Here’s How Often You Should Clean All Your Stuff
Even with cleaning hacks to speed up the process, nobody wants to spend their Sunday afternoon working their way through huge piles of laundry, cleaning the kitchen, or driving to the dry cleaner and car wash, but these chores are a (sad, but true) reality of adult living. If you're anything like us, though, you're constantly wondering how often most of these things are actually necessary — even if you're doing your very best to pretend that you know exactly how and when all of these domestic duties need doing. Here's the real deal on how often we should all be cleaning basic clothing and household items.
Kitchen & Bathroom Surfaces: Since these are surfaces that are probably getting a lot of regular use, it's easy for bacteria to build up quickly. Wipe down countertops with a disinfectant every day.
Bath Towels: Towels absorb moisture away from your body, and a damp towel is an ideal environment for microbes and bacteria. Fully air out your towels after using them, and wash them after three uses.
Bras: You should wash your bras after every third or fourth wear. Remember also that it's a bad idea to wear the same bra two days in a row, because the elastic needs a full 24 hours to reshape itself. If you have a solid rotation of comfy and flattering bras and follow that one-day rule, you'll easily be able to go weeks or even months between bra laundry days. Don't forget to keep them out of the dryer too — the heat and tumbling will trash the elastic, dramatically reducing the bra's lifespan.
Jeans: We all know that icky feeling of too-small, just-washed denim. Since jeans do shrink after a good cleaning, it's best to wait to wash them until you've worn them four or five times. Looking for more expert tips? Turn your jeans inside-out before throwing them into the washing machine, and let them drip-dry if you have the time and space.
Pillow Cases & Sheets: We spend approximately 1/3 of our lives in bed, so you want to make sure it's a clean place you actually want to be. Your sheets and pillow cases can collect bacteria, dust mites, lint, sweat, and dirt (especially if you don't shower at night), so wash them weekly. Purses & Wallets: Tests have shown that purses and wallets carry unwanted germs (just think about how many random floors you've set that purse down on, or where the cash in your wallet has been), and to avoid getting them in your system, you should wipe down these accessories with baby wipes (or, for cotton, use a standard washing machine) about once a week. Microwave and Refrigerator: Once a week, you should take everything out of the refrigerator and wipe down the inside with a mixture of water and white vinegar. This will also give you a regular opportunity to check the expiration dates on all of your food. Wipe down any food spills inside of the microwave, as well as the keypad on the outside. Computers & Electronics: Even if you regularly wash your hands, your computer, keyboard, mouse, and phone are exposed to tons of bacteria all day long. Use disinfectant wipes to gently clean electronics; if you're using anything harsher, make sure everything is unplugged or turned off. Sponges: Yes, you have to clean the things you use to clean things. Sponges are a hotbed for germs, and since you use them to wipe other surfaces, it's easy to spread the bacteria around. Throw them in the microwave on high for 30 sec, and replace them every couple of weeks.
Car: If you live in an area that experiences a lot of bad weather, you should consider making a trip to the car wash every 1-2 weeks to avoid excessive build-up of precipitation (especially if your streets are salted in the winter). If you don't deal with these kinds of weather problems (lucky you!), you should aim for a car wash approximately once a month. Cleaning Appliances: If you're going to use your washing machine, vacuum, and dishwasher to get the rest of your belongings clean, it's important to make sure that they themselves are in tip-top shape. It's best to wipe out these appliances once a month. Shower Liners & Curtains: Shower liners and curtains can develop mold or mildew depending on how ventilated your bathroom is. But the good thing is these are usually machine washable, so just toss them in a warm or hot cycle once a month.
Pillows: Pillows should be tossed into the washing machine every three to six months to help get rid of dust mites, which can actually add weight to pillows over time (gross) and aggravate allergies. If you thought Clean Sheet Night was a reason to celebrate, just wait until you experience Clean Pillow Night!
Mattresses: Cleaning pros recommend that your mattress get a good cleaning every six months — and the good news is that this chore is actually a lot easier than it sounds! The best way to clean a mattress is to vacuum the top of it and then wipe up any stains with a damp, soapy cloth. Done and done.
Throw Pillows & Blankets: Since you're likely only using these decor items for short periods at a time (or layering them with more substantial pieces), you don't need to care for them as often as you do your bed pillows, comforters, etc. Giving your throw pillows and blankets a good cleaning once per season should be more than enough!
Have any cleaning tips for us? Tweet us @BritandCo!
Have any cleaning tips for us? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Illustrations via Marisa Kumtong)
Alli Hoff Kosik is a freelance writer who is passionate about reading, running, rainbow sprinkles, her lipstick collection, watching embarrassing reality TV, and drinking pink wine. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and (in her dreams, at least) three golden retriever puppies. Listen to her talk books on The SSR Podcast.