How Often Should You Clean Your Sheets? (& Other Things Around the House)

April 19, 2018
Photo by Bobbi Lin

If you type “How often should you…” into Google, one of the first autofill suggestions is “How often should you wash your sheets?” You might think you know the answer to this question, but the recommended time between washes actually surprises a lot of people!

It got us thinking: How often should you clean other items around the house? Is there a recommended cleaning cadence for things like pillows and rugs? What about appliances like the stove and microwave?

It turns out that a lot of these objects should be cleaned more regularly than you might think, so we’re breaking down the optimal schedule for items in every room of your home.


According to experts, you should probably be washing your sheets more often than you do. The National Sleep Foundation explains it’s best to wash your sheets on a weekly basis. If you can’t swing doing a full load that frequently, at least swap at your pillowcases for fresh ones.

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Top Comment:
“Beds stripped and sheets washed EVERY WEEK. Towels every 3 days. Mattress cover every 2 months. Blankets every couple of months. Quilts cleaned 3 times a year. Will be using vinegar on top rack of dishwasher on a regular basis now that i know to do that. Kitchen floors mopped/cleaned every week (or more if any spills). Rugs vacuumed every week. Rugs professionally cleaned once a year. And, for those who are wondering, i shower every day. ;-)”
— Gaye E.

Why so often? Because your bed collects lots of stuff while you sleep—sweat, skin cells, soil, food crumbs, makeup, dust mites… you get the picture.


Sure, your pillowcases provide some protection for your bed pillows, but you should periodically wash these, too. Pillows can collect the same icky particles as your sheets, which is why the National Sleep Foundation suggests washing pillows every six months. However, note that foam pillows can’t be washed, so you may have to replace them when they get smelly.

Bed Blankets

The next logical question is, how often should you wash your comforter or duvet? Again, your blanket won’t get as dirty as your sheets, but it still needs regular washing. The National Sleep Foundation recommends tossing your comforter in the laundry two or three times a year—use the changing of seasons as a reminder!

If you use a duvet cover, it’s best to wash it once a month. Of course, if your blankets are a light color, you may need to wash them more frequently as they get grimy.


Rounding out the list of bedroom essentials is your mattress. While you can’t simply throw it in the washer, you can (and should!) vacuum your mattress at least once a year. To remove lingering odors, try sprinkling a thin layer of baking soda over your mattress. Let it sit for a few minutes, then vacuum it up.


When was the last time you washed your bath towel? A week ago? Maybe more? It’s easy to forget to swap out towels, but experts recommend you wash them after three or four uses. If you shower every day, that means you should be grabbing a fresh towel at least once a week.


Here’s an interesting question: How often should you clean your showerhead? Sure, you probably clean the shower on a weekly basis, but most of us don’t take the time to deep clean the shower hardware.

Abe Gal, co-owner of Superior Home Cleaning, tells Angie’s List that you should clean it every one to three months, depending on how “hard” your water is. If your water contains high amounts of minerals, it will likely clog the showerhead sooner, forcing you to clean the head more often.

Shower Curtains

Raise your hand if you forget to clean your shower curtain until there’s a generous ring of soap scum around the bottom. According to Merry Maids, you should clean your shower curtain or liner once a month—or at the very least, every three months.


Naturally, you’ll want to vacuum your rugs regularly to keep them clean—probably once or twice a week if you have pets. If you have carpeting in your home, consider investing in a professional cleaning at least once a year, more often if you have kids or pets.


You might think you’re in the clear if you have hardwood or tile floors, but we have bad news for you: Those should be cleaned frequently, too. Jason Tetro, a microbiologist and author of The Germ Code, tells NBC that you should wash or steam the floors every few weeks and even more frequently in the kitchen.


Moving into the kitchen, here’s something that might surprise you: You should be sanitizing your kitchen sponges every single day, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These cleaning tools are a hotspot for bacteria, but you can zap germs by popping your damp sponge in the microwave for a minute.


We all know how tough it is to clean a microwave that’s caked with food. That’s why experts recommend you deep clean the microwave on a monthly basis, taking out the turntable and scrubbing the whole thing inside and out.


Another appliance that often gets neglected is the oven. Chances are your oven has a self-cleaning option, so use it! A good rule of thumb is to run the self-clean cycle twice a year to keep your stove in top shape, but consult with your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s optimal cleaning schedule.


Did you know you need to clean your dishwasher? Well, you definitely do—and fairly regularly, at that. Merry Maids recommends you clean this appliance once a month to prevent mold and fungus from growing.

The easy, hands-off way to clean the dishwasher? Simply run a cycle with a cup of vinegar in the top rack.


Finally, another frequently-Googled question is how often should you wash your car. Giving your ride a good scrub down will help remove dirt, salt, dead bugs, and other contaminants that can ruin the finish, and according to Meineke, you should aim to wash your car every two weeks or so. However, you may need to wash more frequently if you park your car outside or live in an area where the roads are salted during the winter.

