15 Things You Don't Have to Clean as Often as You Think

Seems like there’s always an expert telling us we need to do more cleaning. (*looks knowingly at Martha Stewart*) Enough! We’re going to cut you some slack and tell you about the things you’re cleaning too much. Because it’s exhausting living in a neat freak, germophobic society, amirite?

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March 07, 2019

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Comforter

You should change your sheets weekly, but your comforter can go weeks, even months, between washings since it doesn’t come in contact with your skin. It will last longer with fewer washings, too. If you share your bed with a pet who sleeps atop your comforter, you may need to wash it more often. At least hit it with a sticky link roller to get the dog hair off.

Oven

You don’t need to clean the oven every week, or even every month. You only need to deep clean it three or four times a year. Your food doesn’t touch oven surfaces directly, so it doesn’t have to be sanitary. And the heat of the oven will keep germs from colonizing between deep cleans. Also, if it’s got a self-cleaning option, use it.

P.S. Be sure to wipe down spills as they happen.

Get the How-To: How to Clean an Oven Naturally

Carpets

Less is more when it comes to cleaning your carpet. You should vacuum it weekly but only steam-clean it once a year. The chemicals, water and equipment used by professional carpet cleaners can wear down the fibers in your carpet, damaging it and making it get dirtier faster. Carpet stains happen, especially if you have kids or pets, but spot-cleaning is the better way to go.

Mirrors

We all love a smudge-free mirror, but spray yours with too much glass cleaner and you can damage its reflective backing. The damage shows up as black spots around the edges or even in the middle of the mirror. Black spots = dead mirror. Better to live with a few smudges and clean your mirrors no more than once a week. And go easy on the glass cleaner when you do.

Dishes

Stop rinsing them before you put them in the dishwasher. Just scrape the food off, load them in, and let the dishwasher do its job. Most dishwashers have sensors that figure out how long to run a wash cycle based on how dirty the dishes are. If you rinse off, say, the dinner plates but miss the casserole dish, you can confuse the sensors, making them run a shorter cycle and leaving you with last night’s potatoes au gratin still stuck on your utensils.

Stovetop

Even if you cook every day, there’s no reason to do a big scrub every time you use the stove, unless you’ve had a massive spill. Just wipe it down after each use, and give it a once-a-month scrub. Your food isn’t coming into contact with the stovetop, and it gets hot enough to kill any germs that might lurk, so it doesn’t need much attention from you.

Wood Furniture

Put down your lint-free cloth and back away from the furniture polish. Too much polishing can make your furniture get dirtier, faster. Really. Polish can build up on the surface of furniture and become a dust magnet. Too much polish can dull the finish, too, making your furniture look old before its time. A thin coat of polish a couple of times a year is all you need to keep your furniture shiny.

Light Fixtures

Cross this task off your weekly to-do list: Cleaning light fixtures. Once a month, dust them once a month with a microfiber cloth or feather duster. Once a year, take off the glass parts or shade off and clean with soap and water. You never touch the light fixtures, and they aren’t the first thing you notice in a room, so a little dust won’t hurt.

Pantry

You don’t need to pull everything out, wipe down the shelves, and check expiration dates weekly. You don’t even need to do it monthly. Since all the edibles are sealed up, you can handle this chore seasonally. The pantry surfaces don’t touch anything you’ll be putting in your mouth, so they don’t have to be spotless and sterile.

Cast Iron Cookware

The best thing about that cast iron skillet isn’t that it makes your cornbread crispy. It’s that it never needs to be deep cleaned. Ever. Classic skillets benefit from a layer of oil left behind from cooking. Scrub that layer of oil off with soap and water and the skillet will rust. A rusty skillet does not spark joy. Just wipe it out when you’re done cooking with it, and you’re done.

Drains

If your drain is working, leave it alone. Preventative cleaning can do more harm than good because the chemicals in cleaners can damage pipes and eat into the finish on your sink. If your drain’s smelly or running slow, bust the gunk that’s blocking it with a mixture of baking soda, lemon and hot water.

Get the How-To: 5 Drain Cleaners You Can Make at Home

Kitchen Towels

These little workhorses are your go-to for mopping up spills, drying dishes, and cleaning counters, but they don’t need to be washed as often as bath towels. That’s because they’re made to dry out quickly, making it harder for bacteria to grow on them. You only need to wash them once every two weeks or so. Hang them up after each use so they dry fast and stay fresh, longer.

Small Appliances

Toasters, coffeemakers and stand mixers don’t need to be kept sparkling clean, even if you use them regularly. Wipe up spills when they happen, and you’ll only need to do a thorough scrub every few months. Even if you don’t do a periodic super scrub, it’ll be OK. Who among us doesn’t have a toaster full of crumbs?

Curtains

You don’t need to take them down and wash them every month, or even every other month. Washing them once a year is plenty. Spot clean them if needed - like if your toddler spills grape juice on them or your dog slings drool on them. Vacuum them with the upholstery attachment once a month to keep dust off them, and they’ll be plenty clean. They’ll last longer with fewer washings, too.

Grout on Tile Floors

If you’re one of those neatniks who clean dirty grout with a tile brush, stop. Here’s why: Grout is porous. It soaks up dirt and spills, so cleaning it is a Sisyphean task. Better to put sealer on grout once a year, and call it good. Remember, less-than-clean floor grout never hurt anyone. Sparkling grout is the exclusive domain of people with no life.

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