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How often you should be cleaning and ditching your everyday items - REVEALED!

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Unmade bed
We like to think we keep our homes pretty clean (no easy feat when you have kids, pets and a partner running around).

But thanks to recent studies looking into just how filthy everyday objects can be, we were left feeling extremely grubby and wondered... is there such a thing as being TOO clean?

Whilst we feel like we're in a never ending stream of washing, scientists are now saying this probably isn't enough to combat the amount of bacteria around our homes.

Phones (which we touch up to 150 times a day!), sheets, pillows, bras, jeans, tea towels, pjs and now even our mattresses are just some of the items that are, according to a microbiologist and other experts, teeming with bacteria and germs. But how often should we be cleaning or ditching these everyday items?

Slippers

Clean: As often as possible and replace every six months
After a long day at work, there's no better feeling than taking off your shoes and relaxing in a comfy pair of slippers. But have you ever thought about how long your favourite pair of slippers have been lying around the house?

According to a guide by Brightside, warm slippers are the perfect place to spread a nasty fungal infection. To avoid damaging your feet, those old slippers should be thrown away every six months... which we think is the perfect excuse to buy a comfy new pair!

We're also all a bit guilty of forgetting to throw our slippers in the washing machine every now and again. But make sure you wash your slippers properly and as often as possible to help reduce the chance of an infection.



Office mug

Clean: Every day
When you're busy at work, washing your mug is probably the last thing on your mind. And let's face it, we're all a bit guilty of leaving our dirty mugs a little bit too long or just giving it a quick rinse before refilling it for the fifth time.

But not washing your mugs regularly can have seriously negative effects for your health. According to Charles Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona, around 90% of office mugs contain dangerous germs. But it gets worse. Charles also said 20% of those dirty mugs also contain faecal bacteria. Gross.

While this sounds really disgusting, bacteria on personal items in the office isn't just because you're around so many people.

Charles added that office cleaning methods are also to blame, as communal sponges and brushes are not changed often enough. And with so many people using them, it's only natural that these germs will spread quickly.

But to make your office mugs much safer, Charles recommended taking your mug home as often as you can, most likely every day, and give it a wash it in the dishwasher. If your kitchen doesn't have a dishwasher, wash it in the office yourself with hot water soap and a clean paper towel.



Kitchen sponge

Clean: Every day and replace once a week
You might have thought your kitchen sponge can't be that dirty if it's used to clean all your pots and pans. However, after touching all those dirty kitchen counter-tops, crockery and chopping boards, as well as being left in dirty warm water, kitchen sponges can actually get pretty filthy. In fact, the very thing you use to wash up with is one of the dirtiest thing in your home!

According to Good Housekeeping expert Caroline Bloor, any cloths and sponges used to clean up in the kitchen should be thrown away and replaced every week. Not only that, they need a thorough clean rinse every day.

Most of us are probably guilty of letting our sponges live in the sink a little bit too long, but according to the study, sponges can contain up to 10 million bacteria per square inch. Just to put that in some context, that's actually dirtier than your toilet...

Of course, replacing your sponges every week can end up being quite expensive, so instead, you can give them a deep clean by putting them in the washing machine with your other laundry to reduce bacteria. Alternatively, give them a daily rinse in water above 60C and leave them to dry on the draining board to stop them smelling.



Bed sheets

Clean: Once a week
The truth is, bed sheets can rack up a serious collection of sweat, body oils, saliva (if you drool), dirt from outside, sexual fluids, and even urine and faecal matter! Laundry expert Mary Marlowe Leverette told ATTN that if you have a scratch or a wound while sleeping in dirty sheets, you can definitely get an infection.

'Athlete's foot and other fungi can be transferred from fabrics. Infrequent cleaning of sheets and pillowcases allows the fluids to seep into the pillows and mattresses, and those are much more difficult to clean than tossing sheets in the washer,'she says.

On top of all of this, the dead skin cells that you shed every night can attract dust mites that feed off of the cells, and can affect breathing for people with asthma.

According to a recent YouGov poll, one in 20 of us wash our sheets only every four weeks, and more than a third wait 14 days. Laura Bowater, a microbiologist, recommends washing them once a week at a minimum of 60c to destroy bacteria. 'Dry sheets and pillowcases in direct sunlight if you can, as UV light is effective in killing micro-organisms. Run a hot iron over pillowcases on the cotton setting (200c) to kill any leftover bacteria.'

Plastic water bottles

Clean: Couple of times then throw away
Reusing that plastic water bottle might be the easiest way to stay hydrated, but according to scientists you should bin them as they're completely riddled with germs! Treadmillreviews told the Metro that drinking water from a bottle that's already been used is as bad for you as licking your toilet. Nice.

The amount of bacteria found on the average reused water bottle can actually be higher than what's on your loo, thanks to the lack of washing, sweat and build-up that's created with every use - and they also found that 60% of the types of germs found on your bottles could actually make you ill.

A recent Canadian study also found that in a sample of water bottles used by school children, almost two-thirds had levels of bacteria over the limit for drinking water.

