Summer compels us all to throw open the windows, clear out the clutter and scrub clean every visible surface. But what if you could keep the items in your home clean all year round? The solution is quite simple. It’s all about frequency of cleaning. Some items in your home can be cleaned less frequently, while others should be washed more often. Test your cleaning knowledge to see if you can determine how frequently various household items should fall into your regular cleaning routine.

Bed Sheets

Answer: Once a week

Studies have proven that we shed about 500 million skin cells a day. That’s three and a half billion a week and close to 15 billion a month. Considering, on average, we spend one third of the day sleeping, how many of these cells actually end up in our bed sheets? Lots of them – approximately 166 million! In addition, scientists have also discovered that over the period of a year, we release about 100 litres of sweat into our bedding. Coupled with dirt and household dust, our bed continues to appear less and less inviting at the end of the day. Dirty bed sheets can also be very detrimental to our health and overall hygiene. Sleeping in unclean bedsheets can cause open cuts to become infected. Other fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot, can also be transferred from the fabric to our skin. Aside from infection and bacteria, dirty sheets also attract unwanted dust mites, which can have a negative affect on your breathing. To make sure your sheets are cleaned effectively each week, wash them in hot water on a regular washing cycle. This will help remove any unwanted germs from your bedding. Always make sure to read the washing label on your sheets, prior to washing.

Shower Curtain

Answer: Once a month

Since your shower curtain is exposed to wet conditions on a regular basis, it is very likely that it will accumulate mold and mildew, if not washed in a timely manner. Excessive mold and mildew, whether on the shower curtain or in the grout of your shower, can be very harmful to your health. Breathing in mold spores, over a period of time, can cause a variety of respiratory issues, while mildew can lead to headaches, nasal congestion and asthma attacks. To avoid the growth of mold and mildew on your shower curtain, it is important to wash it every month. Vinyl, synthetic, cotton, and hemp shower-curtain can generally be laundered in the washing machine, using hot water and a mild laundry detergent. Hang the curtain and let it air-dry promptly after washing, as mold and mildew cannot grow in a dry environment. Always remember to refer to the washing label, prior to placing your shower curtain in the wash. If your curtain is not machine-washable, clean the curtain by hand using a microfibre cloth and a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Always make sure to pull the curtain closed after your shower, so water doesn’t settle into the folds. Always hang your curtain on the outside of the bathtub or shower to help deter mildew from forming on the bottom of your shower curtain.

Cloth Oven Mitts

Answer: Every two weeks

An essential tool in the kitchen, cloth oven mitts keep our hands well protected when removing meals from the oven. More often than not, however, our cloth oven mitts tend to be forgotten when it comes to our regular cleaning routine. Traditional cloth oven mitts, in particular, have been known to harbour harmful bacteria within their cloth fibres, which can cause food related contamination and sickness. Not only is it important to clean them to prevent bacteria, but it is also important to prevent the build-up of grease. Grease build-up can cause localized hot spots on your oven mitts, decreasing their overall effectiveness. Although traditional cloth oven mitts are machine washable, this method, can cause the protective coating of your mitts to wear down. Spot cleaning areas, where possible, is considered the most effective way of cleaning them. If you’re due for a new pair of oven mitts, opt for silicone. These mitts far surpass the abilities of the traditional cloth mitts and are easier to clean. A quick wash in the dishwasher, or sink, is all you need to clean your silicon mitts!

Kitchen Tea Towels

Answer: Every day

Tea towels are used for a variety of needs in the kitchen. On one hand, they are a quick solution to cleaning up kitchen spills or for wiping your hands clean during food preparation. On the other hand, however, they are used to dry your clean dishes. The multi-purpose use of your tea towels is where the true concern lies. For example, dirt and bacterial from your hands, can get caught in the fibres of your teal towels. So instead of drying the dishes with a clean towel, you may be spreading dirt and bacteria from your hands to your dishes and so on. To keep bacteria at bay, we recommended replacing or washing your tea towels each day. Tea towels can easily be washed in the washing machine, in warm water, on a regular cycle. We also recommend having one colour cloth for your hands, and a separate coloured cloth to dry your dishes, to avoid cross-contamination.

Reusable Canvas Grocery Bags

Answer: After every use

From the thousands of plastic bags in landfills to their harmful affects on animals, many of us have made the switch to a reusable canvas grocery bag. But how often should you be cleaning them? Studies have shown that most people never even think to wash their reusable grocery bags. Yet, we fill them every week with raw fruits and vegetables, as well as meat and fish among our other regular grocery staples, which can lead to cross contamination. Even with the cross contamination of food aside, we often put our canvas grocery bags down on unclean surfaces, adding even more bacteria to the mix. All this can eventually lead to illness. The good news is, all you have to do is toss them in the washing machine, after each use, to prevent the growth of bacteria, yeast and mold. Always make sure hang dry your canvas bags, and that they are fully dry before storing them away. Never keep your canvas grocery bags in the trunk of your car. During warmer weather, the dark, warm, and often humid environment can create a breeding ground for bacteria to grow.

