Expert Advice On How Often You Should Wash Everything

washing guidelines

Many would have you believe that the simple act of asking, “Do I need to wash this?” means that the answer is automatically “YES!” But that isn’t always the case, and to be quite honest, figuring out how often to wash certain things isn’t nearly as intuitive as you’d think.

For example, when I was a newlywed, I realized I didn’t have a clue how often I should wash our bedding. Every week? Every month? (Hey, at least I was in the ballpark!) ;-)

So when I recently ran across this list on the American Cleaning Institute’s website, I thought it would be helpful to share those guidelines (along with some of my own) here with you today. Whether your knowledge of when to wash things needs a bit of refreshing or a major overhaul, you’re sure to find the straightforward guidelines you need in the list below.

Note: You may have slightly different (or even vastly different) takes on the guidelines included below, and that’s okay. They are guidelines, not rules or laws, so feel free to take them, leave them, or use them as a baseline you can tweak over time.

“How Often Should I Wash This?” – Laundry Guidelines From The Pros

washing guidelines

Guidelines For Washing Bedding

  • Sheets – Wash them every two weeks at the very least, and more often if you sweat a lot at night.
  • Pillowcases – Wash them once a week, or keep two sets of pillowcases and swap them out weekly.
  • Throw Blankets – Wash them once a month.
  • Mattress/Pillow Protectors – Wash them once a month.
  • Comforters, Duvets, & Pillows – Wash them every six months.
washing guidelines

Guidelines For Washing Clothing

  • Underwear & Socks – Wash them after each wearing.
  • Bras – Wash them after two to three wearings, and give each bra a “rest day” between wearings to allow the elastic to regain its shape.
  • T-Shirts, Tank Tops, & Camisoles – Wash them after each wearing.
  • Outer Layers (Dress Shirts, Etc.) – Items worn over another layer can be washed after a few wearings, but should be washed sooner if you’ve been sweating or they are visibly dirty.
  • Jeans – Wash them after three wearings.
  • Leggings & Tights – Wash them after each wearing to restore their shape and flexibility.
  • Suits – Have wool suits dry cleaned after every three to four wearings (or four to five wearings for synthetic suits), or more frequently if you wear them in a smelly or grimy environments.
  • Pajamas – Wash them after every three to four wearings, or slightly less frequently if you shower before bed.
  • Swimwear – Wash bathing suits and other swimwear after each wearing.
  • Coats, Jackets, & Other Outerwear – Wash them every three months.
washing guidelines

Guidelines For Washing Towels

  • Bath Towels – Wash them after three to four uses, and hang them to dry between each use.
  • Dish Towels, Hand Towels, & Wash Cloths – Wash them after each day of use.
washing guidelines

Guidelines For Washing Other Items

  • Throw Rugs – Wash them every three months.
  • Cloth Face Masks – Wash them after each use.

Exceptions To These Guidelines

  • For every rule, there’s bound to be a few exceptions! Here are a couple of exceptions to the guidelines listed above that I think are worth noting:
  • You should always wash new clothing before you wear it, regardless of whether it’s brand new or new-to-you.
  • Certain fabric types and colors of fabric (like silk and white clothing) are especially susceptible to discoloration and should be cleaned after each wearing or use.
  • In the event of stains or spills, the affected item should be cleaned as soon as possible (whether that means spot cleaning, laundering, or dry cleaning) to extend its lifespan.

Do you have any guidelines of your own about when to wash certain items?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


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  1. We have a friend who says what she does when washing big bulky bed quilts – just takes them to a laundromat because they have the bigger washer and dryers.

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  2. I find it hard to wash heavier bedding and comforters with the new washing machines, and the lower levels of water. Any suggestions?

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    • My “high-efficency” front loader has a heavy/bulk setting which will use the maximum water amount instead of the load sensor. I can further customize this setting by selecting the maximum wash time, and also extra rinses, plus hot water wash. I add “stain solver” brand oxygen bleach. All my heavy items (blankets, comforters, bed spreads) come out very clean.

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