I’ve never been one of those people with a pristine kitchen or spotless bathroom. I rather thought when I swept down the aisle at my Year 12 formal in a full-length sequinned gown, it would be the height of my sweeping career. But recently I’ve found myself becoming increasingly domestic. It might be the nesting instinct that comes with age, it might be the fact that Kmart’s homewares are as addictive as MSG, but I suddenly find myself baking my own bread and scouring my Dutch ovens on a regular basis. I dare say my 16-year-old self would be horrified that this is how I spend my time, but cooking and cleaning takes on a certain relaxing quality once pride is involved. At least that’s what I thought, until I realised how much I didn’t know…
All I really wanted to glean was how often to wash my sheets and towels. A reasonably simple enquiry, no? So for answers, I turned to the most forthcoming master I know: the Internet. And there I discovered I was doing it all wrong. For starters, when it comes to the ideal washing frequency for sheets, the scale goes something like this:
Once a week: winning at life
Once a fortnight: we can still be friends
Once a month: could try harder
Once every six weeks: iffy at best
Once every two months: genuine danger zone
Of course, into that scale you have to layer in your own life nuances. Like do you sleep alone? With a partner? Or with a pet? Is that pet an indoor cat or a dog who enjoys rolling in the dirt? Do small children occasionally take refuge from the bogeyman under your covers? Do you eat ice cream in bed? Do you shower before you go to sleep or after you wake up? There are a lot of variables to contend with here. It’s quite confronting to think about what your sheets get dirty with. Most of it is sweat and dead skin but there’s also drool and natural body oils — almost all of which is imperceptible. In fact, only about 30 per cent of what’s making your laundry filthy is visible. And all that build-up can lead to skin breakouts and respiratory distress.
My takeaway from all of this? I’m going to start changing my pillowcases once a week and the rest of my sheets every second week. Not just because I’m basically wallowing in my own grime if I don’t, not even because slipping into clean sheets is possibly one of the top five best feelings ever. No, simply because household maintenance really can be akin to art, if you make it so. Tell me you don’t think a perfectly folded fitted sheet could be on display in the National Gallery of Australia? There’s a laundry Banksy out there, I just know it. Maybe if I try hard enough, it could be me.
In the meantime, like Luke Skywalker in need of a Yoda, I will attempt to seek answers for other mind-boggling questions such as: how can baking soda be used both in a cake and as a deodorant? Why do I need colour-coded sponges? And what do I do with all those attachments the vacuum cleaner comes with?