Written by Mary Marlowe Leverette – The Spruce
If you seem to spend most of your free time in the laundry room, you are probably washing your clothes too often. Unless you have a really dirty job, sweat profusely, or are a slob and drop food everywhere, most clothes can be worn more than once. There are exceptions, of course. Underwear, socks, workout gear, and anything worn close to the body should be washed after every wearing.
But just think how many fewer loads of laundry you could be doing if every person in your house didn’t toss a shirt in the hamper after just trying it on or you took the time to hang up your clothes after wearing so they don’t end up in a daunting pile on your floor or chair, which inevitably almost always ends up in your laundry. You’ll have free time and save money on electricity, water, and laundry products.
Skip sink duty after a meal. You are wasting time and water if you rinse dirty dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. You may even end up with dishes that aren’t clean at the end of the dishwasher cycle.
Dishwasher detergent powders, liquids, and tablets contain enzymes that attach themselves to food particles to dissolve the mess and then allow the spray action of the water to flush them away. When you prerinse the dishes, the detergent can’t cling and is just wasted.
Think of all that water you use to pre-rinse dishes. We bet you leave the faucet running during the entire process. That can waste more than 6,000 gallons of water per year.
It is important to scrape away large amounts of food before loading dishes into the dishwasher. And you shouldn’t leave dirty dishes sitting in the sink or dishwasher for days. If you only have a half-full dishwasher and you want to wait until the next meal to complete a wash cycle, run a ‘rinse only’ cycle. You’ll still save time and water.
Ceiling Fans and Lighting Fixtures
Unless you’re going for a Halloween motif, a clean light fixture looks better and gives off more light. But if you are dusting all the light fixtures in your home as part of your weekly cleaning routine, you can take a break.
Ceiling mounted lighting fixtures and ceiling fans can be cleaned just once a month. Get into a schedule of cleaning the fixtures in different rooms each week. Remember to clean the overhead fixtures first, so that any uncaptured dust falls to the floor to be vacuumed away.
Want to save on those dry cleaning bills? Most winter coats can make it through the season with only one or two cleanings.
The keys to staying away from the dry cleaner is to spot clean stains as soon as possible, hang coats properly after every wearing, and use a good clothes brush to remove dust and lint. It’s also possible to wash many types of winter coats at home, including those trimmed with faux fur.
Curtains and Drapes
Curtains or drapes in living areas and bedrooms don’t need frequent cleaning; a thorough cleaning by washing or dry cleaning once a year is enough. If you are concerned about dust, take down the drapes and toss them in the dryer on the ‘air only’ cycle to remove the dust and even a few wrinkles. Don’t use heat because that can cause some fabrics to shrink.
Curtains in kitchens and bathrooms should be washed more often (seasonally) because they catch grease particles and aerosol over-sprays.
Carpets and Upholstered Furniture
Ideally, carpets and upholstered furniture should be professionally cleaned just once a year using steam and the proper cleaning products. No, this is not an excuse to skip vacuuming carpets and upholstered furniture at least weekly! Regular vacuuming keeps dirt and dust from becoming embedded in fibers.
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can actually cause more harm than good by frequently cleaning. Using too much shampoo or cleaner and over-wetting can cause serious damage. Excess shampoo actually attracts soil and over-wetting weakens the backing on carpet and causes mold and mildew growth in carpet padding and furniture cushions.
Slipcovers can give furniture a new look and are much easier to clean than upholstery. But unless you have a really messy family or lots of pets, there’s no need to toss them in the washer every week.
Spot clean stains and give slipcovers a through cleaning at the end of every season and you’re good to go.
Bed sheets and pillowcases need to be washed weekly because they come in direct contact with our skin and body soil. But bed pillows only need to be washed every three to six months. Washing more often will wear them out quickly.
Almost all bed pillows (feather, polyester-filled, or foam) can be washed at home. Just be sure to allow enough time for pillows to dry thoroughly before bedtime!
Cleaning the oven doesn’t need to be on your weekly chore list. If you wipe up spills as soon as they happen, ovens can be cleaned just two or three times a year. Plan a thorough cleaning after (not before!) holiday cooking sprees.
Because your refrigerator is the spot for cooked and raw foods that perish quickly, it should be cleaned out weekly. But your pantry doesn’t need that much attention. Just give it a cleaning once or twice a year. Empty it out and wipe down shelves. Check for any insect activity and read expiration dates before you sort and organize.