Everyone loves the feel and smell of freshly laundered towels, clothes and bed sheets, but it’s difficult to gauge exactly how often these items need to be washed.
Here are some helpful hints and tips that will guide you in laundering the items that you use every day.
Towels should be laundered after three or four uses. This is a different rule of thumb than washing an item after a certain number of days, because some people shower or bathe more than just once a day, while others may skip a day without showering. Be sure to hang your towel up to dry and don’t share your towel with family members, because it can spread bacteria.
While you’re sleeping, you shed approximately 500 million skin cells each night. So if you spend a third of your life sleeping, think of how many of those skin cells are in your bed. Don’t forget the body oil, dirt and sweat added to those skin cells on your sheets, in addition to bacteria and other micro-organisms. If you eat in bed, it’s probably even worse. So wash your sheets every week or every two weeks at the most.
Your beautiful and sometimes delicate-looking duvet actually should be washed every one to two weeks, too. Just because it’s on top of your sheets doesn’t matter. It still receives skin cells, body oil, dirt and sweat if you sleep with your arms lying on top of it or pull it up against your face while snuggled down in bed.
Because your adorable face rubs all night long on your pillow, the pillowcase should be washed every three days or so, but don’t wait any longer than a week. There’s also a build-up of body oils, skin cells, sweat and possibly drool on your pillow.
If you use face cloths, you really should wash those after every time you use them. In fact, using a dirty face cloth tinged with dirt, makeup and oil can breed bacteria that you then transfer to your skin the next time you use it.
Tea towels, or dish towels, also are used for hand washing, dish washing and other kitchen adventures. That means they also contain bacteria, particles and often are damp. Don’t leave a dirty dish towel near your food. Wash it after every significant use.
Even though they just hang there, presumably away from dirt and funk, curtains are big attractors of dust. The good news is you only need to clean them every six months, unless someone in your home has allergies. Then you should wash them every three months. You also can vacuum curtains periodically in between washings to help cut down on the dirt.
Your hands are dirty, so you wash and dry them on a hand towel in the bathroom. But what if you and every other person who used that hand towel didn’t quite get those hands clean? Then the hand towel would be quite germy. Those should be laundered every two to three days, unless they’re obviously coated in something icky like toothpaste or something unidentifiable.
If a bathmat sits at the base of your shower or tub, how often it is washed depends upon the texture and quality of the mat. If it never seems to dry out after use, it should be washed at least once a week. To help it stay dry longer, hang it up after someone takes a bath or shower.
Here’s a how-to video based on a Berkeley study about washing towels.
These are general guidelines to help keep the towels, bedding and curtains clean in your home. Happy laundering!