woman holding cleaning products
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Check the Chore Schedule

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.

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woman using smartphone on train
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Smartphone: Daily

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!

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woman cutting vegetables in the kitchen
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Kitchen Counters: Daily

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.

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washing machine full of dishes
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Dishwasher: Monthly

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.

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woman cleaning refrigerator
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Refrigerator: Quarterly

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.

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family playing on kitchen floor
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Kitchen Floor: Weekly

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.

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maltese dog resting on the carpet
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Carpets: Weekly

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.

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woman vacuuming sofa cushion
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Furniture: Monthly

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.

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woman cleaning shelves
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Knickknacks and Stuff: Weekly

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.

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tv remote close up
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TV Remote: Weekly

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.

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spinning ceiling fan
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Ceiling Fans: Quarterly

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.

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window blinds
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Window Treatments: Quarterly

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.

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toilet inside bathroom door
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Toilets: Daily

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.

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mother drying young son after bath
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Bath Towels: Every Few Uses

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.

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shower curtain close up
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Shower Curtain: Monthly

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.

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woman using electric toothbrush
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Toothbrush: Quarterly

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.

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razor blade close up
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Razor Blades: 5-7 Uses

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.

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woman applying mascara close up
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Makeup Brushes: Weekly and Monthly

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.

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bras soaking
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Bras: Every Few Uses

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.

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family putting fresh sheets on bed
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Sheets: Weekly

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.

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throw pillows on bed
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Pillows: 2-4 Times a Year

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.

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vacuuming mattress close up
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Mattress: Twice a Year

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. 

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clothes inside washing machine
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Washing Machine: Quarterly

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.

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humidifier emitting steam
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Humidifier: Every 3 Days

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.

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man replacing furnace filter
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Air Filters: Monthly

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.

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vacuuming air duct close up
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Air Ducts: As Needed

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.

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roaring fire in fireplace
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Fireplace: Yearly

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.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 10/02/2020 Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on October 02, 2020


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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."

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

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.