Sleep News

Revealed: Our Worst Bedtime Hygiene Habits

29 Oct 20205.5 min read

Sticking to your nightly routine can be a chore. We’ve all skipped a shower occasionally and left the bedding on a little too long. But how bad can we be?

We surveyed adults to uncover our worst bedtime hygiene habits. The results are more shocking than you might think! Discover our filthiest findings below, with the help of Dr Giuseppe Aragona, GP and Medical Advisor at Prescription Doctor to explain the dangers behind a dirty bedtime routine.

Horrifying hygiene stats

  • 1 in 3 only change their pyjamas every 5 days
  • 7 in 10 don’t wash after sex, risking thrush or a UTI
  • Half of adults sleep in dirty bed sheets for 2 weeks
  • 1 in 3 young people only wash their sheets once a month
  • Half of adults don’t brush their teeth every night
  • 1 in 4 don’t wash their face or remove makeup before bed

1 in 3 only change their pyjamas every 5 days, risking infection

Over a third of us stay in our pyjamas all day now, according to a recent study. But shockingly the same number of adults only change their pyjamas every five days. What’s worse, just 1 in 20 adults change their nightwear after sleeping in it for 10 nights.

It's debated if working in your pyjamas is a good idea for your productivity, but there is another health consideration – the germs.

The Clean Living Institute recommends that you wash your pyjamas every three to four wears. By not washing your nightwear regularly, you risk your pyjamas gathering dead skin cells, dust mites and bed bugs, plus the bodily fluids left on the sheets. If the bacteria transfers onto your skin, you could risk getting an infection like cystitis.

How often do adults change their pyjamas?

7 in 10 don’t wash after sex, which could result in a UTI

It’s no secret that sex is messy. We exchange all kinds of bodily fluids, from saliva to sweat to semen. That’s why we were shocked to find 7 in 10 don’t bother cleaning up after. This risks and infection and irritation. The build up of bacteria can cause thrush or a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Dr Aragona says that “showering an hour or so after sex could help to protect you from any infections such as UTIs”. He advises that you should “wash with plain warm water and avoid heavily scented soaps, as this will irritate the area. Going to the toilet after sex can also help to prevent any UTIs.”

Half of adults risk a rash by sleeping in dirty bedding

Not only are we not cleaning ourselves after sex – we’re also not cleaning the sheets. We found that half of adults wait two weeks before changing their bedding. When you consider how many don’t wash after sex, it’s worse considering how long we sleep in unclean sheets.

How often do adults change their bed sheets?

Again, men are worse than women, with 3 in 5 only changing their sheets every fortnight, compared to half of women.

Bodily fluids can make your sheets feel dry and disgusting, plus they pose a health risk due to the build up of bacteria. Combined with dead skin and dust mites, your dirty bedding could cause a rash and worsen allergies.

Dr Aragona says that “once a week is best for optimum cleanliness. Leaving your sheets longer than two weeks, however, could leave you feeling grubby and could promote skin issues such as spots and itchiness”.

1 in 3 young people sleep in 12 million colonies of bacteria

Our survey revealed that young people are the worst for sleeping in the dirtiest bedding. A surprising 1 in 3 adults aged 18-29 admitted they only change their sheets once a month – or they wait even longer. Considering how many don’t wash after sex, that’s a long time to be sleeping in unclean sheets.

How many adults wait a month or longer before changing their bed sheets

Research shows that 12 million colonies of bacteria breed in bedding after not being cleaned for four weeks, which can be intensified by any bodily fluids such as sweat.

Half of adults don’t brush their teeth nightly, risking tooth decay and gum disease

Shockingly, our survey revealed that half of adults don’t brush their teeth every night! Just a quarter of adults are brushing between one and four times a week before bed, missing out at least three nights of proper oral hygiene. What’s worst of all, 1 in 10 admit that they never brush their teeth before bed.

How often do adults brush their teeth before bed?

Our data also shows that younger people are one of the dirtiest again, with only 2 in 5 adults aged 18-29 brushing their teeth every night. We also found that a shocking 1 in 7 over 60s never brush at night.

Research shows that there are over 300 different types of bacteria living in your mouth. If you don’t brush your teeth and allow bacteria to build up, you risk tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath – not very nice for a kiss goodnight!

The half of adults who aren’t brushing every night should take advice from Dr Aragona, who says “you should brush your teeth twice a day at the least in the morning and night. If you do not brush your teeth twice daily, you could promote dentail issues such as gum diseases and cavities from plaque build up”.

1 in 4 don’t wash their face or remove makeup before bed, worsening acne and blackheads

Surprisingly, 1 in 4 adults don’t clean their face before bed. But if you don’t wash at night, the build up of oil, dirt, sweat and pollution that gathers on your skin in the day will clog your pores. This can result in acne, blackheads, irritation and a dull complexion.

If you wear makeup, the effect will be worse, plus you’ll leave bacteria behind on your pillow – that’s not great for sleeping on every night!

Dr Aragona advises that “you should wash your face twice a day in the morning and night. Morning isn’t as imperative as the night as you will have just been in bed. However, going to bed with clean skin is important as you most likely will have picked up quite a bit of dirt and bacteria from the day. Leaving this on the skin could promote issues such as acnes and congestion.”

How often do adults wash their face before bed?

Men are worse, with only a third washing their face every night. But not many women have a hygienic bedtime routine either, as just 2 in 5 said they clean their skin nightly.

Are you guilty of any of these bad bedtime hygiene habits? Then you might like to find out if you’re cleaning often enough or you can learn how to detox the bedroom on a budget. For more health tips and bedroom advice, check out the Mattress Online blog.


500 adult respondents surveyed in October 2020.