How Often Should I Clean This...and That?!
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I am by no means a germaphobe but in the spirit of full disclosure, I do 100% have germaphobe tendencies. I recently read an article about how the majority of people are not washing their bath towels enough. After I read the reason why they should only be used for two days then laundered, I promptly took every bath and hand towel in my house and threw them in the washer. That evening, as my head was nestled into my pillow, I began to wonder...when did I last wash my pillow? Not the pillowcase, but the actual pillow? Commence a minor freak out. This got me thinking that the lot of us may not be washing many items in and of our apartment homes nearly enough (or gasp, at all). Most of us just don't realize how often certain things should be cleaned or washed. One of them, in my case, being a pillow. Sure, there are certain things that we know need to be cleaned on a regular basis - the clothes we wear, the toilets we sit on, the dishes we use...but what about the rest? So without further adieu, here is a list of the most common items in the home that need a more frequent clean (sometimes even a replacement) than you may think. Prepare yourself. A minor freak out may emerge.
Hand Towels, Bath Towels + Wash Cloths
Every Two Days
Let's start here since this is what prompted me to write this blog in the first place. And yes, you read that totally right. Every two days. But should we really be surprised about this? Think of all the things that go on in a bathroom and that this towel just sits there weepy and damp after each use. Things like mold and even E.Coli (insert a spine shiver for each one of those) are left to fester and that two-day max is the time in which they really can begin to multiply. My pro-tip here is to just get extra sets to swap out rather than wash. Fewer laundry days are better for everyone. When you do wash, however, do so on the hottest possible setting and make sure to dry them thoroughly.
Bed Sheets + Pillowcases
Once a Week
Two words for you - skin sloughing. Ok, now that I have your attention, let me fill you in on a secret. Even if you are showered before you get into bed, your skin naturally sloughs off and on top of that, dust mites can take up residence in your sheets and pillowcases. Washing your bed linens weekly makes sure neither of those two things become a problem. Pay attention to the care tag, making sure you are properly washing them based on the material.
Slip-covers, Throw Blankets + Throw Pillows
Once Every Three to Four Months
I own a slip-covered sofa, and it is the best thing I ever bought. Apparently, my 25-year-old self knew that my 37-year-old self would have a highly prone to spilling, smudging, and smearing toddler. Slip-covers come right off and can more often than not be washed right in your machine. Some may require dry-cleaning but just check the care tag to be sure. I wash mine monthly because toddler, but if you don't have a household member that uses your sofa as an art canvas, you can certainly get away with washing it on a less frequent basis, around every three to four months. Throw blankets and throw pillows are the same. Follow the care tags and you're all set.
Two to Four Times a Year
Even though inserts have cases that protect them, odors, mold, and bacteria can work their way into the fluffy insides. Make sure to give these a good laundering a few times a year and they'll be good as new.
Twice a Week (Vacuum)| Once a Week (Mop)| Annually (Deep Clean)
In my house, we have a rule. Shoes come off at the door. Shoes can track in so many things I cannot even pronounce let alone spell for you, so we will just refer to them as "the ick". This ick gets into each room you walk in and if multiple people live in the home, we are talking so much ick that it will blow your mind. Even in houses with a no-shoe policy, carpets should be vacuumed a couple of times a week to help eliminate allergens, debris, etc., vinyl/hardwoods/linoleum should be mopped weekly, and you should do a deep steam clean of your carpets at least once a year. Steam is excellent at penetrating deep into the carpet fibers and pulling up the grime that harbors bacteria.
You guys, your sink may give the illusion that it is clean but it lies. It is actually pretty darn dirty and needs to be cleaned every day. Wiping it down with a vinegar and baking soda paste will disinfect it as well as make it shiny. Make sure not to use scouring pads, though. Doing so will cause scratches.
