Mind & Body

You Should Wash Your Sheets, Towels, and Basically Everything More Often

Alright friends, be honest: How often do you wash your sheets and towels? What about your workout pants? And ladies — when was the last time you washed your bras? We know all too well that adulting can be hard, but you really should be washing those personal items a lot more than you might think, and we're here to tell you why.

Your Dirty Towels and Linens Are Grossing Us Out

If you're someone who rotates bath towels every week or so, you might want to step up your hygiene game. Business Insider reports that as soon as you use your towel (just once), "it becomes a breeding ground of bacteria; fungi; dead skin cells; salivary, anal, and urinary secretions; and many other germs lingering in your bathroom that may have hopped onto your towel — including droplets from your toilet."

While it may seem like an unrealistic request to wash your towel after each use, Philip Tierno, a microbiologist at New York University, insists that you use it three times, max. That is, if your towel hangs completely dry between uses. If your towel is still damp when you want to use it, it needs to be washed. Considering sharing towels with your significant other? Not a great idea. While the microbes on your own towel may not be harmful, your significant other's organisms could give you staphylococcus aureus.

As you might've guessed, your linens also need some TLC. If you thought your bath towels were bad, your bed sheets are twice as gross. In addition to the types of human residue found on your towels, sheets can pick up dirty things like animal dander, pollen, cosmetics (oils and creams), and dust mites. Natural debris is also weighing down your pillows with fungus. As these substances accumulate, they could be aggravating your allergies — ever wonder why you wake up with a stuffy nose? But here's a particularly gross fact: Humans produce more than 26 gallons of sweat in their beds each year ... where do you think that sweat is going? Tierno insists that your sheets "should be washed probably on the average of once a week." And if you don't use a top sheet, this goes for your comforter, too.

But Wait, There's More

We were curious about a couple of clothing items that largely go ignored when it comes to hygiene. Just how often should we be washing those yoga pants, anyway? Probably more than you already do. The same technology in athletic clothing that helps whisk away your sweat is also hanging on to dirt and oil. In other words, just because your yoga pants are dry, it doesn't mean they're clean. As dermatologist Dierdre Hooper tells Shape, "[bacteria and yeast] will still be on those clothes the next day—possibly in higher number if they've multiplied, which they can do even when the clothes are dry." So wash them after every wear. Your yoga classmates will thank you.

So ladies, now let's discuss those bras. If you only wash your bras every couple of weeks or so, you're not alone — but you need to re-think your strategy. Dermatologist Josh Zeichner recommends to Shape that women wash their bras after five wears. Just five. And sports bras? They should be washed every single time. Like your yoga pants, you can't always tell when your sports bras are building up sweat. So let's try to stay clean (and not smelly).

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For a hilarious (but seriously useful) take on how to clean almost anything, check out "My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha" by Jolie Kerr, author of the column "Ask a Clean Person."We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Anna Todd January 24, 2017

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