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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?

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, a microbiologist, 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

Bed sheets

Clean: Once a week
According to a recent YouGov poll, one in ten of us wash our sheets only every four weeks, and more than a third wait 14 days. Laura 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.'

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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Angela Trotman

Put two pillows in the washing machine so they hold their shape and put on a low setting with plenty of washing powder and disinfectant. To dry then put on a low setting in the dryer. To stop them clumping, put about 2-3 clean tennis balls in dryer - they will gentle plumb up the pillows back to normal. Ensure thoroughly dry.

Nannyknowsbest

I put my tea towel to wash every time I've dried my pots, so end up with about 3-5 towels a day, depending how often the pots are washed, I was brought up to change the towel frequently & have separate clothes for taking food out the oven

Sara Hill

I already wash most of these things at least as often as recommended but have never thought about ckeaning my purse!

angelinalynn

I agree. when I wash mine the clumps never dissipate whether I leave them to dry or dry them in the machine.

angelinalynn

I change the sheets both fitted and top sheet EVERY DAY. There is nothing like the smell of fresh laundered clean sheets and pillowcases against my skin and nose. I usually air dry my linens unless it is under 32 degrees and freezing so they last a long time.

HBLyne

We actually need to expose ourselves to bacteria. This much cleaning could result in chronic health conditions increasing dramatically. Most bacteria is harmless, some is actually beneficial and important for optimum health. We also need exposure to harmful bacteria in order to have fully functioning immune systems. Some of the suggestions are great (pillows and mattresses for instance), but others could be seriously overdoing it (phones wiped with anti-bacterial wipes every day!). Like everything on the internet, this should be taken with a serious pinch of salt.

LoopyLoo68

How do you wash pillows? Mine always come out with filling in clumps and end up in the bin. Easier to buy really cheap ones every few months

nannyknowsbest

I know how you feel, I gave my husband a kidney 6 years ago & when we first came home, he had to have his own towel, everybody washing there hands before touching anything of his, it was ridiculous the amount of washing I was doing but things do calm down. My daughters only use there towels once then striaght in the wash, myself & my hubby use our towels twice then I wash them, I was washing pillows once a year but obviously that's not enough. Reading what they say makes me feel like we live like animals, best get washing & hovering then.

Linda pollock

Well I've never washed my bath towels anywhere like as frequently as once a week and I'm still here after 62 years. Most bacteria don't do any harm - we're all full of them anyway.

Yashmitha Padayachee

Thanks for this interesting read. My husband recently underwent a kidney transplant, and we had to drastically up our game with cleaning we now seem to be doing more than the article (in some instances) . but as i said only because of the op..... we're a filthy bunch aren't we....

karen

Am defiantly going to be cleaning a lot more , wow . Illl be looking at my bed in a hole new light now

Amy

Not sure about anyone else - but i'm definitely going to start washing my pillows more!!!

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