These 25 things may be hanging onto germs for way longer than you thought. Check this list to see if you’ve been slacking on some very dirty household items.
Okay, so you know you’re supposed to wash your clothes, towels, and bed linens. But there are some things around your house that might have been neglected lately. Or worse, have never been washed at all. But never fear, I’ve come to save the day!
I compiled a list of things you may not have known can and should be washed and how to do it. All you germophobes will thank me later.
Bet You Haven’t Washed These In A While…
Hats get pretty gross really quickly. Sure, they keep the sun off your face, but they also cause your head to heat up twice as fast which accounts for a lot of sweat buildup. (Ew.) And if you’re a lady, you’ve probably noticed makeup along the inner rim of your caps. (Double Ew.)
You can actually wash your hats easily by putting them on the top rack of the dishwasher! They get the right amount of soap, rinse completely, and don’t lose their shape this way. Just skip the dishes and run a load of hats only. Don’t use the dry cycle though. Take them out and let them air dry. The steam from the dry cycle can cause them to smell a bit like old beach towels, and nobody wants that.
Rubber Flip Flops
Flip flops are gross enough already, if you really sit down and think about it. Rinsing them off with the hose outside is a quick fix, but it doesn’t sanitize them at all. Every time you put them back on you are just getting all those old germs on your feet again. And even if you take them off at the door, you’re bringing those germs into your home.
Want an easy way to sanitize them? Use that dishwasher again! Rubber flip flops on the top rack gets them squeaky clean. Just be sure to rinse them first. *Note: Leather flops are a no-go. Those guys are sworn enemies with your dishwasher. And when it comes to a battle, they lose every single time.
With all this extra use your dishwasher is getting, it could use a sanitation cycle itself. Dishwashers should be cleaned at least twice a year; more if you feel necessary. I clean mine four times a year.
Any time you see cloudy glasses or little specks on your dishes after they’ve been washed, that’s a tell-tale sign that it’s time to give your hardest-working appliance a little tlc. You can view a full tutorial on how to clean it here in this oldie but goodie post from the archive.
Those little round mesh loofahs can be found in almost every bathroom in America. They get soaped up and rinsed every day. They should be one of the cleanest things in your house, right? Wrong. The way they are made causes the material to bunch up all over to create the sphere shape. All those crevices and seams are a breeding ground for bacteria. And even worse, bacteria thrives in moist climates. That daily shower of yours just enables more yuckies to pile up in your loofah.
The fix? Your washing machine. Once a week, when you wash your towels, toss in your family’s loofahs and wash in hot water. Hang in a dry area with very little moisture (not the bathroom or laundry room) for a few hours until completely dry.
While you’re in the bathroom gathering your loofahs, take down your shower curtains, too. You probably already know how dirty the liner gets and you clean it already. But the outer “decorative” curtain gets pretty gross, too. Your dirty hands touch it as you pull it aside before showering.
And even more disgusting, every time you flush the toilet without lowering the lid first, little particles from inside the bowl fly up into the air and settle on everything within reach. (All the more reason to not keep toothbrushes on the counter.)
Check the tag on your fabric shower curtains for washing instructions before popping it in the washer with your towels. Based on the material and dyes used, it may have specific instructions.
Kids Car Seat Covers
Those car seats get NAS-TY! Food, drinks, umm…other stuff (you know…) get smushed into the material daily. Most car seat covers come off easily and have a tag on the inside with washing instructions. Aim to wash it once a month, more if you travel often.
These “Forgotten” Linens
- Bed comforters
- Duvet covers
- Bed dust ruffles
- Fabric mattress liners
- Pillow shams and covers
- Window drapes
- Throw blankets
- Fabric kitchen and entry mats
Opt to get them laundered bimonthly if you can, but at least quarterly.
Pillows (but not the down feather kind) can be popped in the washer on the delicate cycle to remove some (but not all) of of the dead skin, oil, and dirt that accumulates inside. After a year of use, they should be replaced.
Check the label on your sofa (there should be a tag under the cushions) for cleaning instructions. If the fabric can withstand a steamer, I highly suggest using that, because the steam will kill some of the bacteria living under the fabric.
Microfiber sofas can be cleaned with a spray bottle full of 100% rubbing alcohol and a sponge. The alcohol dries faster than water so you won’t get spots.
Before you clean a whole cushion for the first time or with a different method, do a test spot on an inconspicuous area to make sure there’s no discoloration. And make sure you rotate the cushions once a month so they wear evenly.
Kitchen Organizers & Food Storage
- Refrigerator shelves
- Ice trays
- Flatware organizers in drawers
- Salt and pepper shakers
- Pet food storage containers
- Coffee maker
- Pantry shelves
Give these a good wipe-down every so often or when they start looking icky.
Just like humans have to wash our bedding, pet bedding needs to be washed, too. They sweat at night like we do, and while that weekly vacuuming you do to remove the fur is great, it isn’t sanitizing their beds at all.
Check the tag for washing instructions, and when possible, use a bed that has a removable machine-washable cover.
We take it a step further with our dog Winston. For his bed, we stacked a fluffy down-filled dog bed on top of a thick pad of memory foam, then we cover them both with a crib sheet. We wash the crib sheet once a week with our own sheets, and it keeps his bedding clean and healthy all the time.
Yes, as crazy as it sounds, houseplants need to be cleaned! Dust can settle on leaves and slowly cause your plants to get decreased sun and oxygen. Check out this post to find out how to clean your houseplant leaves and keep them healthy and thriving.
Haven’t done some of these in a while (or never)? Don’t feel bad. No need to admit it to anyone. Just quietly go on with your day and no one will ever know.
Have something to add to the list? I’d love to hear your suggestions!
Original post 6 Things You Haven’t Washed Lately from July 2015. Updated May 2021.