You should regularly wash all your fabrics around the house, that much is a given that few would dare question. The real conundrum comes when you ask when you should, each of them. Should bed sheets be washed as often as towels? Are bathroom clothes and kitchen cloths considered the same? How soon is too soon between wash cycles? Worry not, we know the answers that you want, and we want to share them with you!
This handy guide will tell you when it’s best to wash each of the above items and more, depending on how much you use them and the fabric they’re made out of. Just remember that if you’re washing all of them with the same frequency, then you still have a couple of things to learn about the care and maintenance of fabrics! We’ll also briefly mention which type of products are better for each at the end of each entry, in case you think they come out too rough after each wash.
You would be surprised at how fast your sheets get covered with sweat, dead skin cells, and even saliva, amongst other things. And as if that wasn’t enough, these things are the perfect habitat/meal for dust mites, which can provoke bad allergic reactions for many people. You’d think we’d have that covered, but a survey made in 2017 shows that 44% of Americans wash their sheets only once or twice a month. That’s kind of icky, but how often should you do it?
The fellows at the Good Housekeeping Institute say that it should be done at least once every two weeks, but to bump that up to once per week during the hot season (or if you just sweat a lot at night). The way to do it is using water at 130 F to kill the mites. If you’re just coming out of an infections illness, wash and sanitize them immediately before going back to bed. All of the above applies the same (or even double) for pillow cases, and if you’re wondering how to dry bed sheets, your preferred method is probably OK.
The second best part of any hot, relaxing shower is drying yourself off with a soft, puffy towel, right? Well, when was the last time you washed that towel, anyway? As it turns out, towels are prime real estate for viruses, bacteria and mold, considering how long they remain damp every week. A good rule of thumb is to wash them at least once per week, swapping to a freshly-cleaned one during that time; this is a good reason to always have a couple of extra towels available, even if you share one with your spouse. Kids, however, should always have their own towels, and these should be washed a little bit more frequently since they’re more at risk when it comes to germs. If you’re sick, wash them more often, and during the humid season. Finally, you should change gym towels every day, since they tend to sit for hours in a damp environment after you’re done with them.
The recommended temperature to wash a towel in is at least 140 F if you use the sanitize mode on your washing machine. Otherwise, crank up that heat a little. You might also want to avoid using fabric softener on towels, since they get less and less absorbent each time due to it.
Kitchen Cloths/Dish Towels
Few items in your kitchen see as much action as your little dish towel. On top of being a nice decorative accent, it follows that they get all sorts of goop, grime, spills, and other messes over themselves in the course of a normal day. This means, of course, that they should be washed much more often than many other fabrics around the house. Some people consider once-a-week to be the perfect schedule for dish towel washes, but it should really be every other night, all things considered. Why? Well, they almost never dry out completely between uses, so they’re very at risk of hosting germs, molds and other nasties in them.
Even if you use microfiber instead of cotton to prevent the growth of bad microorganisms, it’ll still hold onto the microscopic remnants of spilled food, liquids and such. If you want to go the extra step, soak them in a bucket full of warm water and vinegar (or bleach if they’re white) for about 15 minutes before machine washing them normally. Use hot water, about 140 F. Always hang them up to dry completely before reusing them, and never use the same towel for more than a year straight. If you wanna get rid of bad smells in your cloth, sprinkle baking soda over it and let it rest overnight, then apply the process described earlier.
Finally, to really say goodbye to all those germs and bacteria, boil them! Place your towels in a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes every month or so.
Taking care of fabrics is important because we’re always in full-on bodily contact with them, and if they’re dirty, that means we are too. The tips we brought you in this article will make sure that your sheets, cloths and towels are always clean and fresh-smelling, but if you want to do the same for the rest of your house, the best solution is above any household lifehack.