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How Often You Should Wash Your Jeans and Everything Else in Your Life

How Often You Should Wash Your Jeans and Everything Else in Your Life

To wash or not to wash

Pam Walker/Shutterstock

Laundry is, by nature, a chore. The sort of task you push further and further down the to-do list until it’s been three weeks and you cannot stand to wear those out-of-fashion jeans any longer. But clothes are not all that need washing. There are carpets and curtains and stuffed animals and makeup brushes too. 

Depending on the material they’re made of and how often you use them, these objects may require more or less frequent cleaning. Here’s a breakdown of how often to wash everything in your life from gym joggers to that pesky carpet. But remember, check all product labels for brand-specific recommendations before starting your spring cleaning spree.

Denim

Denim

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What better source on denim care is there than Levi’s, the classic American jean company? While recommendations for jean washing typically range from after every three to five wears, Levi’s recommends holding out on a wash until after the 10th. Remember to wash jeans inside out. Then, when they’re out of the machine, hang or line-dry your jeans to preserve fit and prevent fading.  

Slacks

Slacks

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Dissecting a dress code can be tough enough, so don’t stress about cleaning your dress slacks. Dress pants or business slacks can last two to three wears without a wash.

Skirts

Skirts

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Like slacks, skirts can go a few wears without a wash too. History has been made by women who wore skirts — and by others who refused to.  

Dress shirts and blouses

Dress shirts and blouses

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Do not attempt to wear the same button-down dress shirt a whole workweek. Dress shirts and blouses can go multiple wears without a wash, and even more if you wear an undershirt. However, know that odors carry. Practice proper laundry habits and hygiene to avoid making an unfortunate office etiquette mistake.

Sheets

Sheets

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Bad things happen when you don’t get enough sleep and good things happen when you do. Whether you’re tossing and turning or sleeping like a log, your body produces sweat in your sleep. This sweat, along with more harmful bacteria, may linger on unsuspecting sheets. Wash bedsheets once every other week. However, if you struggle with excessive night sweats, wash weekly.

Comforters and duvet covers

Comforters and duvet covers

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Though they don’t necessitate as frequent of cleanings as sheets, bedspreads, comforters and duvet covers all require laundry upkeep. Recommendations may differ based on fabric and manufacturer’s care guidelines, but a general tip is to wash these once a month. Anyone sleeping without a top sheet, plus allergy sufferers, may want to up their number of monthly washes.

Blankets

Blankets

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Like bedspreads, comforters and duvets, any additional blankets or throws should be washed monthly. Washing machine settings will vary depending on fabric.

Pillows

Pillows

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Finding the right pillow for you can better prep your bedroom for sleep. To keep that prized pillow fresh and clean, wash and dry on low heat twice a year.

Pillowcases

Pillowcases

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Don’t forget the valiant pillowcases that shelter your pillows from all the ick produced in your sleep. Toss yours in the washing machine weekly for laundering.

Coats

Coats

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While dressing in layers won’t always keep you warm, coats are a cold-weather must-have. Wash yours once or twice a season, following the label’s instruction on whether to hand-wash, machine-wash or dry-clean.

Jackets

Jackets

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Make the most of spring weather and swap out a bulky overcoat for a light jacket or casual blazer. These hassle-free layers can go five to six wears without a wash.

Swimsuits

Swimsuits

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Whether you’re heading home from the beach or the pool, swimsuits must be washed after each wear. Check swimsuit labels and washing machine guides — swimsuits may require a quick post-swim rinse in cold water on a fast spin speed.

Dishcloths

Dishcloths

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Continuing to clean with a dirty dish or kitchen rag is just one household mistake that may be making you sick. Wash and dry your rags on a high setting often — some experts go so far as to say after every use. To accommodate this, consider using a rotating collection of dishcloths. Discard used rags at the end of the day and replace with fresh ones.

Bath towels

Bath towels

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Hang bath towels between uses, allowing an ample amount of time to dry. After three normal uses, wash. Kill residual bacteria by washing towels in hot water and drying on high heat. Like other common household items you need to replace, swap out old bath towels every one to two years.

Carpets

Carpets

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High-traffic carpet areas should be cleaned weekly. You can easily do so by following this natural home-cleaning tip: First, sprinkle carpets with 1 cup cornmeal and 1 cup borax. Let sit for 60 minutes, then vacuum the excess.

T-shirts and tank tops

T-shirts and tank tops

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Likely worn in warm weather and made of absorbent fabric like cotton, T-shirts and tanks must be washed after every use. To stop tees from shrinking, check the fabric type and wash accordingly. Cottons may do best on a gentle cycle, while silks and wools do better with hand-washing. When in doubt, opt for a cold-water wash, slow spin and low-heat dry.

Reusable bags

Reusable bags

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Replacing plastic bags with reusable bags is one way to be more sustainable and improve your carbon footprint. Whether full of sustainable foods or your favorite comfort foods, reusable bags must be cleaned after every use. How you wash depends on the sort of bag. Cotton or woven bags can be either hand-washed or machine-washed, while insulated ones should be cleaned with sanitizing and disinfecting wipes.

Underwear

Underwear

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Underwear should be swapped daily and washed after each use, but unfortunately, many people don’t follow this hygiene rule. In a 2019 survey, 45% of Americans said they wear underwear for two days or longer. Do better, America.

