How Nasty Are Your Laundry Habits?

Some people find doing laundry soothing, while others despise a job that never ends. No matter where you fall on that sliding scale or where laundry falls on your chore list, everyone can agree to how good it feels sliding into freshly washed sheets or putting on warm-from-the-dryer PJs.

We pretty much only have one question for you: How often are you washing? Wash too infrequently and your clothes and linens will get covered in bacteria, mold or mildew—no thanks. Do it too much, and your fancy new bra won’t last very long at all—no thanks to that too. See how your habits stack up against Good Housekeeping Institute by scoring yourself on the following questions.


What you should do: Wash every week or two.

There’s a reason you should swap our those linens and sheets on the reg—and it’s not just the joy of a crisply made bed. Every night you and your sleepmate inadvertently continue to build up germs, sweat and body oil. Guess where it’s going?! That’s right, straight into your sheets for 6-8 hours as you rest each night.

“The longest you should wait before changing out your sheets is two weeks,” says Carolyn Forte, Director of the Cleaning lab. “Weekly is even better.”

For the best results, throw them in the washer on a normal or casual cycle, spritzing any stains or makeup residue with Boulder Clean Oxi-Smart Stain Removing Spray ahead of time. Hotter water will kill even more germs, so pick the warmest temp your fabric can handle. Be sure to always check what the instructions on your garments tag say before washing.


What you should do: Wash every six months.

Now hold up, you should definitely wash the pillowcases frequently, but even the pillows themselves can absorb unwanted ick and need a deep clean every once in a while. The good news about feather pillows: You can actually throw them in your own washing machine.

Launder only two at a time and use a small amount of Boulder Clean Laundry Detergent on the delicate cycle, followed by a second rinse. Then stick those fresh babies in the dryer with some dryer balls (or a tennis ball) to plump up the filling. If you have foam pillows, you’ll find these instructions more useful.

Even if you wash them regularly, your pillows won’t last forever, if they don’t spring back when you fold them put them on your shopping list.


What you should do: Wash every month or two.

FYI—by mattress pad, we don’t mean the pillow-top or foam versions, which you should always check the label for instructions. If you just have what’s essentially a padded sheet that you like to keep on your mattress for protection (and a little added comfort) continue reading. Since the cover sits underneath your sheets, it doesn’t need to be washed quite as frequently, but it will eventually accumulate grime. Most kinds should get washed in warm water and tumbled dried on low, but again, check your label.


What you should do: Wash every week.

They get sopping wet (from your feet, by the way—regardless of how clean they just got in the shower) and they can’t dry very well on the floor. Even the ones in your downstairs powder room get covered in dirt with enough foot traffic and dust with enough time. If your mat is made of cotton or synthetic fibers, just wash it with your other towels. Rubber-backed rugs can also go in the machine on a gently cycle with cold water, but was less frequently as the no-skid coating can’t withstand regular cleaning.


What you should do: Wash every three uses.

If you hang your towel on a bar and allow to dry between uses, towels can easily be used three times or even more before you toss them in the laundry. Washing towels too often is just a waste of their freshest fibers and a waste of energy. To get your clean and fresh, wash in the hottest water the fabric can handle with Boulder Clean Laundry Detergent but no fabric softener, which can hamper the absorption quality.


What you should do: Wash every three months.

Don’t forget about the den! Throw blankets can get all sorts of grimy, especially if you like binge watching Netflix as much as it seems everyone does. Wash when noticeably dirty or every three months and follow the instructions on the tag for best results.

Dish Towels

What you should do: Replace every day.

Even if you do your hands before, during and after food prep, wiping them on the same cloth will get it contaminated with germs fast. More than 75% of household dish sponges and rags carry bacteria that can cause disease according to public health organization NSF International. To cut down on the spread of microbes, start with a fresh kitchen cloth daily, or each new meal—whatever rule you want to follow—but do it often! Same goes for hand towels and washcloths in the bathroom.

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