times before a wash.

RELATED: Simple Tips for Hanging and Storing Clothes

Where to Store Clothes Worn Only Once

Over the Edge of a Hamper

I suggest this option ONLY if you have a hamper that’s hidden behind a closet door.

Even then, it’s the sloppiest option I’m going to suggest, so if you’re fiercely against visual clutter of all kinds I suggest scrolling to the next option.

With that said, there are a few key reasons why this strategy works.

First of all, it’s easy. You are already in the habit of tossing your dirty clothes into the hamper, so it’s easy enough to simply drape the clothes you could wear again over the edge instead of all the way inside.

Second, it allows for some air flow. Airing out worn items is a good thing to do before wearing them a second (or third…) time.

Of course, this benefit becomes null if you’re in the habit of piling on a ton of clothes worn once before your next laundry day.

Lastly, adding the draped items to your next wash load on laundry day requires zero added effort.

The lightly worn items are already halfway inside of your hamper, so throwing them the rest of the way in and carrying the hamper to your washing machine is no big deal.

RELATED: Golden Rules for Cleaning Out Your Closet

Hang with Hanger Facing Backwards

Some folks might suggest putting the worn clothes that you plan to wear again back in your closet.

Sure, this is a tidy option, but if you’re like me, you’re going to want a way to distinguish clothes worn once from the freshly washed clothes in your closet. 

One way to do this is by hanging your clean, worn clothes back up with the hanger facing backwards. Doing so will make it easy to do a visual scan of your hanging clothes and spot the clothes worn once already.

This will lower the possibility of you wearing the item TOO many times before tossing into the wash.

Distinguishing between worn vs unworn clothes is important because pests like moths are attracted to unwashed clothes that have lingering body oils or food residue.

So if you have a large wardrobe and likely won’t be re-wearing the worn item anytime soon, hanging it back up with your clean clothes and increasing your chances of moth holes in all of your clothes might not be the right play.

Dedicated Basket, Drawer, or Shelf

To keep your worn but not yet dirty items separated from your clean and dirty clothes, but not cluttering your room… create a specific home for them!

If space allows, invest in a separate “almost dirty” clothes basket, bin, or hamper. 

If floor space is tight, see if you can clear out a drawer or a closet shelf to store these items away from your clean clothes.

Because as we know, the best way to prevent any space from becoming cluttered is to make sure there is a home for everything.


Alright, so you don’t like the look of a sloppy hamper, you don’t want to attract moths, and you aren’t interested in clearing a drawer or shelf for the clothes you plan to wear again before washing… hooks.

Hooks are your solution.

What’s great is that there are so many hook options to choose from! You can install cute wall hooks somewhere inside of your closet, bedroom, or bathroom.

Alternatively you can opt for over the door hooks in any of these spaces – no need to put holes in your wall. 

Hanging worn clothes from hooks requires little to no effort, allows for nice airflow through the fabrics, and makes it easy to quickly grab and dump the items into your hamper on laundry day. 

RELATED: What is a Drop Zone and Why Do You Need One?

Valet Stand or Coat Rack

Image via Pottery Barn

Lastly, we have the valet stand.

These come in all shapes and sizes ranging from a more traditional hanging rack to a trendier “wooden ladder propped against a wall” to hang your clothes on instead. 

I like that a valet can serve many purposes. Of course, you can use it to hang up your lightly worn, not yet dirty clothes.

You can also use it to plan and set aside your outfits for the week and save yourself some time in the morning when you’re getting ready for the day.

You can also use a traditional valet as a closet decluttering tool. Pull out all of your clothes from your closet and hang them on the valet while you determine what stays and what goes.

RELATED: How to Recycle Old Clothes

What to do with clothes you've worn once

Final Thoughts on What to Do With Clothes Worn Once

While it’s ok to re-wear hardier clothes that you have only worn once, you still need to clean your laundry regularly.

Creating an efficient laundry routine can help you stay on top of this task.

Grab yourself a bottle of non-toxic laundry detergent and an attractive detergent dispenser then you’re ready to get to work!

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