Sanitize your linens—and fight off a cold

We're just at the beginning of cold and flu season, and now's the time to put a little extra thought and effort into minimizing sickness-inducing germs and bacteria from spreading among your family members and throughout your home. And one of the simplest and most straightforward ways to do this is by keeping your linens spic-and-span.

Though how often you wash your sheets is clearly a personal decision, there are scientific arguments for washing your bedding weekly to benefit your health. According to ehow.com and examiner.com, laundering sheets weekly (in hot, 130-or-more degree water) gets rid of the dead skin cells (fodder for bacteria) and allergy-inducing dust mites that accumulate after a few nights' sleep. If you or someone in your family is prone to sweating-or if you've got Fido cozying up with your in bed-consider washing every couple days to rinse out dirt and pet dander. Don't ignore your mattress pad either-it's a good idea to wash it bi-weekly or at least monthly.

[Related: Six common laundry problems solved] [Tricks to organizing your linen closet]

Pillows are another consideration. To ensure you're not resting your head on a big pile of germs-you should be washing your pillows at least every six months. Follow the manufacturer's instructions when washing them, though generally you should be able to clean them in your home washing machine, and with down ones in particular, it's a good idea to throw in a couple clean tennis balls while drying which helps keep feathers fluffy. Investing in zippered pillow protectors is also key: they act as a barrier between your pillow and its case (the latter of which should be washed at least weekly) to keep the former nice and sanitary.

Comforters and blankets need proper maintenance as well. Your comforter should we washed monthly (and your duvet weekly). Read the care instructions on the label, since chances are you're going to need a front loading commercial size washer to accomplish this. Make sure it's dried properly to avoid mold and fungus from growing. Blankets should also be washed or dry cleaned monthly.

Towels, as we previously discussed, also need TLC-with washcloths and hand towels, in particular (since they're actually used to wipe off the dirt and oils off your skin), there's a real risk of spreading staph infections and pinkeye. It's also a good idea because bathrooms are warm, humid breeding grounds for bacteria to begin with. Washing bath towels weekly, and smaller, more frequently used towels even more often that that, is the best way to tackle the germ problem.

Related: How often do you wash your towels?; How often do you change your sheets?; 5 tricks to keep towels soft and fluffy; How to wash down pillows

Sources: ehow.com; globalhealingcenter.org; tips.become.com; ehso.com; healthnewsdigest.com


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