Those eggheads over at Popular Science discovered that germ’s lifetimes can differ drastically – this all rests on the back of the bacterium type and material in question. For example, old E.coli can clock out after about 24 hours. Meanwhile, the crafty calicivirus, notorious for orchestrating stomach flu, can endure for entire weeks. Staphylococcus aureus, responsible for all sorts of nasty infections, can stick around for nearly a month on unwashed items. And as for that anthrax mischief-maker? Their bacterial spores can keep at it for hundreds of years!

Feeling anxious? Don’t fret – there are quick and easy ways to keep that pesky bacteria from living it up at your expense. Now, let’s get down to the dirt on how often to clean common areas. Sheets. Sure, you might feel squeaky clean yourself, but even while snoozing our dead skin cells depart, providing nourishment for all sorts of microscopic freeloaders. Time to evict those party-crashers!

Method: Toss those bedclothes in a steaming-hot washing machine. Day-to-day blankets can be given the ol’ tumble in a hot dryer to finish off any lingering baddies.
Frequency: Aim to wash once every 10-14 days. Pro-tip: Hop into bed fresh from the shower to extend the shelf-life of your sheets a little longer. Towels. Wherever you store them – kitchen, bathroom, or gym – they always seem to attract germs. For example, kitchen towels can be exposed to raw meat or dirty hands, while bathroom towels offer humid holiday homes for all sorts of bacteria and fungi. Gym towels are, well, gym towels.

Method: Toss all towels into the washing machine on a hot water cycle. You can use either vinegar or bleach on colorfast items. Frequency: Kitchen towels with even the smallest trace of raw meat should be washed posthaste. Bathroom towels can be used three times at most before laundering, while gym towels can simply be incinerated. Just kidding! For gym towels, keep it hot and watery. Pro-tip: Assign specific colors to your kitchen towels, so you know which are safe, and so you don’t accidentally wash them all every time.

Floors. Believe it, your feet are seasoned travelers of germs, spreading them around the house and letting them hitch a ride into bed or onto pets or children. More feet mean more frequent cleanings!

Method: Slow, steady vacuuming is best for carpets and rugs. Sweep and scrub hard surface floors as needed, keeping an eye on those tricky corners and crevices!
Frequency: The Carpet and Rug Institute suggests vacuuming rooms at least once a week, with high traffic areas receiving daily attention. Hardwood, tile, and vinyl floors may need washing every 1-2 weeks, depending on foot traffic – kitchens and bathrooms likely need even more sanitizing. Pro-tip: Keep dirt in check by making everyone remove their shoes upon entering the house.