Real Talk: Have you cleaned out your spice rack lately? Did you know that you should also check the expiration dates of your vitamins and supplements? As long as we’re being honest, I can’t even remember the last time I put on makeup, let alone thought about cleaning or replacing my makeup brushes. I just reinstalled my window air conditioner for the season (hello, New York summers), and I don’t think I’ve ever replaced the filter. When it comes to changing household items, it’s safe to say that we could all benefit from buying a new dish sponge, a toothbrush and probably a new set of bath towels. bath while we’re at it.
To make sure your home always reflects the best version of you, we’ve put together this list of household items you’re definitely overdue for replacing. Plus, we’ll also tell you what to do with these items when it’s time to get rid of them.
1. Air filters
Air filters are one of the most often overlooked parts of the home, says spiritual design expert Bethany Holmes. Replacing these filters is extremely important, not only to maintain your air quality, but also to keep your system running smoothly. How often you need to replace your air filter depends on the type you have, where you live (air quality tends to be worse in big cities) and other factors, but in general it should being replaced every 30 to 90 days, which is probably a lot more often than most of us do. Prime? Cleaner air could help if you suffer from allergies.
What to do with old air filters: Avoid a big mess of dust by having a plastic bag handy when you turn it off. You can either throw it away or contact your HVAC company to see if they recycle old filters.
2. Cutting boards
How often should you replace your cutting boards? This one depends a lot on their quality, material and how often you actually use them. If you just use your wooden cutting board once a year for your holiday charcuterie, you’re probably set for much longer. But ultimately, the cuts can collect bacteria.
Typically, wooden cutting boards last 5-7 years. Plastic cutting boards generally need to be replaced every 1-5 years. If you’re unsure, pay attention to how they look and smell, and how difficult it is to clean them. If you’re having trouble cleaning between all the deep grooves, it’s probably time to replace them.
What to do with old cutting boards: If you’re crafty, you can turn old cutting boards into something new, like a chalkboard, a plant stand, or a stand for your coffee mugs. Otherwise, recycle it.
3. Spices and herbs
Raise your hand if you’ve already finished an entire jar of spices or herbs. Unless you’re a star cook with a heavy hand for spices, the end of that container was probably expired. Don’t panic, though. Stale spices are not bad in the same way that stale dairy or meat might be. Although old herbs and spices probably won’t make you sick, it’s important to refresh them before their expiration date to maintain their quality, taste, and benefits.
According to Healthline, dried herbs typically last 1-3 years, while ground or powdered spices expire in 2-3 years. Whole spices have the longest shelf life, up to four years.
What to do with old spices: If you don’t want to throw them away, use them in homemade soaps, candles, or potpourri. You can use the empty jars to store cotton swabs, sprinkles, cocoa, or powdered sugar for dusting. If you have no use for the jars, recycle them.
I don’t care what you’re doing right now, go buy a new loofah. I promise: you need one. Plastic loofahs need to be replaced every two months, while natural loofahs only last 3-4 weeks. If you want your loofah to last longer, do not store it in the shower, as the humid environment will cause bacteria to build up. If you physically dry it after use, that’s even better. TLDR: If you use a loofah, you should buy a new one every time you go to the pharmacy.
What to do with an old loofah: Throw it away. Keep in mind that while natural loofahs need to be replaced more often, they are also 100% biodegradable and don’t even need to be recycled. On the other hand, their plastic counterparts could take hundreds of years to break down.
5. Bath mat
Bath mats are a breeding ground for mold, mildew and bacteria. Think about it: they’re kept in a humid environment, they rarely dry out completely, and you step on them at least once a day. Depending on your household rules, people can even walk on your bathmat in shoes. So yes, it needs to be replaced often. You should wash your bath mat frequently (once a week) and replace it at least once every two years.
What to do with your old bath mat: Throw it away.
6. Shower curtain and liner
While you’re on the bathroom aisle, consider buying a new shower curtain as well. If nothing else, at least upgrade to a new liner. It’s usually obvious to replace clear shower liners because you can actually see mold, dirt, and bacteria starting to form. Be sure to wash the liner and curtain regularly, but as soon as you see these signs, it’s time to go shopping. Plan to replace the liner about every six months, and while fabric curtains don’t need to be replaced as often, they should be washed at least once every few months.
What to do with old shower curtains and liners: Throw them away.
7. Toilet brush
When I was 19, I didn’t hesitate to clean my toilet with the toilet brush that came with my apartment in New York. The real adult me gets chills just thinking about it. Have you ever cleaned the brush you use to clean your toilet? If not (don’t worry, you’re not alone), you should definitely do this, ideally after every use. When you’re done cleaning, spray it with disinfectant, let it sit for 10 minutes, then rinse it off. If you usually skip this step, you should soak it in a mixture of bleach and water for about an hour for a deep clean. And if you remember one thing, it should be this: never put it back in the holder while it’s still wet. The brush itself should be replaced approximately every six months or as soon as it begins to show buildup.
What to do with your old toilet brush: Throw it away.
You can (and should) wash your towels very regularly, but eventually you will need to replace them. Experts recommend washing the towels you use every day, such as kitchen towels, bathroom hand towels and washcloths, every other day. Try to wash your bath towels every 3-5 uses. If a towel is starting to smell, or just isn’t doing its job (drying), it’s time to buy a new one. Typically this will be every 2-3 years depending on quality, material and frequency of use.
What to do with old towels: Use them as cleaning rags or donate them to a local animal shelter. They can often use old towels for cleaning or to comfort animals.
Looking for an excuse to upgrade to a bigger bed or a nicer mattress? That’s it. If you’ve had your mattress for more than five years, you probably need to replace it. Holmes recommends replacing your mattress every 5-7 years. To my horror, an Amerisleep study found an average of over 16 million colony forming bacteria on 7 year old mattresses. Compare that to mattresses that were only a year old, which were only 3 million (a number that makes me even less excited about going to bed tonight, by the way).
What to do with your old mattress: Be crafty (you can use the stuffing for a DIY dog bed!), donate it, or recycle it. Many mattress companies will recycle your old mattress for you.
According to Holmes, pillows should be replaced every 1-2 years. Bedding can last a little longer (2-3 years), provided you wash it regularly. When thinking about how often to replace your pillows, cleanliness is only one factor. Sleep comfort and optimization are also extremely important elements to consider. Fading, lumps, and sagging are all signs that it’s time to change your pillows. Regularly waking up with a sore neck is another. If you notice your allergies kick in more frequently at night or first thing in the morning, you might also need an upgrade.
What to do with old pillows: Donate them or recycle them.