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Common household items that should be replaced regularly

Posted by AMH Team

6m read time

Mar 1, 2024

Think about all the common household items you keep in your house, things like sponges, toilet brushes, towels, and surge protectors. Now think about how often you replace those things. That answer probably ranges between “not very often” and “never,” doesn’t it?


Among chores to do around the house, replacing common household items is fairly low on the effort scale, but it’s high in benefits. You’ll improve elements like air quality and sleep hygiene while reducing the likelihood of bacteria, mold, and grime spreading across the house.


Here are common household items to replace regularly — plus some tips for helping extend their longevity.


Sponges and toilet brushes


Sponges are a versatile tool in the kitchen. They’re great for deep scrubbing a grimy pan or plate, helpful for cleaning a sink, and a quick way to make your kitchen counters sparkle. Unfortunately, all the work sponges put in means they pick up a lot of bacteria — up to 45 million microbes per square centimeter.


While sponges alone don’t often contain harmful bacteria, they can quickly spread over other surfaces, increasing the chances for foodborne illnesses. To prolong your sponge’s life, run it under water for a few seconds, then microwave it for a minute (avoid the microwave if the sponge contains metal). You can also boil a pot of water and let your sponges sit for five minutes or soak the sponges in a bleach solution, combining ¼ cup of bleach for every 4 cups, or quart, of water.


These sanitization methods will work a few times on your sponges, but you should replace them entirely after two to three weeks. A good rule of thumb is to change out your sponge when it starts smelling odd or feels more flimsy than sturdy.


Similarly, your toilet brushes are also exposed to a multitude of bacteria — but do you ever clean them? It’s not too late to start this habit. After use, spray the brush with disinfectant, let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, and rinse everything off. Let the brush air dry before returning it to the holder. And be sure to give the holder a nice clean regularly, too. After about six months, or when you notice some bacterial buildup, toss your toilet brushes and get new ones.


Air filters


Air filters are perhaps the easiest item on the home maintenance checklist, yet we often go for long periods without swapping them out. Air filters not only help our homes’ air quality but also allow HVAC systems to run properly. Additionally, if you live somewhere with a lot of pollen, cedar, or other allergens, a clogged air filter might hamper your breathing quality.


So, replacing your air filters will save you money and energy while making you feel better. Not a bad deal! Depending on the air quality of where you live, monthly changes may be optimal, though once every three months will be effective. You can also recycle your old filters with your local HVAC company. 


Cutting boards


If you’re regularly slicing and dicing in the kitchen, you won’t be the only one hosting a party. Your cutting board will also open up its metaphorical doors for bacteria, which can form via holes or nicks in the board. That bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen.


Cutting boards are made from a variety of materials. A wooden board has more longevity; some even come with lifetime guarantees. However, plastic boards pick up bacteria much easier, so they should be replaced every two to three years.


If you’re unsure how long you’ve had yours, examine the board. It’s time to upgrade when it’s got deep cuts or grooves from constant use.


Shower liners


You usually aren’t hopping into the shower because you’re clean. We build up dirt, sweat, and grime throughout the day, and a shower helps eliminate those unwanted attributes. That means your shower liner and curtain are picking up some of the remnants.


Washing your liner and curtain regularly helps keep them around for a bit longer, but when you can see dirt and mold starting to appear, they’ve got to go. Liners should be replaced twice a year, while curtains usually last a couple of years between upgrades.  


Towels and bath mats


Like shower curtains, towels and bath mats are common household items that are talented at absorbing mold, mildew, and other bacteria. All they do is collect water and then stay damp throughout the day, especially if you have spa elements in your bathroom.


Incorporate towel and bath mat cleaning into your chores around the house, ideally weekly, to keep them in good shape. Even with regular maintenance, they’ll eventually become overused and need replacing. Get a new bath math every one and a half to two years. Your feet will love the upgrade! Your towels might be able to last you another year or two.


While you can throw away bath mats, consider donating your towels to a local animal rescue. The towels are helpful in caring for and comforting pets.


Spices, herbs, and baking ingredients


It’s a tale as old as time. We buy a full rack of spices and herbs, imagining ourselves navigating the kitchen like a professional chef, deftly cooking up new recipes and exciting flavors. Instead, the spices make occasional appearances, but years go by, and a mostly full jar still remains.


Using spices, herbs, baking soda, and flour past their expiration date likely won’t make you sick, but it will impact the taste of your food (and not in a positive way). These items usually come with estimated expiration dates. Dried seasonings and herbs typically last between one and two years, ground spices last for two to four years, extracts for two to three years, and whole spices for up to four years.




Considering we spend roughly a third of our lives with our heads on pillows, we should keep them as pristine as possible!


When is it time for a replacement? Lumps, sags, and stains are all good signs, but how you feel physically is also a cue. Neck and shoulder pain and allergies increase with old pillows. Recycle or donate your old pillows and treat yourself to a new one.


Surge protectors


A surge protector and a power strip are sometimes confused with each other. While they may look similar, a surge protector absorbs spikes in electrical current, protecting your electronics. A power strip simply houses multiple outlets for your devices.


Some surge protectors have an automatic shut-off feature; these ones can last a longer time. Without an automatic shut-off, their surge protection expires after about three to five years. Though they still function as power strips, they’re not giving your devices any extra protection.    

Of course, you’ll need a place to keep these common household items. We’ve got you covered — view our available homes here.

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