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How often you should clean your refrigerator — and the right way to do it

Just how often should you clean your fridge? How frequently should you tackle that shower head? Do you really need to clean your dishwasher? Here's what to know.
/ Source: TODAY

Just how often should you clean your fridge? How frequently should you tackle that shower head? Do you really need to clean your dishwasher?

Elizabeth Mayhew stopped by TODAY Thursday to reveal how frequently you should be cleaning various products around your house — and the best way to clean them.

Ready, set, clean!


Andrew Rafalsky / Shutterstock

Remove everything from your fridge once quarterly so you can effectively wipe down the inside. This is a healthy habit, too, since it will allow you to more easily check for expired foods.

Pull out all contents and toss anything past its prime. Wipe down and deodorize shelves with an easy DIY paste that's made from mixing one tablespoon baking soda and one quart warm water. If you can, pull the refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum dust and dirt.

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Clean your dishwasher monthly to prevent a buildup of germs and maintain the efficiency of your appliance…and to make sure your dishes are actually clean.

Pour vinegar into a dishwasher-safe cup, then place the cup upright on an empty dishwasher's top rack. Run a full cycle, using the hot-water setting. Next, deodorize the machine by sprinkling a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the tub and running the dishwasher on a half-cycle with hot water. Leave your dishwasher door open for a few hours after to air it out.

Washing machine

Washing machines can be breeding grounds for salmonella and other germs. When you clean certain whites in hot water, your machine is being cleaned as well, but once a month, run an empty load with hot water and white vinegar to sanitize the basin and wipe out any lingering germs.


Most towels should be washed approximately every three to four uses and always aired out properly after use to prevent mildew and musty odors. The fact is that it's not necessarily how frequently you wash your towels, but how you store your towels, that really matters. You need to let you towels dry out between washes to keep bacteria and germs at bay.

If your towels have a lingering odor, try washing towels using the hottest water they can tolerate along with one to two cups of vinegar. Then wash them again with your regular laundry detergent.

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Pillows and comforters

Wash pillows and comforters four times a year to get rid of the build-up of skin cells, dust mite and moisture. Down and fiberfill pillows can go in your washer, but foam pillows cannot (clean foam pillows by using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner).

Wash pillows in your washing machine on the gentle cycle in hot water using a mild liquid detergent (powder and leave residue). Wash two regular-size pillows together to balance the load (king-size ones should go one at a time). Run pillows through the rinse cycle twice.

Place pillows in the dryer along with two clean tennis balls, and set on low heat. Polyester or cotton-filled pillows take one to two hours to dry; down requires two to three hours, sometimes longer. To prevent overheating, remove the pillow regularly, fluff and return.

It's imperative to dry down pillows completely to prevent mold and mildew from growing. After two hours, remove them from the dryers, let cool, then squeeze several spots on the pillows between two fingers. If there is any moistness or clumps, return them to the dryer.


Mattresses should be vacuumed every six months to remove dust and pathogens that can cause everything from skin irritation to runny noses. While you're at it, make sure you flip and/or rotate your mattress four times a year to help maintain its structural integrity.

Shower head

Give your shower head the attention it needs by soaking it once a year to remove deposits. Pour white vinegar into a sturdy plastic bag. You need just enough vinegar to submerge the showerhead — and using a rubber band, secure it and let it soak overnight. Remove the bag and run the shower to rinse. This process removes calcium deposits as well as any lingering bacteria.

Makeup brushes

Once a month, dip the brush in warm soapy water (use shampoo or a mild soap). Rinse clean and blot brush on a clean towel. You can use a blow-dryer to gently dry the bristles.