Teen Hygiene--is This Normal?

Updated on January 26, 2017
T.L. asks from Wayne, MI
22 answers

I hope this is just a phase. Is it normal for teens to go days without showering? Is it normal for teens to wear the same clothes for days without washing those clothes? My daughter was over for a visit and I noticed this behavior. She's a very social kid with a boyfriend, so I'm confused by this. She doesn't appear depressed or using drugs. I hope this isn't a bad habit that she's developed. I confronted her about it and it didn't go over well. I offered to wash clothes and even gave her some great smelling shower gel to no avail. Am I just being anal here? This behavior is really bugging me! Help!

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answers from Austin on

It can fall into the normal range.. Showering every day is a hassle if she does not want to wash her hair each day.. If she is not very active she may not feel she needs to shower..

It is also not unusual for teens to have favorite clothing that they like to wear so they wear their favorite jeans for many day before being willing to have them washed..

Here is a map of her room or closet..
1. Pile of clothes that have been washed, but not her favorite clothing.. Folded but now covered with books, towels, etc..

2. Pile of clothes she likes ok and has worn 2 or 3 times.. She looks at it holds it up, but does not really want to wear them..

3.Pile of clothing still slightly passable but have worn 4 to 5 day and would make an adult cringe..Easy to wear, looks like what everybody else is wearing.. all broken in..

4. Filthy clothes, probably under the bed (or corner of her closet), that used to be her favorite, but now are too filthy and she does not want to deal with them.. Thus the strange odors in her bedroom or closet..

I am assuming her boyfriend or a female friend will say something if they thinks she has an odor..

If you had a nice talk with her, let it be.. She is old enough to be in charge of her hygiene..

If you are concerned, just keep an eye out for her behaviors, eating well, getting some sleep, can get mildly excited about upcoming events.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Totally normal, ( unless she stinks) also I use to have clothes that I love to wear for days and hated when I have to wash them.

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answers from Biloxi on

Had you said your son I would have agreed with you. I have 15 year old boy and he can go a couple days without bathing or changing - but, normally only on days when he knows he is not going anywhere. Like this week - his last three days off before school started and me at work all day - he was a stinky sloth. I make him brush teeth daily tho' - eeewwww.

So it is not unusual - but I tend to remember teen girls being cleaner than boys. However, I don't shampoo my hair every day - depending on what I do, I can skip a day. I also, on weekends, tend to get up Saturday morning, run errands and such and sometimes not shower until Sunday before church (which takes me from Friday am to Sunday am). I wear some clothing twice before I wash it - especially jeans!

So I don't think your daughter is odd. Let her be, but is she smells - make her bathe....that's my rule with my son. LOL

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answers from Tampa on

I still as an adult, do not shower daily - more like 3-4 times a week, more if I'm sweaty or dirty. My daughter is probably going to be like me.

As for clothing, I will wear shirts and bottoms as often as I can - until they are dirty... saves on my having to do a lot of laundry on clothing that isn't really even dirty.

Regular body odor is not offensive to me.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I don't think this refusal for hygiene is too uncommon, but I also don't think that it should be viewed as normal. I think I would be concerned about what is going on in your daughter's life that these habits have changed. In my experience, it is partly a rebellion and partly a call for help.

We had this problem with our stepson. He would refuse to wear anything but the same pair of jeans every day. He was having some emotional issues when he came to live with us at 14. He was having to adjust to a new school in a new state. His mother and stepfather had been abusing him. We were in counseling for a year. His mother refused to talk with him for an entire year. So yeah, lots of things were going on.

I resorted to sneaking into his room at night and swiping his jeans and washing them. His father took on the role of insisting on showers.

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answers from New York on

Who says you have to shower every day and can't wear the same clothes more than once? I don't bathe everyday and I wash my clothes after wearing them SEVERAL times. Does she smell? Does she wear deodorant? Is she offending others besides you? I would leave her alone. I used to hate it when my mom was on me for stupid things like that.

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answers from Redding on

Let her be. If she gets stinky one of her peers will let her know. They listen more to their friends than they do their parents at that age. Figure youre saving on laundry and bath soap for now. I'm sure it will come to a screaching halt one day. I remember showering two or three times a day when I was a teen, mostly because I had to re-do my hair, haha. Fun times.

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answers from San Diego on

I still wear my clothes 2-3 times if I didn't sweat or get dirty in them. But I've always showered daily!

Sounds like you took a good approach. It can be a very awkward subject! If you or dad can't get through to her, the school nurse can talk to her. As a HS teacher, I've had personal (read: private) conversations with students about personal hygiene because they had B.O. and we've been able to resolve it.

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answers from Washington DC on

I don't have teens yet, but from what I remember for myself, I did shower daily and did not wear anything more than once with out washing it first. Now for myself, I shower every single day, wear clean shirts every single day. When I wear jeans or shorts, then I will wear them no more than twice before washing.

