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10 Things You Are Probably Washing Too Much

We're a cleaning-obsessed, germaphobic society but could we be cleaning things too much? Do we really need to throw everything into the hamper after one wearing? What about our car, furniture, or even our hands?

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The mirror

We all want to look good when we look at ourselves in the mirror. “However, if you use half of your cleaning solution for only one or two small fingerprints on your mirror, you are overdoing it,” says Harriet Jones of Go Cleaners London. “Moisture from humidity or over-spraying can get behind the mirror and harm the backing. So, clean your mirror when there are enough spots to justify the use of the detergent.”

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Kitchen towels

Jones says only to wash kitchen towels that experience the most usage around the house. “Before tossing your towel in the washer, check its condition,” she says. “If there is an unpleasant odor or you notice a stain, wash it. Otherwise leave it for few more days. This way you will cut down the washing a bit and save some time.” Don’t miss these tricks for cleaning your kitchen in basically five minutes.

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When an accident happens, many people saturate the carpet with a cleaning solution, hoping for the best. But using too much cleanser too often, “can damage the carpet and will be almost impossible to wash and remove. Over time, this soapy residue will attract dirt and your efforts will be in vain. Instead, use less aggressive products—soap, water, and vinegar,” says Jones. “Remember—blot, do not soak up your carpet with the solution, and always dry it properly after the cleaning.” The same goes for throw and area rugs with rubber backings. Too many washes can cause the rubber to flake off and ruin the entire rug. You can also try these DIY carpet stain removers.

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Wood furniture

Can you care and clean your wood furniture too much? Yes, says Jones. “Spraying your furniture too often with a wax-based solution can result in a buildup which will attract more dust and dirt. A thin coat of polisher will do the trick—apply it once or twice a month. Still, you can wipe down your furniture with a cloth between the polishes.”

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Suits and dress slacks

“The average American household completes 300 loads of washing a year, at 27 gallons per load in a high-efficiency front-load machine, and an average of one hour of time used per load to wash, dry, fold, and put away the laundry,” says Andrew Rhodes, owner of Platinum Dry Cleaners in Naples, Florida. “Educating yourself on proper washing frequency saves the one thing you can’t buy: time.” Slacks can be refreshed by simply steaming them either in the shower before work or with a hand-held steamer or iron, Rhodes notes. This enables slacks to go for a minimum of two wears and potentially three depending on the conditions and the color. Darks wear longer and since you don’t sweat as much in winter, you can cheat a little. Another tip from Rhodes: “Suits are typically sent in as a pair. I have never understood this. The jacket can go through three times as much wear as the pants, with only pressing required. Most cleaners offer press-only at a substantial discount. Use this option for all suit jackets and save a bundle while taking less from the environment. What a win-win!”

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Jeans should be washed as little as possible and preferably when they are washed you take them to your local cleaners to be dry-cleaned. “This will ensure a longer life in those designer fit jeans, and you won’t have to struggle quite so much to get them on your second and third wear!” says Rhodes. “If you regularly steam this article you should be able to get three wears out of them before sending the old standby in for freshening up.”

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Bras are the most over-washed item in the wardrobe, says Rhodes. “Frequent washing changes the shape of a bra. Wash your brassieres every three to four wears and in a net bag to ensure it doesn’t tangle with other washing and hang them to dry.” And don’t forget: these things should never end up in the washing machine at all.

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Your hands

We are a society obsessed with antibacterial soaps, washes, and sanitizers. This can cause other issues like overly dry skin, cracks in the hands, or even resistance to certain bacteria. According to Piedmont Healthcare, “While it is still crucial to always wash your hands with soap and water after using the restroom and before eating or preparing food, excessive hand washing and hand sanitizer may do more harm than good. Some researchers believe hand sanitizer overuse may be causing children to lose the ability to build up resistance to bacteria.”

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According to Behind the Detail, there are some telltale signs that you are washing your car too much. One is that your wax doesn’t last. Another is that you see small cracks all over the car called spiderwebbing. “These microscopic hairline scratches are often caused by over-washing an unprotected surface,” James Detmer from Behind the Detail explains. Another sign of over washing is that the car has a generally dull finish. “You should really only by washing your car a few times a month, and that’s on the high end,” Detmer suggests. When it is time for a wash, here are weird tricks to clean your car to keep it cleaner longer.

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We all love squeaky clean and fresh-smelling locks but how much is too much? According to WebMD, “Only a small group needs to shampoo daily, like those with very fine hair, someone who exercises a lot (and sweats), or someone living in very humid place.” Shampooing strips the hair and scalp’s natural oils. For those with oily or dry scalps more frequent shampooing is recommended but those with thick or curly hair can go longer. Here are more good reasons to shower less often.

Laura Richards
Laura Richards is a Boston-based journalist with a passion for storytelling, reporting, content marketing, and branding. She has written for Reader's Digest, The New York Times, The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, The Boston Globe Magazine, Glamour, Martha Stewart Living, Woman's Day, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful, and more. Her areas of specialty include health and wellness, lifestyle, parenting, and business and entrepreneurship.