How Often You Should Clean Your Sheets (and 14 Other Household Items)

Whether you’re a neat freak or a bit messier, it’s not uncommon for certain cleaning projects to wind up at the bottom of your chores list. But keeping a clean home is imperative for anyone trying to live a healthy life. Seriously, a dirty home that’s full of dust mites, bacteria, and mold can have some nasty consequences for your health (salmonella poisoning, anyone?). And just because you’re not a complete hoarder, doesn’t mean your home is spotless.

Let’s take a look at what in your home needs some scouring.

Sponge: Clean every day


It’s no surprise that your sponge is pretty gross. |

Kitchen sponges are a breeding ground for bacteria. Just think about everything you use them for: cleaning dishes, wiping up spills — you name it.

As The Huffington Post points out, a sponge with an odor is a sponge with germs — germs that may lead to some serious health issues such as salmonella or pneumonia (yikes!). But don’t worry, there’s a solution. To properly clean your kitchen sponges, soak them in a mixture of one part bleach and nine parts water for about 30 seconds.

Dish towels: Clean once a week

kitchen utensils on vintage planked wood

The many uses of your dish towels make them a breeding ground for bacteria. |

In most homes, dish towels see quite a bit of action. There are usually a handful in rotation, but you might not be changing them as often as you should. Maeve Richmond, founder of a home organizing company, tells it’s best to toss dish towels in the wash every week. Not only are they used by lots of people, but dish towels often collect food crumbs and are the number one go-to for spill clean-ups.

Shower loofah: Clean it once a week

Woman holding shower head over her face

Do you even know how much bacteria is on your loofah? |

It may sound counter-intuitive that you have to wash something that washes you, but it needs to be done. Similar to the kitchen sponge, your favorite loofah is ground zero for all kinds of bacteria. Yikes! Dermatologist Melissa Piliang, M.D., recommends cleaning it weekly (by soaking it in a diluted bleach solution), and replacing it every three to four weeks. Or, on second thought, just toss it for good and switch to washcloths.

Bed sheets: Wash them once per week

Handsome man

Your sheets are likely long overdue for a wash. |

Now for one you’re likely neglecting: your sheets. While you’re probably well aware of all the germs living in your bed, do you really know how often you should be changing your sheets?

For a trusted opinion on the matter, we turned to the expert — Martha Stewart. Her site recommends you wash bed linens once a week. After all, just think about all the dirt, dust, and sweat you could end up rolling around in on a nightly basis. When you think about it that way, a weekly wash makes a lot of sense.

Refrigerator: Disinfect and wipe out every week

leftovers in the fridge

From spills, to leaky containers, your fridge has a lot going on. |

Seeing as the fridge is an everyday appliance, upkeep is crucial. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says, “Mold, bacteria, and spills in the refrigerator can put you at risk for food poisoning.” Because of this, you should clean spills immediately, and do a larger cleaning job weekly. But of course, be weary of using your trusty kitchen sponge. A cleaning disinfectant spray and paper towel is the better way to go.

Toilet: Give it a scrub every week

baby pulling toilet paper

Some nasty things go in and around the toilet, clean it! |

Now clearly, cleaning your toilet works on an as-needed basis. When you see something, you should probably clean it right then and there. But if you simply never feel like cleaning your toilet, just give this fun little article from HowStuffWorks a read.

A dirty toilet is, no doubt, putting you and your fellow bathroom-goers at risk.

Trash can: Spray it down every two weeks

orange garbage bag

Clean your trash can, or you’ll have to buy a new one. | Pixabay

This is one you may easily forget, but it’s important. There’s not really much explaining to do here, as you’re well aware your trash can sees more germs that most other places. And even scented trash bags don’t negate the filth that lies beneath.

Makeup brushes: Clean them every two weeks

a palette of nude colored eyeshadows and colorful pigments on a wooden background

Makeup brushes carry plenty of dirt, oil and bacteria. |

When you think about it, makeup brushes can actually be pretty gross. You use them on a daily basis, and they remain covered in product. Not only are they collecting makeup, but just think about all of the oil that’s already living on your face before you’ve applied anything at all. So, the secret to makeup brush maintenance? Cleaning about every two weeks. And if you’re not sure how, check out Kayleen McAdams’s explanation of the process in Elle.

Towels: Wash after three uses

young woman wiping hair with towel

If you just showered, you don’t want to dry yourself with a moldy towel. | IT Alliance

Bath towels can easily slide under the radar when it comes to keeping them clean. However, it’s important to wash them after just three uses. Kelly A. Reynolds, Ph.D., told BuzzFeed, “Towels used after bathing or showering that are just damp could be hung to dry and used up to three times. Bacteria and mold will begin to accumulate but growth will be slowed as the towel dries.” You know the smell of a moldy towel, so don’t ignore it.

Bras: Wash every two to three wears

colorful Bras on Clothesline

You probably don’t wash your bra as often as you should. |

While underwear should quite obviously be washed after each and every use, bras are a bit different. They don’t require a washing every day, but they do need some TLC.

According to Bustle, a dirty bra could result in acne breakouts, rashes or infections, and chafing nipples. For these reasons, Josh Zeichner, M.D., tells Shape you should wash your bras every after every two to three wears — every five is the very max.

Duvet cover: Wash it monthly

young man smiles as he lounges on his stomach in bed

Just because it’s protecting your comforter doesn’t mean it can bypass a good cleaning. |

Nothing’s better than a down comforter, which is why lots of folks choose the down-comforter-and-duvet-cover route. Aside from feeling as though you’re sleeping on a cloud, a good duvet offers your comforter protection from filth. This, once again, is a case for Martha Stewart’s team of experts, who recommend washing comforter covers weekly if you don’t use a top sheet, and monthly if you do.

Toothbrush: Replace every three to four months

toothbrush, toothpaste

Are you replacing your toothbrush often enough? |

There are all kinds of brushers out there. From those who think it’s no biggie to share theirs with others to the ones who religiously brush their teeth in the shower, toothbrushes are put through the ringer. So, it should come as no surprise they need to be replaced every so often.

Mattress: Clean it every season

Bed sheet and pillow on mattress

Believe it or not, your mattress does need to be cleaned. |

While cleaning your mattress sounds like a pain, it’s easier than you may think. PopSugar recommends using a mixture of baking soda and essential oil. After sprinkling the cleaning solution, rub it into the mattress, spreading evenly. Give it about an hour to work its magic, then vacuum it up. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on mattress spring — or summer, or winter, or fall — cleaning.

Pillows: Wash them every six months

Coral pink triangle pattern pillow setting on bed with foldable reading lamp next to bed

Pillows collect plenty of icky stuff and also get flat after a year or so. | Kwanchai_Khammuean/Getty Images

While your pillowcases can be tossed into the sheets category, the actual pillows themselves are a different story. Besides collecting all the grossness that comes along with their cases, pillows eventually lose their fluff factor, and you certainly don’t want to be laying your pretty little head on an unsupportive pillow. If you’re not quite sure how to go about washing your pillows, Good Housekeeping breaks it down based on type.

Carpet: Clean it once a year

carpet being cleaned

Everything gets tracked onto the carpet. |

Vacuuming is key, but it doesn’t mean you can skimp on deep cleaning your carpet, as well. According to Angie’s List, you should get a carpet cleaning service every 12 to 18 months for high-traffic areas, and every two years for the entire carpet. If you have children or pets, it’s another story: Your carpets may require stain removal more frequently.