On the Church’s webpage about temples, a paragraph explains the effect religious rituals and clothing can have on Church members: “They can stir the deepest feelings of the soul, motivate them to do good, and even shape the course of a whole life of service.” The temple garment worn by Latter-day Saints holds great significance, and the way we care for them does, too.
Caring for and wearing the temple garment is a very personal commitment. Here are three ways the Church has specifically said we should treat the temple garment.
1) The garment is never to be left on the floor.
The missionary handbook is very clear on this point: “The garment should never be left on the floor. When garments need to be washed, they should be placed in a laundry basket or bag until they can be properly washed and dried.”
Linda S. Reeves taught that the temple garment is a “great sign of our love and devotion” to Heavenly Father—keeping them off the ground can be a way to show that devotion.
►You'll also like: Why the Temple Garment Represents So Much More Than Modesty
2) Worn-out garments should be disposed of properly.
The Church Handbook gives these directions:
“To dispose of worn-out temple garments, members should cut out and destroy the marks. Members then cut up the remaining fabric so it cannot be identified as a garment. The remaining cloth can be discarded.”
In regards to other ceremonial temple clothing, the handbook states:
“To dispose of worn-out ceremonial temple clothing, members should cut it up so the original use cannot be recognized. The cloth should then be discarded.”
The handbook also notes that it is acceptable for members to give other worthy, endowed members garments that are in good condition. Under no circumstances, however, are members to donate their garments to any sort of charity.
►You'll also like: 3 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Received My Temple Garment
3) The garment should be covered and worn day and night.
The Church Handbook teaches, “The garment should be worn beneath the outer clothing. ... The garment should not be removed for activities that can reasonably be done while wearing the garment. It should not be modified to accommodate different styles of clothing. ... The garment is sacred and should be treated with respect. Endowed members should seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to answer personal questions about wearing the garment.”
What sits within the bounds of what can “reasonably be done” while wearing the garment leaves room for the exercise of personal agency. Elder Carlos E. Asay, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and former president of the Salt Lake Temple once taught:
"There are some who would welcome a detailed dress code answering every conceivable question about the wearing of the temple garment. They would have priesthood leaders legislate lengths, specify conditions of when and how it should and should not be worn, and impose penalties upon those who missed the mark by a fraction of an inch. Such individuals would have Church members strain at a thread and omit the weightier matters of the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Matt. 23:23–26). "Most Latter-day Saints, however, rejoice over the moral agency extended them by a loving Father in Heaven. They prize highly the trust placed in them by the Lord and Church leaders—a trust implied in this statement made by the Prophet Joseph Smith: 'I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.'"
To read more about the purposes of the temple and the temple garment, see the Church’s website ChurchofJesusChrist.org/temples.