My mother’s advice about hygiene is simple: Change your underwear every day (even on no-shower days), and so far it hasn’t led me astray. But for Underwear Week, I put my better judgment aside to call in and test Organic Basics’ new silver-coated underwear. Organic Basics claims that with silver’s antibacterial (and thus, odor-repelling) qualities, you can avoid wasting water and energy simply by wearing their undies more than once before washing. I had reservations going in since I’ve tried silver-laced pillowcases before and wasn’t impressed, but kept an open mind.
I tested my undies — a hipster style that comes in a two-pack — over two days, which happened to be a beneficial time to test odor-repelling undies since (full disclosure!) I was also on the tail end of my period. While not terribly messy, per se, it is definitely a more pungent time than usual. Because an Organic Basics representative told me that silver is also heat-regulating, I put them through the wringer on my first day by attending a sweaty vinyasa class. I didn’t find them to be cooling, really, but at the end of the day, I felt like I smelled cleaner than I normally would, given the circumstances. That all shifted on my second day when I started noticing a less-than-fresh scent while I was out for the night, and while it didn’t reek, I didn’t feel comfortable pushing my luck with a third day of testing.
The crux of the problem with undies that are “antibacterial” is that even if they’re reducing odor, they’re not magically self-cleaning, or even absorbent in the way Thinx “period-proof” underwear are, so it doesn’t change the fact that you’re sitting in two or three days’ worth of fabric that’s been brushing up against you — and your sweat and dead skin and general funk. And without any testing on the microscopic level to determine whether the underpants are actually killing bacteria, besides a non-scientific smell test, I think I’d rather toss them in the wash than tolerate repeat wears.
That being said, they are still a good pair of underwear in and of themselves, odor-repelling or not. Since they’re made with silver-coated polyester thread (which are not supposed to wear out over time), the Organic Basics are heftier than the average pair — they look like they could take a beating in the washing machine — but still comfortable and have stretch to them. They’re nice for lounging, but with the thicker edges, I wouldn’t exactly call them VPL-resistant. I don’t recommend wearing them if you’re dealing with something like your period, but I almost wish these had been around in my college days for finals week (when showers were few and far between). I also imagine they would be ideal to pack in your bag for a music festival or camping trip, when you need all the odor-repelling you can get. — Lori Keong
And as for the men’s underwear
When Alexis first told me about Danish underwear that stayed clean for weeks, I was skeptical. Even with the addition of anti-odor, antimicrobial silver fibers, fabric just isn’t meant to be in contact with a very intimate part of the body without getting a little … musty, no? So when I received my first pair of SilverTech boxer briefs, I wanted to dutifully test their stink-fighting abilities. I decided to wear them longer than I ordinarily would (Two days? Three? I’d read that they could last for weeks and was ready to ride this wave as long as I could). I wouldn’t wear them for workouts, which seemed like a too-aggressive move for non-exercise underwear. And each morning I’d conduct a sniff test to assess just how “good” I was.
My first impressions of the boxer briefs: The cut isn’t as comfortable as my everyday Calvins. The waistband is flimsier and the legs (are they called legs on boxer briefs?) are just a bit shorter than I prefer. Something about the fabric felt scratchy, too, which I confirmed with Organic Basics is something you should expect with metal-lined underwear. I do have to say that on the second morning, I felt totally confident about wearing them again — they looked and felt and smelled like a fresh pair of underwear.
Morning three is when things got dicey. SilverTech underwear past 48 hours did not pass my smell test. I reached out to Organic Basics to ask what the deal was, and a very nice representative noted that, alas, the underwear doesn’t exactly “never” need washing: “It varies from person to person — some might feel the need to wash after just one wear, and others might want to go longer. To maximize the length of time before washing we recommend airing them a little overnight.” In fairness, I did not air them overnight, though I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t sleep naked doing that. The verdict is that I could only stretch the wears from one day to two between washes, and while that doesn’t seem like very much, it does halve the amount of underwear you’d have to wash — and the amount you’d need to bring in a carry-on. — Jason Chen
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