Nobody likes a dirty house, that's why it's important to clean every so often. By washing our clothes, bedsheets, and kitchen towels, we keep the whole house spick and span and stop anyone or anything from getting too smelly and gross. But, not all household items are made alike, which means washing them too much can actually ruin them. So, to help you get your house finally in order, we put together this list to help you keep your home in order, and damage free.
If you've got a dishwasher, then congratulations. It's an amazing appliance, and the transition from not having one to having one, or vice versa, is totally jarring. That being said, a lot of people who have dishwashers are so used to hand washing their dishes that they're actually wasting more water than they need with a prewash. Your dishwasher will do most of the work for you, just gently rinse to get some food off.
Of course, if you have an older, less powerful dishwasher, then you're going to need to handwash a bit more. But, as a general rule of thumb, your dishes don't need to be washed twice if they're going to be used once.
When most people go about cleaning our homes, they usually pick specific tasks and finish them before moving on. So, we're going to do the bathroom, then we're going to the kitchen, and by the time we're done, we've completely forgotten about the doorknobs. Every person who enters your home has to open the door, and if you don't step outside and wipe that knob off now and again, you're bringing all your visitors' bacteria in with you too.
While this isn't something that should occupy a lot of your mental space, it is a good reminder to give yourself every couple of weeks.
Using trash bags is useful for so many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they keep your garbage can relatively clean. However, every once in a while we've got a really smelly load of household garbage, or a bag rips and the bin gets a little messy, and at these moments it's definitely essential to wash the garbage can out. You can imagine what rotting garbage might smell like around the house, now imagine that's trapped at the bottom of your waste bin!
A simple wash down with soap and water should do fine for this one. Also, if the bin is small enough, you could wash it in the kitchen sick (after you do the dishes of course).
Obviously, you want the windows in your home to be clean, but there's a limit to how clean they can actually get. Beyond spot cleaning and maybe twice-yearly deep cleaning, you don't have to do much to your windows to keep them in great shape. Plus, you don't want to overdo it and put too much shine on any outdoor glass, as that's how you'll get birds flying right into your patio door and hurting themselves.
You can add window cleaning to one of your other, once-yearly cleaning checklists. Take care of it while you're spring cleaning or winterizing and you should be good to go.
Every time you change your sheets, you should also change your pillowcases. But, your actual pillows stay fresh for much longer. Since the pillowcases protect the pillow from contact with your actual skin, they need to be washed much more often than the actual pillows. If you overdo it with the pillows, those comfy inside layers may become matted and compressed, ruining the pillow. So, we'd recommend keeping it to just a few times each year.
This doesn't apply as much if you sweat heavily. Your pillows can get ruined that way too if you're not careful. So, instead of two or three times a year, in this case, wash them four.
You've probably heard this one before, but it still amazes us how many people don't know that your jeans don't need to be washed every time they're worn! Denim is a durable fabric that's made to last, and overwashing can wear out the fabric and cause pants to lose their shape. Also, wet jeans are notoriously heavy and add more weight to a load of laundry than any other normal pair of pants would.
If you're wearing jeans to go work on a construction site, that's another story. Get those sweaty things into the washer as soon as you get home. But, for everyone else just going around town, we'd say you've got a little longer.
If you're from the Northeastern US, or the Northwestern US, or Canada, or Northern Europe– there are a lot of places that fit the bill– you're going to be dealing with a lot of snow! Cold weather in winter is just a part of life, and to deal with it, you're going to want to get a good winter coat. But, don't worry yourself about washing it too often, the snow will do that job for you!
Washing your winter coats can cause the fabric to rip, releasing the inner lining and reducing its efficacy. Also, the jacket never touches your actual skin (hopefully), so there's nothing dirty about the inside unless you've been wearing your jacket over dirty clothes.
We just know that somebody's spouse is going to hate us after reading this, but the more vacuuming you can do around the house, the better. Especially in rooms like the living room or the kitchen, daily vacuuming can really help things stay clean. Hardwood floors get dusty, and carpets eat dirt like it's nobody's business, so it's better for everyone to have a clean slate each day after you return from the outside world.
Of course, we'd say save the vacuuming until after all your roommates wake up or before the neighbors go to sleep. Regardless, this will definitely help you keep your house clean.
You may have heard the old adage that a telephone has more germs on it than a toilet seat. This is because our phones are exposed to all the germs that our hands come in contact with on a daily basis, whereas a toilet seat only has to deal with our mostly-covered rear ends. Well, the same thing goes for our keyboards as it does our telephones, and when exactly was the last time you cleaned yours?
Keyboards can be especially tricky because dirt and dust will fall in and get stuck between the keys. But, a simply disinfectant wipe once a week should do the trick.
