Cleanliness is next to godliness, so the saying goes, but honestly, who has the time?
We all have a personal level of what I call "tolerable filth," or grossness that we stop noticing. We’re all busy, it’s fine. Until it’s not fine, and you have a nervous breakdown and yell at your husband about how the bathroom "looks exactly like a gas station." (No? Just me?)
Eventually, things must be cleaned. And occasionally, we must turn to Google for our most pressing cleanliness concerns — particularly around frequency.
So, I brought the Google autocompletes for the searches "How often should you wash your... " and "How often should you clean your... " to Joanna Palumbo Saucier, president/head clean freak at Winnipeg’s Signature Cleaning Services to get her expert opinion. (Palumbo Saucier is a local entrepreneurial success story: she started cleaning houses out of her trunk in 1999; now, she has a highly rated business that employs multiple teams that clean over 500 homes a month.)
Spoiler: you’re definitely not changing your sheets enough.
How often should you clean your... ducts?
This is the top search for "how often should you clean your..." Palumbo Saucier says: "It depends on whether or not there’s pets in the home. If you have pets in the home, I would advise you to clean your duct work at least yearly. At the very least. If you have more than two pets in the home that shed fur, then probably even seasonally, in the spring in the fall."
How often should you clean your... fridge?
Sometimes, the produce drawer is where meal prep ambitions go to die. Obviously, If you have a bag of brown sludge that maybe used to be spinach, or salad dressing from a different calendar year, toss it. Palumbo Saucier recommends getting into a weekly habit of going through your fridge.
As for actually emptying your fridge and washing it? "I’d say every 30 to 60 days," she says. "If you have teenagers who are spilling things, you may want to do it more frequently."
I recently cleaned my fridge because there was no food in it — and, you know, carpe diem — and I felt like an absolute saint.
How often should you clean your... bathroom?
We should be deep cleaning our wiz palaces weekly, "using a high quality microfibre cloth to remove contaminants," Palumbo Saucier says. "Toilets, tubs, sinks, counters, mirrors and floors — all those things should be cleaned, minimum, weekly. Most of our customers get their bathrooms deep cleaned bi-weekly, but they are doing some cleaning in between."
Don’t forget handles, doorknobs, walls. You know, places that are probably gross if you think about it.
How often should you clean your... dishwasher?
Yes, you do have to clean the thing that cleans the things.
"If you notice it not running smoothly, I’d recommend cleaning the filter immediately. Every 30 days is a good rule to take out the filter and give it a good scrub, make sure there’s no debris in the trap."
A cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container in the top rack also helps deodorize and clean.
(Pro-tip: there’s nothing white vinegar can’t do.)
How often should you clean your... oven?
The inside of your oven can be easy to ignore, that is until an errant chickpea starts smoldering.
As for frequency, Palumbo Saucier says it depends on how much baking and roasting you do.
"If you have a self-clean oven and it’s relatively easy and has a steam function, you could do it monthly. If it’s old-fashioned and you have to spray chemicals, I’d suggest every three months because it’s a bit more arduous."
How often should you wash your... sheets?
Everyone loves the feeling of fresh sheets, but few actually enjoy the process of getting them.
"I have strong opinions on sheets. You should wash your sheets weekly. Change the bedding on your bed every week. I’m sure you’ve seen the magnified images of dust mites, and things collected on mattresses. It’s good to have a good mattress pad on your bed."
Ew. Go change your sheets.
How often should you wash your... towels?
You actually may be overdoing this one.
"This is something I nag my teenager daughter about all the time: she grabs a new towel every time she showers. When you come out of the shower, you’re pretty clean. I think you can take a few showers with the same towel before you throw it in the laundry."
And for the love of all that is clean, hang up your damp towels.
How often should you wash your... bra?
Look, I don’t know your life, but I can almost promise you that if you wear a bra, you are not washing it enough.
"It depends on your lifestyle," Palumbo Saucier says. "If you’re wearing a bra and you go to the gym, you wash it right away. If you have your fancy black bra and you wear it out in the evening, you could probably get two or three wears out of it. If it’s summer, and you’re sweaty, you may want to wash them more frequently."
There’s a lot of avoidance around this particular laundry task, mainly because bras are finicky. They have to be handwashed and you can’t wring them out. To that end, allow me to change your life with a hack I found on the internet: use a salad spinner to get rid of excess water. You’re welcome.
And, uh, maybe get a bra-specific salad spinner.
Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and co-host of the paper's local culture podcast, Bury the Lede.