How Often Should I Wash ____?

I get a lot of emails about how often certain items should be laundered.  Everything from sleeping bags to crib bedding to curtains.  So I’ve made a fairly extensive list of how often to launder certain household items.

Keep in mind that these are only recommendations. If an item is noticeably gross, there should be no question.  Go ahead and wash it.  And keep in mind that these recommendations are assuming the item can be washed.  Make sure it is not dry clean only before you put it in your machine.

How Often Should I Wash ___?

Sleeping Bags

Wash sleeping bags after every use in the outdoors.  Sleeping bags can harbor smells (smoke, etc) which can be difficult to remove if left for long periods of time.  Sleeping bags can also just be dirty from being on the ground (or near-ground in a tent).  You don’t to slide into your sleeping bag on your next camp out only to realize it’s sandy at the bottom.  That doesn’t make for good sleeping conditions.

Bed Sheets

I’ve written extensively on how to get the ‘boy smell’ out of your bedroom by frequently washing your sheets and pillow protectors.  Bed sheets should be washed weekly.  Even if they don’t look, smell or feel noticeably grimy, your skin has shed on these sheets for the past 7 nights.  Your face (which you may or may not have washed prior to bed) has rested on your pillow case for about 56 hours.  Adult bed sheets need to be changed weekly.  Period.

Comforters and Bed Spreads

If comforters or bed spreads are used nightly for cover, they should be washed at least monthly.  Any linen that touches your face routinely needs to be washed often.  If the comforter or spread is only used on the bed for decoration, it can be washed only once every 2-3 months.  Keep in mind that even if you don’t regularly use a comforter for warmth at night, it still gathers dust.  And dust particles can cause all types of allergy problems.

Pillows

I know there are many of you out there who have never washed the pillow you lay your head on every night.  It pains me.  Please wash them once every 6 weeks.  Your sinuses will thank you.

How often should you wash car seat covers?  Find out at Mama's Laundry Talk!

Dust Ruffles

A bed’s dust ruffle can harbor lots of…well, dust.  Especially if the dust ruffle touches a hardwood floor and not carpet.  It is so easy for a dust ruffle to get dirty simply because it is close to the floor and we run the vacuum under it, brush against it with our shoes on, etc.  Even though they are a pain to get on and off the bed, dust ruffles should be laundered every 2-3 months.

Crib Bedding

Baby sheets should be changed 1-2 times per week, including the mattress pad.  Bumper pads should be washed once per month.  They collect dust and general grime from little baby hands and need to be laundered frequently.

Curtains

Most every room needs a thorough deep cleaning every 5-6 months at least.  Despite how great your home’s air filters are, it seems a house gets dusty quickly, and this includes curtains.  Curtains should be washed every 5-6 months to remove the dust and dirt build-up that accumulates.  If you take the time to inspect them that often, you’ll be surprised at how quickly they attract dirt!

Couch Blankets

You know – those blankets or throws that you leave on the couch to snuggle under when you nap.  If you use them frequently, as in once or twice a week, they need to be washed once a month.  If less often, wash every two months.

Aprons

If worn daily, an apron needs to be washed twice each week unless a large spill occurs.  If worn only occasionally, an apron can be washed every week or two.

Kitchen Towels

If used daily, kitchen towels need to be washed daily.  They harbor germs and bacteria and all kinds of gross things.  So go ahead and purchase a good stash of kitchen towels so you’ll have enough on hand to change them out daily.

Bath Towels

Bath towels only need to be used twice and at the most 3 times.  And that is only if you hang the towels up after each use to let them dry out.  They are scraping dead skin cells off of your body, after all.  So even if they look clean, I can guarantee you that after 3 uses they are not.

How often should you wash comforters and bed spreads?  Find out at Mama's Laundry Talk!

Bath Mats

Wash bath mats every other week for the average household.  If you only have one bathroom in the house, and 3+ showers are taken daily, you’ll need to wash weekly.

