Most people tend to replace most household items when they start to look old and shabby, but what if that may not be often enough for some products? Walking around the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom or laundry, there could be a range of household items that have flown past their use-by date and are currently spreading germs around your house. Figuring out how often to replace these items and keeping track of that could be the key to stop this from happening.
Here are 20 household items that may need to be replaced more often.
Bathroom towels are used every single day and, because of that, they become damp quickly. It is in these environments that bacteria tends to form and multiply. Changing and washing your towels every two to three days could be the best way to try and stop this bacteria from spreading. Although most people may tend to only replace their towels for brand new one when it starts to look a little worse for wear, it might be a good idea to consider buying a new set every two years.
As one of the household’s most important cleaning materials, your toilet brush should be cleaned often to prolong its shelf life. By soaking the brush in disinfectant for 20 minutes, you may reduce the opportunity for bacteria to grow on the bristles. Don’t forget to rinse it by holding the brush in the clean toilet and flushing. The rate at which you replace your toilet brush depends on how often it is used, however, it is recommended by some that it should be replaced every six months. Do this more often if you notice a sticky or slimy residue on the bristles.
The hairbrush is another household item that we use everyday that people might not realise requires regular cleaning and replacing. As we brush our hair, the brush collects dead skin from the scalp and hair residue. These are things that probably shouldn’t be reapplied to your hair the next time you use your hair brush. It is important to clean hair brushes once or twice a week by pulling out excess hair pieces and swishing the hair brush around in a bowl of warm water and shampoo. The longer hair you have, the more often this should be done. Look at replacing your hairbrush at least once every year.
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Similarly to bathroom towels, bath poufs are living in an environment that is perfect for bacterial growth. This bacteria may cause rashes or infections if bath poufs are being used for too long. Even with regular cleaning, you may want to look into changing your bath pouf every month to combat harmful bacteria. If you start to see some discoloration on your pouf or if it starts to smell, this should be an obvious indication that it needs to be changed immediately.
While it’s not necessary to sanitise your toothbrush, it is important to rinse it after every use and keep it in a clean, well-ventilated place. If you choose to also soak your toothbrush in antibacterial mouthwash, only do so for 15 minutes to avoid damaging the bristles. This is because there is bacteria in your mouth, as well as your bathroom, that could be harmful. It is recommended that you change your toothbrush every three months, however some dentists may suggest replacing it after one month.
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You may be using your razor blades for a lot longer than you should be. They are highly susceptible to bacteria, which would then come into contact with your skin if you don’t keep them clean and replace them regularly. Be sure to store it standing up in a well-ventilated place and rinse them in warm water after each use. Razor blades should be replaced after about five to seven showers, rather than when they start to get dull.
Sheets and pillows
Cleaning your bedding is important to not only prevent bacteria from multiplying, but also to avoid bed bugs and dust mites. Sheets should be cleaned once a week – or at least every two weeks – and replaced entirely every two to three years, while pillows should be washed two to four times a year and replaced after one or two years.
While your mattress is protected by your bedding, it’s still important to make sure it remains clean. This can be done by vaccuming and deodorising it twice a year. Mattresses are expensive so, luckily, they don’t need to be replaced as often as most of the household items on this list. A good quality mattress can last eight to ten years before it needs to be replaced.
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Cleaning out your spice rack may not be at the top of your priority list, but it’s very important because, believe it or not, spices do expire. Even though they’re not dangerous to eat after a certain time, they may start to lose their favour and strength. Depending on what the spices are, they can usually last up to one to three years.
Obviously skillets should be cleaned straight after use, however, it’s important to do this correctly to make sure that you are able to use it for as long as possible. Rather than scrubbing the surface with steel wool, use a stiff brush to avoid scratches. It may be replaced after six to 12 months.
Plastic containers are often used to hold leftovers in the fridge or dry food in the pantry to save room and should be washed after every use. The rate at which you replace these containers depends on how often they are being used. It might be a good idea to change your plastic containers every six months if they are only being used once a week. However, this should be raised to four times a week if you are using them everyday.
You may not think to replace your wooden spoon regularly, however, this might need to change. Wooden products could be less susceptible to bacteria than other equipment because wood may fight infection, bacteria and mold naturally. As soon as you see that your wooden spoon is starting to crack, however, this may be the sign that you need a new one.
You use your chopping boards to cut a number of different products including vegetables, fish and meat so it may be a good idea to replace them every year. Aside from carrying a lot of bacteria during its life, the material that it’s made of could impact the type of damages it could collect through usage. For example, a plastic chopping board could become covered with deep cuts where bacteria survive even after washing. This may mean a replacement is necessary much sooner.
Similar to bathroom towels, kitchen towels can get damp quickly and may allow bacteria to spread just as fast. This is why it might be best to change your kitchen towels regularly. According to Associate Professor of Biology at SUNY Geneseo Dr. Elizabeth Hutchison, you should be aiming for every three to five days or more frequently after cooking with meat, if it is damp or if you have people who are more vulnerable to illness living in your home. You should be looking at throwing in the towel and replacing them altogether when you see signs of wear including holes and colour fading.
Your dish sponges are a huge harbour for bacteria so it is crucial to clean them daily by throwing it into the microwave for two minutes or the dishwasher if you are using a heated dry setting. There is a point where they should be replaced before they start to get moldy and smelly. This could be two to four weeks.
Many homes contain a water filter somewhere in the kitchen, which could become home to harmful bacteria if it is not well-looked after. There are many factors that can impact when you should change your water filter including how much water is consumed regularly, the amount of people in your household, the brand of your filter, the elements that need to be filtered and the hardness of the water. However, it may be a good idea to start looking into changing your filter roughly every two months.
Power strips tend to collect a lot of dust so it’s important to dust these at least once a week. However, the amount of dust it could accumulate over time isn’t the reason why your power strip should be replaced often. Power strips absorb excess voltage into a metal oxide varistor (MOV) to protect your electronics and degrade over time to the point that it is no longer providing this protection. This is why you may want to replace this strip every two years.
Even if you can’t find an expiration date on your can of bug spray, there comes a time that it does lose its effectiveness. To check if your bug spray is on its way out, spray a small amount in front of you and smell some of the repellent. If it doesn’t smell quite right, it’s time to replace it. A good rule of thumb could be to replace your bug spray every two years.
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Your smoke detector is one of the most important applications in your home and needs to be properly maintained. In addition to regular checks to ensure everything is working properly and battery replacements every six months, the entire smoke detector should be replaced every 10 years for peace of mind.
Investing in a disinfectant could be really important for your family’s health, especially if you have pets. You can try to extend the shelf life of your disinfectant by spot cleaning where possible, using a commercial dish soap instead or strategically decrease the concentration of your disinfectant. However, the last option needs to be done with great care. It may be best to replace your disinfection every one to three months.
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Words by Jessica Testa
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