How Often Should You Wash These Everyday Items

In the height of cold and flu season, tackling your wash has benefits beyond the heavenly smell of fresh-from-the-dryer clothes. Laundry can help prevent the spread and cycle of illness that can often run rampant in homes this time of year.

mother doing laundry with child watching

We all know how it starts. One person comes home with the sniffles, and it isn’t long before the rest of the household is sick with an awful cold, too. It’s hard to think about laundry in the misery of coughing and sneezing, but if you can manage to throw in a load of clothing, it’s a win towards keeping illness at bay.

Germs can collect in towels and bed sheets or other items of clothing, holding potential for causing infection or other health issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds that bacteria like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) can spread on sheets, towels and clothing, and can even enter your wash cycle, especially from someone who has been sick.

It’s a risk to consider if you are debating whether you really need to tackle that ever-growing pile of laundry. It turns out you can sort through some options — some items can go a lot longer without a wash then you might expect, while others should be washed more than once a week.

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) offers tips to help determine how often is best to wash common items, to help keep those germs at bay.

  • Bath towels should be washed after three to five uses, according to ACI. Here’s the key, hang up your towel when you are done bathing. Towels need to be allowed to dry before they are used again. Bacteria like E-coli can grow on bath towels and dish towels that are wet.
  • Pajamas can stretch a little longer, too. They should be washed after three or four wears. If you shower before bed, you may even be able to put off the wash a little longer.
  • Bed sheets might not be need to be washed as often as you thought, unless you are sick. ACI recommends you wash your sheets every two weeks, but more often if you sweat a lot at night.

If someone is ill, the sheets, duvet and pillow should be washed immediately, as germs can spread or even enter the washing machine.

In addition, the CDC says wash and dry in the warmest temperatures recommended on the clothing label. The agency points out that hot water washing is not necessary to remove MRSA from laundry, but to properly follow the clothing and soap or detergent label instructions.

The best reason to get folding? Laundry has a far greater purpose, it can prevent you from getting sick and stop the spread of disease to others in your household.