Our homes have lots of items which have temporary parts or uses. It can be hard to know when it’s time to change or replace some of these things, so we’ve done some research. Given that it’s spring, it might be a good time to cast your eye down this list and make a note for your spring cleaning list.
In the kitchen
The most common harbourer of germs in the kitchen (and perhaps the whole house) is, without doubt, the sponge. We use it often, to pick up spills, clean the bench, wipe down chopping boards and grab nasties off the floor. They are designed to be absorbent; so even if they are antibacterial, they will pick up some germs along the way.
Sponges are an excellent breeding ground for germs because they’re kept moist. Rinse your sponge clean of food particles after every use and try and let it dry, rather than letting is sitting in the water at the bottom of your sink.
To help prevent cross-contamination, use paper towels to wipe up meat juices, and rinse it free.
To keep a sponge as germ-free as possible, you can rinse it daily with bleach, or microwave it for a minute (ensure it’s well damp or it may catch fire). Replace them at least every month, but in busy households, sponges may become smelly and discoloured faster than that.
Chopping boards need to be well cleaned and cared for as they are used to cut up a variety of foods, including raw chicken. Some households find it easier to have a number of boards, and cut high-risk foods on one, smelly foods like onion and garlic on another and have other boards for bread or fruit. This is a personal decision, as is whether you prefer wooden or plastic boards. Both have benefits, but both need to be thoroughly cleaned in hot soapy water and left to dry. Wooden boards will last longer if they are oiled periodically, and should not be put in the dishwasher. If your chopping board is smelly, mouldy or showing signs of deterioration, replace it.
Your dishwasher, fridge water/ice dispenser, and range hood all contain filters. Rinse your dishwasher filter monthly, replace the water filter every six months and clean the filters in your range hood when you clean your oven (ideally every three months).
In the pantry, ground spices are good for two to three years (whole spices will last 3-4 years, and extracts like vanilla will last a similar time).
Deep fryer oil can be used three times if you’re not cleaning and filtering the oil, or seven if you do.
In the bathroom
Shower poufs/loofahs: these are similar to a sponge – let them dry between uses and replace monthly.
Hairbrushes: remove hair and clean them with shampoo each month – when the bristles show signs of wear, it’s time for a new one.
Toothbrushes are used frequently. They need to be replaced every three months, or when the bristles begin to fray, whichever comes sooner.
Makeup has a use by date on the packaging. If you use expired makeup, it can cause irritation on your skin. Wash makeup brushes with a baby or gentle shampoo each week. Sponges should be cleaned after each use and replaced monthly.
Over the counter medication: once a year, around the same time, throw out all expired medications, both prescription and OTC. Expiration dates guarantee that, with proper storage in a cool, dry place, drugs will retain 90% of their original potency until that date. Afterward, the medication may have degraded or contain harmful byproducts.
If aspirin starts going bad, you may detect a vinegar smell.
Yoga or exercise mats are absorbent, and by definition, you’ll be sweating more than usual on it. Experts suggest wiping it down with antibacterial spray once a week, then replacing it every six to twelve months, depending on how heavily it’s used. Replace it sooner if signs of wear are evident, particularly if it becomes mouldy.
Bike helmets need to be replaced after they have been in a crash.
Running shoes have a finite life. After they are past their best, you will be more likely to suffer injury and discomfort. Shoe experts will say six months or 800km is a good time to get new shoes. You can wash them in the washing machine if they are heavily soiled, but if you dry them well after each use, and use an odour/moisture absorber regularly, washing may be optional.
Sports bras will provide good support for 6-12 months, depending on the usage.
In the household
Mattress: if you regularly wake up feeling tired, and your mattress is more than 5-10 years old, it may be contributing to disturbed rest. Pillows should be cleaned or replaced every six months – they can play host to a lot of critters and debris!
Carpets look good for about 10 years with an annual cleaning. If you have pets, clean them more often to avoid allergies and other ailments.
Air filters: Most units need to have a new filter annually, and will have an alert to let you know. For healthy air in your home, replace them promptly once the alert lights up.
Smoke alarms: Check the batteries and test the unit at the change of season and if in dout, replace without delay.