Slipping into a soft pair of pajamas after a long day feels pretty sweet, and when you find a pair that you love, it can be tempting to wear them over and over again. But before you know it, a few days have passed and you realize your PJs are feeling a little bit less than fresh.
The following question then looms in the air: How often are you supposed to wash your pajamas? And how do you wash them regularly but still keep them in the best shape? Stumped? So were we, so we polled a few laundry and textile pros for some expert tips.
How often should you wash your pajamas?
Everyone has their own standards when it comes to rewearing clothes. But from a health perspective, are there any concerns about wearing the same set of pajamas for several nights in a row? The answer isn’t exactly cut and dry, according to chief physician editor Neha Pathak, MD.
“There isn’t a specific scientific study or data that helps inform guidance for how often you should wash your pajamas. Washing frequency depends on a variety of factors,” the pro says. Here are a few to consider:
- The material of the pajamas: “Synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon and elastane are particularly attracted to natural greases and oils like sebum. In fact, we refer to synthetic fibers as dirt and odor magnets. Any garments that are fully synthetic or contain synthetic fibers are more likely to get smellier faster,” fabric care scientist Jennifer Ahoni explains.
- Temperature/climate: “It also depends on what the temperature is like when you sleep. In hot climates or during hot weather months, you likely sweat more if you don’t have air conditioning, so your PJs may require more frequent washing during those times,” the expert explains.
- Personal preference/hygiene: “We know that when you sleep in your PJs for hours every night they’re collecting sweat, body oils, dead skin cells and potentially allergens and bacteria that may then accumulate,” Pathak says. “As a general rule of thumb, washing regularly is important. How frequently depends on personal preference taking into account these factors for your own personal comfort level.”
That said, experts have varying opinions when it comes to this laundry conundrum.
Meurice Garment Care CEO Wayne Edelman prefers to wash pajamas after each use, “as any garment worn next to the skin should.”
On the other hand, Ahoni — as well as the American Cleaning Institute — suggests washing pajamas every three wears. “If you sweat a lot while sleeping, you may want to increase this frequency. Simply said, our bodies produce a lot of gross, stinky stuff that ends up on our clothing, pajamas included,” she says.
How much do you really sweat while you sleep?
"In one day, even without even working out, your body produces one liter of sweat, 10 grams of salt, 40 grams of grease and sebum (body oil) and 10 grams of skin cells and flakes," Ahoni offers.
The bottom line? It all boils down to personal preference, but you're better off switching out your PJs every few wears.
Are there any negative health side effects associated with infrequent pajama washing?
Luckily, rewearing your pajamas for days on end won’t make you sick. But it can lead to the following undesirable side effects and affect your personal hygiene, according to Pathak.
- Skin irritation: “Remember that all that sweat, body oils and other bodily secretions can build up and can become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi that can then come in contact with your skin,” the expert says. On top of all that, if you’re not washing your PJs enough, you might see a buildup of allergens like dust mite, pollen and pet dander that can irritate your skin or cause a runny nose and sneezing when you’re trying to sleep.
- Odor: “This collection of bodily secretions can also lead to an odor in the clothes that may impact your sleep,” the expert says.
Laundry tips for washing pajamas
Determined to keep your favorite pajamas in the best possible shape? Keep this laundry guide with expert tips handy!
- Find the right detergent for you: “You can use liquid, powder or pods, whatever you prefer. For items you are handwashing or pre-treating, you should use liquid detergent. For a large load of all your family’s pajamas, pods are a great option to give you more cleaning power. Also make sure to check the garment care label for the best drying instructions,” Ahoni suggests.
- The way you dry matters: “Drying in the dryer 80% of the way tends to make pajamas softer vs. air-drying,” Edelman tells us. “Air-drying is great, however it leaves the pajamas stiff. You can always tumble them in a cool dryer to soften them for a few minutes if you do end up air-drying.”
- Use a protective laundry bag: “Typically you want to wash delicates, including some pajamas, in a separate load from other items, particularly heavier items, like towels or denim, to prevent abrasion and damage to finer fabrics. Using a laundry garment bag additionally helps protect from the agitation and abrasion that can happen in the wash,” Ahoni says.
- Consider the fabric: “Silk pajamas will likely require much different care than cotton pajamas. Always check the garment care label for the best laundry guidance,” Ahoni says.