Children’s Favorite Blankets

Two of my girls have blankets that are their prized possessions.  They hold those blankets in their clammy little marker-stained hands most of the day!  When I can pry it out of those sweet little hands, they are washed once every three weeks.

Car Seat Covers

Children’s car seat covers can get dirty and grimy so quickly!  (Is it just my kiddos??)  For children that are younger than a year, wash car seat covers once a month, since there is usually a copious amount of diaper blow outs and spit up during this time.  For children that are older than a year, try to wash car seat covers every 2 months.

Ironing Board Covers

Yes, even ironing board covers need washing from time to time.  If you iron regularly (several times each month) or if you use spray starch, your ironing board cover needs to be washed once every 2 months.

If you leave your ironing board up all of the time  (No, I don’t judge.  Mine stays up a lot, too.), you need to wash it once a month.  The surface of the board gathers dust just like any other surface.  This is assuming you can see the top of the ironing board cover and it’s not covered with random clothes, kids books, or laundry to be folded.  Not that I would know anything about that.  Ahem.

 

Did I forget anything?  Do you have any items that you don’t know how often to wash?

Comments

  1. How often should I wash the slip covers on my couches?

    • mamalaundry says:

      Lynne,

      Slip covers on couches can be really tricky. They shrink very easily, so most manufacturers say to dry clean only.

      However, if you were to wash them (on delicate and cool/cold) in the machine they need to be laundered once every 6 months or so. If you have stain-prone kiddos like mine, every 4 months is a good target.

      Thanks for stopping by 😉

      -Lauren

  2. Oh dear, I never wash my pillows??!! You say to wash them without the agitator, what does that mean? Clueless, aren’t I! 😉

  3. Mama's Mama says:

    Superb info! Thanks

  4. Eek! I’m way behind on some of these and some I never even think about (dust ruffle…hello?). 🙂 Great information!

  5. Great thorough list! I was going to ask about guest linens, then I saw you had already answered it!

  6. Marianne Rozak says:

    Great post. I thought I was the only person that washed my pillow regularly. I do mine generally every 2-4 weeks.

    The only thing I can think of not on the list might be car seat covers. I live in Canada and test to wash mine in the spring and fall regularly but obviously if your kiddos eat in the car or have accidents they may need to be washed more.

    • mamalaundry says:

      Oh I didn’t think about car seat covers! Excellent. I’ll revise the post tonight, as that is something so easy to forget to wash regularly.

      Thank you!

      -Lauren

  7. Wash aprons twice a week? Yeesh. I either cook more often than others or am just plain messier when I do. I sometimes wear two aprons in one DAY, washing after each meal. I almost always wear an apron when I’m in the kitchen. I’ve even started wearing one to clean up the house. It keeps my clothes dust-free.

  8. I have not washed a carseat cover, ever. Now, I understand that doing so in certain ways can void the warranty. But at the same time, the reason I don’t is because I have not had to. We have 6 tiny kids newborn up to 7, all in carseats, and never once have I had to wash a cover. We are in the car A LOT going here and there. With most seats, it can be tricky to get a cover on or off, and you risk damaging the foam. Some of the seats now are easier. Before we throw out a seat (when it expires), it still looks very nice! Maybe it’s b/c we don’t allow eating, or we got lucky with no diaper blowouts, who knows! (As a kid I used the same pillow for 20 years without washing it, and it was a hand me down to begin with. Now, I realize that’s awful. I had no idea. Now? I buy new pillows every year for my whole family. All cotton covers and a cotton allergy protector. It’s cheap anyway. My big problem is I don’t have a front loader, so I have to shove comforters in that should NOT be in there (they get stuck they are so heavy with water). I have no other good option. Either the machine will break or the blankets will get ruined. Right now we are washing bedding once a month. It’s a huge task for 8 people! That’s a lot of bedding! I can’t imagine doing more right now. The baby bed gets done twice a month. But again, it stays clean and we’re lucky.

    • Lauren Hill says:

      Mother, YES I would say you experience with car seats and baby bedding is unique. 🙂 Blow outs abounded at our house!

      Thanks for stopping by today!

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