The answers were...divided.

By Hana Hong
June 19, 2020
Advertisement

A heated question has recently sparked some controversy amongst my circle of friends, family, and coworkers. It’s a question that we all have an answer to, yet we can’t seem to arrive at a unified agreement. Chances are, you have an opinion too.

How often should you wash your pajamas?

Before you go off spouting different numbers, let’s think about this for a second. We all know that you’re supposed to wash your undergarments (underwear, socks, etc) after every wear, but since pajamas are only worn indoors and usually when you’re clean (post-shower), it seems wasteful to wash them after every wear. And for city dwellers who don’t have a washer and dryer in-unit, washing your pajamas every day is just plain impractical. 

On the flip side, you also have to consider how dirty your pajamas get, even if you’re not going out. Natural body oils, perspiration, dead skin cells, bacteria, and body care products (like body lotion) can all build up in your pajamas. If you continue to wear them without laundering, it can cause skin issues or irritation–and start to smell funky.

To resolve the issue once and for all, I turned to a handful of cleaning experts. The answers were...divided. 

“Unless you spill a midnight snack on them, sweat heavily, or wear them all day long, pajamas can usually be worn a few nights in a row before they need to be washed,” says Jennie Varney, brand manager of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company. 

But according to Chris Albers, marketing director at Carbona, "Since you're spending an average of seven to eight hours per night sleeping in your pajamas, you should launder them as frequently as you would your traditional daytime garments.” 

Melissa Maker, author and founder of housekeeping service Clean My Space says, “Washing pajamas is dependent on whether you wear them as your only sleep layer, or if you wear them as a sleep layer with an undergarment (as a second layer). If they're an only layer, they should be treated as underwear and washed every day. If they're a second layer, they should be washed every two to three days.”

If there’s one thing the experts do agree on, it’s this: If you tend to sweat in your sleep, you should wash them more often or daily as you would a garment worn on a particularly hot day or workout clothes where you sweat more heavily. 

“When deciding how often to wash your pajamas, consider how close in contact they have been with your skin and how much you’ve perspired while wearing them,” says Gwen Whiting, co-founder of The Laundress. “If you wear your pajamas to bed and change out of them in the morning, you can probably get away with a couple of wears before naturally occurring body oils, perspiration, and bacteria begin to build up in the fabric, all of which can lead to odor. It's also worth noting that if you’re wearing them all day (which some of us are right now!), you’ll want to wash them after each wear.”

If you don’t want to lug your laundry to the laundromat too frequently, there are ways you can increase your pajama life before it needs to be washed. “Showering at night, before putting on pajamas (rather than in the morning) can help increase the frequency of wears to two to three times before needing to wash them," says Lindsey Boyd, co-founder of The Laundress. "And stay away from using too much body lotion or tanning lotion before wearing them–stains and product buildup means you should be washing them after each wear,” 

Just to make it more interesting, I also did some unofficial crowdsourcing amongst my friend group to see what the average pajama wash cycle was. Their answers were all very different, but the general consensus fell quite far from the experts' recommendations. In fact, the average leaned somewhere between one and one-and-a-half weeks. 

Upon revealing the “appropriate” pajama wash cycle, the comments I received were along the lines of “who has time for that?” and “I don’t even have enough PJs for that.” 

If you want to be safe and hygienic, listen to the experts’ guidance (two to three days approximately) and shower at night to extend your pajamas' wash cycle. But ultimately, use your common sense. If it smells funny or has mysterious stains, it’s probably time to give those pajamas a wash.