One of the biggest perks of working from home is that you don’t have to worry about your appearance being judged by coworkers. Having a bad hair day, a little dandruff outbreak, or a bit of bad breath you forgot to treat with mouthwash? Have no fear, there’s no shared office here! You can look and smell however you please when working from home. But just how much hygiene upkeep can you reasonably get away with ignoring?
Your mileage may vary depending on how much you dislike the smell of French cheeses and care about seeing a pretty face in the mirror, but you can skip a lot of hygiene if you have a tolerance for the consequences. Here’s a quick guide on what hygiene standards you can throw out your home office’s window.
In certain cultures, deodorant is seen as senseless masking of your body’s perfectly harmless, natural odors. You can make this the official culture of your home office if you see fit.
Depending on how many people you live with or have to interact with on a daily basis, skipping deodorant may not be feasible. If you have kids, it’s probably not a great idea to set the example that maintaining good hygiene isn’t important. Or, if you have a spouse or family around, consider their noses before skipping the Old Spice and letting your armpits go wild.
However, if you are a lone ranger who has no need to fear the reaction of other peoples’ noses and you truly want to embrace the perks of working from a home office, then ignore the deodorant stick. Let your body’s natural smells permeate those dark, dank crevices beneath your shoulders. If the smell starts to taint your shirt (if you bother to wear one while working from home), who cares? The only time you’ll need deodorant is when your body’s smells become too much for you to bear.
Spare the washer and dryer
As an extension of the deodorant debacle, don’t forget that clothing also accrues many odd smells the longer you wear it. Thankfully, no colleagues can smell your garments if you’re sequestered away in a home office. Therefore, if you wore your favorite shirt yesterday and want to wear it again today but haven’t had time to wash it, go for it anyway!
If you live in an aggressively hot climate, your clothes might get so sweaty, smelly, and unsavory that wearing the same thing twice in a row without a wash might not be realistic even if you’re by yourself. For colder climates, though, wearing the same thing twice won’t make much of a difference, even during spring months—especially if you’re spending most of your time stuck inside your house working.
In short, deodorant isn’t the only upkeep item that can be abandoned—changing your clothes every single day is irrelevant busywork, too. Just make sure you periodically change whichever articles of clothing are visible during video calls with coworkers—even if everyone is secretly abandoning hygiene best practices, our society dictates that you’re still obligated to pretend you care about how you look and smell.
If you like your breakfasts spicy—and, c’mon, who doesn’t love a good ol’ jalapeno and egg sandwich to start the day—you know how dangerous bad breath can be. You’ll brush your teeth at home, leave for the office, grab some food on the way there, then instantly undo all your dental hygiene efforts when you enter your place of work and take the first bite out of your breakfast.
Working from home ensures you’re safe from being “ew”ed out of a morning meeting. When operating out of a home office, you can decide how much your breath’s smell matters. You should always brush your teeth in the morning to prevent plaque buildup and cavities, but even a good brush doesn’t always prevent bad smells, especially if a quick breakfast undoes all your hard work. No one can smell your words over a Zoom call, though.
In case you have a super-sensitive nose and fear your own breath, a perk of working from a home office is that you can just go brush your teeth, grab a swig of mouthwash, or chew on some mouth-freshening gum whenever you want. Alternatively, just let the bad breath go wild and live free.
Wash hands in the kitchen?
When you work from a home office and not a crowded communal office, you more or less know whose germs are going to be visiting your kitchen. So, unlike an office break room or kitchen where you should always be vigilantly washing your hands in anticipation of some coworker’s grubby paws touching all the fruits in the fruit basket, not as many precautions are needed when working from home.
Naturally, washing hands and cleaning food and utensils are all part of normal living, but if you like to occasionally leave plates in the sink or skip a hand wash while prepping lunch, it’s a lot more acceptable to do that in the comfort of your own kitchen than your office’s. Is this the epitome of lazy, hygiene-skirting behavior? Yeah. But, hey, if skipping a hand wash is how you want to revel in your work-from-home freedom, go for it. Make that pot of mac ‘n cheese for lunch and don’t spare the ten seconds it takes to wash and dry your hands. Live life. Just be sure to wash your hands before and after you visit the outside world.
Shower power, or the lack thereof
At this point, you’re contemplating skipping hand washing while cooking meals, ditching mouthwash in favor of bad breath, wearing the same clothes multiple days in a row, and throwing out every stick of deodorant you’ll never need again. How can you make this unholy concoction of work-from-home laziness even sweeter? Simple: skip the everyday shower. Go all-in on home office comfort and shave thirty minutes off your daily chore schedule by only bothering with a shower every other day.
Many dermatologists and experts argue that too much bathing is bad for your skin and that alternating-day showers are comparatively optimal. You might smell slightly different for half of each week, but this routine is better for your body overall. Besides, you’re working from a home office! You call the shots—and the smells.