You just need four things. Baking Soda, Vinegar, Ice + Salt. First pour half a cup of baking soda down the disposal, followed by one cup of white vinegar. You'll feel like Harry Potter for a bit as your concoction will fizz and hiss at you. Let this sit for a few minutes then wash it away with boiling water. Baking soda and vinegar are sanitizing magic. Next, grab your ice bucket from the freezer and dump it into the sink (make sure it is at least about two cups). Pour some coarse salt over it and turn the disposal on. Ice helps dislodge the gunk.
There is this little trap at the bottom of your dishwasher. You may not have even known it was there, but alas it is a very real thing. It traps any food that you may have left on your dishes. Cleaning this out every 30 days is essential to making sure your dishwasher remains high-functioning. A fellow blogger posted tips on cleaning certain items in the kitchen - and this little gem happens to be one of them.
Refrigerator + Freezer
Food is a constant in a fridge and freezer which means drips, spills, and dust (true story), become a real part of your life. Keep on top of any spills but monthly, you should empty out the entire appliance and give it a good thorough cleaning. Remove shelves and drawers, washing them with mild soap and warm water in the sink. The inside of the fridge and freezer can be wiped down with baking soda and water using something like a Magic Eraser or a non-abrasive cleaning pad. These surfaces come in contact with the food you eat so it is important to regard cleaning them as an important task.
Small Kitchen Appliances
Weekly (Deep Clean Monthly)
These are things like toasters, toaster ovens, microwaves, coffee pots, etc. These should be cleaned superficially each week and then a deep clean should be done monthly. Check manufacturer suggestions on how to clean these smaller appliances as they have taken the guesswork out on finding the best methods.
Wash Daily, Replace Every Two Weeks
Better yet. Just don't use them (giggle, giggle). But seriously, these things are gross and they harbor all kinds of bacteria. So if you choose to use them, bulk up your supply and make sure to rinse after each use in very hot water and ring out until water no longer comes out. Also, make sure to keep them out in the open to dry completely. Once the two-week mark has come around, toss them out and start anew.
Bathtub + Tile
Here is a trick of the trade. If you have a fiberglass tub, Grease Lightning, a heavy duty Magic Eraser, and some elbow grease make the tub look brand new. You will never go back. Keeping a clean tub and tile surround keeps any mildew that may form away and makes it so you can take a bath without feeling like you are sitting in the yuck of yesterdays.
Toilets should be cleaned weekly. This will keep those wonderfully colored rings from forming at the waterline (you know the ones). You can go the route of cleaning products specifically for toilets or more natural and once again use baking soda and vinegar. I wasn't kidding when I said that duo is magic. Side note - from one clean freak to another, I would recommend definitely giving the seat a wipe down every other day or so, just for good measure.
Shower Curtain Liner
Most vinyl shower curtains can be washed in the washing machine with mild detergent and warm water. Always remember to close the shower curtain and liner around the tub when you exit the shower. This allows for the liner to air dry the best that it can between washings and helps keep the dreaded pink mold from forming.
Ceiling fans are magnets for dust. They sit up high and layers of dust form on top of each other. One of the niftiest cleaning hacks is to grab an old pillowcase, wrap it around the blade, then pull back, grabbing the dust and trapping it inside. Repeat on each blade. To say this is brilliant is an understatement. It's utterly brilliant, though. Do this weekly and you may actually see less dust elsewhere.
Your hands touch these every single day, so giving these a good Lysol wipe-down each week can help keep the germs at bay...especially bathroom doorknobs.
Inside Washing Machine
Every Six Months
Who would have thought, but washing machines do actually need to be washed. Washing machines can experience build-up, so running a hot cycle with white vinegar can help make sure that your washer functions at its best for years to come.
Now inhale and exhale. If you feel like this list is already getting away from you, start a checklist or a chart that will help you keep up with it. A lot of these items can be incorporated into whatever cleaning schedule or rotation you already have. It's simply remembering to now that you know. I don't know about you, but I am off to clean my Camden apartment, starting with that ceiling fan trick. Which cleaning task just made it to the top of your to-do list?
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