If we have learned anything over the past year, it's that we should be more conscious about our health and well-being.
Spending hours in lockdown left us dedicating plenty of time to our cleaning routines, including hand washing and keeping our homes tidy.
Fortunately, there are some top tips that will help you keep healthy when it comes to washing your bedding, pyjamas, underwear and towels.
It may not surprise many people that we are actually washing our things far less regularly than we really should be.
So, how often should we be changing all these things? Here’s a helpful guide:
According to Hull Live, a survey from July 2020 found that the average 18 to 30 year-old man wears the same pyjamas for almost two weeks (13 nights) and young women wear them for 17 nights before sticking them in the wash.
Another YouGov survey said young women were more likely to wear both PJs and underwear (50 percent) than older women, whereas only 20 percent of young men would do the same.
And wearing underwear with pyjamas could help some nasty bacteria thrive.
Professor Bloomfield added: “Pyjamas are worn right next to the skin – and we shed skin cells, filled with micro-organisms, at a vast rate.
“These organisms are usually harmless but if they get into the wrong place they can cause problems.”
For example, E-coli bacteria transferring from the bowel to the urinary tract can cause cystitis.
Change : It’s best to wear them only twice, or for no more than one week
Wash : Machine wash the same way as your underwear.
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More than a quarter of men and seven per cent of women wear underwear for two days before giving them for a wash, according to a Kelkoo survey.
However, those used pants contain microbes that can cause a range of diseases such as urinary tract infections, blood infections, pneumonia, as well as thrush and E-coli.
Change : Visiting professor of environmental health, University of Salford Dr Lisa Ackerley said underwear should be changed after every single wear – with no exceptions. She added: “And replace them every year.”
Wash : You are best to machine wash them at 30 to 40C using a detergent with an AOB (activated oxygen bleach) product, advised professor Sally Bloomfield, consultant in Hygiene and Infectious Disease Prevention. And if a family member is ill then you are best to wash them at 60C, or add an anti-bacterial product such as Napisan, or Dettol’s Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser.
A recent YouGov poll said more than a third of Brits wash their bedsheets once a fortnight.
But warm, moist environments are ideal breeding grounds for dust mites, with the average bed containing 10 million of them. And their faeces can trigger allergic reactions.
“Beds can become reservoirs of human cells, bacteria and bodily excretions. Humans shed half an ounce of skin each week – and a lot of that will be in the bed,” said Dr Ackerley of the University of Salford.
Change : Once a week. And every morning the duvet should be pulled back and windows opened to release moisture and humidity.
Wash : At 60C to kill mites.
Reportedly, a third of the weight of a two-year-old pillow is made up of dust mite faeces and dead skin.
“Duvets can harbour live and dead dust mites, skin scales and fungus, which can lead to allergies such as rhinitis and infections such as conjunctivitis,” according to Johnson Cleaners.
Change : “Duvets should be washed every few months – or at least twice a year,” says Sara Wadsworth from The Fine Bedding Company. They should be replaced every five years while pillows should be replaced every two or three years.
Wash : If the duvet is made up of synthetic filling, wash it at 60C to kill dust mites. Duvets and pillows with feather fillings need to be professionally dry cleaned.
Nine out of 10 UK dishcloths were found to be heavily contaminated with bacteria, and more than half had E-Coli, according to a Dettol study.
Used dishcloths have been found to contain up to four billion living germs, which is six times as much bacteria as toilet handles.
Change : Dishcloths should be rinsed thoroughly and air-dried after every use. They should not be draped over kitchen taps or left in bacteria-ridden kitchen sinks. And they should be replaced monthly.
Wash : It’s best to wash them every night with an anti-bacterial laundry cleanser or at 60C or higher in a machine wash.
The Science Daily reported tea towels could be one of the leading causes of cross contamination and the spreading of bacteria.
It said: “Cloth towels could quickly and easily become contaminated at significant levels, including microorganisms that can lead to food-borne illnesses.”
Change : They should be changed every day and people are advised not to wipe their hands on them especially to dry the hands after washing them - the bacteria would come back on your hands.
Wash : Wash them at 60C or above, and separate from regular towels.
Bath towels absorb dead skin cells and natural bacteria from our skin and the warm and damp conditions help bacteria thrive.
It’s best to avoid sharing towels as it can spread bacteria and viruses such as staphylococcus Aureus (which can cause skin infections), Athlete’s Foot and cold sores.
Change : Bath towels should be washed after every three uses, according to Philip Tierno, a New York based microbiologist.
Wash : Towels should be washed at 60C or higher, ideally with an anti-bacterial product.
Dr Uchenna Okoye, clinical director of London Smiling Dental Group, said: “The average toothbrush contains around 10 million germs – from bacteria to the flu virus.
“Even potentially fatal viruses, such as Hepatitis C, have been found on the humble brush, so sharing brushes is a big no-no.”
Change : Toothbrush heads need to be changed every three months, or after you have been ill.
Wash : After every use, rinse the bristles thoroughly then shake dry. Then stand them upright so that they air dry. Manual or electric toothbrush heads should be put in the dishwasher once a month or soaked for five minutes in boiling water.