The scientists from this research believe it's the little ridges found in water bottle that can help germs multiply, while regular use can lead to food poisoning-type illnesses. It's even thought that regularly washing your water bottle can do more harm than good. If washed at a hot temperature, it can break down the chemicals in the plastic that then goes into your water.

Professor of pharmacology, Scott Belcher from the University of Cincinnati, told the Sun: 'Heating will certainly increase the rate at which chemicals can migrate from the plastic'.

But we know it seems silly and expensive to keep buying bottles of water just to throw them away. Even though drinking from the same plastic bottle all the time can be harmful, reusing it a handful of times is nothing to worry about. If you want to keep using the same bottle, there are special reusable bottles you can buy that are dishwasher safe and keep away the germs.



Jeans

Clean: Every six months (if at all!)
Okay, so this may be extreme, but David Hieatt, founder of Hiut denim, says that the key to keeping your jeans in tip top condition is to avoid washing them for at least six months - to allow the colour of the denim to become bespoke to those who wear them.

'All the creases you make, creases that are unique to you. The way you sit, the way you keep your phone in your pocket... you rub off the indigo in certain places; it's a colour thing rather than a fitting thing,' he explains.

David, who is also the founder of the 'No Wash Club', says 'Some place them in the freezer to freshen them up while others leave them out to air. It's worth the effort if you can put up with the smell.'

And David's not alone in his no-washing advocacy - last year, the CEO of Levi's revealed he'd never washed his year-old jeans, and while this seems like an awfully long time we must admit to being guilty of leaving jeans for longer than the rest of our wardrobe.

Microbiologists even say that there's no harm in never washing your jeans from a health perspective. Apparently the main bacteria that goes on the material are skin micro-organisms, which aren't usually hazardous unless you're working in an environment that needs to be sterile, like a hospital.

According to jeans designer Donna Ida, washing jeans after every five wears is enough to preserve their colour and fibres. 'Wash on the cold setting - that's cold as in zero, not 30c' she says.


If the CEO of Levi's can go for a year without washing his new jeans, why can't we?

Gym leggings

Clean: Every two wears
If you thought it was okay to reuse your gym leggings a few times before putting them in the wash, then we're afraid we have some bad news.

According to experts, two wears is the maximum you can allow yourself until you have to succumb to the washing machine. Josh Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital, told Cosmopolitan that because leggings are so close to your skin, the oil and sweat produced during your workout makes it the perfect scenario for bacteria to thrive.

This means that not washing your gym leggings frequently could result in rashes, fungal infections and even vaginal yeast infections. Okay, okay, washing liquid at the ready! However, the pros at Sweaty Betty added to the title that although they get dirty pretty fast, there's no need to wash your leggings at any higher than a 30 degree setting - better for your purse and the environment!



New clothes

Clean: Before you wear!
They're straight out of the shop, so they must be clean, right? Wrong, according to Lana Hogue, a clothing manufacturing expert who says you should be washing any outfit you bring home from the stores before it gets its first wear - and it's not just because people have tried them on before you.

She explained to Elle, 'You should absolutely wash clothes before you wear them. Especially anything that is right next to the skin or that you will sweat on. Almost every yarn or dyed fabric requires chemicals to make them, but unfortunately these can have nasty side effects when they come in contact with your skin.'

'Most of the chemicals used in dyeing fabric and putting finishes on yarns that allow them to be processed through spinning equipment are known irritants' - so remember, off the rack doesn't mean ready to wear!



Bras

Clean: Every two-three wears
Good news for those of us with piles of laundry as high as the sky - our bras don't need to be washed after every wear.

Of course, if you've had a particularly sweaty afternoon then you might want to wash the odd bra after just one wear, but on average you don't need to wash them every day. This also keeps the shape nice, too, as over washing can quickly damage the elastic.

Kelly Dunmore, lingerie expert for Rigby & Peller, says 'The crease in your bust and the area under your arms are hot, sweaty environments. Cleaning after every two wears, possibly three, is ideal'.



Washing Machine

Clean: Twice a month
It's news to us, but apparently washing machines aren't self-cleaning! Who knew?! According to a survey by Glotech Repairs, as many as 1 in 5 of us Brits have never washed our washing machine, but we could be putting ourselves at risk of dangerous bacteria build-up, including E coli.

Nearly 19% of respondents said they had never cleaned their machine while 50% said they did it every few months or less. It turns out we should be doing it more than once a month if we have a large family or use the machine regularly at a low temperature such as 30 or 40 degrees.

If you're feeling lazy you can pop a dishwasher tablet into your drum (obviously without clothes) to give it a spruce. It also stops limescale build up. Or if you want to be more environmentally friendly, then you can use an old toothbrush, hot water and vinegar to clean the detergent drawer, inside the rubber seal on the door and in the drum itself.



Tea towels

Clean: Every day
We all know our tea towels aren't squeaky clean after cooking, but a study funded by the USDA has made us realise just how grimy they get in just 24 hours!

According to the research, which observed 123 participants preparing meals, dish towels are the most contaminated spot in your kitchen. The cooks often touched the towel before washing their hands, meaning that even if they washed all of their dishes properly, they were wiping them down with the same dirty cloth.

