Does Washing Your Hair Kill Germs?

There's always been debate over how frequently one should wash their hair. Every day? Once a week? When you find yourself wearing a hat too many days in a row? We wash our hair to rid it of the natural build up of oil, sweat, dirt, dry skin, or even residue from other beauty products. But how effective is shampoo in ridding our scalps of potential germs and viruses? Well, while shampoo's main goal isn't necessarily to disinfect, it does prove effective in cleansing. According to Insider, shampoo is able to remove and wash away microorganisms. By thoroughly rinsing, most shampoos are able to break down any present bacteria causing them to become "inactive," according to their interview with researcher Stanley Maloy, Ph.D. 

If this initially sounds terrifying, it's important to note that viruses generally don't survive well in hair and it isn't a popular place for them to dwell. To guard against any potential infection, you can avoid sharing beauty products with others as well as increase wash frequency during times of the year when those around you are particularly prone to sickness. While these are a couple of things you can do to maintain your hair hygiene on your own, truthfully, your scalp is already doing most of the work for you. The oil that our scalp naturally secrets is called "sebum" and although we often try our best to rid our hair of all potentially embarrassing visible oils, sebum is actually our body's way of protecting our skin and keeping infection at bay by the very nature of keeping our scalps moist (via Healthline).

How often should we wash our hair?

So the question remains — how often should we wash our hair then? It's a careful balance between beauty maintenance and healthy hygiene and no one answer is the same for everyone. For example, if you're someone who frequently uses various hair products every day, more frequent washing will prevent buildup from remaining residue. For those with more naturally oily hair, some research suggests a wash every one to two days while some suggest every few days. The research can vary and you, of course, know your body best.

Healthline has some additional tips to offer that may be helpful to incorporate moving forward in your day to day hair routine: Be gentle. Lathering too roughly with your fingernails can result in scratches or irritation. Additionally, limit conditioner use to your ends rather than all over. Remember, sebum is doing most of the work for you so focus on dry patches in need of extra hydration and let your scalp take care of the rest.