There seem to be two types of people when it comes to kitchen sinks. There are the type of people who wash the sink every single time after they do the dishes, and then there are the type of people who forget about it for weeks at a time. We get it– it seems counterintuitive to take the thing you just used to wash a bunch of other things in soap and water, and then wash it with soap and water, but it really helps!
Once you get into the habit of doing this, you won't be able to stop. Simply wiping down the sink when you're done doing dishes is enough to form a habit, and keep your kitchen smelling as fresh as possible.
Does anyone remember when hotels started implementing that policy where you could hang up a towel if you planned to use it again, and then room service would replace all the other used towels? Well, that policy wasn't just convenient, it was also cost-saving, environmentally conscious, and could be applied in our homes as well. Towels don't go bad after just one use, especially if you give them time to dry properly.
Depending on how often you shower, bath towels can often be used for up to a week. Just make sure not to overstuff your washer with too many towels at once when it is time to wash them.
They don't make furniture like they used to, and that's probably a good thing since those old upholstered couches that all of our grandmothers had were so uncomfortable. Also, you never were allowed to eat on the couch or do anything fun. But, now we understand this was because excess moisture can ruin upholstered furniture. So, maybe you'll want to vacuum then now and again, but unless a professional is doing it, don't try to clean these things yourself.
Even if you are hiring a cleaner, the frequency upholstery needs to be cleaned correlates to the frequency it's being used. If you have a lot of visitors, maybe clean once a year.
Stick with us, because our title here was a little facetious, and we know that sponges don't last forever. But, did you know that some people still don't properly clean their sponges between uses, and end up putting more grease back onto the dishes they're trying to clean? This happens if a person fails to rinse and ring out a sponge, and leaves dirty water and food bits inside the sponge.
By rinsing the sponge after you finish the dishes, you'll extend its shelf life and ensure the process is quick and easy for the next person that has to do the dishes.
This one is a heartbreaker for us– we love to cook– but we know that there have been millions of cast iron pans ruined over the years by amateur cooks who don't know how to clean them. So, if you find yourself scratching your head and asking yourself what we mean, we need you to listen up closely. Do not, do not, do not ever wash a cast iron pan with soap.
Soap will take the protective oil layer off the pan, and cause rust to form incredibly quickly. Just rinse, use a scrubbing brush to peel off any burned bits, and then dry the pan on a burner on low heat. Afterward, put a small bit of your preferred cooking oil onto the pan and heat it up to reseason the pan.
Back in the day, Ernie from Sesame Street was the coolest guy around when he had his rubber ducky with him. Nowadays, everybody seems to have a rubber duck, whether they're kids, muppets, adults, or anything in between. They make them with different funny hats, and different characters, which is great. But, the best thing about rubber ducks (and other bath toys for that matter) is that they rarely need to be washed!
If you make sure to squeeze any excess water out of bath toys once you're done using them, it'll ensure that they last a very long time.
Chance are, if you love your bed, it's because you've got a really nice comforter to sleep under every night. That's one of those items that we love to treat ourselves with when we need a new one, because you use it every day, and you're going to want one that lasts. Still, no matter how good the quality of your quilt, it's not going to last that long if you're washing it every week.
Unless you sweat very heavily or don't have a cover on your comforter, we suggest following the same rule as you do with pillows: wash comforters once every three or four months.
Most dogs don't like being bathed, which works out well with what we're about to tell you because most owners are washing their dogs too much. Unless you've got a real adventure hound who's splashing around in the mud and water every day, you can get away with giving your dog a bath around once a month. Of course, this also depends on the dog's breed, but on average, this is a good rule of thumb.
If you find that your dog struggles with baths, try contacting a professional groomer. They may be able to make your dog more comfortable and give them a proper cleaning.
On a daily basis, you go around touching doorknobs, keyboards, and pens at the post office and bank– all items that other people before you used, and probably didn't sanitize. So, when you go and shove your hands into your pockets afterward, and then start texting on your cell phone, you're spreading all of those germs onto the touch screen surface. That's why at the end of each day, you might want to consider wiping your phone down.
A simple disinfectant wipe should do the trick. You don't have to do anything crazy. But, this will stop any of those bad bacteria from outside from coming into your home.
If you're a professional athlete then we get it, go ahead and wash your jersey after every game (although if you're a professional, there's probably someone already doing that for you). But, if you're just a kid or a casual fan, your jersey probably doesn't need to be washed all that often at all. It's all based on use, so you can enjoy wearing those team colors until they start smelling.
A good trick, if you plan to wash jerseys with any iron-on decals (like numbers or nameplates), we suggest turning them inside out so that the washing machine doesn't melt the glue holding those decals on.
