Many of us try to keep our homes as orderly as possible – working cleaning regimes into our busy lives. Often, we focus on the obvious places that acquire dirt and grime like kitchens and bathrooms. But it’s easy to overlook other parts of the home where germs and bacteria are allowed to thrive – such as bedding. Thankfully though, experts have revealed how often we should wash our sheets and other items that we might neglect.
It’s probably fair to say that many of us will have never even considered cleaning our purse or wallet. However, we’re transferring germs from our hands onto the item each time we reach for it. And that’s without considering the dirty notes and coins we fill it with, which are often laden with thousands of microbes, according to Time magazine.
The website Good to Know suggests that we clean our wallets once a week. But there’s no need to run expensive purses through the washing machine and risk ruining them. Instead, a gentle hand wash will suffice for cotton pieces, while leather can be cleaned with alcohol-free wipes.
19. Shower curtains
In a practical sense, shower curtains are there to stop us from getting water all over our bathrooms as we get clean. Though have you ever stopped to think about how much grime they can accumulate? After all, they live in damp, humid conditions and provide the perfect breeding ground for germs to flourish.
The website Expert Home Tips suggests washing your shower curtain on a monthly basis to keep bacteria and mold at bay. Most of them are equipped with care labels, which will reveal the best way to clean them. Follow the instructions outlined, and ensure that you wash the curtain on the highest advisable setting to eliminate germs and keep your bathroom pristine.
We use bath towels to dry our freshly cleaned bodies, though they can be risky to our health. That’s because rubbing our skin with the fluffy fabric can have an exfoliating effect, meaning we shed dead skin every time we use it. Furthermore, because towels are often left damp, they provide the ideal environment for germs to thrive.
Ralitsa Prodavova – who is a cleaning expert – told Metro that bath towels should be washed after three or four uses. Hand towels, meanwhile, should apparently be changed every two days; anything less than this could cause skin irritation and acne outbreaks. They should also be washed at high temperatures in order to kill germs.
A 2015 study from the mattress company Ergoflex found that men wear their pajamas for two weeks on average before throwing them in the wash. Women, meanwhile, are even less vigilant – going 17 days between washes. And you might think that reusing sleepwear was a fairly harmless thing to do, but it could actually be bad for you.
Skin cells that we shed overnight can become stuck in our pajamas. In turn, these fragments can contain microorganisms. Some – like E. coli and staphylococcus bacteria – can cause health problems. As a result, Good to Know recommends washing your jammies after two wears, and definitely don’t wear them longer than a week.
Jeans are one of the few items in your house that you may well be cleaning too often. In order to keep your denims looking their best, you should only clean them every six months, according to Hiut Denim Company founder David Hieatt. That way, they will mold to your body and movements – creating a bespoke look and the best possible fit.
The no-wash approach to jeans has been advocated by experts in the industry – including Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh. Instead, he advises spot cleaning denim with a toothbrush or a sponge and a small amount of detergent. You can also stick your jeans in the freezer or just hang the trousers out on the line to freshen them up.
According to the BBC, we spend around a third of our lives sleeping, so it’s important to keep our beds comfortable and clean. And the website House Beautiful recommends that we give our mattresses a thorough clean every six months. If you’re wondering why that is the case, the website adds that the average adult expels 285 milliliters of fluid every night and 454 grams of dead skin per year.
Regularly cleaning your mattress will help remove dead skin, pests and dust. To do so, strip your bed and vacuum your mattress on both sides to remove hairs and dirt. After that, the aforementioned site suggests sprinkling baking soda across it and vacuuming after a while. Then, allow the bed to breathe for a few more hours before making it once more.
Many of us will be guilty of wearing our bras more often than is advised. According to the Good Housekeeping Institute, this item of underwear should be washed after every three or four wears. Any more than that can affect the elastic in the garment – therefore lowering the level of support it gives.
It’s also important to wash bras carefully. To maintain their shape, activate a delicate cycle and ditch the detergent or use a mild alternative. You can even place the garment in a mesh bag to prevent it from getting tangled in the machine. And to dry the bra, lay it flat on a towel and blot gently – taking care not to misshape the cups as you go.
13. Tea towels
This might come as a surprise to you, but your tea towels should be washed each and every day. Indeed, failure to do so could even give you food poisoning, according to one study. Researchers from the University of Mauritius found that 36.7 percent of kitchen towels that were used for numerous jobs sported coliform bacteria, which is the family that E.coli belongs to.
The study’s lead author was Dr. Susheela Biranjia-Hurdoyal, and she warned in a 2018 press statement, “Humid towels and multipurpose usage of kitchen towels should be discouraged. Bigger families with children and elderly members should be especially vigilant to hygiene in the kitchen.”
12. Reusable shopping bags
It’s likely that you’ve never even considered tossing your reusable shopping bags into the washing machine. But you might think about doing so every now and then after discovering could be living on them. According to a Science is Us report, 99 percent of reusable bags contain coliform, E.coli and even fecal matter.
The germs that our reusable shopping bags harbor are, of course, unpleasant by themselves. But their presence is even more worrying when we consider that we’re using them to carry food – some of which might be unwrapped. Consequently, it’s a good idea to wash these items every few uses in order to keep them clean.
11. Bath mats
Many of us clean our bathroom floor regularly, and for good reason. But how much attention do you pay to your bath mat? Well, you might want to consider washing them more often, as they can become an overlooked haven for germs and bacteria.
You should wash your bath mat on a weekly basis in order to keep it in tip-top condition. And if you have one, throw your pedestal mat in the wash, too. These seemingly harmless bathroom furnishings can get particularly gross, given that they attract feces particles and urine droplets.
