A couple weeks ago, we talked about expiration dates… of foods. Now, we’re going to talk about expiration dates… of average household items. Now, we’re going to play a little game. Grab a pen and paper (or your phone) and write down 11 household items that you think you should either clean, or throw away and replace, every “x” number of months. I’ll wait while you make your list… (Hint: Your toothbrush… your estimate.)
1. TOOTHBRUSH… toss it every 3 months!
This was an easy one since I told you the answer(!), and it should be tossed every three months, tops. The American Dental Association says four months at most, since worn bristles don’t clean as well. My doctor loves to remind me that the human mouth is one of the dirtiest, most bacteria-ridden places around. (Gee, thanks.) Now, you have this knowledge, too, and will (hopefully) switch out your toothbrush more often!
Hopefully, your toothbrush won’t come after you like this one:
2. DISH SPONGE… replace it every month (and clean in the dishwasher in the meantime!)!
That’s right, your sink sponge could be making you sick! So, make sure you have extras on hand!
3. PILLOWS… wash regularly (every 3-6 months), but replace every two years!
So many things can get trapped in pillows, it’s probably best not to overthink it (the dust mites, your dead skin, oil… you name it, it’s probably there). Hence, use pillows for what they’re for—your comfort, not to house dust mites.
4. SHEETS… once a week! (Or more!)
Ah, sheets. How many of us really wash them every week?! Well, we should! Like anything else, the dirtier we let them get, the more likely they are to house bacteria and other unwanted life!
5. MATTRESS… flip every year, replace every 5-10 years!
While we’re on the subject of pillows and sheets, we may as well talk about your mattress. Do you feel it sagging after a while? Flip that puppy over! Also, like pillows, mattresses can collect dirt and lead to allergens polluting your bedroom. So, don’t just “flip”—but also don’t forget to invest in a new bed now and then. After all, aside from work and friends and loved ones, we spend a lot of time with our bed. (I recently had to buy a new mattress and found a $2800 floor model for under $500, including bed frame and delivery. So just remember that no matter what you spend on one, it’s an essential purchase since your back—and sleeping—depend on it.)
6. TOWELS… wash regularly but replace every two years!
Like anything else, they get worn out… and how many of us actually wash them “regularly” (guys, I’m talking to you, at least the ones I know; no offense!). I know, doing laundry is a PAIN, but so is getting a rash from dirty towels.
7. MAKEUP BRUSHES… wash a lot and change every two years!
Yep, to prevent infections (basically anywhere on your face where makeup is applied), rinse out and wash your makeup brushes. And, when in doubt (or around the two-year mark), toss and replace!
8. WATER FILTERS… change every 2-6 months (but this may vary depending on the brand)!
Is your filtered water starting to taste funny? Do you assume that all you have to do is use the filter… then never change it? Wrong! Stay aware of how the water tastes (and what the directions say) and act accordingly.
9. VITAMINS… toss and replace every two years!
After all, they had a shelf life before you found them on the shelf, so even if they have an expiration date, experts suggest tossing them two years after you bought them.
10. SPICES… replace every 12 months (or sooner, if the smell is no longer potent)!
This was sort of a trick question/answer, as there is no specific timeframe for replacing a cutting board. But, that does NOT mean that Salmonella has not seeped into it. “The decision to replace one is ultimately based on when you think it looks too beat up,” says Brenda Wilson, PhD, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, in this Prevention article. It’s safest to wash the board with hot water and detergent, followed by 1 part white vinegar and 4 parts water for 5 minutes. Then, douse with water, pat, and have it air dry. (Bet you didn’t know all that, huh? I didn’t either!)
All in all, when in doubt, throw it out! (Or at least wash it!)