The Dirty Truth About Household Items: How Often Should You Replace Them?
It is easy to overlook the finer details in life like replacing or maintaining your items at home. You must be thinking, “don’t change what isn’t broken.” Although this may hold true in many aspects of life, there is more than meets the eye with household items.
Some items can be hotbeds for bacteria and little critters like dust mites. Sometimes, cleaning with alcohol or detergent just won’t do the trick anymore. Here are the top items you should consider replacing often (we tell you how often!).
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|Household items||How often should I replace them?|
Every 2 to 8 weeks
Every 12 months
Every time they become smelly or stained
Every 1 to 3 months
Every 2 years
Every 6 months to 3 years
Every 5 to 10 years
Clean them weekly
Every 5 to 10 years
Sponges can become really nasty if not replaced regularly. Even if you wash them thoroughly, tiny food bits get stuck in them and become breeding ground for germs and mould. You can boil or microwave your sponges to help kill the germs but after a while these methods become ineffective.
We also recommend keeping them dry in between use as leaving them in dish soap might not be as clean as you think. If you use kitchen sponges regularly, we recommend changing them every fortnightly or monthly. If not, 2 months should be fine.
As kitchen sponges come in contact with our plates and utensils (and our food indirectly) it’s best to replace them when the time is right.
- Replace every: 2-8 weeks.
2. Cutting board
Cutting boards are another household item you should consider replacing. If your cutting board is plastic and is full of knife marks, start shopping for another one. A study found that plastic cutting boards contained more bacteria than wooden or bamboo ones.
Even after thorough washing or cleaning, bacteria easily cultivate in the knife marks on your cutting board. You could use hydrogen peroxide to scrub out the germs in between use. If your cutting board looks a bit too battered, you should probably change it as soon as possible.
- Replace every: It depends but, on average, every 12 months.
3. Food Container
Plastic containers are usually convenient to bring lunch to work but the material is easily compromised. When plastic food containers are slightly damaged, chemicals leach out from the plastic and into your food. Small scratches by your utensils can compromise the material and lead to leaching.
We recommend switching over to glass containers instead as they are much more durable and last longer. Chemicals leaching from the container will also no longer be a problem.
- Replace every: It depends on its usage and quality of the plastic but if it is stained or smelly, replace it.
If your toothbrush looks like it’s gone through war, it’s already too late. Once your bristles start fraying out, you’ve already overused your toothbrush by a significantly long time. The frayed bristles can also cause micro-abrasions on your gums. These micro abrasions if severe enough can lead to gum disease.
You can replace your toothbrush every month or three months depending on the quality of your toothbrush head. If you want to lessen the environmental impact, get a toothbrush with a replaceable head.
- Replace every: 1-3 months.
It is important that you keep towels clean as you practically use them to wipe your body and face. Towels that are repeatedly used until they are worn out are difficult to disinfect and don’t retain moisture as well.
In a study done by the University of Arizona, 90% of bathroom towels tested positive for coliform bacteria. The bacteria can easily cause an infection if it comes into contact with a wound on your body, even if it is a small cut.
- Replace every: 2 years.
This is definitely not an item that comes first to mind when replacing household items. I mean if it ain’t broken, why replace them?
First, there are water additives in our water supply that can cause damage to shower heads or taps when they form into sediments. This can lead to increased wear and tear and lowered water pressure through your shower head.
Second, as shower heads retain water and moisture, black mould easily forms around the openings of shower heads. Black mould can lead to severe attacks for those with asthma or respiratory conditions.
We recommend checking if your shower head contains a filter. If it does, replace them every 6-8 months. If not, you can consider changing them every year if you start noticing black mould build up often.
- Replace every: 1 year.
We spend a huge amount of time with our faces in our bedroom pillows. Imagine bits of dead skin, dust mites and dirt all up in our face plus breathing it all in. Sounds like a nightmare and it is a living one for people who don’t replace their pillows regularly.
If you have a normal non-orthopaedic and non-memory foam one, replace it every 6 months. You can disinfect it but its function as neck support after that long may be compromised. For orthopaedic pillows, you can replace them after 3-4 years.
- Replace every: 6 months (normal), 3 years (memory foam/ orthopedic).
Due to the size and frequent use of mattresses, it is difficult to disinfect them thoroughly. Dust mites and mould can easily accumulate after long use. A worn out mattress is also bad for your sleeping posture. This can lead to frequent back and neck pains.
- Replace every: 5 – 10 years.
Keyboards collect dust and dead skin cells easily thanks to the nooks between keys. At least for keyboards, most if not all, have detachable keys which allow you to clean underneath the keys. We recommend cleaning your keyboard weekly if you are a heavy user.
Otherwise, you can replace them whenever they get spoiled.
- Replace every: It depends.
10. Study/ Office Chair
In humid environments, fabric covered office chairs last longer than leather chairs in terms of the exterior. In humid environments, leather covers start to flake after a few years of use. On the other hand, fabric covered chairs can trap mould and dirt much more easily.
We recommend getting higher quality ergonomic chairs which last longer in terms of function and cleanliness. They usually last for up to 10 years. Lower quality chairs can wear out more easily and provide poor support only after a few years.
- Replace every: 5 – 10 years.
Replacing items that do not seem blatantly worn out may seem wasteful to some. Others may also argue that they have gotten along fine without having to replace most of their household items for very long periods. The suggested tips above are only recommendations to lower the chances of infections, damage and infestations from use of everyday items.
Replacement of household items also depends on other factors like design, durability and frequency of use. The above-mentioned tips work as a general guideline.
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