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In this answer on Movies.SE, the author says:

Sophia makes a pun about him not having any clean underwear to wear => "forgot to do the laundry"

In response to my question if it's common, they said:

but I am pretty sure I heard it a couple times in roughly the same context in other movies/shows

Which leads me here to ask: is "forgot to do the laundry" really an English idiom meaning one walks without underwear?

The phrase/idiom I know is "Going commando", but guess it only applies for males, while the laundry idiom refers to both genders equally?

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  • It simply means that one hasn't clean underwear. Jul 16, 2017 at 14:54
  • @SovereignSun thanks, but does it mean one is walking with dirty underwear, or without any underwear at all? Jul 16, 2017 at 14:56
  • How can we know? We can't check that out. I wouldn't pull down somebody's shirt or jeans to see if they've got any underwear and if they do then check whether it's clean or not. Jul 16, 2017 at 14:58
  • @SovereignSun lol of course, so you say there is no such phrase or idiom? That's acceptable, I just wasn't sure. Jul 16, 2017 at 15:00
  • It's not an idiom. It's comparable to someone asking a guy "Feeling a breeze by any chance?" if the zipper to his trousers is down. In both cases, the statement is related to some circumstance that has indirect bearing upon the situation.
    – TimR
    Jul 16, 2017 at 17:01

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A native speaker would not interpret "it's laundry day" to mean someone is not wearing underwear. It would be more correct to interpret "it's laundry day" as an explanation that someone is gross due to circumstances outside of their control - which might include incomplete underclothes, but not in a sexual way.

In order to understand this scene, you have to understand a few different phrases.

Doing laundry is a moderately dirty job, so we expect to wear casual or work clothes. However, if someone is young or irresponsible, they may be in casual or work clothes because they have procrastinated until they have no choice. Therefore, you might see a student at a public laundry (AKA a coin-operated laundromat) wearing the most ridiculous clothes they own, because every other item is too dirty.

This is sometimes used for comedic effect. When a character who is normally very fashionable suddenly appears in pajamas, they might make the excuse that "It's laundry day." Often this will be used ironically - for instance, to imply another character is wearing very unfashionable clothes and therefore must be out of fashionable clothes.

You should also understand the phrase "Make sure you're wearing clean underwear in case you get in an accident!", said by overprotective and embarrassing parents. If you were in a car accident and had to be given medical attention, your shameful underwear might be exposed. This is almost always said as a joke, but it is a well-known piece of humorous advice.

Finally, you should understand the difference between laundry day and "going Commando". If a character were "going Commando", then the choice to not wear underwear is intentional. Someone who is "going Commando" is expecting thrilling, sexual adventures and wants to be seen as dangerous and passionate. (This can apply to women as well, but it could be interpreted as disrespectful.)

That brings us to the scene: A character has been shot, is getting medical attention, and is not wearing clean underwear. (They have clearly disappointed their parents.) We could say that they are "going Commando", which would be positive and praiseworthy. However, we said that it is "laundry day", which means they are not wearing underwear because they are gross and irresponsible.

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    Well, the character in question is indeed highly irresponsible, leading to a prisoner riot in the jail. So yeah, this makes sense. Thanks! Jul 16, 2017 at 19:17

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