Would You Rather: Wear Dirty Underwear, Or Go Without?

…Sadly, this is a decision people experiencing homelessness have to make every single day.

For people who are homeless in Edmonton, gaining access to new, clean underwear is difficult. Some individuals may wear the same pair of underwear for months at a time, and some may go without underwear for just as long.

Underwear is one of the most requested items by the people who use Bissell Centre services, but one of the least donated items.

“It doesn’t feel comfortable when you’re not wearing any underwear, and no one likes to put dirty underwear back on after a shower. Women have accidents; they need access to clean undergarments.” – Angie

So, let’s pass the question onto you. Would you rather wear dirty underwear, or go without?

Let’s weigh each of the options:

Wear Dirty Underwear

Wearing dirty underwear may not seem like a big deal at first, but as the weeks pass, bacteria and microbes will accumulate causing an embarrassing odour, irritating rash, and infection on your skin down there!

If you’re a woman and you have a leak or accident during that time of the month, you’ll have no choice but to continue wearing the dirtied underwear, which can contribute to even more bacteria and microbe growth.

Not to mention, after you shower and get all squeaky clean, you won’t have a fresh pair of undies to slip into and will have to pop on the smelly, old, bacteria-ridden pair.

 Go Full Commando

Going without underwear sounds fun —“freeing” even —but what happens when the inevitable chafing and skin irritation come along with it? You’ll have to deal with that gnarly skin rash for weeks on end!

If you’re a woman and do not have access to female hygiene products, this decision could result in the use of unsanitary or improvised hygiene products, which could lead to an infection.

Without the barrier of underwear, there’s a higher risk for foreign bacteria to make contact with your skin. Among other issues, there’s also a greater chance of fungi development because your underwear isn’t there to absorb your sweat.

Wearing underwear is something that we often take for granted, but when faced with a decision like this, it is easy to see why clean underwear is so important to those who don’t always have access to it.

For many people, especially homeless populations, the availability of fresh, clean underwear makes all the difference.

This is why we created our #DropYourGonch campaign: so that no one in our community would have to make the decision between wearing dirty underwear, or going without.

The Drop Your Gonch campaign aims to fill gaps in the Bissell Centre community closet by reaching out to our supporters to help stock it full of new underwear.

The clean underwear donated by our supporters helps to provide our community with better personal health and hygiene, and a restored sense of dignity and self-worth.

5 Reasons Why EVERYONE Needs Clean Underwear

…Especially those who are experiencing homeless.

New underwear is one of the most requested items by people who use our services, but one of the least donated. People are often denied their request for undergarments because we simply have none to give.

Women are especially likely to be denied since women’s underwear is less frequently donated than men’s. When possible, they are offered the alternative of wearing men’s underwear, an experience that, apart from being physically uncomfortable, causes embarrassment and a reduced sense of self-worth. Our #DropYourGonch campaign aims to fill this desperate need by stocking our Community Closet full of clean, fresh underwear for participants to use.

We all know that it’s important to change our underwear every day, but some of the reasons why may surprise you. Here is a list of five reasons why clean underwear is critical for a person’s physical and emotional well-being.

1. Hygiene

Not changing your underwear regularly causes microbes and other bacteria to accumulate and fester, often causing an embarrassing odour and an itchy rash on the skin. To maintain hygiene and cleanliness, fresh underwear is a non-negotiable essential.

2. Health

Wearing the same underwear for an extended period of time can also have severe consequences for your personal health. The microbes and bacteria mentioned above can cause dangerous infections if they stay in contact with the skin for long periods of time, and the most serious of these can even lead to deadly conditions like kidney failure or bladder cancer. Clean underwear is more than a convenience; it is imperative to one’s health, and can even save lives!

3. Comfort

We offer free shower services in our Community Space, meaning participants who come in can get soap, shampoo, a razor, and other personal hygiene items, enjoy a hot shower, and leave feeling squeaky clean. And what’s the best part about taking a shower? Slipping into that nice, clean, fresh pair of undies when you’re done, of course! Our objective is to be able to provide every participant who uses our shower services with a clean pair of underwear. With your help, we can offer every participant that “just-showered-and-slipped-into-a-fresh-pair-of-undies” feeling, lending at least one small comfort to the people who need it most.

4. Self-confidence

The unpleasant odours and other adverse health effects caused by dirty undergarments can create something of a psychological barrier between the wearer and other people. Inevitably, the individual’s self-esteem and comfort in social interactions may suffer as a result. This impediment can be especially detrimental when it comes to significant interactions, like job interviews – situations that are already stressful enough without any added worries! A clean pair of undies allows the wearer the confidence they need to have successful relationships and social interactions.

5. Dignity

A clean pair of underwear can go a long way toward restoring an individual’s sense of dignity. The emotional toll of having to wear the same set of dirty undergarments for days, weeks, or months on end can be debilitating. A clean pair of underwear is more than a physical necessity – it can provide the recipient with a rejuvenated sense of dignity and self-worth. What gift could be more meaningful?

It’s easy to take for granted something as always having clean undergarments to wear every day. But for many people lacking basic life necessities, something so small really can make all the difference.

You can help!
Donate underwear during our annual
Drop Your Gonch drive!