If you type “How often should you…” into Google, one of the first autofill suggestions is “How often should you wash your sheets?” You might think you know the answer to this question, but the recommended time between washes actually surprises a lot of people!
It got us thinking: How often should you clean other items around the house? Is there a recommended cleaning cadence for things like pillows and rugs? What about appliances like the stove and microwave?
It turns out that a lot of these objects should be cleaned more regularly than you might think, so we’re breaking down the optimal schedule for items in every room of your home.
According to experts, you should probably be washing your sheets more often than you do.
The National Sleep Foundation explains it’s best to wash your sheets on a weekly basis. If you can’t swing doing a full load that frequently, at least swap at your pillowcases for fresh ones.
Why so often? Because your bed collects lots of stuff while you sleep—sweat, skin cells, soil, food crumbs, makeup, dust mites… you get the picture.
Sure, your pillowcases provide some protection for your bed pillows, but you should periodically wash these, too. Pillows can collect the same icky particles as your sheets, which is why the National Sleep Foundation suggests washing pillows every six months. However, note that foam pillows can’t be washed, so you may have to replace them when they get smelly.
The next logical question is, how often should you wash your comforter or duvet? Again, your blanket won’t get as dirty as your sheets, but it still needs regular washing. The National Sleep Foundation recommends tossing your comforter in the laundry two or three times a year—use the changing of seasons as a reminder!
If you use a duvet cover, it’s best to wash it once a month. Of course, if your blankets are a light color, you may need to wash them more frequently as they get grimy.
Rounding out the list of bedroom essentials is your mattress. While you can’t simply throw it in the washer, you can (and should!) vacuum your mattress at least once a year. To remove lingering odors, try sprinkling a thin layer of baking soda over your mattress. Let it sit for a few minutes, then vacuum it up.
When was the last time you washed your bath towel? A week ago? Maybe more? It’s easy to forget to swap out towels, but experts recommend you wash them after three or four uses. If you shower every day, that means you should be grabbing a fresh towel at least once a week.
Here’s an interesting question: How often should you clean your showerhead? Sure, you probably clean the shower on a weekly basis, but most of us don’t take the time to deep clean the shower hardware.
Abe Gal, co-owner of Superior Home Cleaning, tells Angie’s List that you should clean it every one to three months, depending on how “hard” your water is. If your water contains high amounts of minerals, it will likely clog the showerhead sooner, forcing you to clean the head more often.
Raise your hand if you forget to clean your shower curtain until there’s a generous ring of soap scum around the bottom. According to Merry Maids, you should clean your shower curtain or liner once a month—or at the very least, every three months.
The toilet brush has to be one of the most shudder-inducing items in your home, right? Especially since once it’s down scrubbing the loo, it often sits in its own mucky water until it’s ready to be used again… big yikes. Since it doesn’t make economical or environmental sense to get a new toilet brush every time you clean the toilet, Melissa Maker of Clean My Space advises you wash the brush every time you use it, and never, ever put it back in the brush cup still wet (this is where the nastiest growth happens). “After cleaning the toilet, rest the brush between the bowl and the seat,” she says, then “spray it generously with a disinfectant, such as rubbing alcohol, and let it sit, dripping wet, for 10 minutes or so.” Finish by “rinsing the brush in the hottest water possible and allow it to drip-dry again, using the same method.”
Naturally, you’ll want to vacuum your rugs regularly to keep them clean—probably once or twice a week if you have pets. If you have carpeting in your home, consider investing in a professional cleaning at least once a year, more often if you have kids or pets.
You might think you’re in the clear if you have hardwood or tile floors, but we have bad news for you: Those should be cleaned frequently, too. Jason Tetro, a microbiologist and author of The Germ Code, tells NBC that you should wash or steam the floors every few weeks and even more frequently in the kitchen.
Throw pillows, much like bed pillows, should be cleaned every six months. The covers can be washed more frequently, though, since they come into more frequent contact with more germs. Depending on how often you lay on them, or how delicate the fabric is, aim to wash throw pillow covers about once a month.
When you think about it, couches are kind of just giant throw pillows that we sit on… all the time… But according to couch manufacturer, Burrow, the only weekly maintenance your couch needs is a vacuum under the cushions, which can coincide with usual vacuum schedule. For fabric, a few times a year you can either break out your trusty steam cleaner, or dilute lukewarm water with a mild soap or detergent, and use a white cloth to rub the area with the solution. Rinse the cushions using a second white cloth with clean lukewarm water; then allow the area to air-dry completely. Leather couches are more tricky to clean (but trap far less dirt and bacteria), and really only need to be dusted or gently blotted after a spill.
Moving into the kitchen, here’s something that might surprise you: You should be sanitizing your kitchen sponges every single day, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These cleaning tools are a hotspot for bacteria, but you can zap germs by popping your damp sponge in the microwave for a minute.
We all know how tough it is to clean a microwave that’s caked with food. That’s why experts recommend you deep clean the microwave on a monthly basis, taking out the turntable and scrubbing the whole thing inside and out.
Another appliance that often gets neglected is the oven. Chances are your oven has a self-cleaning option, so use it! A good rule of thumb is to run the self-clean cycle twice a year to keep your stove in top shape, but consult with your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s optimal cleaning schedule.
Did you know you need to clean your dishwasher? Well, you definitely do—and fairly regularly, at that. Merry Maids recommends you clean this appliance once a month to prevent mold and fungus from growing.
The easy, hands-off way to clean the dishwasher? Simply run a cycle with a cup of vinegar in the top rack.
Finally, another frequently-Googled question is how often should you wash your car. Giving your ride a good scrub down will help remove dirt, salt, dead bugs, and other contaminants that can ruin the finish, and according to Meineke, you should aim to wash your car every two weeks or so. However, you may need to wash more frequently if you park your car outside or live in an area where the roads are salted during the winter.
Air Conditioning and Fan Filters
If you’ve been avoiding looking inside your AC unit (or at this time of year, your white-noise-producing bedtime fan), now might be the time to tackle it, and then follow up with a steady cleaning schedule. The filter acquires a lot of dust and grime, but fear not! You don’t even have to replace the filter, according to the technical manager at C&C HVAC, all you need to do is give it a wash once a month. Keep in mind you should wash it more often if you use it more than 12 hours a day. A gentle scrubbing with dish liquid and hot water does the trick; just make sure you let it fully dry before putting it back in the unit, to stave off mold.
Okay, ‘fess up: How often are you washing your sheets? Let us know below (no judgment).