Each week, I receive a lot of emails regarding how often certain items should be laundered.
People want to know about 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.
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 should be washed weekly.
I’ve written extensively on how to get the ‘boy smell’ out of your bedroom by frequently washing your sheets and pillow protectors. 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.
Teenager and 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.
Washing pillows every 6-8 weeks is a good rule of thumb.
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.
More reading: How to make your stinky pillows smell better.
Wash dust ruffles every 2-3 months.
A bed’s dust ruffle can harbor lots of…well, dust. This is especially true 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.
Baby sheets should be changed 1-2 times per week, including the mattress pad.
Bumper pads, if you use them, should be washed once per month. They collect dust and general grime from little baby hands and need to be laundered frequently.
More Reading: Make crib bedding easier and layer your crib sheets.
Curtains should be washed every 5-6 months to remove the dust and dirt build-up that accumulates.
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. If you take the time to inspect them that often, you’ll be surprised at how quickly they attract dirt!
Note: Many curtains are dry-clean only, so make sure you read the tag carefully before placing them in the washing machine or dryer.
Wash couch blankets once a week if they’re used daily. If used less often, wash every 4-8 weeks.
Does your family use couch blankets? You know – those blankets or throws that you leave on the couch to snuggle under when you nap.
Even if you don’t use them daily or weekly and they’re mostly just to add a pop of color to the room, they still get dusty. Make sure you add them to the every 4-8 weeks laundry list if your crew doesn’t use them often.
Wash aprons every 1-2 episodes of use.
It’s best to think of washing an apron depending on the amount of times it is worn. A good rule of thumb is to wash an apron every 1-2 times it is used, whether that is twice in one day or twice in one week.
Of course, go ahead and throw it in the wash if you encounter a big spill or cook a smelly dish where the odor lingers (think bacon or fish).
More reading: Are Aprons Really Necessary?
Wash kitchen towels daily.
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.
If you do not often use a kitchen towel or dish cloth, launder every 2-3 uses if all you’re doing is wiping up spills or drying your hands and/or dishes.
Even if they’re only used infrequently, they still encounter food particles and that can lead to germs and bacteria really quickly.
Wash bath towels every 2-3 uses.
Bath towels only need to be used 2-3 times, and four times at the very most. 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 3-4 uses they are not.
More reading: How to Prevent Smelly Towels
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
Wash children’s blankets every 2-4 weeks.
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
Wash car seat covers once every 1-2 months.
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
Wash ironing board covers every 1-2 months.
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.
Take a peek: I’ve purchased this ironing board cover twice through the years. The drawstring makes the fit just right so it doesn’t slide around. And it washes well without changing shape.
Did I forget anything?