Like a few of the other items on this list, how often you wash this item is going to depend on what kind of sleeper you are. For most people, sleeping is the most relaxing part of their day, so their pajamas rarely get dirty, and can be worn for four to six days before they get dirty. But, if you're a hyperactive or sweaty sleeper, they may get dirty before that.
You also may want to change your pajamas more frequently if you're dealing with acne, as the oils on your skin will stick to a used shirt and then be pressed right back into you on the next use.
When it comes to winter gloves and winter hats, their level of cleanliness really has more to do with how they're dried than anything else. A properly worn hat or pair of gloves will inevitably get wet from the snow, and in that process will get cleaned. But, if you don't put those gloves or that hat on a heater once you get inside, they might stay damp and get mildewy and gross.
A good rule of thumb is to wash your gloves and hats once a year, either at the start or the end of the winter season. And, during the season, make sure to dry them properly!
We know, you're looking at a picture of a public bathroom, which is something not too many people have in their homes but bear with us. Did you know that overwashing a mirror can affect the mirror's backing, in time causing peeling and damaging the integrity of the mirror? Instead of throwing detergent on there every week when you clean the bathroom, just use some paper towels to wash the mirror down instead.
Detergent can be useful once every two months or so, to give the mirror a nice shine, but don't make too much of a habit out of it.
Any good chef wants to have a clean kitchen, but exactly how clean does it need to be? Well, we think most people have been going a little overboard when it comes to how often they wash their kitchen towels. Clean up a spill: wash the towel! Dry your hands: wash the towel! It becomes exhausting and just wastes water in the washing machine. Unless those towels really smell, they're still probably good to be used.
We'd caution against using a gently used towel to dry dishes though, as this can just dirty already clean items. Instead, have a separate hand / kitchen towel and dish towel.
Keeping a few extra bath mats handy in your household bathrooms can make the difference between an easy, comfortable, and clean bathroom experience, and a messy one. Bath mats stop you and your guests from slipping on the wet floor, they catch drops of water when you get out of the shower, and they keep your feet warm and off the cold tile (unless you have a carpeted bathroom, which, ew). But, they still need to be washed about once a week.
If you keep extra bath mats around, you can maintain an easy rotation of mats to be washed, and mats to be used. Thus, you'll never be without that creature comfort.
Depending on how messy you get when you cook, your oven is going to require a different amount of cleaning. Our rule of thumb is that if you're moving into a new apartment, treat yourself and give that oven a good deep cleaning. Afterward, just clean whatever mess you make. If you spend every day trying to make your kitchen look like a Michelin starred restaurant, chances are you're just wasting time.
Of course, if you enjoy cleaning your oven, go right ahead. That stainless steel and glass monstrosity isn't going to be damaged by a little bit of cleaning material.
Whether it's that khaki jacket you wore to the beach party, the rain jacket you wore hiking, or your dinner jacket, chances are you're washing it too often. Your jacket never makes direct contact with your skin, so it usually can't pick up any smell from your body. So, unless you spilled a bunch of food on the outside, you can usually wait and only wash your jackets once or twice per year.
Jackets are also heavy items that can take up a lot of space in a wash, so it's not the best idea to be including them with regular-sized loads.
There's nothing better than the feeling after you climb out of a nice, warm shower. You're all clean, and your skin feels refreshed, but what's going on with your hair? Chances are, if you're shampooing every day, then you're just drying out your scalp and unnecessarily damaging your hair. There are a lot of differing opinions about there on this subject, but we suggest shampooing twice per week, and conditioning afterwards if applicable.
If you're not sure what will be right for your hair, consult with a stylist and see what they suggest. Everyone's hair grows in with different moisture levels and brittleness, so it's important you find a program that works for you.
We hate to admit it, but we're guilty of this one. Sometimes, it's just too hard to keep your car clean when you know it's immediately going to get dirty again. However, if you don't wash your car every once in a while, dirt and dust can build up, trapping moisture and creating rust that will eventually destroy the car. So whether or not you wash the car, give it a once over every now and again.
This is especially applicable for people in colder climates, since road work crews will lay salt on the road, which then in turn accelerates the rusting process.
There's this funny idiom in American English, where we'll say that someone cleaned out the fridge if they got really hungry and ate a lot. However, when was the last time you actually cleaned out your fridge? Are you sure that the cream cheese in the back isn't past its expiration date? Has that Coca-Cola gone flat yet? What about the fruits and vegetables down at the bottom in the drawer, are those all still fresh?
It's hard to keep track of every item in our fridges, but a biweekly inspection can help stop you from accidentally biting into something expired.
We're not sure what it is that makes hotel beds so comfortable. Maybe it's the giant comforters, maybe it's the fact that you know you don't need to make the bed, or maybe it's the fact that you get to sleep in a bed with fresh, clean sheets. You might not realize it, but cleaning your sheets and pillowcases automatically rejuvenates a room, and will probably help you to sleep better as well.
