How long can you last without washing? Could you endure 40 days? What if there were a sweet prize at the end – say, a ticket to the Secret Garden Party?


Sniffing t-shirt samples.

We cordially invite all with a partiality for putridity to join us as we investigate what it means to be dirty and attempt to last 40 nights without a wash.

How could the shunning of soap change the way you live your life, how you feel about yourself, or what others think of you? And does being stinky affect your sex appeal? Napoleon certainly is famed for having written to Josephine, “Will return to Paris tomorrow evening. Don’t wash.”

We are issuing a call to arms for the defense of dirt in collaboration with Dr Leslie Knapp, an immunogeneticist and expert on the role of smell in human behaviour. With the assistance of Dr Knapp, we will recreate the famed t-shirt experiment alongside the competition to investigate the molecular basis of attraction.

Contestants must report daily on Twitter using the hashtag #smellytweet about their experience of being physically filthy, the reactions of those around them to their odiferous state, how being dirty makes them feel, and their reasons to quit the contest should they choose to drop out.

Discover your own personal capacity for dirtiness and let us know by entering our Smelly Tweeter competition which launches on 21 May. Sign up by 18 May here.

This competition is part of our exploration and celebration of all things filthy as part of the Wellcome Trust’s Dirt season.