Cleanliness is next to godliness, right? Actually, no. While no one’s recommending you live in squalor, certain things don’t need to be cleaned quite so often as you thought, and could, in some instances, do without washing almost entirely. For those of us looking to cut back on those pesky daily chores, the news probably comes as a blessed relief. Curious as to which items people clean way too much? Then read on.
Just to clarify, we aren’t suggesting you stop washing your dirty dishes completely. What we are suggesting is that you stop washing them quite so much. Those of us with dishwashers are probably used to giving dishes a quick rinse and wipe before popping them into the machine… which, as it turns out, is not only unnecessary, but could be doing more harm than good. Dishwasher detergent powders, liquids, and tablets contain certain enzymes that are designed to seek out and dissolve food particles before they’re washed away. If you rinse away the food particles beforehand, the enzymes have nothing to latch onto, with the end result that the dirty dishes are likely to come out of the dishwasher no cleaner than when they went in. Naturally, anything encrusted should be removed in the first instance, but other than that, stop wasting your time, water and detergent by pre-rinsing, and simply leave the machine to get on with it.
As Andrew Rhodes, the owner of Platinum Dry Cleaners in Naples, Florida, reported to Reader’s Digest, “The average American household completes 300 loads of washing a year, at 27 gallons per load in a high-efficiency front-load machine, and an average of one hour of time used per load to wash, dry, fold, and put away the laundry,” Whichever way you look at it, that’s a lot of washing. Worst of all, a lot of it is utterly unnecessary. Take suits, for instance. While most of us pack them off to the dry cleaners after each wear, slacks can go for at least 2-3 wears with no more than a steam in between, while jackets can go for 6-7 wears without needing much more than a press.
Like to spend every Sunday washing the car? Then you might need to get a new hobby. Excessive washing can result in hairlines cracks, as well as giving a dull finish to the exterior. No matter how proud you are of your motor, replace the weekly trip to the carwash with 1 or 2 visits per month at max.
One of the most over-washed things in your home might very well be you. While general hygiene is recommended, and washing your hands after using the restroom and before handling food is practically obligatory, washing your hands umpteen times a day is unlikely to do anything but give you dry, chapped hands and a big soap bill. Even more frighteningly, frequent use of hand sanitizer among children has even, as the Alternative Daily reports, been linked to reduced immunity.
If you spot a stain on your carpet, it’s tempting to throw the whole works at it. But emptying half a bottle of carpet cleaner on a pea-sized stain is unlikely to help matters one iota. Too much cleaning solution can have the very opposite effect from the one you want, leaving a residue that over time, will turn into a honeypot for debris, lint, and dirt. The key is to blot a small amount of solution into the carpet, being careful to stay within the perimeters of the stain. Even better, kick the chemicals to the curb and use cheap ‘n’ cheerful soap and water instead.
If all it takes for you to throw half a bottle of cleaning solution at your mirror are a couple of smudges or a few dirty fingerprints, it’s time to step back. Too much liquid, whether that be water or cleaning product, can work its way behind the glass and damage the backing. Resist the temptation to clean with anything other than a soft cloth until the occasion really demands it.
7. Curtains and Drapes
If you’re washing your curtains and drapes monthly, you’re wasting your time. Window hangings from the bedroom and living areas need no one than an annual spring clean and the occasional once over with a vacuum cleaner. Bathroom and kitchen curtains tend to attract more grease and debris, so may need a little more attention. Once every few months should suffice.
Slipcovers can help transform a grungy old sofa in an instant. While one of their chief perks is the ease with which they can be removed, washed, and popped back on, weekly cleaning is taking things a little too far. Unless you’ve got pets, kids, or a penchant for eating sloppy spaghetti in front of the TV, an end-of-season clean combined with the occasional spot treatment should be more than enough.
9. Bed Pillows
Pillowcases themselves benefit from weekly cleaning (at a minimum). The pillows themselves, however, can go for a lot longer before being introduced to the insides of your washing machine. Unless you want to wear them out with too-frequent cleanings, stick to washing them every 3-6 months max.
If you think you need to pop your jeans in the washer after each and every wear, think again. Jeans are one of those items that benefit from being kept as far away from water as possible. Resist the urge to throw them in the laundry until you’ve had at least 3-4 wears out of them. Even then, you’d be better off taking them to the dry cleaners than throwing them in the wash. You could even try following the advice of Life’s Candy Jar (and yes, we’re aware this sounds a little strange, but don’t dismiss it till you’ve tried it) and stick them in the freezer overnight. The chilly temperature will kill bacteria and eliminate any odors, but won’t affect their stretch or fit in the way regular washing will.