Did your mother ever scold you for wearing your “outside” clothes in bed? Many people are taking to social media to share these similar childhood memories, and it’s sparking a viral debate: Is it really unsanitary to sit on the bed in the clothes you’ve worn outside, out in the world all day long, or is this an old wives’ tale?
Let’s find out and settle this generational debate once and for all!
Where Did The ‘No Outside Clothes’ Rule Come From?
If we turn back the clock and think about how things were back in the day, we can assume the “no outside clothes” advice was likely born out of practicality. Before we had washers and dryers, doing laundry was an exhausting, all-day chore. This meant people did laundry less often, including their bedding. Furthermore, the lay of the land was just different back in the day. Less than 4% of the roads were paved before the 1900s in America, so that means lots of dirt and dust was being picked up by pants and petticoats.
If you were the woman in charge of laundering, it makes sense that you would shriek anytime someone came in from outside with all that dirt all over their shoes and clothing hems.
But nowadays, we are more likely to arrive in a clean car, not a carriage. And we’re probably wearing yoga leggings, not long, trailing skirts. So it is really necessary to take off our clothes before we chill out and watch some TV?
The Popular Opinion On Outside Clothes
Social media has always been a pretty reliable place to figure out where people stand on divisive subject matter, and the “no outside clothes” rule is no exception. On Twitter, people are confessing they can’t help but cringe if anyone tries to sit on their bed in their outside clothes, saying their parents would have never permitted that.
In fact, in a poll, 61.3% of people say they avoid sitting on their bed in outside clothes at all costs.
do you avoid sitting on your bed with your outside clothes (eg the jeans you’ve worn on the subway etc)?
— Viv (@battleangelviv) April 7, 2023
Furthermore, author Phoebe Robinson even titled a collection of her humorous essays “Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes.”
“‘Please don’t sit on my bed in your outside clothes’ is truly something my parents live by,” Robinson told WABE. “They were just like, ‘The outside world is funky, and triflin’, and dirty, and when you come into this home, we don’t want that filth in there, and so yeah, don’t sit on the bed, don’t sit on the couch until you change your clothes…’ I realized that was a life lesson from my parents that really stuck with me.”
It seems that many of us still hate when people wear their outside clothes in bed. But is it really as bad as we think?
The Expert Opinion
We talked to Jason Tetro, a microbiologist who has spent his career studying how germs impact our lives. Known as “The Germ Guy,” Tetro is the author of “The Germ Files” and the host of the podcast “Super Awesome Science Show.”
“When you go out into the world, you may be coming into contact with surfaces that are contaminated by all sorts of microbes including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Some are harmless but a few can make you sick,” Tetro tells Simplemost.
The microbiologist says you should consider your commute and the possible contaminants you might come into contact with, such as if you work with chemicals or with animals.
“If you happen to be in an urban area or one where there are animals, it’s best to keep the clothes you wear separate from your more comfortable places such as the bed,” he says.” “If you have a blanket and sit on it at the end of the bed, it’s not that much of a problem. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Tetro goes on to say that not at all clothes are created equal. If you want to fight the spread of germs coming into your home, he suggests buying clothing that has antimicrobial qualities.
“You may be able to help reduce the level of microbes in clothing by wearing clothes with an antimicrobial ingredient,” Tetro says.
He adds that germs aren’t the only thing that can travel home with you — so can allergens.
“When you are outside, you are going to collect airborne particles as well as those from surfaces you touch. While they may not be pathogenic, they may cause other issues such as allergies and skin irritation,” he says. “In essence, you want to keep those away from one of the most comfortable places in the home.”
In other words, if you are sensitive to pollen, ragweed and other common allergens, you may want to consider changing clothes when you come home or not laying down in your bed until you put on your loungewear. This is especially true during months like spring and summer.
So, no outside clothes on the bed? Might be good advice from Grandma after all!