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When to Wash Everything

Your All-Encompassing Guide on When to Wash What

How often should you wash your linens? Your dishwasher? The answers to these questions aren't universally known, which is why you need this list of what exactly you should wash and when. This article originally appeared on ALL YOU.

Your Go-To Wash Guide

A while back, we asked you how often you wash your sheets. Turns out, the majority of you strip the bed every 10 to 14 days, while a good many of you go three and even four weeks in between washings! Eek! That got us thinking that perhaps some guidelines on when to wash what might be useful.


Once a week: Sheets should be washed often to remove a buildup of debris, dust, sweat, and other icky things. Use hot water (130 to 150°F) and a hot dryer cycle to kill all germs.



Every one to three weeks: If you live near a large body of water or somewhere with extreme weather conditions, or drive a lot or park outside, a once a week washing is a good idea in order to protect the finish. Otherwise, every two to three weeks is sufficient.


As needed: Let your nose be your guide! If your pooch is getting smelly, or if he feels oily to the touch, then it's time to wash. Certain breeds, like Cocker Spaniels, are prone to oily skin, so you should definitely sud them up once a month. Dogs with thick hair like Chow Chows only need to be bathed three to four times a year.


Every four to five wears: It's ok to wear your heavy denim jeans several times before washing, as long as they're not stained. Overwashing can cause them to wear out prematurely.
How to:

  1. Turn jeans inside out and wash in cold water.
  2. Drip dry.


Every three to four wears: A general rule is that you should never wear the same bra two days in a row because elastic needs time to reshape. Have a rotation of a few bras, and give each one at least 24 hours to recover before wearing it again. With proper rotation, bras can last several wears between washes.

Your Face

Every night (and possibly every morning, too): Cleansing every night is essential for both men and women in order to prevent clogged pores and breakouts. If you have oily skin, wash again in the morning.

Your Hair

Every other day: Washing your hair every day strips your strands of natural oils, so it's best to shampoo on alternating days at most. If you're prone to oily roots, spray or sprinkle dry shampoo as a refresher to soak up grease.


Once a year: Tackle scrubbing the grout in your shower (or any tiled surface) annually. You can easily brighten the grout with a simple, homemade cleaner.
How to:

  1. Spray a 50-50 solution of water and chlorine bleach onto the grout (never use bleach on colored grout).
  2. Let it sit for 20 minutes.
  3. Then, using a grout brush dampened in clean water, scrub to remove dirt and debris.
  4. Blot with a dry cloth.

Want to clean the surface of tiles, too? Dilute this solution by half and use it to get white tiles sparkling clean.

Window Screens

Once a year, how to:

  1. Take screens out to the yard and spray them with a garden hose. (Remember to mark them so you will recall which windows they fit.)
  2. Gently scrub the screens using a nylon-covered sponge and a cleaning solution of one part ammonia and three parts water.
  3. Rinse with the hose and leave screens outside to dry in the sun.

No yard? Lay a drop cloth or blanket in your bathtub and place the screens on top. Clean the screens and hold them under the showerhead to rinse. If your tub is too small for the screens to lie flat, rest the bottom edges on the floor, placing them on an old towel. Spot-clean each screen using a nylon sponge and a squirt of window cleaner, then do the reverse side. Let screens air-dry. Psst! Before you put the screens back, clean the tracks in the window frame. Wrap strips of soft cloth around the tip of a screwdriver, dip it into soapy water, and swab each corner and crevice.


Every six months: Believe it or not, the big, bulky bedroom essential is one of the easiest-to-clean items in your home — and it should be done twice a year!
How to:

  1. Vacuum the top of the mattress using an upholstery attachment.
  2. Then, remove stains by wiping down the surface with a cloth lightly dampened with cold water and a small amount of upholstery shampoo. Be careful not to soak the mattress (moisture can create mold and damage the padding).

Protect your mattress from dust mites and stains by buying a quality mattress pad. And guess what: There's no need to flip your mattress! Instead, rotate it head to toe every six months for even wear.


Twice a year: Inside and out, windows are a must-tackle item to keep your home looking squeaky clean! By washing them regularly and using a squeegee, you'll get the best results!
How to:

  1. Clean first with a sponge and a solution of five drops liquid dish detergent in two gallons water, plus a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol for extra shine.
  2. After that, using a lint-free cloth or a coffee filter, clean a one-inch strip at the top of the window.
  3. Moisten the squeegee blade, position it in the strip, and pull down in a smooth stroke.
  4. Repeat, slightly overlapping each stroke, until the window is clean.

Get rid of pesky streaks! Wipe vertically on one side of the window and horizontally on the other, so you can determine which side a streak is on.


Every six months: Not all ovens are self-cleaning. If yours isn't, set it up to clean while you sleep.
How to:

  1. Remove oven racks and submerge them in hot water and liquid or granular dishwasher soap.
  2. Soak overnight to cut down on scrubbing. Spray the interior and door with an oven cleaner. (Spread newspapers under the door to protect the floor from drips.)
  3. Let set overnight and then wipe clean the next day with warm water and rags.
  4. Run removable knobs through the dishwasher. Scrub stay-on knobs with warm water and dishwashing liquid.

Plan ahead when cleaning. If you plan to cook a big meal, schedule the oven cleaning a few days before or after. The process can create a chemical odor that clashes with cooking smells.