Toilet Brush

The toilet brush has to be one of the most shudder-inducing items in your home, right? Especially since once it’s down scrubbing the loo, it often sits in its own mucky water until it’s ready to be used again… big yikes. Since it doesn’t make economical or environmental sense to get a new toilet brush every time you clean the toilet, Melissa Maker of Clean My Space advises you wash the brush every time you use it, and never, ever put it back in the brush cup still wet (this is where the nastiest growth happens). “After cleaning the toilet, rest the brush between the bowl and the seat,” she says, then “spray it generously with a disinfectant, such as rubbing alcohol, and let it sit, dripping wet, for 10 minutes or so.” Finish by “rinsing the brush in the hottest water possible and allow it to drip-dry again, using the same method.”

Throw pillows

Throw pillows, much like bed pillows, should be cleaned every six months. The covers can be washed more frequently, though, since they come into more frequent contact with more germs. Depending on how often you lay on them, or how delicate the fabric is, aim to wash throw pillow covers about once a month.

Couch cushions

When you think about it, couches are kind of just giant throw pillows that we sit on… all the time… But according to couch manufacturer, Burrow, the only weekly maintenance your couch needs is a vacuum under the cushions, which can coincide with usual vacuum schedule. For fabric, a few times a year you can either break out your trusty steam cleaner, or dilute lukewarm water with a mild soap or detergent, and use a white cloth to rub the area with the solution. Rinse the cushions using a second white cloth with clean lukewarm water; then allow the area to air-dry completely. Leather couches are more tricky to clean (but trap far less dirt and bacteria), and really only need to be dusted or gently blotted after a spill.

Air Conditioning and Fan Filters

If you’ve been avoiding looking inside your AC unit (or at this time of year, your white-noise-producing bedtime fan), now might be the time to tackle it, and then follow up with a steady cleaning schedule. The filter acquires a lot of dust and grime, but fear not! You don’t even have to replace the filter, according to the technical manager at C&C HVAC, all you need to do is give it a wash once a month. Keep in mind you should wash it more often if you use it more than 12 hours a day. A gentle scrubbing with dish liquid and hot water does the trick; just make sure you let it fully dry before putting it back in the unit, to stave off mold.

Okay, 'fess up: How often are you washing your sheets? Let us know below (no judgment).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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    Gaye E. Passes
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Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.


Gaye E. February 10, 2020
Beds stripped and sheets washed EVERY WEEK. Towels every 3 days. Mattress cover every 2 months. Blankets every couple of months. Quilts cleaned 3 times a year. Will be using vinegar on top rack of dishwasher on a regular basis now that i know to do that. Kitchen floors mopped/cleaned every week (or more if any spills). Rugs vacuumed every week. Rugs professionally cleaned once a year. And, for those who are wondering, i shower every day. ;-)
Captcha March 5, 2019
Over the holidays i watched marie kondo and did some version of making my home “homier.” Also used a book called “home comforts” by cheryl mendelson. Imho, both great books.

