America’s Holey Secrets: 74% of Americans Have Rocked Underwear With Holes [Survey]
You just woke up and are deciding what to wear today. After opening your top drawer and grabbing your favorite pair of underwear, you notice a small hole forming in the front — uh oh.
What do you do? Continue wearing it, try to fix it, or get rid of it?
Whether due to the shame surrounding intimate articles of clothing or other cultural norms, we don’t often hear Americans talking about their underwear habits.
We were curious about these habits — specifically the habit of wearing underwear with holes — so we polled 1,000 Americans to see what percentage of Americans wear or have ever worn holey underwear.
Here’s a summary of what we found:
- 74% of Americans have worn holey underwear.
- 40% of Americans still wear underwear with holes.
- Men and women wear holey underwear almost equally.
- 37% of Americans cited apathy as a primary reason for wearing holey underwear.
If you have a habit of wearing holey underwear, don’t panic. Our findings should put your fears to rest, as you’ll likely realize you aren’t the odd one out, after all.
Nearly 3 in 4 Americans Have Worn Underwear With Holes
If your friends and family have told you that they’ve never worn holey underwear, there’s a pretty good chance they’re lying — a whopping 74% of respondents reported having worn underwear with holes. Only 25% of our respondents claimed that they have never thrown on a pair of torn underpants.
Of course, not all of our respondents who have worn holey underwear still do. What you may find even more shocking is how many people continue to wear them.
40% of Americans Still Wear Underwear With Holes
Waste not, want not — right? At least, that seems to be what close to half of the American population thinks when it comes to underwear with holes. 40% of respondents claimed that they currently wear underwear with holes, whether that be all the time or only sometimes.
Are you already picturing the type of person you think would fall into this category? Maybe a college-aged guy with a messy dorm? You may be surprised to hear that at least one-third of respondents in nearly every generational demographic still wear holey underwear.
When compared to the percentage of people who wear holey underwear from all cohorts (40%), slightly more people aged 18-34 currently practice this habit (47%).
That said, with nearly one-third of people over 65 admitting that they still wear underwear with holes, there’s a decent chance that some senior people in your life — even your parents and grandparents — are wearing holey underwear at times.
Men vs. Women: Who Wears Holey Underwear More?
If you’re still picturing a man when you think of the population of holey underwear-wearers, it’s time to think again. The results actually don’t differ much at all by gender, with men and women wearing and having worn holey underwear almost equally.
In fact, women are actually about 2% more likely to still wear underwear with holes — a great reminder that gender stereotypes aren’t always accurate!
Why Do Americans Wear Holey Underwear?
Habits don’t make a whole lot of sense until we understand the reason for having them. So why do Americans wear holey underwear so often? When asked about the most valid reasons to wear holey undergarments, the responses we received reflected some common trends from the past couple years.
The simple answer? People just don’t care — 37% of respondents claimed that apathy, or not caring that underwear has holes, is a perfectly valid reason to wear holey underwear.
Sounds a lot like the pandemic life we’ve all learned to live with, right?
To confirm this trend, only 7% of respondents claimed that saving hole-less underwear for special occasions is a good reason to wear holey pairs for daily use.
Whether this is due to an increase in intentional dating during the pandemic or less dating altogether, one thing’s for sure — most people don’t care much about the structural integrity of their underwear, even on special occasions.
Over Half of Americans Wouldn’t Judge Their Partner for Wearing Holey Underwear
Now imagine your romantic partner habitually sports underwear with rips and holes — is it a dealbreaker? For 53% of the U.S. population, it isn’t.
These respondents claimed that they either definitely or probably wouldn’t judge their partner for wearing holey underwear — data that aligns with the pandemic’s intentional dating trend. People care more about the person inside the undergarments than the undergarments themselves.
However, this data does skew a bit by gender. Compared to women, men are over one-third more likely to “definitely not” judge their partner for wearing underwear with holes and over two times less likely to care about how often their partner wears underwear with holes.
Millennials and members of Gen Z also stand out as more opinionated cohorts when compared to the population at large. 17% of millennials claimed that they “definitely would” judge their partner for wearing holey underwear, compared to an average of 10% across all generational cohorts. That’s nearly three-quarters more millennials taking this stance than the average American.
Further, members of Gen Z are nearly four times more likely than the average American to judge their partner depending on how often they wear holey underwear.
Should You Throw Away Underwear With Holes?
So we’ve established that the average American isn’t too bothered by holey underwear. Does that mean you should never get rid of your favorite tattered pair?