Sheets and pillowcases, since we use them every night and they come in direct contact with our skin for a long period of time, can start to smell really bad if you let them fall out of your washing cycle.
Curtains are one of those items, like ovens, that don't really need to be cleaned as often as people think. If you're moving into a new flat, fine, wash those curtains and get the other person's smell (and their germs) out of your new space. But, after that, you can get away with beating the dust off the curtains and maybe tumble drying them once every few months to keep them fresh.
Other than that, you really don't need to wash your curtains more than once a year. We suggest you make it a part of spring cleaning, where you get to close out the winter by refreshing your entire living space.
It seems counterintuitive that a household item that spins around all the time could get dusty, but trust us, if you haven't looked on top of your ceiling fan in a while, you're going to want to. Those things catch and trap dust like no other household appliance, so it's important to get up and dust the fan blades and body at least once a month. It'll keep your home clean, and improve the air quality as well.
Also, we don't think we should have to clarify this but we're going to, please turn the ceiling fan off before trying to dust up there.
When you're reheating food in the microwave, one of the ways that you know it's hot is when you hear the food start to bubble and pop under the heat– although, sometimes after that, you take it out and it's still cold... Anyway, when the food pops like that, it winds up sticking to the walls and ceiling of the microwave, and if you don't get it out quickly enough, it'll crust there and be even harder to remove.
A good rule of thumb is to wipe down the microwave after you've cooked something messy, and to give it a full cleaning once per week otherwise.
If you've ever had to clean up a really disgusting bathroom, first and foremost we're sorry, and second of all you can back up what we're saying here. The more often you clean your bathroom, the easier that cleaning is going to be. The more gross bacteria that you let build up, the harder it is. It's a very simple equation, but one that some people still don't seem to fully understand.
By cleaning the bathroom once a week, you'll prevent yourself from ever realizing it's dirty. Plus, it's a pretty easy cleaning task compared to something like deep cleaning the stove.
Like your kitchen sink, a washing machine is used to wash some of your other household items. And, like a kitchen sink, after a while, that washing machine is going to get dirty. Even though there's always soap and water running through the thing, dirt and soap scum can build up and have trouble escaping while clothes are tumbling around in the drum. That's why you should run an empty cycle on high heat once a month, and make sure your washing machine stays squeaky clean.
The same goes for dishwashers, actually. An empty run on high heat will allow the water jets in both machines to clean the inside of the machine itself, as opposed to cleaning your dishes or clothes.
Even though you wash your bed sheets every so often, not many people think about the need to wash their mattresses. Granted, those things won't fit in any normal-sized washing machines, so we'll have to be a little inventive, but every six months or so our mattresses should get washed as well. You may also want to just go over the mattress's surface with a vacuum cleaner in order to get dust and dirt.
A steam cleaning would be great if you're buying a used mattress or haven't cleaned yours in a long time. But, don't go overboard, since that's maybe only applicable once per year.
Hopefully, by now you know that every time you put a new load in the dryer, you should clean out the lint that's accumulated in the lint filter from the previous load (and don't even get us started on that lady making cotton candy down there). However, it will also do you some good to dive into your dryer every few years and try to pry some lint off of the other parts that it's sticking to.
Lint can escape and get stuck throughout the machine. Without careful monitoring, this can cause a perfectly good dryer to burn out in just a few months.
If you use a desk fan to keep cool or provide white noise at night, chances are that thing hasn't been cleaned in a while. We get so used to using little appliances like this, that we forget to do the required maintenance they require. With fans, a lot of dust can accumulate on the fan blade, which will then affect air quality and fan speed. But, after a cleaning, things should be right as rain.
If you've been sneezing a lot recently, but can't figure out why, then go take a look at your desk fan. Is there dust caked around the inside? That's what's been blowing in your face and making you sneeze.
Since we don't often find ourselves touching our TV screens as we do to our phone screens, they don't need to be cleaned very often. Sure, they might attract a little dust with all that static electricity, but it doesn't take much to keep a TV in good shape. Every few months, you just need to take a microfiber cloth and some water and gently wipe down the screen and the vents in back.
The vents are especially important if you want to keep your TV running for a long time. If these get clogged, the TV could overheat and short itself out.
Avid bikers beware, you probably already know what we're about to say. But, if you're a novice and just getting into cycling, chances are the mechanical part of things is still a bit above your pay grade. So, one important thing to know is that once every month or so, you're going to want to spray your bike chain with some degreaser, and then oil it after the fact. This will keep your bike in tip top shape for much longer.
If you fail to clean the chain, old grease and gunk will get stuck and rust out your bike, If you don't oil the chain, that'll happen even faster.