Medically Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on October 02, 2020

Check the Chore Schedule

1 / 28

Wondering if your housekeeping is up to par? When is it time to replace certain items? Do you clean your cleaning tools?

We've got advice on some common and some not-so-obvious places and things to take care of throughout your home to help keep it healthy.

Smartphone: Daily

2 / 28

You touch your phone countless times a day. And the fingerprints you leave on the screen are a grease trap for gunk and germs. Get in the habit of wiping it clean at least once a day. Sanitize it more often if you're exposed to COVID-19 or the flu. Studies show alcohol is best for killing bacteria, but check with your device's manufacturer to see what it recommends to avoid damage. Clean the case, too!

Kitchen Counters: Daily

3 / 28

The problem with dirty counters isn't as much about what you can see as what you can't. Wiping down and sanitizing kitchen surfaces after each time you use them ensures stray germs from last night's dinner prep don't end up in your next sandwich.

Dishwasher: Monthly

4 / 28

Over time, buildup in your machine can keep your dishes from getting the cleaning they need and deserve. Once a month, toss in a cup of baking soda on the bottom and set 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the top rack; then run a regular cycle.

Refrigerator: Quarterly

5 / 28

Funky forgotten leftovers in the back of your fridge can leave behind mold spores after you've tossed them. To keep germs at bay, empty your refrigerator every 3-4 months, and clean the shelves and walls with a tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in a quart of water. Rinse and let dry before replacing food.

Kitchen Floor: Weekly

6 / 28

If you've got kids, chances are you'll need to sweep up after every meal. But unless there's a sticky spill, the mop and bucket can go a week between rounds.

Carpets: Weekly

7 / 28

Vacuum large carpets and toss small area rugs and floor mats in the wash once a week. Keeping your floor coverings clean is key for cutting back on allergy triggers in your home.

Furniture: Monthly

8 / 28

Spills should be spot-cleaned right away, but for upholstery upkeep, once-a-month vacuuming across the cushions and into nooks and crannies should do. Steam cleaning once a year or so can also extend the life of your furniture and keep you sitting pretty.

Knickknacks and Stuff: Weekly

9 / 28

Anywhere dust settles needs a regular swipe with a dust-grabber like microfiber cloth or a damp soft rag: bookshelves, trinkets, picture frames, lamp bases, mirrors, side tables -- you get the idea.

TV Remote: Weekly

10 / 28

Take the batteries out first! Then use cotton swabs dipped in mild soapy water to get off sticky, oily fingerprints and crud from around the buttons. Wipe down the whole thing with a solution of one part vinegar and two parts water to kill bacteria. Make sure the battery compartment is dry before you put the power back in.

Ceiling Fans: Quarterly

11 / 28

These whirring dust collectors also gather grease when they're in the kitchen. You can give them a wipe whenever you notice buildup, but use a damp cloth and all-purpose cleaner to clean the blades and body well every few months.

Window Treatments: Quarterly

12 / 28

Hit up your blinds and shutters during your weekly dusting, but tackle long-standing grime on the slats every 3-4 months with warm, soapy water. Take down curtains once each season, and run them through the washing machine.

Toilets: Daily

13 / 28

The more action your porcelain throne sees in a day, the more reason to squirt your cleaner of choice into the bowl and give it a swish with a long-handled brush. Save the deeper scrub-down for your weekly round-up.

Bath Towels: Every Few Uses

14 / 28

Wash your towel or grab a new one after three or four normal showers, more often if you work out a lot. Hang up damp towels when you're done so they can air out and not give mildew, mold, and bacteria a dark, damp place to grow.

Shower Curtain: Monthly

15 / 28

A plastic curtain, or the plastic liner for a cloth curtain, should get a bath with warm water and baking soda once a month to remove soap scum and prevent mildew. You may be able to stretch this to once a quarter if your shower doesn't get a lot of use. Spraying it with a cleaner after every shower and wiping it down weekly when you clean the bathroom will also help.

Toothbrush: Quarterly

16 / 28

Beyond a few months, the bristles get too worn to work as well as they should. If you see fraying before then, that's a sign to switch.

Razor Blades: 5-7 Uses

17 / 28

Did you know a dull blade causes more cuts and irritation than a sharp one? Start with a new blade every week or so, if you're shaving daily, to stay (and look) sharp.

Makeup Brushes: Weekly and Monthly

18 / 28

Applicators like sponges and brushes can be a breeding ground for bacteria. They collect dirt, dust, and anything else floating through the air as well as on your skin. Wash brushes for wet makeup once a week; dry makeup brushes, monthly. Mild soap and warm water followed by an overnight drying session will take you from grime to glam.

Bras: Every Few Uses

19 / 28

Whether you give them "off days" to regain their shape and elasticity, or go for multiple wears in a row, it's best to give bras a good wash after you've worn them about three times. But if you've been sweating, don't wait that long.

