College Week

Your Grossest, Most Shameful College Habits, Revealed to Doctors

college student gross habit
Daniel Fishel/Thrillist

Maybe it's because your frontal lobe isn't fully developed yet, or you're broke, or your social life is more of a priority than, say, cleaning. Whatever the reason, one thing's for sure: college kids are gross. Between trying to avoid failing the Astronomy 101 class designed to "easily" fulfill a math requirement and all the parties that might just be the BEST NIGHT EVER, things like proper hygiene and well-balanced nutrition tend to fall by the wayside.

But what kind of damage is the utter disregard for decency doing to your body and mind? We collected real-life disgusting college habits and asked doctors to give their expert medical opinions on some of the worst offenders. It's kind of crazy that some people still call these the best four to seven years of their lives. 

Hoarding pee in Gatorade bottles

"My dormmate used to piss in Gatorade bottles, and then seal them and line them all up by the window, like pieces of stained glass. We're talking a dozen or two. It was partly because he liked the lighting effect, but mainly because he was too lazy to walk like 30ft to the bathroom." -- Joe K

Dr. Samuel Malloy, medical director at Dr Felix: "The biggest danger here is if someone were to mistake them for actual Gatorade. That's also probably about the grossest thing I've ever heard. Several hygiene issues of course, and some questions to be asked about the sanity of that roommate!"

Dr. Chris Hollingsworth, general surgeon: "Admit it, we all knew a guy that did this and he manages a mutual fund now. This is probably the early stages of hoarding or sociopathy though."

Not washing bedsheets for an entire school year

"My freshman year, I didn't wash my sheets at all. Like, for the whole school year. I guess I just didn't think about it." -- Nicole A*

Dr. Jennifer Haythe, cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center: "Sleeping in sheets that haven't been washed in six months should make you question someone's judgment (and frankly sanity). Gross, gross, gross! Sweat, dirt, and food crumbs all accumulate in sheets. So not only will your sheets (and you) smell, but they will become a critter haven!"

Dr. John Swartzberg, chair of Berkeley Wellness' editorial board: "A good way to get impetigo, boils, and other types of dermatitis. Plus, it will leave a disgusting smell on your body when you wake up."

A three-Red-Bull-a-day habit

"I worked at the student rec center in the mornings, sometimes it opened at 5:30am, so I would regularly drink up to three sugar-free Red Bulls." -- Sarah F*

Dr. Swartzberg: "A good way to be on the road to obesity, diabetes, palpitations, tremors, jitteriness, and lack of concentration. Besides all that, it's a great idea!"

Thinking sleep is optional

"I would not sleep for over a week at a time, and not just during finals either. (I did this so often I started liking the buzz.)" -- Max A*

Dr. Haythe: "Terrible idea! Lack of sleep impairs cognition, reflex time, coordination, and mood! Get your beauty and brain sleep."

Dr. Swartzberg: "Can precipitate mania or depression. Also, a good way to fail school because concentration and retention of material becomes impossible."

Dr. Hollingsworth: "This is just practice for having children, where you don't sleep for months at a time."

Dirty laundry = tissues?

"I would blow my nose on my dirty laundry. Don't tell anyone." -- Derek M*

Dr. Hollingsworth: "I suppose that's not the worst thing you could use your dirty laundry for. Economical and saves the environment, at the cost of being single for the rest of your life."

Dr. Malloy: "You didn’t have any tissue in the dorms? The biggest danger here is sticking dirty clothes up to your face. That's not going to help whatever is causing you to blow your nose frequently."

The processed-food trifecta

"So I have a story about a roommate. For about three months straight, she would eat two Pop-Tarts for breakfast, nachos for lunch, and Cup Noodles for dinner. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY." -- Carla V* 

Dr. Haythe: "We all need some junky comfort food now and then but let's keep it to a safe level in college, like once a week (at most). These foods have zero nutritional value, and mainly serve as a source of glucose to keep you alive. If you plan on making these foods your regular meals, I would anticipate the following: acne, weight gain, fatigue, and stomachaches."

Dr. Malloy: "The food pyramid is actually a little more expansive than these choices. It might be worth checking out next time you make up a diet plan. Without some fiber or the proper vitamins and minerals, your body's systems (all of them) are going to start to protest after a while. That amount of sodium and empty carbohydrates is far from the optimal way of fueling your body."

Dr. Swartzberg: "A good way to develop obesity and diabetes, plus the added benefit of accelerating the atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) process, and vitamin deficiency."

Potentially overdosing on caffeine

"I regularly had four to six Xenadrine RFA-1 (the stuff that killed two pro athletes before they banned it) for breakfast. Usually chased with a Red Bull." -- Matt M

Dr. Hollingsworth: "Wired vs. tired: it's all about balance. Maybe just a Red Bull and leave out the Xenadrine? Your house will be super clean, but overdoing stimulants can lead to heart problems."

Dr. Malloy: "If you're looking to lose weight or just suppress your appetite, combining caffeine and ephedra has been shown to be effective, but it's hardly the ideal way to start the day. The likelihood would be that you'd be burned out by mid-afternoon, which often leads to excess eating to try and give the body the energy it needs to get through the day."

Taking commando to a whole new level

"I lived with someone who would wear the same pair of sweatpants all week without washing them. Usually without underwear, too." -- Kelly L*

Dr. Malloy: "That’s probably more of a health risk to people around you than it is to you. Of course, you'll likely experience some irritation and chafing from the build-up of dead skin cells and fluids inside the sweatpants. Laundry isn't fun, but neither is being the guy that smells like that!"

Dr. Swartzberg: "A great way to develop staphylococcal skin infections."

Backing that ass up (literally)

"As a freshman, I snacked on a full bag of marshmallows for a few days, until I realized I'd managed to stop up my digestive system completely." -- Steven B*

Dr. Malloy: "Your digestive system actually requires more than marshmallows to function properly. It's unfortunate you had to find out the hard way. There's probably no lasting damage, though, since you reached your limit and had to resort to eating something else. I hope you did, anyway! Try adding some fiber, water, and fresh coffee, that should get things started again."

Dr. Hollingsworth: "If you alternate this with 99-cent tacos, you will eventually find a balance between stopped up and running for the toilet."

*Names have been changed, for obvious reasons

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Christina Stiehl is a Health and fitness staff writer for Thrillist. In college, she once went two months without doing laundry. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaStiehl.
Our Newsletter
By Signing Up, I Agree to the Terms and Privacy Policy.