How Often You Should Wash Everything in Your Life
Like your towels. And your jeans. And your dog.
When was the last time you cleaned your sheets? Last week? Last month? Last year? If you had to think about that one for more than a few seconds, chances are you need a friendly reminder on basic hygiene. Here, a quick guide to how often you should wash everything in your life.
Sheets: Once A Week
Whirlpool's Institute of Home Science recommends washing sheets about every seven days to keep out dust mites and allergens. Use hot water (130 to 150 degrees) and a hot dryer cycle to stop germs in their tracks.
Pillows and Comforters: Four Times A Year
According to the Sleep to Live Institute, pillow cleaning is actually just as important as sheet washing. (After several months, dust and mites can invade, causing many people to develop allergy-like symptoms.) So, if you do find yourself sneezing and sniffling every morning when you wake up, it’s probably time to give those pillows a good wash. Otherwise, do it when the seasons change.
Mattress: Twice A Year
A National Sleep Foundation study found that 73 percent of people surveyed say they get a better night’s sleep on bedding with a fresh, clean scent--mattress included. Vacuum the top of the mattress using an upholstery attachment and spot treat any stains with a small dab of shampoo and a damp towel. Using a quality mattress pad (which is easily washable) helps, too.
Towels: Every Three to Four Uses
Look, you are not a gross teenage boy, and your bathroom should not smell like gross, mildewy towels. Machine-washing with hot water and detergent is essential to killing microorganisms that cause the stench, says the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. Set the dryer to high heat to further sanitize, and prevent nasty mildew stains by occasionally throwing your shower curtain liner in with the load.
Car: Once a Month
Unless you park outside, live in a muddy or dusty place or get a lot of snow, washing your car every few weeks is probably plenty. Triple A recommends a good washing and heavy coat of wax before winter hits. (But if you ask us, we’d just as soon “wait for it to rain” and skip the car wash altogether.)
Computers and Phones: Daily
Harboring ten times more bacteria than your average toilet, your everyday electronics are basically the grossest things in your entire life. A Journal of Applied Microbiology study warns that 30 percent of viruses can be transferred from fingertip to touchscreen or keyboard--so you’ll definitely want to wipe these puppies down on a daily (if not hourly) basis. Check out our cleaning tips here--and try not to get too grossed out the next time your boss asks you to hold her iPhone.
Dog: Once A Month
You pooch might prefer his au naturel scent, but dog Whisperer Cesar Milan recommends bathing him with pet or baby shampoo once a month--for the sake of friends, family and anyone else he regularly cuddles up with.
Bras: Every Three to Four Wears
Unless you sweat a super lot, washing every few uses is good enough. That said, the Textiles Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute suggests rotating bras from day to day to give the elastic time to reshape.
Jeans: Every Other Month Or Less
Advice varies--some people say to spot clean as needed, while others recommend never washing jeans at all and simply throwing them in the freezer to kill germs. Either way, you’re going to want to stay away from the washing machine--which can stretch out your favorite baby blues—for as long as possible.
Oven: Twice A Year
Unless you notice a super-thick buildup inside (which can set off your smoke alarm), you really can keep to a twice-a-year regimen. When the time comes, give all removable parts a good wash in hot water and dish soap. Then spray the inside with cleaner, let sit overnight and wipe down the following day.
Carpets and Rugs: Once A Year
We’re not talking vacuuming--that you should do once a week to keep dust, dirt and hair at bay. We’re talking about a deep clean, and steaming is definitely the best way to go on that front. (Spray-on shampoos leave a residue that actually attracts dirt.) So buck up, hire a pro or rent a machine, and go to town with your once-yearly carpet sanitation.
Dishwasher: Every month
How gross is this? Fungi and black yeast can grow in your dishwasher. Keep things fresh by running vinegar through a full cycle in an empty washer on a monthly basis. Then go back to cooking green beans in there.