Even if your household dubs Sunday as “laundry day,” it doesn’t mean that you should throw everything — clothes, towels, sheets, and so on — in the washing machine at once. It turns out some items should be washed more often than once a week, while others can go longer between washes (hey, small victories).

And really, when it comes to clothes, you should wash them based on the number of times you’ve worn them as opposed to the amount of time. Jeans, for example, should be washed every three wears. Household linens, towels, and bedding should follow a standard timeline — sheets and pillowcases should be washed once a week, for example.

Timing matters, but so does the cleaning method. Follow these best practices the next time you do laundry:

  • Separate clothes wisely: While separating lights and darks is a given, there are several other ways to divide clothing to ensure cleaner results. Separate dirty or muddy items from lightly soiled clothing, and abrasive fabrics (denim) from delicate ones.
  • Don’t overload the machines: Give your garments the freedom to spin around the drum, and evenly distribute detergent and fabric conditioner. Avoid filling your dryer to the brim, so that everything can be dried evenly.
  • Sanitize your washer regularly: While warm water, laundry detergent, and bleach get rid of most bacteria, complete the job with a laundry sanitizer like Lysol Laundry Sanitizer. Simply add to your rinse cycle to get rid of 99.9% of bacteria in laundry.
  • Select the right water temperature: Delicate fabrics like wool, silk, or lace work best in cold water. It’s typically the safest bet since it’s more environmentally-friendly and won’t damage, discolor, or shrink fabrics. Hot water, however, is the best option when you’re trying to remove stains, stench, or germs.
  • Pick the perfect detergent for the job: Sometimes you need a hard-working formula to target inevitable stains and spills. Other times, you might want an option with a masculine scent. No matter the situation, pick a tried-and-tested laundry detergent that’s right for you and your family.

    To determine how often you should wash clothes, sheets, and everything else in your home, follow this handy checklist from the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab.

    how often to wash clothes