- Try washing in cold water: “In addition to being more sustainable, washing in cold can help you save...on your energy bill. Washing in cold is also better for prolonging the life of your garments and can help prevent fading,” Ahoni says.
Laundry tips for most common pajama materials
Wondering how to wash specific pajama materials? Here’s a go-to guide:
- Cotton: “Since cotton items tend to wrinkle and shrink easily, they are usually combined with other fibers. Because of this mix, no cotton garment is created equal so check the fabric care instructions on the tags before washing,” Ahoni says. The laundry pro recommends washing in cold water on a gentle cycle and tumble dry using a gentle cycle.
- Silk: “Silk pajamas may require handwashing or may be dry clean only,” Ahoni says. When washing silks at home, the expert suggested avoiding chlorine bleach, the tumble dry cycle and direct sunlight drying.
- Polyester/linen: “Make sure to check the care label for the recommended guidance on the specific garment. The good news is that most polyester and linen items are machine-washable. If the specific pajamas are machine-washable, you can follow similar guidance to washing cotton: wash in cold water using a gentle cycle and if the care label allows for drying, tumble dry on a low temperature,” Ahoni says.
Laundry products to wash your pajamas
This bestselling set has nearly 11,000 verified five-star ratings from happy customers and comes with two spacious 24 x 24 in. bags that protect pajamas while still allowing soap and water to flow through to cleanse them.
If you want to keep your PJs fresh, these detergent pods will do the trick. The multitasking formula simultaneously cleanses and conditions, all while preventing stretching and fading. It does so with the help of a four-in-one formula that includes detergent, brightener, stain remover and Downy Fabric Protect technology.
Persil Original Laundry Detergent fends off pesky stains with its deep cleansing powers and even works for high efficiency washing machines. The bestseller (it has over 11,000 verified five-star ratings) also has enough detergent to last 110 loads of laundry, according to the brand.
If you're handwashing pajamas made with a delicate material like silk, you'll want to approach drying in a gentler method. This top-rated drying rack with 3,300+ verified five-star ratings is not only expansive at 79 inches in length, but it also folds up easily when not in use.
Pajamas may be soft when you first wear them, but they tend to develop lint and pilling as time goes on. Luckily, you can keep them looking and feeling brand new with this fabric shaver that has six precision razor blades.
New pajamas to try
Available in seven colors, this jersey tee is a perfect top to go with your go-to lounge pants. It also doubles as a workout tee or nice layering piece, so you’ll get your money’s worth!
You can’t get more classic than a timeless nightgown. If you’re looking for something a bit less cookie cutter, this one adds a modern and casual flair with its laidback silhouette and front pocket. The style is available in three colors and is made of a soft, stretchy fabric that will keep you cool on warm summer nights.
There’s something so whimsical about a flirty print and we’re huge fans of this macaron pattern. The multicolored design features a plethora of tiny treats in varying flavors and the stretchy fabric moves with you as you toss and turn at night. The affordable price tag is a major bonus, too!
Vera Bradley might be known for its accessories, but the brand also makes a pretty adorable nightgown. This short-sleeve style comes in two prints and is made of a soft and stretchy cotton/spandex blend. We particularly love the high/low hem and the relaxed fit.
Flirty meets casual with these sweet pajamas. The set comes with a short sleeve henley top with flutter sleeves and pants with a drawstring waist. The style comes in three colors and a plethora of sizes ranging from XS to 3X.
Prefer loungewear separates to PJ sets? These pants are a nice option with their spacious flare design and high-rise waistband. They’re available in three colors and are made with a stretchy rib-knit rayon blend that’s easy to move around in.
You can’t go wrong with this soft jersey pajama set. Made of a stretchy material, the long sleeve top and slim leg pants put a premium on comfort, and they’ll also keep you warm when the temperature drops. Did we mention that they’re on sale?
Never miss an opportunity to make a bold fashion statement? This sassy print was made for you! The floral pattern is set on a navy backdrop and has white piping throughout. We also love that the set is made with soft, organically grown cotton and eco-friendly materials.
Meet the experts
- Neha Pathak, MD, is the chief physician editor for health and lifestyle medicine for WebMD.
- Wayne Edelman is the CEO of Meurice Garment Care and CLEAN by Meurice based in New York City. He previously spoke to Shop TODAY on how to effectively wash white clothing.
- Jennifer Ahoni is the principal scientist for fabric care at Procter & Gamble.