9 Things You Don't Need to Clean
The Internet is full of lists of things you are supposed to clean but probably don't, from the inside of your dishwasher to your purse to your phone receivers. I hate those lists, don't you? I already have a longer cleaning list than I could finish in my lifetime — why pile on? (See also: How to Shower Less (and Still Feel Clean))
So today instead of laying on the guilt, let's look at nine cleaning chores you can usually skip without major repercussions — and some that you are not supposed to do at all.
In this article on Real Clear Science, Dr. Rob Hicks assures us that the insides of our ears are self-cleaning — any excess wax usually falls out while we're eating. And if you do get excessive build-up, it's a job for the doctor, not a QTip, he advises. In fact, says otologist Dr. Jennifer Smullen, earwax has several important jobs so you don't want to lose too much of it anyway.
Some owners bathe their cats, but according to the California Veterinary Medical Association, the tongue-baths cats usually give themselves are sufficient. Unless one of my cats gets skunked or otherwise disgustingly messy, a doctor's excuse is good enough for me.
There are plenty of toothbrush sanitizing products, from the $20 SteriPod to the $49.95 Vio100 countertop UV sanitizer. But Delta Dental gives you permission to skip them all. The rinse you probably already give your toothbrush after use is enough — with one caveat. You're supposed to let your toothbrush fully dry before using it again, which means you may need a second brush at the ready for your bedtime brushing in case the one you used in the morning isn't dry yet. I never would have thought of that in a million years.
4. This Wool Shirt
OK, you may not be able to wear the Better Button-Down forever, but developer Wool & Prince claims it can be worn for up to 100 days without needing dry cleaning and without starting to stink. Best of all, the shirt does not need ironing.
So where can you buy the Better Button-Down? Alas, all existing wonder shirts were sold through the company's Kickstarter campaign (at $98 each), and we're still waiting for more.
5. Raw Poultry and Meat
Many recipes start by advising the cook to rinse and pat dry a raw chicken or other piece of meat, but federal food safety authorities now warn that you should skip the pre-cooking shower. The rinse does not cut down on food-borne illness, but it does potentially spread salmonella and other bacteria all over your sink.
Another food washing chore you can skip: Using soap or vegetable wash on fresh produce. Studies have found a tap water rinse just as effective for getting off pesticides. However, if you are concerned about e-coli, a vinegar solution can sanitize the fruit or vegetables.
But what about mushrooms? I have read in equal measure warnings that you should never wash mushrooms and that you really should wash them after all. A chef and mycologist quoted by The Straight Dope lean toward no. But the New York Times lists the mushroom wash contraindication as a kitchen myth and advises a light shower to remove dirt.
6. Clay Teapots
Yixing teapots in particular should never be washed with soap or detergent, according to experts. The clay absorbs the flavor of your tea, a desirable quality with which washing would interfere. Simply dumping out used tea leaves and a quick hot water rinse is sufficient.
Another kitchen utensil that most people avoid washing with detergent is a cast iron pan — but of course you can't just leave your old food sitting in it. Since you still have to wipe, scrape or scrub out cast iron pans, I don't think we can get away with saying they don't need washing.
7. The Oven
Chef's Planet promises that if you use its nonstick oven liner, you'll never have to clean messes off the oven bottom again. I've never tried one, but I'm intrigued. Then there are other things that will need little to no cleaning if you use liners — crock pots, for instance.
8. Bedskirts, Books, and Hubcaps
When I polled friends about what they get away with not washing, these items came up. Sure, lots of people send their bedskirts to the cleaners, lovingly dust or wipe down books, and scrub and polish hubcaps to glossy perfection. The point is, many perfectly respectable people don't clean these things, and yet haven't been condemned by the health department.
9. Your Privates
Did you just hear the sound of a needle scratching right off a record? Did I just say, "You don't have to wash your privates"?
Actually, when it comes to the most intimate parts of your body, soap is actually harmful. Some parts are too sensitive for its drying action, and they don't need it anyway. Sure, you can soap up the adjacent areas, but mucous membranes should not be soaped, says Dr. Ben Kim. And women certainly don't need to douche — the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends against it.
Some people take this even farther and eschew soap and shampoo for their whole bodies and heads — and say they have never felt or smelled better.
What are you not cleaning regularly?