Im trying to making my house a little less plastic too. Parabens and phlaletes (sp?) lessening when i can. After marie kondo on Netflix, i was on their algorithms and happened to watch a documentary where this man tried to find out exactly which chemicals were in his daughter’s new flame retardant pajama pants. Anyhoo, all this opened my eyes to the endocrine disruption world. (I just had no clue whatsoever before!)
Im slowly starting to use only cotton cloths to clean (along with green cleaners and water) and then I’ll dry everything with cotton as well. Still wash everything as normal schedules but trying to get rid of the microfiber plastics and sponges. Cotton seems to be doing ok.
linda February 7, 2019
I grew up washing the family's sheets and towels once a week. So I've always followed suit, less Mom's Ghost come up behind me to mutter, "Time to do the wash and be glad it doesn't entail beating them on the rocks, down by the riverside." When company comes, the sheets and towels get washed when they leave--unless they're with us for longer and then the Mom's Ghost applies.
Colin February 7, 2019
linda February 7, 2019
Thanks! "...lest..." 😉
Colin June 13, 2018
I ask my maid to change my sheets daily. My white sheets are able to withstand a hot water wash with bleach without shrinking. I usually help her with this task, including the ironing if I have time to spare. I may consider getting an industrial ironing machine to put in the basement of one of our buildings as she asked for one of these for Christmas.
tastysweet April 28, 2018
Y sheets get washed always once a week. Every Sunday.
Irene April 27, 2018
I personally don't want to sleep in skin cells, sweat, dandruff, dust mites and their poo, for longer than I have to. For those who say that there's no difference whether you wash your sheets daily or at all, you couldn't be more wrong. Dust mites are attracted to human skills and are a major cause of allergies. Sheets once a week, towels every other day (they can get a mildewy odor), pillows and blankets quarterly, and change out the comforter at every season. Enough to stay clean but not be OCD about it.
None N. April 27, 2018
More opinions. You cite no objective facts except dust mite allergy. Unless you're allergic to mites that's irrelevant.
Irene April 28, 2018
I hope the Mayo Clinic’s info will show that my statements aren’t opinions:
Diane April 27, 2018
I don't get the part about cleaning the dishwasher with a cup of vinegar in the top rack. What am I missing?
Colin June 13, 2018
You place 1 cup's worth of vinegar (in a vessel, such as a one-cup measuring cup) on the top rack, and run the machine. It'll spread out the vinegar over the cycle. For extra clean, toss baking soda around the inside of the machine as well before doing this. The same way you toss cocaine down a toilet when the cops are at your door.
Dana B. January 31, 2019
do you do this when dishwasher is empty or full with dirty dishes?
Gaye E. February 10, 2020
Christine M. April 26, 2018
My mom taught me all that stuff and now that I’m a working mom with two kids - the sheets get washed maybe every 2 weeks and towels when I remember to do them. Since if the premise is you use your towel to dry off once you are “clean” than why do we need to wash them so frequently. Kitchens, bathrooms and my laundry machine (which was not on the list gets a monthly cleaning) but the others get cleaned weekly.
Margaret B. April 26, 2018
For millions of year humanoids did not know of germs and accordingly did not wash themselves, their clothes, or their bed linen. Germs have their own germs and our immune system relies on that. So, clean sheet are a pleasure, but nothing will happen if you even don't ever clean them till they wear out.
Ashley B. May 9, 2018
It definitely has an affect on your skin. I get less breakouts the more I wash my pillowcases.
Victoria April 26, 2018
I actually laughed when I saw the title---people actually need to be told these things?! Who would want to crawl into a bed with sheets more than a week from washing, or use bath towels over and over, and crusted food on the microwave? If food splashes wipe it then before it gets crusty. We have water and soap, there should be no problem with being clean!
BeBee April 27, 2018
Not everyone has water, soap, or even a bed!
PjrTexas April 26, 2018
Sidetracked Home Executives ...great book to get you organized and those sheets washed once a week...
Iconne April 26, 2018
Sheets every other week (so the cleaning ladies can make the beds.) Towels last about 3/4 days and then get swapped out. We skip sponges because they gross me out. I have my cleaning people do most of this stuff every other week. It is a major pain and time consuming and nothing feels better than walking into a completely clean home... that wasn’t cleaned by me.
Colin June 13, 2018
I'd recommend using silicone dish scrubbing pads. The side with tighter bristles can take care of the hard stuff, they don't hold odours, and can easily be sanitized in a bowl of clorox or put through the dishwasher.
Emma April 25, 2018
It's amazing how so many people never clean things like their sheets! Ew! Everything needs to be cleaned regularly to have a clean, healthy home!
Kelsey F. April 23, 2018
microwaving your sponge can help the stinkiest and more dangerous bacteria breed by killing off the weaker guys and giving the tough ones lots of room to grow! better to just replace your sponges frequently, especially if you have small children or immunocompromised folks in your household.
None N. April 22, 2018
What happens if you don't follow this advice? Nothing.
Fran M. April 20, 2018
Sheets once a week pillow cases every other day towels every shower. Pillows I use foam, unfortunately I like when they get old and soft. 😔
Sam April 19, 2018
Wash every item of bedding once a week. No exceptions. Wash your towels after one to two uses. Din’t Be disgusting.
BerryBaby April 19, 2018
Sheets and cases, once a week. All beds. Sleep with 6 pillows and rotate the one I sleep on. PJ’s are worn maybe twice? Clean pj’s and clean sheets make for lovely sleep 😴
Jorrene April 19, 2018
I wash my sheets every 5 days and the pillow cases on the third day. I wash my pillows once a month. I know this sounds odd but there are a lot of germs on sheets and pillows. It’s a good way to not get sick so often.
Esperanza April 26, 2018
There is literally no evidence that ties increased sickness to low frequency of sheet washing. We all know bacteria is good for us to generate a healthy immune system. Fresh sheets are wonderful, but washing every week (or every few days, gulp!) just to get regular sweat/ skin off is silly. If you're healthy (and didn't take a mudbath) there is nothing inherently germy or dirty about our skin or our bodies. The bigger thing that washing helps with is reducing dust and allergy triggers. For those washing so frequently, I'd suggest you consider the flip side of the cost on the environment and your pocketbook (and your life). Maybe you should make time for something more important. I agree with every other week, and sometimes I don't even make that goal. We're all fine.
kathleen I. June 12, 2018
To keep the microwave clean, use a coffee filter to cover food before heating. Then use the filter to wipe out the inside of the microwave. Stays sparkling!
Colin June 13, 2018
I just use a splatter guard.
L January 31, 2019
Thank you Esperanza for a sane statement!