How Often Should I Wash My Pajamas? Experts Weigh In

We asked experts and their answers were surprisingly divided.

A heated question has sparked controversy amongst our circle of friends, family, and coworkers. It's a question we all have an answer to yet can't seem to arrive at a unified agreement. Chances are, you have an opinion too. How often should we wash pajamas?

Consider This

Before spouting off different numbers, let's think about this for a second. We all know you're supposed to wash 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 pajamas every day is just plain impractical.

On the flip side, we also have to consider how dirty 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 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, we turned to a handful of cleaning experts. The answers varied.

What the Experts Say

"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 explains, "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 agree on, it's this: If you tend to sweat in your sleep, you should wash pajamas 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'll want to wash them after each wear."

Extending the Life of Pajamas

If you don't want to lug laundry to the laundromat too frequently, there are ways you can increase your pajama life before it needs washing. "Showering at night, before putting on pajamas (rather than in the morning) can help increase the frequency of wear 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."

What the People Say

To make things more interesting, we did unofficial crowdsourcing amongst friend groups to learn their average pajama wash cycle. Their answers were all very different, but the consensus fell quite far from the experts' recommendations. The average leaned somewhere between one and one-and-a-half weeks. Upon revealing the "appropriate" pajama wash cycle, the comments 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—approximately two to three days before washing pajamas and shower at night to extend their wash cycle. But ultimately, use your common sense. If it smells funny or has mysterious stains, it's probably time to wash those pajamas.

RELATED: The 10 Best Cooling Pajamas for a Sweat-Free Night

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