Pots and Pans

Three times a year: The bottoms of pots and pans take a lot of abuse, but it's easy to get them gleaming again.
How to:

  1. Take the pots outdoors or into a well-ventilated space.
  2. Spray the bottoms with oven cleaner, then place in a plastic bag — a grocery bag or trash bag works — for a few hours to keep the solution from evaporating.
  3. Finally, rinse thoroughly (if you're working outside, use a hose), then wash with soap and water. To avoid damaging the cookware, check the cleaning instructions in the manufacturer's guide before you start.

Calling all DIY fanatics! For pots and pans with stains on the inside, try a nonabrasive scouring cleanser. If that doesn't do the job, soak the cookware in a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water. For ultrastubborn stains and grease, soak in a 50-50 solution of water and household ammonia for several hours.


Once a year: We've all had this experience: You move a piece of furniture, only to find a pristine patch of carpet that stands in stark contrast to the rest of the dingy floor covering. That's when it's time for a deep cleaning.
How to:

  1. Avoid spray-on rug shampoos, which can leave a residue on carpets that attracts dirt and soil, undoing the cleaning process. Instead, opt for a hot-water extraction method (often called steam cleaning), which suctions up dirt with a hot water-based solution.
  2. Whether you hire a pro, rent a machine, or buy your own unit, this is the most effective way to clean and freshen your carpets. Vacuum to remove surface dirt.
  3. Then switch to the carpet steamer. Instead of adding carpet-cleaning detergent to the water in the machine, fill a spray bottle with the solution and spritz directly onto the rug.
  4. Lastly, run the cleaner over the carpet using clear water only in the extractor. This limits the dirt-attracting residue often left behind when detergent runs through the machine.

Act fast when there's a rug spill: Absorb liquid with dry paper towels. Drench a clean rag in cold water and place it over the spill. Dry with more paper towels.

Wood Furniture

Once a year: Burnish tables, bureaus, and the like using just a few time-tested tips!
How to:

  1. Wipe down the furniture surface with a damp cloth and then with a dry cotton cloth.
  2. Select paste wax that has a high carnauba content; the natural botanical substance acts as a protectant and won't degrade the finish. Apply in a circular pattern. Leave on for a few minutes.
  3. Then, remove with a dry cotton cloth, using long strokes in the direction of the wood grain. When the cotton cloth slides rather than drags, your job is done.

Did you know? Spray and liquid polishers, silicone-based waxes, and oil soaps contain solvents that can damage furniture by lifting or discoloring the finish.


Every week: Field tests have shown that purses sometimes carry traces of E. coli, most often on the bottom, which rests on germy surfaces. By keeping your favorite catch-and-carry clean, you'll avoid unwanted germs gathering inside (and be able to find things easier!).
How to:

  1. Clean vinyl bags with a disinfecting wipe. Use an alcohol-free baby wipe (ensure it won't stain by testing an inconspicuous spot) on your favorite leather handbag.
  2. Machine- or hand-wash your cotton bags in hot water and air-dry.


Every month: Fungi and black yeast can grow in your dishwasher. So while it may seem strange to clean the machine that cleans your dishes, we recommend you tackle this task often.
How to:

  1. Disinfect it by pouring vinegar into a dishwasher-safe cup, then place the cup upright on the (empty) dishwasher's top rack.
  2. Finish by running a full cycle, using the hot-water setting.

Washer and Dryer

After washing certain whites: Did you know that 60 percent of clothes washers are contaminated with bacteria? As if that weren't enough, underwear can harbor E. coli, and kitchen towels are prime breeding grounds for salmonella and other germs. So be sure to clean your washer and dryer when you wash certain whites! Zap germs by laundering those items separately in hot water (between 140°F and 150°F) and bleach — it's the only way to sanitize both your clothing and the machine.

Bed Pillows

Every three to six months: One study found that 16 species of fungi can live in an average pillow, and the stuffing actually attracts allergy-causing dust mites. So to ensure you're only laying your head down in a clean space, wash your pillows a few times throughout the year.
How to:

  1. Use the gentle cycle on your machine, hot water, and liquid detergent (powder can leave a residue). Wash two regular-size pillows together to balance the load (king-size ones should go one at a time).
  2. Run the rinse cycle twice.
  3. Then, to dry them, place pillows in the dryer with two clean tennis balls, and set on low. Polyester- or cotton-filled pillows take one to two hours to dry; down requires two hours or more (check for moistness or clumps by pinching several spots on the pillow).


As needed: Computer keyboards harbor five times the bacteria found on the typical toilet seat, according to one study. And 10 percent of people never clean their keyboard — it's time for a change!
How to:

  1. To disinfect your desktop, disconnect your keyboard and mouse, then pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto a clean rag and wipe down both.
  2. For deep crevices, use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

Sink and Drain

Everyday: Because the kitchen sink has the second-highest concentration of microorganisms in the home, it should be cleaned daily.
How to:

  1. Every evening, wipe down the entire sink, drain, and strainer basket with a disinfecting wipe.
  2. Run the strainer basket through the dishwasher weekly.

Check out these related links by ALL YOU:
Household Items You Don't Clean (But Should)
Room-By-Room Cleaning Guide
Save Money Cleaning Your Home

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