Some people find doing laundry soothing, while others despise a job that never ends. No matter what where it falls on your chore list, everyone can agree that the smell of freshly washed sheets — or pulling on warm-from-the-dryer PJs — is pure heaven.
The only question remains: How often is often enough? Wash too infrequently and your clothes and linens will get covered in bacteria, mold, or mildew — uhh, yuck. Do it too much, and your fancy new bra won't last very long at all.
See how your laundry habits stack up against the advice of the Cleaning Lab at the GolfHr Institute by answering the 10 questions below. We've gone room by room breaking down how often your stuff should get a spin in the machine — including some things you've probably never even thought about washing at all.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Wash every week or two.
There's a reason you should swap out those linens on the reg — and it's not just the joy of a crisply made bed. Every night you and your sleepmate inadvertently contribute to the build-up of germs, sweat, and body oil.
"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 ahead of time. Hotter water will kill even more germs, so pick the warmest temp your fabric can handle.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Wash every six months.
Yep, you should definitely wash the pillowcases, but even the pillows themselves need a deep clean once in a while. Just think about all the oil, sweat, and makeup on your face and hair and you'll realize why. 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 on the delicate cycle, followed by a second rinse. Then stick 'em in the dryer with some to plump up the filling. If you have foam pillows, follow these instructions instead.
Even if you wash them regularly, your pillows won't last forever. "If you fold the pillow in half, and it doesn't spring back into shape, plan for a shopping trip," Forte says. Check out these top pillow picks from the Institute for every kind of sleeper: back, stomach, or side.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Wash it every month or two.
FYI by mattress pad, we mean a protective covering — not the pillow-top or foam versions, which you should check the label for instructions. Since the cover sits underneath your sheets, it doesn't need to get laundered as frequently but it will eventually accumulate grime. Most kinds should get washed in warm water and tumbled dried on low.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Wash it every week.
They get sopping wet the second you step out 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. 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 gentle cycle with cold water, but wash less frequently as the no-skid coating can't withstand regular cleaning.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Wash every three or so uses.
"If you hang them on a towel bar and allow them to dry well after each use, bath towels can easily be used three times or even more before you toss them in the laundry," Forte says. " too often will make them wear out faster, and it's just a waste of time and energy."
To get yours clean and fresh, wash in the hottest water the fabric can handle with detergent but not fabric softener, which can hamper the absorption qualities.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Wash every three or four wears.
The key piece of information here is the word "wear." A "wear" depends on how long you have it on and how much you sweat, says Lexie Sachs, product analyst in the GolfHr Institute Textiles Lab. That means sports bras should get washed after every workout, but if you put on a bra for a few hours that might not count as a wear.
Over-washing bras will damage the elasticity, and you'll still want take care when you do give 'em a rinse. Hook the clasp and then put the bra in a . Wash on the most delicate cycle you can and use a mild detergent like . Never put bras in the dryer. Lay them flat on a towel to dry instead of hanging, which can stretch them out.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Wash every three wears.
Remember all the grossness that's on your bed? The same principles apply to your pajamas, too. Consider it an excuse to invest in some fresh jammies so you can stretch out laundry day a little farther.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Wash shirts every wear, and dresses, skirts, and pants every three wears.
To make your clothes last the longest, dry lightweight clothes like T-shirts separate from heavier stuff, like jeans and jackets. Otherwise the more delicate fabrics will spend too long in the dryer, Forte says. Psst: If You need help decoding the symbols on the care label, here's a handy guide.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Wash every three months.
The bedroom's the obvious place to go looking for dirty laundry — but don't forget about the den! Throw blankets can get all sorts of grimy, especially if you like binge watching Netflix as much as the rest of us do. Follow the washing instructions on the tag for the best results.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Replace with a clean one 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 disease-causing germs — fast. More than 75% of household dish sponges and rags carry coliform bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli., according to public health organization .
To cut down on the spread of microbes, start with a fresh kitchen cloth daily. The same goes for hand towels and washcloths in the bathroom — swap 'em out every day if they're getting used frequently.