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Not only can't you wash your clothes during the nine days, but you are not supposed to wear freshly laundered clothes either, even if they were washed before Rosh Chodesh Av.

Like most Westerners, I pretty much expect to wear clean clothes every day and wash them after every use. All of the clothes in my closet are clean.

Aside from not washing eight or nine sets of clothing after use and putting them back in the closet crumpled and soiled, is there anything I can do to make my clean clothes permissible to wear during the nine days?

  • It sounds like you're asking for a practical approach, so I'll answer accordingly. – Seth J Jul 17 '12 at 12:55
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    There are poskim who allow wearing clean clothes and doing laundry during the 9 days, now that we don't actually go down to the river to do our laundry, nor do we get simcha out of the clean clothes, etc. See Shu"T Siach Nachum by R. Nachum Rabinovitz for one example. – Curiouser Jul 17 '12 at 19:25
  • "Like most Westerners, I pretty much expect to wear clean clothes every day and wash them after every use." I don't think the latter part of that sentence is true of most Westerners. If it's not dirty, why wash it? – Daniel Jul 26 '17 at 16:08
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I was taught as a child to wear several sets of clothing one after another for a short period of time in the days prior to 1 Av, and I've encountered others who follow the same advice, though the time varies (half-hour, 1 hour, 2 hours).

As I grew older and became responsible for my own time and personal hygiene, I began running into a problem of not having enough time to wear enough clothes for long enough to really feel that I'd de-freshened them without wearing them for an entire day and re-wearing clothes that were now too soiled for my liking. The solution I came up with was to take several sets of clean clothes and put them in the bottom of the laundry hamper for anywhere from an a couple of hours to overnight. This won't soil them, but it will definitely take that freshness out.

If you are a business professional who wears suits every day, a good backup option that works if you find that you haven't got enough sets of "wearable" unfresh clothes, in a year in which the 9 days are broken up by Shabbath somewhat towards the middle (as opposed to being at the beginning and/or end), is to wear different sets of clothing (suits and shirts for men, nice tops and skirts or skirted suits for women) for Friday night, Shabbath morning, Shabbath afternoon, and Se'udah Shelishith, meaning that each set is not worn for more than a couple of hours, preventing it from becoming too soiled, each set is worn for Shabbath (which is key for the legitimacy of this exercise), and each set is now de-freshened for the remaining days of the period.

And might I add - #fwp

  • See also Shut Betzel HaChochma 4:138 who rules that switching clothes excessively on Shabbat is not a problem of Hachana. – Double AA Jul 17 '12 at 14:01
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    Ooooh. First World Problem, not Friend With Privileges. 'k. – Michael Sandler Jul 17 '12 at 15:03
  • what nine-day period doesn't have Shabbat in the middle? – Charles Koppelman Jul 17 '12 at 15:32
  • @CharlesKoppelman, I meant more squarely in the middle. This year there is a Shabbath right at the beginning and right at the end (technically 9 Av), so it wouldn't help someone who is running out of "unfresh" clothes. – Seth J Jul 17 '12 at 15:40
  • @SethJ ok, fair. – Charles Koppelman Jul 17 '12 at 15:50
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Supplementing, not supplanting, SethJ's good answer, I've known people to put their clothes on the floor and tread on them. Note, however, that I do not know about the halachic status of this action (whether it suffices for these purposes).

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    I've done that, but I've also noted that I felt it contradictorily (is that a word?) soiled the clothes too much, yet kept them feeling "fresh", solving neither problem (at least for me). – Seth J Jul 18 '12 at 0:15
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If you cannot put on the clothes on the days prior to 1 Av, (or 2 Av is 1 Av is on Shabbat,) then just drop your clothes on the floor and move them around like you're sweeping for a minute, then put them on. The prohibition against wearing freshly laundered clothing doesn't include undergarments or socks because they're personal hygiene.

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    Adding sources would greatly improve the quality of this post. – Ploni Jul 26 '17 at 16:19
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Regarding throwing clothes on the floor, I'll just add the source במנחת יצחק י, מד

Harav Shlomo Zalman Orbach zt"l didn't like this suggestion, because it doesn't really do anything to the clothes to make them less "fresh". He gave an alternative suggestion to sleep on top of them.

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