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Clean freaks need to know: How filthy is it to sit on your bed in street clothes?


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If you’re still recovering from findings that contend your bed-making habit (or lack therof) is a primary indicator of your personality, pull the covers over your head now and hide. There’s another divisive and triggering bed-news debate to parse, and this one makes the hospital-corners throw-down seem downright tame: Is it okay, hygienically speaking, to sit on your bed with your (dirty) street clothes on?

You guys, this question set forth a fiery debate at our recent Well+Good editorial meeting.

Suddenly work wives looked at each other like strangers. Those of us who would sooner lie on a grimy sidewalk on a hot summer’s day than in our bed with jeans on stared down Team “It’s Not That Bad.”

Those of us who would sooner lie on a grimy sidewalk on a hot summer’s day than in our bed with jeans on stared down Team “It’s Not That Bad.”

And then the insults started: “What does a subway car and your bed have in common? All the same germs!” And, “Instead of changing your clothes all day, use that time to read a book—with scientific facts in them!” Finally, it rose to a fever pitch and alchemized into a furious dance-off, à la Girls Trip.

Okay…none of that happened.

This part is true, though: The seemingly innocuous debate revealed strongly held views. Why? A couple of reasons, probably. First, if you haven’t heard, women are in the midst of a rage renaissance. Second: Do not f*ck with a woman’s bedroom. It’s the self-care sanctuary (AKA that’s where we process all the anger we’re feeling).

So, what do experts say?

Could it be that Team “It’s Not That Bad” is…right? Pretty much.

“Otherwise everybody would be sick all the time,” Philip Tierno, PhD, a microbiologist and NYU School of Medicine professor, tells NBC’s Today. It’s difficult to quantify the exact risk of transmitting the smog and smells of outdoor environments onto your a fluffy pillow wonderland (shudder), and there’s not a body of research on the subject, Georgia-based allergist Andy Nish, MD, tells Today. “But experience would tell us that the number of people that get sick from this exposure would likely be quite low,” he says.

Since 80 percent of infections are transmitted by direct contact, according to Dr. Tierno, indirect contact could be a potential factor 20 percent of the time. So, yes, harmful germs will come to you most often via touch—not by tracking them home on your clothes, transferring them to your linens, and getting them on your skin while you sleep.

But hey, 20 percent is something. Twenty percent of a single year is 73 days—that’s more than enough to do Whole30 twice. So, we as an editorial team have agreed to disagree and respect each other’s bed-hygiene choices. There are bigger battles to fight these days, after all. (I mean, are you aware that some people do not wash their legs in the shower?)

Another shower debate for the ages: Is it better to clean up in the morning or at night? And what happens if you just stop? Here’s what happened when one writer got funky—for science.

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