How Long Can You Wear Your Pajamas Before You Have To Wash Them?

By Cristina Margolis
·  5 min read
how long should you wait to clean your pjs

Everyone seems to have a different opinion about how many consecutive nights we can wear the same pajamas. The experts have weighed in, and chances are, you’re not changing your pajamas as often as you should.

Where Did Pajamas Come From Anyway?

The word “pajama” comes from the Hindi word “pae jama,” or “pai jama,” which translates to “leg clothing.” That’s because they were originally just long, loose pants tied at the waist with a drawstring or chord. Pajamas were used in countries like India, Iran, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. 

For Europeans, wearing pajamas became a symbol of status and worldly knowledge.

It wasn’t until 1870 that pajamas were brought to the Western world by British colonials, who kept the practice of wearing pajamas after they had traveled to these exotic places. Wearing pajamas for Europeans became a symbol of status and worldly knowledge. By the 19th century, shirts were introduced to pajama wear as well.

Pajama Styles for Women

At first, women’s pajamas were made of brightly colored silk or rayon and trimmed with lace and ribbon in a “Turkish Trouser” style, which had a voluminous leg gathering at the ankle. In the 1920s, women’s pajama bottoms began to become straighter with a dropped waistline, and by the 1940s, “shortie” pajamas were created, which later turned into the “baby-doll” — a sleeveless smock-style top with frill at the hem and balloon panties with frill at the leg openings. 

The 1970s brought menswear-styled pajamas for women, often in silk. And now, pretty much anything goes when it comes to women’s pajamas. Whether you prefer sleeping in flannel bottoms and a T-shirt, silky lingerie, or just your underwear, the pajama industry has you covered — literally.

How Long Is Too Long?

So how many wears can we get out of our precious pajamas before having to wash them? According to the Cleaning Institute, pajamas should only be worn three or four times in a row before tossing them into the hamper. Basically, the more often our clothes are pressed up against our bodies, the quicker they will become dirty from our body’s oils, dirt, bacteria, and sweat. 

Pajamas should only be worn three or four times in a row before tossing them into the hamper.

How To Extend Pajama Wear Time between Washings

There are some lifestyle and hygiene factors to consider when deciding how long you can wear your pajamas. For example, you can wear your pajamas for more than three to four nights if you take a shower or bath right before bed. However, if it’s a hot summer night or you naturally sweat a lot while sleeping, you’ll want to grab a new set of pajamas every night. To get more nights out of your pajamas, you can try controlling your body’s temperature by cranking up the AC or using fans to keep your room cool. 

Your bedsheets can also play a factor. To help keep you cool at night, try using bedsheets that are made out of breathable, natural fibers, such as cotton or linen. Pulmonologist Dr. Margarita Oks says, “In general, you want a fabric that’s not too tightly woven…the more breathable the fabric, the better.” Since the ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep is around 65 degrees, cooler bedsheets can definitely help contribute to your quality of sleep as well.

Pajamas in a Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of us have been housebound. Instead of getting dolled up at home, many of us have been doing the bare minimum — no makeup, messy bun, and even staying in our pajamas all day. If you’re staying home, not in contact with anyone from outside your household, then it’s pretty safe to say that your clothes are Coronavirus-free. However, as comfortable and cozy as we feel in our pajamas, wearing them during the day can be doing more harm than good.

Wearing our pajamas during the day subconsciously makes us feel more tired and sluggish.

Wearing pajamas during the day can affect our productivity level. When we wear our pajamas at night, it signals our brain that the day is over and it’s time to relax and recharge, so when we wear our pajamas during the day, it subconsciously makes us feel more tired and sluggish, thus decreasing our energy and productivity levels. However, it’s definitely important to be happy and comfortable at home, so by all means, dress accordingly. You can wear yoga pants with large Billie Eilish-style shirts for example, just as long as they aren’t pajamas.

Closing Thoughts

If you’re surprised by how frequently you should be changing your pajamas, know you’re not alone. In a survey done by Ergoflex, women ages 18 - 30 said that they wear the same pajamas for an average of 17 consecutive nights. The women claimed that since their pajamas didn’t smell bad, they thought they were just fine. Yikes! But now we know that our pajamas should be worn no more than three to four times and ways we can actually prolong wearing them. I don’t know about you, but I will definitely be sleeping more soundly knowing that my pajamas are as fresh and clean as can be.

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