Even the cleanest, most fastidious among us need to replace common household items often—for better health.
According to the Reader’s Digest, a study of 1,000 dishcloths and kitchen sponges found that 10% contained salmonella, noting: “Each square inch of their surfaces contains about 134,630 bacteria, 456 times the number on a toilet seat” — 456 times the bacteria on a toilet seat? Per square inch?
Darla DeMorrow, a certified professional organizer, says, “There are three big risks to not replacing items in your home when they are past their useful life”: First, you can make your household sick; second, you can lower your home’s value by not keeping it in its best shape; and third, forgoing important replacements can cause more damage. “For instance,” she says, “if you don’t replace air filters regularly, you cause your furnace to work harder, and break sooner.”
Here are 37 kinds of household items you may want to replace … sooner rather than later:
In the Kitchen
1. Cutting Boards
Cutting boards need to be replaced every two to three years. Plan to replace your board sooner if it has a lot of scratches or cut marks. Bacteria can gather in the knife marks of your board, increasing your chance of foodborne illness.
2. Food Storage Containers
Plastic food storage containers vary, in terms of safety. If your container has a #3 or #7 recycling indicator on the bottom, beware of BPA and PVC. It’s also a good idea to avoid reheating food in plastic containers and slowly switch to glass containers instead. If a plastic container is cloudy, warped, stained, or scratched, throw it out.
3. Water Filters
The filter in a whole house water filter needs to be replaced every three to six months. Pitcher water filters should be changed every 40 gallons of water or every two months, whichever comes first. Out-of-date filters can harbor bacteria and will not do as good a job of filtering your water.
Generally, most refrigerators have a lifespan of 15 years. It is a good idea to start looking for a new fridge after 10 years, however, since new technology could be more energy-efficient.
Dishwashers can last between eight and 10 years. Even if your dishwasher is still working after eight years, it is wise to look at what the newer models have to offer. Current dishwasher models can save you several hundred dollars a year on water and energy.
Depending on how you use them, sponges need to be replaced every two to eight weeks. Putting your sponge in the dishwasher or microwave can help clean your sponge, but it is still best to replace your sponge often.
7. Refrigerator Filters
Replace fridge water line filters every six months to protect yourself from exposure to chemicals and heavy metals in your water and ice.
Replace ground spices every year or two. Thankfully, old spices do not pose a health risk, but they do lose flavor, which defeats the purpose of using them when cooking.
9. Nonstick Pans
Nonstick pans need to be replaced every six months to a year. Plan to replace the pans more often if they are warped or scratched. Investing in nontoxic pans and cookware can be better for your health and wallet in the long term.
10. Cabinet Shelf Liners
Change your shelf liners every two to three years to keep your cabinets looking clean. It is also important to replace liners that have lost their stickiness and move around when you try to get a dish.
11. Water Bottles
Replace plastic water bottles every two to three years. Metal and glass bottles can last longer, but you might need to replace plastic or rubber tips and straws every year.
Most dentists will recommend replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three months. This will protect your teeth and gums from harmful bacteria.
13. Make-Up and Make-Up Brushes
Make-up needs to be replaced often, depending on the type. Mascara and eyeliner are in close contact to your eye and need to be replaced every three months to prevent eye infection or irritation. Dry eye shadow, on the other hand, can last up to two years. Foundation and concealer should be replaced yearly. As for make-up brushes, wash them regularly and replace them entirely after two years.
Replace your hairbrush if you notice wear to the bristles, since damaged bristles can lead to damaged hair. It is important to clean your hairbrush weekly to prevent product buildup. If you suffer from dandruff, clean your hairbrush more often so you are not making your dandruff worse.
15. Contact Lens Case
Replace your contact lens case every three months to help prevent eye infections.
16. Bath Poufs
Replace your bath poufs or loofahs every one to two months to prevent bacteria growth. After a month, loofahs lose their exfoliating properties.
Towels should be replaced every two years, and more often if they lose their absorbency or show wear. Bath towels are susceptible to bacteria growth because they get warm and wet, so be sure to wash them often.
18. Shower Head Filters
Shower head filters need to be replaced every six months to a year. Shower heads need to be disinfected weekly to prevent bacteria buildup.