Apparently, you should be replacing your tea towels every single day, or at least every time you cook. The lead researcher, Jeannie Sneed, also suggests using kitchen roll to dry your hands or clean up spills to minimise your risk of contamination. Food for thought indeed.



Tights

Clean: Every wear
Come on, own up - have you ever recycled a pair of tights for a second-day wear? If you answered yes, here's why you shouldn't do it again! According to research, because tights are made from non-breathable material, they're an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, putting you at risk of urinary tracts infections and yeast infections. Dr Radhika Rible of UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles told Everyday Health that tights can also increase foot sweating and contribute to fungal infections like athlete's foot - eek! Time to do a tights wash, we think...



Pyjamas

Clean: Every two wears

A recent study found that many of us wear the same set of pyjamas for up to two weeks or more, and as we sweat a lot in our sleep, not washing your pjs regularly can lead to a nasty amount of bacteria. 'Sleeping with a hot water bottle in winter and thick pyjamas will only make you sweat more' says Kelly, lingerie expert for Rigby & Peller. We also lose dead skin cells in bed, and these can be left on your pyjamas - gross! To keep the grime at bay, wash your nightwear after every two wears, or at the very least, once a week.


We should be washing our pjs every two wears according to experts!

Mattresses

Ditch: Every eight years
Bed specialists Dreams have conducted a survey into how often we should be buying a new mattress, and the results are shocking! The study found that 30,000 people in the UK could be sleeping on a mattress which is over 40 years old, whilst 28% of people are sleeping on worn-out mattresses over eight years old and 5% have kept their mattress for fifteen years - meaning an alarming eight million beds in the UK aren't up to scratch!

With one in four people feeling they are not getting enough sleep, researchers believe old worn out mattresses could be to blame. So how often should we be replacing our mattresses? According to Dreams, every eight years is the optimum for a decent night's sleep. Blimey!

Toothbrushes

Ditch: Every month
This may seem a tad extreme (especially when we consider how long our own toothbrush might have been sitting in our toothbrush holder at home) but according to Dr Amer Saeed, clinical director of Garden Square Dental in West London, many people hang on to their toothbrushes way longer than the recommended 30 days.

'They usually wait until the bristles start to splay - which means the brush is less capable of removing plaque and may damage the gums. But dental experts recommend manual and electric brushes should be changed once a month if you suffer with bleeding gums and after three months in any case.'

'Although you may not be able to see any damage - a combination of wear and tear and poor brush maintenance can cause a huge build up of bacteria which can lead to contamination of the gums and possible infection.'

To give your toothbrush a daily clean after it's done its job on your teeth, run it under warm water and a bit of mouthwash.


Do you change your toothbrush as often as the experts recommend?

Bath towels

Clean: Once a week
According to research from Henry Hoover, our bath towels need to be washed every week - and that's only if you're drying them correctly every day. It's also worth noting that you should only use half the amount of detergent when washing, as too much soap makes towels less fluffy. The research also suggests washing in warm water and skipping the fabric softener too.


Bath towels need washing once a week, which is often the only option considering the rate our lot get through them!

Toilet

Clean: Once a week
Another once a week cleaning job, it's pretty obvious why we should be paying the loos in our home a bit of attention when it comes to getting rid of germs! Use disinfectant spray and a cloth for the outside of the toilet and a cleanser for inside, which you should leave for 10 minutes before scrubbing with a toilet brush.

Purse/Wallet

Clean: Once a week
We bet you never considered that your purse needed a wash, especially once a week, but according to Hoover tests have shown that purses and wallets sometimes carry E.coli and other nasty germs (well, it's no wonder when you consider how often it's handled). Don't worry, we're not suggesting you throw your new purse in the washing machine and ruin it, alcohol-free baby wipes can be used on leather and you can hand wash cotton materials.

Phones

Clean: Every day
Scientists in America discovered 7,000 types of bacteria on 51 phone samples and although most are harmless, some are not. Laura Bowater explained to Mail Online why you should clean your phone everyday with an antibacterial wipe: 'When you use your phone it heats up, providing the perfect conditions for bacteria to multiply.'


Clean your phone daily with an antibacterial wipe to get rid of potentially harmful germs

Pillows

Clean: Every three months
This is where it gets really disgusting. According to Mail Online, doctors have found that up to a third of a pillow's weight can be made up of bugs, dead skin, mites and their faeces, and the average unwashed pillow can contain a revolting 16 species of fungi. Luckily, washing at 60c should kill most bacteria so chuck them in the washing machine once every three months.


The average unwashed pillow can contain a shocking 16 species of fungi - YUCK!

Beds

Clean: Every six months
Laura recommends that you hoover or steam your mattress once every six months, as dust mite faeces in your mattress cause allergies and asthma, and fungi and mould spores can lead to serious allergic reactions. It's also worth investing in a machine-washable mattress topper, to make life a little easier (which we're always a fan of!).

Continued below...


Are you going to be adjusting your cleaning routine after these findings? Let us know if the comments below!

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