The bathroom is the most used room in your home, which is why its contents can quickly become overused. Did you know, for example, that the average toothbrush contains 10 million bacteria or more? Likewise, bathroom floors have been shown to be one of the most contaminated parts of the bathroom, making your always-a-little-soggy bathmat a veritable petri dish for E. coli, Staph and other nastiness you want nothing to do with.
Despite this, many of us tend to use our toothbrushes long after they’ve turned into splayed out trees, and forget to launder our towels for weeks (okay, months) at a time. We turned to two experts in bathroom hygiene to find out exactly how often we should be scrubbing, replacing or straight up incinerating all the stuff in our bathrooms: Carolyn E. Forte, Director of Home Appliances and Cleaning Products at Good Housekeeping, and Heather Lende, best-selling author and former columnist for Woman’s Day magazine. Here’s what they had to say (any feelings of shame and/or remorse while reading this article are perfectly natural).
How often should I wash my bath towels?
Forte: “Bath towels can be used 3-4 times before washing, especially if they’re hung individually on a towel bar or hook where they can dry. Towels that are piled or bunched up won’t dry between uses and can get musty, so they should be washed more often. Hand towels that get used multiple times a day should be washed every two days or so, depending on how dirty they are.”
Lende: “One mistake people make is adding too much soap to damp towels that have started to smell a tad moldy in warm, damp weather. Soap actually helps grow that wet towel funk, so less is better, and a double rinse is a good idea.”
How often should I replace my bath towels?
Forte: “Bath towels can last for years, especially if you have multiple sets and you rotate them out. They should be replaced when they are torn, frayed, have holes, or are no longer absorbent.”
How often should I wash my bath mat?
Forte: “Like towels, bath mats need to be hung up after use to be allowed to dry thoroughly. Weekly washing should be fine for them.”
Lende: “Always wash them before and after guests use the bath.”
How often should I replace my bath mat?
Lende: “I replace bath mats when they become faded or I want to change the colors in the bathroom. I prefer the lighter, easy to toss in the wash variety over the heavy padded types that take forever to wash and dry.”
How often should I replace my toothbrush?
Lende: “You should change your toothbrush every time you get your teeth cleaned by the dentist — so, about every six months.”
Forte: “Or whenever the bristles are splayed. Also, after getting over a cold.”
How often should I replace my sponges for cleaning the bathroom?
Forte: “Cleaning sponges should be replaced when they start to smell or break down and fall apart. To help them stay fresher longer and kill germs, we have found a five-minute soak in three tablespoons of chlorine bleach mixed in one quart of water works best.”
How often should I replace my loofah?
Forte: “Loofahs should be replaced when, like sponges, they start to smell or there is a visible buildup of body oils, product or mold on them. It may be every month or so, depending on use. Rinse them in clear water after each use to remove any soaps and other residues, as those residues can promote mold growth. As with cleaning sponges, loofahs can be soaked in a diluted bleach solution for five minutes to kill germs if they start to smell, and for a deeper cleaning. The bleach solution shouldn’t cause any skin problems, but it can always be rinsed again thoroughly before use to be sure. The other option is to simply throw it away.”
How often should I mop my bathroom floor?
Forte: “The bathroom floor usually needs vacuuming every few days and washing once per week.”
Lende: “Or more as needed, say if grand children or pets use the tub. Or teenagers…”
How often should I replace my random toiletries?
Lende: “Make a sweep of the old jars and bottles every few months and check expiration dates. I hate old bars of soap, and that old bottle of green shampoo should be chucked as well. One nice idea for travelers is to save the hotel toiletries and leave them in a basket for overnight guests.”
So there you have it. Just remember, you don’t need to be an expert from Good Housekeeping to keep your WC in tip top shape: The smell test is usually pretty reliable.