How Often Should You Shower, And Other Cleanliness-Related Questions, Answered

Adulting is hard. Just when you think you’re doing OK, science pops up to tell you that you’re doing it all wrong. Inspired by Buzzfeed's recent article about proper showering technique, I have compiled a list of all the hygiene-related things you should be doing if you want to call yourself a responsible member of society. We're covering everything from how often you should wash your bath towels to how often you should wash yourself. Don’t be discouraged if you’ve been getting some of these wrong your entire life; there’s always time to change. And just to prove to you that you’re not the only one whose hygiene habits are now suddenly questionable, I’m going to include my personal guesses before the actual answers.

Question #1: How often should you wash your bath towels?

My guess: Every few weeks.

Real Answer: Every few days.

Yikes, was I wrong. According to Good Housekeeping, you should swap out your bath towels every three uses (those are the ones you use to dry yourself off with after a shower). However, hand towels need to be changed out more often than that — every day or two. Somebody point me to the nearest Bed Bath & Beyond, because clearly the three sets of towels I own are just not cutting it.

Question #2: How often should you change your sheets?

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My guess: Once a week.

Real answer: Once a week.

I should note here that even though I know I’m supposed to change my sheets weekly, I actually do it on a monthly basis. Gross, I know. But the good news is that you only need to wash mattress covers and pillow liners every few months, and you only need to wash the pillows themselves one to two times a year. I think that, even if no human can wash their sheets every week, we can all handle an annual pillow wash. Right?

Question #3: How often should you shower?

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My guess: Every day, duh.

Real answer: Every two to three days.

Yep, you read that correctly. Two dermatologists told BuzzFeed Life that Americans shower way too often, and you only really need to do so once every two or three days. That might sound gross (I can’t imagine what I would smell like if I didn’t shower for three days), but here’s why: Showering too often, especially with hot water, can make your skin dry and irritated, wash away good bacteria, and introduce small cracks that open you up to infection. Well, now at least I don’t have to feel bad about not getting out of my warm, toasty bed to jump in the freezing shower. Everybody wins.

Question #4: How often should you wash your hair?

My guess: Eh, I don’t know, I wash it every day, because otherwise my waves just go limp, but I know you don’t have to do it that often.

Real answer: It varies, but definitely not every single day.

I turned to the ultimate source in overthinking everyday things, WebMD, to tackle this issue. Nick Arrojo (my favorite hairdresser whom I’ve never actually been to) asserts that “shampooing three or four times a week is plenty.” Dermatologists agree that you really don’t need to shampoo every day. They say that the longer, thicker, curlier, and/or processed your hair is, the longer you can go between washes. Even people with straight, unprocessed, and thin hair can go a day between shampoos. So basically, it’s up to your discretion, but you really only need to wash your hair every day if it’s super oily (and it might be super oily because you're washing it too much).

Question #5: How often should you wash your bras?

My guess: Every two to three uses (not that I actually abide by this guess at all).

Real answer: Every three to four wears

I'll be honest (again): I definitely do not wash my bras half as often as I should. That's probably pretty grimy, but I wear bras every day, so I can never wash them all at once. Plus, you have to put them through the delicate cycle inside one of those little mesh bags, and who has the time for that? But that doesn't change the fact that, ideally, you should wash your bra every three or four wears. More things you might not know about caring for your bras: Never wear the same one two days in a row (to give the elastic time to stretch back) and give at least 24 hours of breathing room before you wear it again. Well now I just feel like a monster.

Images: Ivo Posthumus / Flickr; jakesjohnson, A Night in Wonderland, My Corner of the Universe / Tumblr ; Giphy