No matter how scrupulously clean you keep your home, there’s only so much that a scrubbing brush and elbow grease can do. From your shower curtain to your spice rack, most things in your house come with an expiry date… and unless you want to risk some pretty nasty consequences, it pays to understand what they are. To help you along, here are ten common household items you might need to replace sooner than you thought.
How convenient is a sponge? Use it to clean dishes, wipe surfaces, soak up spillages, and a score of other things. The downside of this little workhorse is that sooner or later, all that use is going to take its toll. And when we say sooner or later, we mean the former. A sponge might be many things, but it’s not immortal. Depending on just how much you use it, 2-8 weeks is the maximum amount of time you should allow before replacing it. In between uses, keep it fresh by zapping it in the microwave for a few seconds, or even chucking it in the dishwasher (believe it or not, studies suggest microwaving or dishwashing are way more effective than alternative washing methods when it comes to germ removal).
2. Herbs and Spices
Hands up, who’s got a few spices or herbs with an expiry date of 1999 nestling somewhere at the back of the spice rack? While sprinkling the odd pinch of out-of-date chili on your curry is unlikely to do either it or you much harm, the only flavor you’ll be getting from it is “stale”. As One Good Thing recommends, aim to replace dried herbs every year, ground spices every 2 years, and whole spices every 4 years.
If there’s one person who knows a thing or two about domesticity, it’s Martha Stewart. According to the domestic goddess’s own website, toothbrushes weren’t designed to see you through a lifetime. Keep yours for as long as it still feels firm to the touch and the tooth; the moment it goes limp (or once the color indicator fades or disappears), in the trash it goes.
Think about it. How many times over the last month have you dipped your fingers in and out of your make up pots? And how many times can you guarantee your fingers have been 100% germ-free? Sobering, right? Makeup can harbor bacteria and pathogens like you wouldn’t believe. Unless you want to be smearing all those nasty germs over your face, clean out your make up bag regularly. Eye makeup should be replaced every 3 months, powders should be binned after 2 years, and liquid and creams should be replaced every year.
5. Fire Extinguisher
Every home should have one, and every home should know when it’s time to replace or recharge one… we are, of course, talking about fire extinguishers. Although it can be easy to forget, make an effort to check the pressure gauge every month. If the needle’s anywhere other than in the green area, it’s time for a reboot.
6. Smoke Detector Batteries
Fire extinguishers aren’t the only things we use to protect our homes. We all, or at least, we should all, have fire detectors… but how many of us are remembering to replace the batteries on a regular basis? Stay safe, not sorry, by checking the batteries every 4-6 weeks. The detectors themselves can last up to 10 years before needing replacement.
Like it or not, your bed welcomes thousands of unexpected (and unwanted) guests a week, with many of those finding a permanent home on your pillows. According to Amerisleep, a 1-week old pillow has 17,442 more bacteria than a toilet seat, a 2-week old pillow has 332 times more bacteria than a faucet handle, a 3-week old pillow has 405 times more bacteria than a kitchen sink, and a 4-week old pillow has 39 times more bacteria than a pet bowl. Whichever you look at it, that’s a lot of bacteria. To keep the bacteria, dead skin cells, and dust mites to a minimum, wash pillows regularly and replace every 2 years.
8. Contact Lens Case
We might be diligent with cleaning our contact lenses, but when it comes to the case they come in, how many of us are quite so particular? Unless you want to risk a nasty infection, keep a close eye on how long you keep it hanging around; ideally, you should be replacing it every 3 months.
9. Shower Curtain Liner
No matter how regularly you clean, there’s only so much you can do to counter the problems caused by moisture in the bathroom. Too much moisture equals mold, and even the tiniest specks of mold equal respiratory problems and allergies. As soon as you notice the first signs of any black spots on the bottom of your shower curtain, its time to get a new one. That said, it’s not just the mold you need to be worried about. According to Health Line, shower curtains have more germs than anything else in the bathroom, containing over 60 times more microbial life than most toilet seats. And we aren’t taking your nice, friendly kind of bacteria here, either. Most of the germs present aren’t just harmful, they’re resistant to antibiotics, making them a double threat to your health. Even if you wash the curtain regularly, best practice dictates a yearly replacement.
10. Refrigerator Water Filter
That water filter warning light on your refrigerator isn’t just there for decoration. Although most of us stand guilty of ignoring it at some point or another, it pays to take note… or at least it does if you want the refrigerator to keep running efficiently, and for your water to be clean. As soon as the warning light starts flashing, get that filter replaced.