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answers from Washington DC on

Well, My girls will take two showers a day, and they both swim every day so essentally they are squeaky clean all the time. Oh and one is completely bummed that Bath and Body Works doesn't carry her smell anymore.

My oldest son was allowed to have long hair as long as he kept it clean so he did, though he really didn' care and my youngest is 10. He also swims so a good chlorine bath is better than nothing.

I would require her to bathe when she visits.

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answers from Detroit on

As a teen, I didn't wash my jeans much, but shirts and everything else of course. It's probably a phase, nothing a good yeast infection won't cure. ;) She might just have to learn the hard way.

BTW many of my friends did drugs in high school, and they all showered. So I wouldn't focus too much on that, but it's always worth looking out for. Good luck. I'm not looking forward to the teenage years.

Also, is this her normal behavior? Or is she just doing this because she knows it'll bug you?

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answers from Dallas on

I think its the individual. My almost 15 yr old showers everyday and changes clothes constantly!

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answers from Houston on

I never went days without showering until I had small children!! LOL! I know dudes can go a few days, but I really don't know about girls. I think a day is fine, I might question 2 or 3 days. Now as a teen I would wear my jeans a couple times before washing but not shirts. So I am not too sure if it is the norm, seems a bit strange to me honestly. If she doesn't have odor issues or look unpresentable however, it probably isn't an issue. Good luck!

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answers from New York on

Yes, I think it falls into the catagory of normal. My girls get involved with other things and sometimes just forget. I don't know girls who wear clothes for more than 2 days, but I know boys who do. I won't worry to much about it. Just casually remind her every once in awhile.

Added: The average teen should not shower every day. I've been advised by a dermotologist that every other is good, or even every 3. Of course, things my vary due to activity levels and temperature conditions

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answers from Phoenix on

My son went through a phase and i just talked to him about showering everyday and wearing clean clothes. the talk helped

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answers from Rochester on

I'm not saying anything for sure, but I think girl who are teens tend to be cleaner than that. I always showered every day and wore clean clothes...that is, until I started smoking pot, and then I just got way too lazy trying to get myself to school in the morning. I didn't shower every day, just sprayed on some stuff...I wore clean clothes, every day, though. My parents had no idea I was using drugs for many, many years...you'd be surprised. (Many years clean and sober now, though!!) I wouldn't worry if this is the ONLY thing...but maybe evaluate other things. Is she not doing things she used to? Activities, sports, etc? Staying up different hours, hard to get up in the morning, change in appetite, skin condition, anything?

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answers from Atlanta on

What's her exact age? I think this can be pretty normal for younger teens. I remember going to drill team camp at 14 and one of my friend's moms begging us to make her shower! She didn't for 4 days of middle GA heat until we forced her into a shower! There were several girls like that and no drugs were involved.

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answers from Provo on

When my daughter was at home she would take a shower everyday and change clothes a lot. Both of my teens are really into hygiene. I would think this is normal because teens don't like to be bothered with the small stuff. However, I would think a girl would think differently about hygiene. I can always remember when I was a teenager I was worried about getting some kind of feminine infection. Tough subject to address. I took my daughter to bath and body works with me but if your daughter is not that kind of kid then she's not that kind of kid.



answers from New York on

Common? Maybe. Normal? Not sure. I know that my soon to be 12 year old showers almost daily and if it happens to be a non-shower day, she washes her face & brushes her teeth at least 2X per day. Clothes are worn once and then washed (I've worn jeans more than once, however). My daughter usually changes her underwear in the morning AND before bed. If I could smell that she needed a shower, I would definately let her know. This is basic hygiene 101. I think it's just common sense that you would want to keep your body/clothes clean and smelling good. I can never understand what makes some kids do this - it has come up on this board before. Good luck.



answers from Columbus on

You are making WAAAAY to much of this! Leave the girl alone! This is HER choice, not yours. If she doesn't shower often, that'sounds her decision. If she NEVER washes her jeans, THAT'S OK! There are alot of people who like unwashed jeans--myself and my own teens included. Sloppy jeans look great! Let this one go and leave her alone! Her hygiene is not your business!


answers from Detroit on

Do I (IMO) think this is normal? No.
Do I think that some kids do this as part of a phase? Yes.
Do I think it's NASTY? Most definately.

And if she's menstrating, does she not shower for days? Because that's even worse!!!!

I HAD to shower at least once a day. I had acne on my back and my hair has always been pretty oily.

I HATE smelling nasty. I'm very happy that my kids don't like smelling funky. *YET* My 8yr old daughter is wearing Tom's of Maine Deoderant already.



answers from Detroit on

I'd continue to watch her behavior. If its limited only to wearing the same clothes over again and not showering, then it might be some strange teen trend. However if other areas of her life begin to be affected then there is probably something else going on. Watch carefully. Don't nag her about it. Keep the communication lines open. Talk to her about other things and see if you notice anything from those conversations.

Best wishes!

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