Unlike the clothes you wear during the day or while working out, your pajamas aren't typically racking up visible dirt or stains. And if they do get a little grungy, well, it's not like you're looking to impress anyone while you're catching zzzs.
So does it really matter if you wear the same pajamas night after night? While wearing your PJs on repeat isn't the world's grossest habit, there's definitely a little bit of an ick factor.
Video of the Day
"Clothing against your body will undoubtedly accumulate things from your skin over time," says Jennifer Gordon, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Westlake Dermatology in Austin, Texas.
If you're wondering what sorts of things those might be — and how often you should wash your pajamas — read on.
Possible Effects of Rarely Washing Your Pajamas
1. Increases Your Risk for Acne or Skin Irritation
Sleeping in the same clothes every night without washing them can expose your skin to some potentially unsavory stuff.
For one, your pajamas will start to pick up a lot of the sweat, natural oils and dead cells that get shed by your skin while you sleep. (The rest will end up on your sheets, so you'll want to wash those on the reg as well.)
These things aren't necessarily harmful. But it's possible that all of the buildup could cause pore blockages that might increase the risk for acne or rashes, Dr. Gordon says.
2. Your PJs Might Stink
The yeast and bacteria that live on your skin's microbiome can start to build up on your PJs, too, Dr. Gordon says.
Sweat mixing with these bacteria might start to make your pajamas smell a little funky.
How Often Should You Wash Your Pajamas?
There are no official recommendations here, so it's really about your own personal comfort level.
"I'd say probably every three to four nights if you're wearing them regularly, like every night," Dr. Gordon says. But if you sweat heavily in your sleep, or if you wear your pajamas without underwear, it might be best to wash them every day or two, she adds.
That said, your nose might be a better guide than the calendar.
"The old smell test is truly one of the best indicators of whether clothes need to be washed," Dr. Gordon says. So if your pajamas don't smell great, it's time to toss them in the wash.
5 Tips to Keep Pajamas Clean Between Washes
Whether you have a truly beloved pair of jammies or are just trying to do less laundry, there are a few ways to squeeze out a little more time in between washes. Here's what Dr. Gordon recommends:
1. Consider Alternating Pajamas
Switching between two pairs will help both stay fresh longer. And, "bacteria and yeast don't live that long on fabrics," she adds. So giving them a night "off" can make a difference.
2. Let Them Air Out
Hang your pajamas on a hook instead of leaving them crumpled on the floor, especially if you tend to sweat a lot at night. This will help lingering odors dissipate, and allow them to dry.
3. Wear Loose, Lightweight Pajamas
Sleep clothes that are heavy or tight will trap more sweat and bacteria.
Alternatively, you can try silk pajamas which are lightweight and often provide a cooling effect if you are a hot sleeper.
4. Consider Showering Before Bed
Taking a shower before bed will help wash away dead skin cells and bacteria, so fewer end up on your pajamas.
The downside? If you put your pajamas on right after applying a moisturizer (hello, nighttime skin-care routine), some of the oils from the moisturizer could transfer to your clothes, Dr. Gordon points out. So keep in mind, this may alter your washing schedule.
5. Wash Your Sheets Regularly
Any dirt or dead skin that might be on your unwashed sheets will transfer to your pajamas, so make sure you're washing your sheets once per week, or at least once every other week.
So, How Bad Is It Really to Wear the Same Pajamas Every Night?
Wearing the same pajamas every night isn't going to kill you. But they'll probably start to smell, and the buildup from your dead skin cells and other gunk could potentially irritate your skin or cause you to break out.
So, try to toss them in the wash every three to four days. You might be surprised to find how nice sleeping in clean PJs can be.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.