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Are your hand towels making you sick? 30 Household Items to Replace Now

Maybe you picked a fresh color to paint your bathroom and want to get new towels to match. Or maybe you're having neck pain and decide to look for a new pillow with hopes of finally getting a better night's sleep, without waking up with a crick in your neck.

Man, holding laundry basket of towels, begrudgingly acknowledging that his house may be trying to kill him

There are lots of reasons to replace household items, but you may not realize that most things have a recommended lifespan — a lifespan that's typically recommended for you and your family's health!

So here's a roundup of 30 household items that you probably need to replace immediately.

Infographic of household items to replace and when

30 Household Items to Replace Now

Bedroom Items to Replace

Lack of adequate sleep has been linked to a shortened life expectancy and an increased risk of developing serious medical conditions. (Sleep Foundation) So it's important to be mindful of the sleep products you use, how you care for them and how long they last - as these bedroom items affect the quality of your sleep.

  1. Sheets - 2-5 years

    Sheets collect dead skin cells, bacteria, dust mites, fungi, pollen, animal dander, sweat, bodily secretions and even fecal matter. You spend about a 1/3 of your day in direct contact with your sheets, and dirty sheets can affect your skin, allergies, and sometimes make you sick.

    Depending on how frequently you use a set of sheets, what they are made of and how you launder them, sheets will last you anywhere from 2-5 years before you need to replace them. It is recommended to wash your sheets weekly.
stack of sheets and a pillow on a yellow background
  1. Pillows - 1-2 years

    Like sheets, pillows accumulate allergens like dust mites, fungus, mold, and pet dander and bodily fluids like face and hair oils, sweat, drool as well as dirt. These things can cause runny or stuffy noses, itchy skin, irritated eyes, acne breakouts, rashes, clog your pores or impact your sleep quality. Pillows can also flatten or sag over time, which means they aren't supporting your neck well anymore.

    To ensure a good night's sleep and that you are using clean, supportive pillows that are free of allergens and grime, you should wash your pillowcase frequently and replace pillows every 1-2 years.
  2. Throw Pillows - 2-3 years

    Pillows used for display can last a little longer than your sleeping pillow. You can get two to three years out of a throw pillow. You'll want to wash the cover monthly to take care of it. Floor pillows gather more dust so you may want to wash those more frequently.
  3. Mattress - 7-10 years

    The Sleep Foundation says it best, "You will spend approximately one-third of your time in bed, and a quality mattress can mean the difference between restful slumber and restless tossing and turning." They offer a great chart to help determine the different lifespans for different mattress types here: Mattress Lifespan Chart, Sleep Foundation.

    Other factors include the mattress's original quality and materials, the weight and sleeping style of the sleepers, and your care routine. If your sleep or comfort is suffering, it may be time for a new mattress.

Bathroom Items to Replace

Bathrooms are a breeding ground for hidden germs. Did you know your toothbrush could have 100 million germs on it? (Penn Medicine) You'll want to be careful about your bathroom hygiene, keep up a good cleaning rhythm and be sure to replace these items bathroom items frequently.

  1. Towels and Washcloths - 2 years

    When you dry off, your towel collects dead skin cells, oil, dirt and secretions form your nose, mouth, ears and privates. Damp towels are a nice home for mildew and bacteria to grow, so it's recommended that you wash your towels every 2-4 uses and replace them every 2 years. If your towels lose absorption, starts to smell after just one or two uses or there are holes, tears or frayed edges on the towel, it's time for new ones!
rolled white towels on a blue background
  1. Shower Liners - 6 months

    I'm sure you're no stranger to seeing mold and mildew grow on your shower liner, but it may also not be on your routine cleaning list. Shower liners can be 60 times dirtier than your toilet seat! Be sure to add them to your weekly cleaning routine and replace them about every 6 months.
  2. Toilet Brush - 6 months

    Toilet brushes keep your toilet clean, but can host a lot of bacteria and residue themselves. Plastic toilet brushes should be replaced every six months, but you can extend the life of your cleaning brush if you opt for a sustainable wood version.
  3. Bath Mat - 2 years