Sheets: Weekly

20 / 28

The rule of thumb is to wash bed linens once a week in water hot enough to kill bacteria (around 140 F), and tumble dry. Your shut-eye habits should determine your timeline. For example, pets, night sweats, and midnight snacks in bed mean you'll need to change them sooner. Alternating between two sets of sheets can make it easier to keep up.

Pillows: 2-4 Times a Year

21 / 28

Throw your pillows (and your throw pillows) in the wash on hot every 3-6 months to kill bacteria and keep them fresh.

Same goes for your comforter or duvet. If it's too big to fit in your machine at home, take it to a laundromat with extra-large commercial-size washers, or have it professionally cleaned.

Mattress: Twice a Year

22 / 28

Unless it's brand new, your mattress is probably home for millions of dust mites. A good semiannual vacuuming can help suck up those tiny critters, as well as the dead skin cells you've been shedding that keep them well-fed. 

Washing Machine: Quarterly

23 / 28

Any appliance that uses water is at risk for mold and mildew. Wipe down the door and rubber gasket of a front loader after every wash load. Give your machine a deeper cleaning every 3-4 months by adding 1 cup of bleach and running a hot cycle (sans clothes) to sanitize.

Humidifier: Every 3 Days

24 / 28

When your humidifier is cranking out moisture nonstop, replace the water daily. Clean it with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, or the disinfectant the manufacturer recommends, every 3 days to prevent mineral deposits and filmy buildup. Change the filter regularly, according to the instructions.

Air Filters: Monthly

25 / 28

Replace the small particle filters in central heating and cooling systems once a month to keep their air purifying powers up to snuff. Same goes for the filters of in-room air conditioners.

Air Ducts: As Needed

26 / 28

If everyone in your house is healthy, you don't have to clean ducts regularly. There's no proof that it prevents problems, and done incorrectly, it could cause them. Dirt inside usually sticks and stays put. Vacuum or take off and clean grates when you notice normal dusty buildup. However, if you have mold, rodents, or insects, or you can see stuff blowing out of your vents, it's time to do something.

Fireplace: Yearly

27 / 28

Avoid the toxic trouble of carbon monoxide, fumes, and soot by having your chimney inspected annually. A certified chimney sweep can check for problems and clean out any buildup.

1 / 28

Show Sources


1) djedzura / Thinkstock

2) LDProd / Thinkstock

3) George Doyle / Thinkstock

4) Bega9000 / Thinkstock

5) JackF / Thinkstock

6) Jupiterimages / Thinkstock

7) baloon111 / Thinkstock

8) seb_ra / Thinkstock

9) didesign021 / Thinkstock

10) marcociannarel / Thinkstock

11) UT07 / Thinkstock

12) Design Pics / Thinkstock

13) SasinParaksa / Thinkstock

14) monkeybusinessimages / Thinkstock

15) nikitabuida / Thinkstock

16) kzenon / Thinkstock

17) Eshma / Thinkstock

18) Medioimages/Photodisc / Thinkstock

19) man_kukuku / Thinkstock

20) Mike Watson Images / Thinkstock

21) Kwanchai_Khammuean / Thinkstock

22) FotoDuets / Thinkstock

23) mel-nik / Thinkstock

24) yocamon / Thinkstock

25) Serenethos / Thinkstock

26) PaulBiryukov / Thinkstock

27) Karl Spencer / Thinkstock



TeensHealth: "Tips for Taking Care of Your Skin."

Journal of Nursing: "Smartphones, Callin All Germs."

American Council on Science and Health: "Household Items You Never Clean, But Should," "Sleeping With The Enemy: The Dirty Side of Your Mattress."

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Molds on Food: Are They Dangerous?"

Consumer Reports: "A Cleaning Schedule You Can Stick To," "How to Clean All the Fans In Your House," "How Often to Wash Your Sheets, Towels, and Clothes," "How to Clean a Mattress," "How to Clean Your Washing Machine."

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "Cleaning Tips For Allergy and Asthma Sufferers."

The Rooms Chronicle: "Remembering to clean those often-missed spots in guestrooms."

How To Clean Stuff: "How to Clean a Remote Control."

Merry Maids: "Plastic Problems: Can You Wash Your Shower Curtains."

American Dental Association: "Toothbrush Care: Cleaning, Storing and Replacement."

American Academy of Dermatology: "Shaving," "How to Shave."

Cleveland Clinic: "Think Makeup Makes You Break Out? It Might Be Dirty Brushes."

Infection Ecology & Epidemiology: "Level of decontamination after washing textiles at 60°C or 70°C followed by tumble drying."

Mayo Clinic: "Humidifiers: Air moisture eases skin, breathing symptoms."

EPA: "Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned?"

Chimney Safety Institute of America: "Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Hazards."