19. Toilet Brush
Toilet brushes keep your toilet clean, but can host a lot of bacteria and residue. Replace your toilet brush every six months to be safe.
20. First Aid Kit
First aid kits should be replaced every three to five years. However, you should check your kit yearly to make sure it isn’t low on any supplies.
In the Bedroom
You are using your pillow anywhere from seven to nine hours per night, which means you are breathing in accumulated body oil, skin cells, dirt, and even dust mites. If you use a plain pillow, plan on replacing it every six months. Memory foam pillows can last longer, but still need to be replaced every 18 to 36 months.
Old mattresses pose two threats: bed bugs and poor sleep posture. Using a mattress cover designed to keep bed bugs and liquids out will preserve your mattress longer. However, it is still a good idea to replace your mattress every five to 10 years, especially if you find it harder to sleep or if you wake up with back and neck pain.
23. Bed Sheets
Bed sheets should be washed weekly to prevent bacteria buildup. So long as there is no wear or tear to the sheets, they do not need to be replaced.
In the Living Room
Carpet should be replaced every 10 years, or sooner if your space has a lot of pet damage. Breathing in pet urine can cause health issues, such as allergies, asthma, and skin and eye irritation.
Replacing a couch can be a costly endeavor, but investing in a high-quality sofa means you can replace less often. You should replace your couch every three to five years if it is used often by pets or if it starts to lose its support. Sitting on a sunken-in sofa can cause poor posture and back pain.
In Your Home Office
26. Office Chair
How often you need to replace an office chair depends on the quality of the chair and how often you sit in it. Higher quality chairs and ergonomical office chairs can be replaced every 10 years, whereas lower quality office chairs need to be replaced every five years.
Depending on how often you use your keyboard, it might have to be replaced every two or three years. Many times, keyboard keys can be cleaned or replaced, which allows you to fix a problematic key rather than the whole keyboard. Make sure to disinfect your keyboard weekly.
28. Reading Glasses/Prescription Glasses
Get your eyes checked every year or every other year to help ensure you are using the best prescription for your sight. Using glasses that are too strong or too weak for your eyes can cause long-term vision problems.
There is debate about how often to change your passwords on social media accounts, email accounts, and finance accounts. Some experts say every 90 days will keep your accounts safe, and other experts think this is counterproductive. One thing is certain: Change your password immediately after you discover a company or website has had a data breach.
In the Closet
30. Running Shoes
Even if you wear running shoes for walking, plan to replace them every 300-500 miles. This can mean every six months for very active individuals and every year or so for individuals who exercise less often.
31. Yoga Mat
Old yoga mats can increase your likelihood of bacterial infections, such as athlete’s foot. An old yoga mat might also make slips more common. Replace your mat every year or if you notice your mat feels too thin or doesn’t lie flat.
Plan on replacing your bra every eight months, especially if you wear it frequently. Regular wear and washing can break down the elastic and support of a bra. Sports bras can last a year or two with proper care.
33. Smoke Detectors
Did you know that smoke detectors have an expiration date on them? Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years, and the batteries should be changed every year.
34. Air Filters
It is important to stay on top of changing your air filter to ensure that your home’s indoor air quality remains healthy for you. Change your air filter every 30 to 90 days. If someone in your home suffers from allergies or asthma, you will want to change the air filter every 30 days and, if you have pets, you will want to change the filter every 60 days.
35. Washer and Dryer
A well-kept washer and dryer (meaning, you clean your washer and dryer hoses and dryer ducts yearly) can last eight to 12 years.
36. Bike Helmets
Bike helmets should be replaced every three to five years, especially if you keep your helmet in the garage, where it is exposed to extreme temperatures. It is best to replace your helmet if it gets dinged up or if you’ve had a major fall.
37. Car Tires
At best, worn tires can decrease your car’s fuel efficiency. At worst, worn tires can cause major car accidents. After five years, have your tires inspected yearly. If you still haven’t replaced a tire by year 10, then make that your priority.
How often you replace a household item depends on how often you use it. The items you use every day, or that are prone to bacteria buildup, should be replaced more often.