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When your the underwire is digging into your ribcage, the straps are falling down, or the cups no longer cover you, you know it’s time to replace a bra. But how do you know when you need new underwear? The fact is, all underwear expires at some point, no matter how well you care for them. In fact, no matter how often you wash those undies, it’s recommended that you toss them after wearing them for a year (due to bacteria buildup). However, some pairs you may need to get rid of before then for a variety of reasons.

Without further ado, here are some signs to look for that indicate it’s time to go panty shopping.

1.  They’re cutting into you

No pair of undies should cut off your circulation (which leads to the dreaded muffin top). If your panties are digging into your waist or thighs at all, especially if they’re leaving unsightly marks after you take them off, they’re likely too small for you. Perhaps they were never the right size in the first place, or you outgrew them, or they shrunk in the wash. Either way, you deserve a pair that lends the foundation you need without causing any discomfort.

2.  They’re too loose

With wear, undies can get stretched out over time. This is especially true of the elastic in the fabric. Underwear that’s too loose won’t lend that support you’re seeking — not to mention, they may make your clothes look less-than-fabulous.

3.  They give you VPL

Panty lines are a nuisance, that’s for sure. So, why would you keep underwear around that makes your life more difficult? If a pair is giving you VPL under the clothes you wear, you probably need to go shopping. Try on some different styles (such as thongs, hipsters, and high-cut briefs) to find one that works underneath your leggings, jeans skirts, and dresses — you may be surprised by which ones don’t show.

4.  They have holes

Do we have to explain this one? As soon as you notice a hole in your panties, it’s time to say goodbye. This is a sign that you’ve worn them so much that the fabric is far past threadbare.

5.  They’re stained

Sure, there are plenty of ways to remove stains from underwear, including with bleach, detergent, and special stain remover products. But if those unsightly stains are so stubborn that they’re still there, it’s time to treat yourself to some new panties to replace them.

6.  They’re uncomfortable

Real talk: When was the last time you wore these undies? If the answer is months, then there’s like a good reason — perhaps that they’re uncomfortable. Whether they’re riding up and you find yourself continually having to adjust them, or the elastic on the leg hole is digging into your inner thigh, you don’t need to keep panties around that add stress to your day.

7.  They’ve become sheer

Over time, you may see that your panties are starting to look transparent and feel thinner. You’re not imagining things: the fibers in the material will gradually break down with washing and wearing. This stage comes right before the holes appear, so don’t hesitate to trash any panties that are suddenly looking sheer.

Certainly, taking good care of your panties will extend the life of them. For example, hand washing in cool or lukewarm water and laying flat to dry is always advisable for making them last longer. Still, eventually, you’ll need to bid every pair farewell and go shopping for some new underwear. Keep a lookout for the aforementioned signs so you know when it’s time.

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Published by

Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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