Jeans

Answer: After 4-5 wears

There is always a big debate about how often you should wash your jeans. Since denim is a rugged and tough fabric, it’s okay to wear your jeans several times before washing them, as long as they aren’t stained. In fact, the CEO of Levi’s told reporters that he hadn’t washed the jeans he was wearing for over a year. The concern with washing your jeans is more about colour fade rather than health concerns. Over-washing can cause them to wear out, prematurely, and cause the colour to fade. From a health perspective, however, microbiologists agree that there’s no harm in wearing your jeans several times before washing them, as the main bacteria that builds-up on your jeans are skin micro-organisms, which aren’t usually hazardous to your health. Our recommendation is to hold out on washing your jeans until you’ve worn them at least 4 or 5 times. Make sure you turn your jeans inside out before washing them in cold water. Always hang your jeans to dry to help them last longer.

Ear Buds

Answer: Once a month

You ear buds often follow you everywhere you go. To the gym, on vacation, to work and so on; but do we ever really think about cleaning them? Day after day, grime from our bags or purses, not to mention ear wax, dead skin cells and bacteria from our ears, accumulates on our ear buds. Although unpleasant, earwax is actually harmless. In fact, it protects the ear canal in many ways. The real problem with wax however, lies in its sticky nature. As wax builds up on your ear buds, it can trap bacteria, where it will grow and flourish. This can all lead to an increased risk of ear infections, ear fungus, pimples and more. But don’t panic. To remove the waxy build-up, simply dip a cotton swab into some rubbing alcohol and wipe the bud clean. Rubbing alcohol dries very fast and therefore won’t soak into your ear bud and damage it.

Bathing Suit

Answer: After each wear

A good bathing suit t is often hard to find, so make it last with some TLC! The most important step to a long-lasting bathing suit is rinsing it out immediately after use. The ultimate goal of bathing suit care is to eliminate the chemicals and substances that harm its delicate fibres, including saltwater, chlorine, perspiration, sunscreen, dirt and sand. Chlorine can cause bright colours to fade and is much harsher on swimwear than fresh or salt water. Mineral-based lotions and oils can also cause yellowing over time if your bathing suit is not washed properly. It’s best to hand-wash all of your bathing suits with a liquid detergent and rinse well. Gently squeeze, don’t wring, the water out of the fabric and lay your suit flat to dry. If you are laying your bathing suit to dry outside, make sure to place it in a shaded area, as the UV rays from direct sun can both fade and break down the fibrers in your suit. Avoid using the washing machine or dryer to clean your suit, as this can cause the fibres of your suit to breakdown and stretch.

Make-up Brushes

Answer: Once a month

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your make-up brushes will help increase their longevity by minimizing the exchange of bacteria from one product to another. To thoroughly clean your makeup brushes, we recommend using baby shampoo and water. Baby shampoo is much more gentle on the brush fibres than regular soap or shampoo. Once you have delicately lathered the bristles, rinse, blot dry, and hang your brush, bristles down, to air dry.

TV Remote

Answer: Every two weeks

Another item that is often omitted from our day-to-day cleaning routine is our TV remote. Studies show that your TV remote is three times dirtier than anything else in your family room. From being dropped on the floor, to getting lost in the couch, to being coughed or sneezed on, your TV remote can contain quite a bit of bacteria and germs. To disinfect your TV remote, use a microfibre cloth and a mixture of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water. Cotton swabs can also be used to clean out the crevices around the remote buttons. Take special precautions if someone in your home is sick with the flu by cleaning the remote every day to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.

Dog Toys

Answer: Every two weeks

The primary reason behind the regular cleaning of your dog’s favourite toys is longevity. Dog toys are often quite expensive and therefore, washing them frequently and keeping them germ-free is a good way to keep them in tip-top shape. You don’t need to clean their toys every day or even every week. A couple times a month should do the trick. Keeping them clean will also allow your dog to enjoy their toys longer. The cleaning method for hard/rubber toys versus soft/fabric toys does vary. For hard/rubber toys, soak them in warm soapy water give them a good scrub with a soft bristled brush and then rinse and air dry. To clean soft/fabric toys, simply toss them in the washing machine and then, the dryer. This will help remove any unwanted germs or bacteria. As long as the toy is in good condition, it should hold up just fine.