    Living in the dampest room in the house, (cloth) bath mats offer the perfect environment for microorganisms to grow. Bath mats should be washed at least every other week and replaced every couple years. You might also consider a stone or bamboo or wood mat, which are more hygienic and sustainable. Bamboo mats can last up to 10 times longer.
  4. Bath Toys - Yesterday 😉

    You should clean bath toys once a week. Mold can grow on bath toys within 24-48 hours of use. You should dispose of bath toys ASAP if mold is present. Rubber is especially susceptible to mold. There's no hard and fast time rule for how often you should replace, but if they are cracked, have a hole in them, become a choking hazard or mold is present - you should dispose of them immediately.
  5. Loofah - 1-2 months

    Loofahs have lots of nooks and crannies where bacteria love to grow. You should wash them weekly. Natural loofahs should be replaced every 3-4 weeks and plastic loofahs should be replaced every two months.
colorful toothbrushes on a lavender background
  1. Toothbrush - 3-4 months

    Did you know your tooth brush could have fecal bacteria on it if it's stored close to an open toilet when it's flushed? You should thoroughly rinse your toothbrush after use to remove any debris and replace it "every three to four months or more often if the bristles are visibly matted or frayed." ( American Dental Association)
  2. Hair Brush - 6 months

    When you brush your hair, you leave behind dead skin cells, oil, hair products and bacteria. This can transfer back to your hair, which can cause it to look greasy or be the reason behind any hair problems you may be having. You should wash your brush each month and replace it every 6 months. Just like a toothbrush, you should also replace if the bristles are bent, broken or missing.
  3. Hairdryer & Hair irons - 2-7 years

    While inexpensive hair tools should be replaced every 2 years, a higher quality one may last you up to 7 years. When these hot hair tools are past their prime, they may start to burn, pull and break your hair.
  4. Makeup Brushes - 1-3 years

    Dirty makeup brushes can cause breakouts or skin infections. It is recommended to wash them weekly and replace them every 1-3 years.
  5. Contact Lens Case - 3 months

    You should already be changing your contact solution every day. But over time, bacteria from your fingers and the surrounding environment build up inside the case. And because most people keep their contact lens case in the bathroom, there’s a high chance of contamination. In addition to changing out the soluiton daily, you should replace your case every 3 months.

Kitchen Items to Replace

Most people are aware that sponges are germ-infested but did you know your kitchen towels may contain e. coli or staph and may be making you sick!? (Cleveland Clinic) In addition to your towels, you'll also want to wash or replace these kitchen items regularly.

  1. Spices - 6 months

    This one is on the list to give you a sense of relief... If you have old spices, they aren't dirtier than your toilet and probably won't make you sick! But they will lose their flavor when they've gone bad. So give your spices a whiff and if you don't smell anything, it's time to throw it out. Whole spices can last longer, up to 5 years.
  2. Cookware - 5-10 years

    As your cookware ages with use, it can warp, scratch, chip, bend and break. It can either affect the cooking of your food or parts of your pan can end up in your food, which can be dangerous. Be sure to replace your cookware when you notice any of those things happening.
stack of cutting boards on a light pink background
  1. Cutting Boards - 1 year

    Although soap helps disinfect boards, sharp knives create deep grooves and gauges in the boards, which can harbor bacteria. Instead of just wiping them down, be sure to wash them well after use and replace them annually.
  2. Cabinet Shelf Liners - 2-3 years

    Over time, grime has a tendency to build up inside cabinets and drawers. And when we put away not-quite-dry dishes, we add moisture to the picture. It's a good idea to replace your cabinet shelf liners every few years to keep them, and the things we eat off of clean!
  3. Sponge - 2 weeks

    Most people know that sponges get nasty quick and should be replaced often. Wring sponges out after each use and clean them every other day. While those are great habits to get into, even a sponge sanitized this often could accumulate bacteria over time, so replace yours every two weeks—or even sooner if they develop an odor or fall apart.
  4. Water Filter - 6 months (fridge)

    We use water filters to improve the quality of our drinking water and over time their ability to remove contaminates declines. To keep up the quality of our water, we should replace our fridge filters every 6 months to a year (or based on your manufacturer's recommendation). If you use a Brita pitcher, you ushould replace those filters every 40 gallons or about every 2 months
  5. Water bottle - 1-3 years

    Water bottles do a good job reducing the amount of plastic we consume, but they don't last forever. Bacteria can grow in the nooks and crannies of the bottle so it's a good idea to change them out every couple years. You should replace plastic bottles every year, stainless steel every 2 and glass bottles every 3 years.