Bras

Bras

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These undergarments can go two to three uses without a wash. However, in between washes and wears, be sure to give your bra rest days for the elastic to regain shape. A well-fitting, comfortable bra can give a confidence a boost, something every woman should experience in her lifetime.

Socks

Socks

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Like underwear, socks must be washed after each wear. No exceptions.

Tights

Tights

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To help keep their form and avoid an unflattering baggy-knee moment, wash tights after each use. Although long out of vogue, tights, like these retro recipes, are poised to make a triumphant return.

Gym clothes

Gym clothes

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Whether you work out at home, in a hotel room or at the gym, change out of your workout wear immediately after exercise, allow it time to dry and toss it in the wash after a single wear.

Baby bottles

Baby bottles

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For premature babies, babies less than 3 months old, and others with weakened immune systems, bottles must be washed after every use and sanitized daily. Soon-to-be-moms should add nutrient foods to their own diet like plenty of water, avocados and yogurt.

Pacifiers

Pacifiers

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Even a seemingly clean pacifier can be harboring harmful bacteria. For babies under 6 months, boil pacifiers for 15 minutes or run them through the dishwasher before each use. Once a child passes the 6-months mark, rinsing pacifiers in water and soap will do the trick.

Cloth diapers

Cloth diapers

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As can be expected, cloth diapers must be washed after being soiled. Typically, a baby may go through as many as 10 cloth diapers in a day. So parents should have at least two dozen on hand to start and add more as needed. 

Stuffed animals

Stuffed animals

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A beloved stuffed animal can be a valued and loved friend to your child, and by extension a valued friend to you. To properly keep them clean, spot treat any pesky stains. Check for any electronic parts before machine- or hand-washing on a weekly basis. Wash on a gentle cycle in cold water and hang to dry. Then place Teddy, good-as-new, back in his rightful place among the other toys.

Plastic toys

Plastic toys

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Scattered toys on the floor and messier spaces are just some of the life changes that come along with becoming a parent. Plastic toys that small children may place in their mouths must be washed in dishwashing soap and water daily. For good measure, sanitize the toys daily too.

Cars

Cars

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Make a stop at the drive-thru car wash once every two weeks. If hand-washing is more your speed, keep your cleaning old-school. Grab the garden hose, sponge and a bucket of sudsy water and wash your car yourself. Regardless of your preferred washing method, always follow the rules of the road.

Litter boxes

Litter boxes

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The Humane Society recommends cat owners scoop out feces from litter boxes daily and replace clay litter twice a week. Cat owner hack: use green tea or baking soda to reduce litter box odor.

Mattress pads

Mattress pads

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Thought you were through washing all you needed from your bed? Think again. Mattress pads should be cleaned once every three months. Cotton, vinyl-backed or down mattress pads can all be washed by machine. However, keep the cycle extra gentle for down mattress pads.

Mattresses

Mattresses

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Although something you wouldn’t think to clean, mattresses should be washed by hand once every six months. Vacuuming is the easiest way to clean a mattress. To remove odors and stains, sprinkle baking soda over the mattress first and let sit for an hour. Vacuum up the excess and clean leftover stains with a solution made from dish soap, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

Plastic shower curtains

Plastic shower curtains

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Plastic shower curtains may look the part of a clean surface as they are constantly exposed to soap and water. However, shower curtains are breeding grounds for mildew and mold. Ideally, you should wash yours once a month along with other household items you forget to clean.

Bath mats and rugs

Bath mats and rugs

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Like shower curtains, bath mats and rugs are similar havens for microorganisms, mildew and bacteria. Wash bath rugs every two or three weeks. Unless there are so many people taking so many showers in your home that the overworked bath mat never has a dry moment, in which case wash them weekly.

Makeup brushes

Makeup brushes

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The American Academy of Dermatology recommends makeup users wash their brushes every seven to 10 days. First, rinse the tips in warm water. Then, swirl each brush in a pool of lukewarm water and a tablespoon of gentle shampoo. Rinse and repeat until the brushes are cleaned. Doing makeup and hair are just two hobbies you can pick up whether you’re 15 or 40.

Suits

Suits

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Wedding season have you feeling dapper? Suits are a formalwear staple. To keep them clean, dry-clean after every three or four uses if made of wool and four to five uses if made of other synthetic materials.

Sweaters

Sweaters

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Best to wear your sweaters with undershirts, lest you want to encourage pitiful pilling. Sweaters can go up to six wears if worn with proper undershirts or just one or two wears without. So pull your cozy oversized knit over an undershirt next time you head out for a night of stargazing.

Leggings

Leggings

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Athleisure, a 2010s trend, continues to spill over into the current decade. For the best legging upkeep, wash after each wear. If your leggings are your gym clothes, wash them daily like gym clothes. If your leggings are pajamas, you can get away with washing them like pajamas.

White fabrics

White fabrics

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White is for the bride, yes, but not just her. To best care for your white fabrics, which are prone to discoloration, wash all whites after each wear.

Curtains

Curtains

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Curtains should be washed seasonally, preferably every three to six months. Like with everything else, check labels for advice on whether to machine-wash, hand-wash or dry-clean. Now, with your home and clothes all washed and clean, it’s time to correct the other ways you are cleaning your house wrong.

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