“If you’re sleeping naked, you should be cleaning your sheets as often as you clean your underwear,” says Katie Brown, owner of Rytina Fine Cleaners in Sacramento, California. “Our bodies emit natural body oil, odors, and our skin exfoliates 24/7—and if you are lucky to be female and over 50 then there are the nightly hot flashes leaving your sheets nice and damp. In addition to these basic conditions, we love our topical beauty products from emollient lotions to self-tanning products—all of which end up on our sheets.”
Yikes, not untrue at all. And exposing your epidermis fully to crumb-covered, skin-flakey, product coated blankets will not necessarily be kind to your skin night after night. Hello bacne outbreaks, buttne outbreaks, and boobne outbreaks. And the health side of things, microbiologist Laura Bowater, PhD, previously told Well+Good that dozens of different types of bacteria and viruses can survive on your bed sheets, including E. coli, ringworm, salmonella, herpes, norovirus, athlete’s foot, and the flu. If you’ve been sick, you definitely want to keep on top of sheet changes, no matter what you do or don’t wear to bed. Pajama-wearing folk should still keep to an every-other-week regimen.
On the upside, there’s a very simple way to mitigate the potential ick factor. “Some people rinse off in the shower nightly before bed, a great routine which helps prolong clean sheets,” says Brown. “Ideally, changing your sheets daily is the best method—however, that’s not always practical. The longer sheets go between washings their exposure to perspiration, body oils, odor and beauty products increase the risk of permanent damage to the fibers as well as permanent stains. I’d recommend washing at least weekly.”
That sounds like a fair compromise in order to keep sleeping naked. We do not, however, recommend washing your underwear with a weekly frequency—in fact, you might as well just ditch your briefs entirely, too.
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