Posted by Smokey Stover on June 06, 2007
In Reply to: Air out posted by Brad Holt on June 06, 2007
: "Let it air out" - phrase origin or why people believe they should remove bandages at night when sleeping, etc.
Removing the bandages and hanging bedding out on clothelines both have the same object, that is, to expose something to the air, that is, to oxygen. And oxygen is well known for killing germs. Exposing your wound to air (after it has been cleansed of dirt and germs) is often, perhaps usually, part of the healing process. Airing things out (like bedding) also dries them out, making them inhospitable to the growth of mold or fungus and making them less likely to smell. Removing bandages and other dressings can be iffy, if there is, say, an antibiotic under the bandage. But in general, lacerations and small wounds heal faster if exposed to the air. (Follow your physician's advice, of course.)
If you do not dry your bedding on a clothesline, but run it through a clothes-drier, you are still obviously making it dry. And exposing it to the air that gets into the machine has the same germ-fighting results as exposing it to air on a clotheline.
"Airing something out" is often used figuratively for what nowadays is sometimes called transparency, that is, opening up to scrutiny the mechanisms of, e.g., government, to prevent or remove that awful smell of corruption.