We touch our phones close to 3,000 times each day on average, according to research by Dscout. Elsewhere, a team of American scientists collected 7,000 kinds of bacteria from 51 phone samples, while a study published in the journal Germs found that our phones are actually ten times grimier than a toilet seat.
Even if you clean your hands properly, it’s all for nothing if you then start scrolling on your germ-laden phone. Consequently, experts suggest that we clean our devices every single day. And doing so doesn’t have to take long; simply rubbing it over with an antibacterial wipe should do the trick.
9. Duvet covers
It’s not surprising that our sheets can get pretty grimy; indeed, duvet covers may be harboring saliva, sweat, urine droplets, fecal matter and other bodily excretions. As a result, it’s important to clean our bedding regularly to prevent bacteria from building up.
The website Good to Know recommends washing duvet covers on a weekly basis. Running them through a hot cycle in the machine will kill any nasties. Furthermore, if you can, it’s best to dry sheets in sunlight. That’s because UV light kills microorganisms. And to finish the process, iron bedding on a cotton setting to destroy any remaining germs.
According to dentist Dr. Amer Saeed, we should replace our toothbrushes around every 30 days. Waiting until the bristles start to show signs of wear and tear will render the brush ineffective against tackling plaque. In addition, it could also cause damage to the gums.
But it’s not just bristle damage that can do harm to our dental hygiene. Good to Know notes that failing to maintain our toothbrushes can lead to an accumulation of bacteria, which in turn could potentially cause an infection. So, in order to keep your brush clean, rinse it with warm water after each use, and pour some mouthwash over it to disinfect.
7. Sofa cushions and covers
Your sofa is actually one of the dirtiest items in your home, according to the company Comfort Works. Incredibly, it adds that the piece of furniture harbors 12 times more germs than your toilet. And this grim figure could be simply down to the fact that we tend to neglect our sofa when it comes to cleaning.
Some sofas have covers that you can simply remove and wash in your machine, while others have to be treated more gently. And in most cases, you simply have to check the label in order to find out what kind of care your furniture needs. Ideally, a sofa should be vacuumed once a week, in addition to a more thorough monthly clean.
6. Washing machine
Given that the sole purpose of a washing machine is to keep clothes clean, you’ve probably never stopped to think that the appliance itself needs regular TLC. The Cleaning Ninja author Courtenay Hartford advises giving your machine a wipe over around once a month. Furthermore, it’s particularly advisable to clear out regular cleans if you mainly use cool cycles.
To keep your washing machine in good condition and eliminate limescale, you can simply throw a dishwasher tablet into the drum and run the appliance on a cycle. Alternatively, clean the components of your machine using hot water, vinegar and an old toothbrush for a more environmentally friendly solution.
Hands up if you’ve ever picked up a pair of worn tights for a second outing. If so, you should probably think twice before you do it again. Because tights are non-breathable, they provide the perfect conditions for bacteria to multiply, Good to Know notes. And that, in turn, can potentially cause yeast and urinary tract infections.
Dr. Radhika Rible – who is based at the UCLA Medical Center in California – talked to the Everyday Health website about the risks caused by tights. She warned that they can cause feet to sweat more and could cause fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. So, it’s advisable to wash your tights after each and every wear to prevent this from happening.
We use our pillows every night, and yet they’re often overlooked when it comes to cleaning. However, this could be a big mistake. British doctor Arthur Tucker analyzed hundreds of pillows used by patients in hospitals run by the London NHS Trust and Barts. It found that dead skin, bugs, mites and their faeces made up a third of the pillows’ weight. Furthermore, the average one contained 16 varieties of fungi.
Good to Know claims that, you should your pillows every three months to keep them clean. Fiber, feather, and down varieties can be simply tossed into the washing machine – just ensure you read the care instructions first. Where possible, use the highest temperature cycle advised in order to stop bacteria in its tracks.
3. Cuddly toys
Our kids may love them, but their cuddly toys can be a breeding ground for germs. Research by the disinfectant brand Dettol found harmful bacteria on 80 percent of the toys tested, which could potentially cause food poisoning. Furthermore, traces of fecal matter were found on one in four.
Good to Know advises people to wash their kids’ cuddly toys once a week. Most teddies can be popped in the washing machine to clean, but it’s best to check the label first. And an overnight stint in the freezer will kill off any undesirable bugs or mites on the more delicate toys. The hardest part is likely to be prying them out of your children’s arms.
We use our dishcloth to wipe down counters in the home, but the rags themselves are likely laden with bacteria. That’s because they come into contact with a range of germs from raw poultry, meat and eggs. Good to Know quoted a study which found that 89 percent of them contained E.coli, which can cause food poisoning and is particularly dangerous to elderly people and children.
Dishcloths are in fact so troublesome that the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency implores people to use disposable items wherever possible and switch to a new one each week. However, cloths can be cleaned and reused by washing them in hot soapy water to get rid of food and grease, then leaving them to soak in some diluted bleach for around an hour.
Many of us wash our bedding on a fairly regular basis, though we often neglect to clean our actual duvet. You may think that your duvet acts as a barrier against dust mites and sweat, but both can penetrate through to the fibers beneath. As a result, it’s important to clean your duvet around every three months, according to the website Expert Home Tips.
How you go about washing your duvet will be determined by a number of factors. It’s a good idea to check the care label first, because they can often be washed at home – provided your washing machine is big enough. But some varieties may be suitable for dry cleaning only.