Our answer: It depends.
If the holes are small — about 2-3mm across — and you’re handy with a needle and thread, you can try to sew them up. If the holes are bigger than that, sewing them probably isn’t reasonable and you should consider disposing of them in an eco-friendly way and replacing them with a new pair.
Proper Underwear Care
While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with small holes in underwear, they can grow bigger and compromise the garment’s structural integrity. To make your underwear last, you should know what causes holes and how to prevent them.
How Does Underwear Get Holes?
Underwear isn’t exposed to the elements like our outerwear, so how does it develop holes? There are a few common reasons your underwear might be getting worn out and tearing.
- Poor fit: If your underwear is a size or two too small, the waistband and fibers can stretch. Too much stretching can compromise the integrity of your favorite briefs, causing holes to form.
- Dryer damage: Repeatedly exposing fabric to high temperatures is bound to cause damage over time. While dryers are efficient, they aren’t always kind to clothing — especially clothing made of thin or delicate fabrics.
- Friction: Underwear rubs against our skin when we move. This causes friction that wears out underwear fabric. Over time, that fabric frays and makes it much more susceptible to holes.
- Doing their job: Underwear has a big job — adding a protective layer between your skin and the rest of your clothes. Humans aren’t always perfectly clean, and underwear sacrifices itself for the protection and cleanliness of our clothing. Unfortunately, over time this results in literal wear and tear, ultimately damage to our briefs. But rest assured — it’s natural!
How To Prevent Holes in Underwear
While it’s normal for underwear to wear out over time, special care and thoughtful decision-making can preserve your existing pairs for longer than average. Investing in the right underwear alone makes the risk of holey underwear significantly lower.
- Wash after each use: It’s a fact of life — underwear gets dirty. When left unwashed, that dirt can start to erode your underwear, resulting in holes. To keep this from happening, be sure to wash your underwear after you’ve worn it. If possible, avoid wearing the same pair for multiple days.
- Use a plant-based detergent: Many laundry detergents use harsh chemicals to clean your clothes. Skip the detergents with unnatural ingredients and instead keep your eye out for plant-based options that will be gentler on your clothes.
- Air-dry your underwear: If you want your nicest pairs of underwear to last years, you might consider hanging them up and air-drying them after each wash. This prevents them from being worn out by the high temperatures of a dryer.
- Invest in high quality underwear: It can be tempting to spend as little money as possible on your underwear, but low quality fabrics will wear out quickly. If you’re looking for something that’s built to last, check out our Apollo collection. It’s been rigorously tested for enhanced durability, showing no holes or tears after 100,000 rounds of applied friction.
How To Sustainably Dispose of Holey Underwear
Whether the holes in your underwear have made them unwearable or you’d just prefer to swap them for newer pairs, it’s important to dispose of your old underwear sustainably. Here are some options:
- Donate: If you take the time to sew up small holes and the rest of the fabric appears to be in fine condition, you can donate your underwear to people in need. Some great organizations to check out include USAgain, I Support the Girls, and Planet Aid.
- Recycle: If your underwear is worn and torn beyond repair and you doubt any donation facility will accept them, a textile recycling facility likely will! These organizations keep textiles out of landfills and break them down to be used again. Check out TerraCycle and the Council for Textile Recycling for some textile recycling opportunities.
- Compost: Composting isn’t just for food scraps — you can also throw old underwear into the mix! Just make sure your underwear is made entirely of natural fibers like cotton, linen, or hemp. If the waistband is elastic, remove it before composting.
- Repurpose: Underwear is made of fabric, and fabric can be used for all kinds of projects! Consider turning your holey underwear into a dust rag or stuffing it into a pillow that could use some extra fluff.
- Make crafts: Let your artistic side shine by transforming your scrappy underwear into something fun and beautiful! Try stitching (clean) underwear together to create a makeshift bandana or an abstract art piece.
Don’t be ashamed of your holey underwear habits — embrace them! There are plenty of valid reasons to wear underwear with holes every once in a while. Should you feel ready to depart from your favorite pair of tattered briefs, there are also plenty of eco-friendly disposal options available to you.
When you do decide to replace them, be sure to upgrade to the very best underwear we have to offer.
The survey featured in this post was conducted on YouGov Direct. One thousand U.S. adults ages 18 and older were surveyed February 8 between 11:50 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. Data is weighted on age, gender, education level, political affiliation and ethnicity to be nationally representative of adults 18 and older in the United States. The margin of error is approximately 3.1% for the overall sample.