Floor Coverings to Replace

Did you know your carpet can hold 4 times its weight in dirt and is likely dirtier than your toilet? Rugs and carpets contain bacteria, pollen, dead skin and dust... as much as 200,000 bacteria per square inch, which is estimated to be about 4,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat. ( Microbiologist Dr. Philip Tierno, Men's Health) This may make you reconsider how often you deep clean your rug!

roll of rugs on a coral background
  1. Rugs - 5-10 years

    Your rug's lifespan will depend on how much foot traffic it gets and how well how you maintain it. You should deep clean rugs each year and consider washable rugs in high traffic areas.
  2. Carpet - 5-15 years

    On average, carpets will last 10 years. The length of time that a specific carpet lasts depends on the type of carpet, carpet cushion, carpet fibers, and wear and tear the carpet is exposed to. Carpets made from wool or nylon offer the longest lifespan.

Cleaning & Saftey Items to Replace

You may have a good cleaning rhythm, but have you thought about the lifespan of your household items that are responsible for cleaning and safety? Take a look at these household items and take note of when they need replacing, if not yesterday!

  1. Air Filters - 3 months

    Changing out your air filters has a lot of great benefits including: cleaner air with less dust, spores, hair and dander, a cleaner house because there is less dust to clean, improved HVAC efficiency and best yet - better health and allergy relief.

    Air filters have different lifespans depending on their design, your air quality, how many people and pets you have in the house, local air pollution levels, if their is construction near your residence and the MERV rating. Service Experts say share these common averages depending on which scenario applies:

    • Common suburban home without pets: 3 months
    • Single dog or cat: 2 months
    • More than one pet or someone has allergies: 20-45 days
    • Vacation house or individual occupant with no pets or allergies: 6-12 months
  2. Vacuum Bag/Filter - 3 months

    Using a dirty vacuum filter will affect your air quality and the effectiveness of your vacuum. You should replace a vaccuum bag at least every 3 months, or more often if you use it more than once a week. Signs you need to replace your vacuum bag or clean your vacuum's filter include: low suction power, foul smell, frequent use, after vacuuming a dusty area, an indicator light comes on.
  3. First Aid Kit - 3-5 years

    Look for an expiration date on your kit, if you don't see one, then each individual item will likely have one! They typically need to be replaced about every 3-5 years.
household cleaners on a green background
  1. Household Cleaners - 1-2 years

    Did you know household cleaners have expiration dates and recommendations for proper storage? Lysol disinfectant has a shelf life of about two years, multi-surface cleaners about two years, dishwashing soap between 12 and 18 months, and metal polish up to two years. This might not be a problem if you up your cleaning regimen for all these items!
  2. Smoke Detectors - 10 years

    You should replace your smoke detector's batteries every year and the system itself every 10 years because the alarm sensors wear out.
  3. Fire Extinguishers - 10 years

    Although they don't have a true "expiration date," traditional fire extinguishers generally have a 10-12 year life expectancy. Disposable (non-rechargeable) fire extinguishers should be replaced every 10 years.

This comprehensive list may be overwhelming to some, but just think of the beautiful home environment that awaits you on the other side. You don’t have to tackle all 30 suggestions at once. Take it a couple of tasks at a time.

Start by clearing the air with new filters one day and then address the dirt another day. Refreshed linens and a germ-free household will do wonders for your psyche. Next, investigate your emergency supplies. Restocking those trusty flashlight batteries and first-aid kit essentials will improve your level of disaster preparedness.

How about that smoke detector in the kitchen? It probably needs the battery reconnected since it was disabled that night when you tried your hand at pan seared salmon steaks. The fire extinguisher, too, has likely put out one too many kitchen fires or is likely long overdo for being replaced or recharged.

Here’s to the health of your family and a happy home!

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