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How often should you do common tasks?

Jane Murphy / 13 April 2016 ( 09 August 2019 )

Ever wondered how often you should be washing your sheets, taking a shower or brushing your teeth? Wonder no more – but be prepared for a few surprises.

How often should you brush your teeth?
How often should you brush your teeth? Find out what the British Dental Health Foundation recommends.

How often should you change your bedsheets?

Once a week. Only one-third of the British public fall into the 'weekly washers' category, according to a recent YouGov poll. But leave it any longer and the accumulation of dead skin cells and other bodily fluids will attract dust mites, which can trigger allergies and asthma symptoms. So aim to put your bedding on a weekly wash at 60°C.

How often should you get your blood pressure checked?

At least once a year. As many as seven million people in the UK are living with undiagnosed high blood pressure, according to the British Heart Foundation.

The condition rarely has any symptoms – but if left untreated, it can dramatically increase your chances of developing heart disease, stroke and dementia.

Risk increases with age – which is why it's a good idea to get checked out annually as we get older. The test is quick and painless and can be carried out at your GP's surgery, as well as many pharmacies and health clubs. Find out more from Blood Pressure UK.

Blood pressure – what you need to know

Want to talk to a GP today? With Saga Health Insurance, you have unlimited access to a qualified GP 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Find out more about our GP phone service.

How often should you brush your teeth?

Twice a day. Almost half of UK adults admit to not brushing their teeth at night, according to a recent GSK survey. But the British Dental Health Foundation recommends that you reach for your toothbrush before you go to bed and at least one other time during the day. Use a fluoride toothpaste and brush for at least two minutes, covering all surfaces of your teeth. Another tip? Never brush your teeth within an hour of eating or drinking anything acidic as this can damage the enamel.

Caring for ageing teeth

How often should you get screened for bowel cancer?

Every two years – if you're over 60. Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, and risk increases with age. If you're aged 60 to 74, you should be sent a home test kit, which is used to collect a stool sample. If you're over 75, you can request a test. An additional one-off test called bowel scope screening, carried out at a clinic, is gradually being introduced to men and women at 55 in England. Find out more on the NHS website.

What you need to know about bowel cancer

How often should you take a shower?

Every other day. Around 40 per cent of the UK population now enjoy daily showers, according to recent UK research. But is this necessary? 'It's obviously really important to wash our hands after using the bathroom or sneezing to stop the spread of bugs,' says Dr Alison Browne, who co-authored the study.

'However, scientists are increasingly saying our hygiene obsession has adversely impacted on health, especially autoimmune and other related diseases.'

Pay attention to the areas that really need it when you have a wash – such as your hands and 'below the belt' – and there's no real reason to step into the shower every time.

How often should you apply sunscreen?

Every two hours – or more often if you've been sweating or swimming. Some sunscreens now claim to be 'water-resistant' or offer all-day protection but, warns the British Association of Dermatologists, they don't account for poor application and accidental removal.

Around 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually in the UK, so it's far better to be safe than sorry. Always use a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and a UVA rating of at least four stars.

Don’t take risks with the sun

How often should you change your pants?

Every day. More than a quarter of men and seven per cent of women regularly wear the same undies for two days before washing them, according to a Kelkoo survey.

You probably won't be very surprised to learn that underpants can provide a breeding ground for germs, so should be changed every day and washed at 60°C to ensure they're fully cleaned.

Unless you've been particularly sweaty, though, you can generally wait for three or four wears before washing your bra.

How often should you open your bowels?

It varies! Some people go once daily, some go several times each day and others go every second day. You can usually consider your bowel movements to be normal and healthy if you go regularly, don't have ongoing symptoms of constipation or diarrhoea and don't need to strain or use laxatives, Cancer Research UK advises. The golden rules? Eat plenty of fibre, drink lots of water and take regular exercise. But if you notice a change in your bowel habits that lasts for more than six weeks, do consult your GP.

Learn more about bowel cancer symptoms

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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