Sponges and 10 Other Disgusting Things You Need to Throw Out Now

These common household items pose a health risk when kept past their prime. And also, yuck!

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Food items aren’t the only things in your home that expire.

Even if you religiously clean your home, some things are just unhealthy to use beyond a certain point.

Consider these everyday household items that you use and should replace regularly:

1. Toothbrush

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Sure, you rinse your toothbrush after you use it and store it upright to dry. You may even soak it in 3 percent hydrogen peroxide or Listerine mouthwash, which does significantly reduce the bacteria on it, as reported by the American Dental Association.

But you still need to replace it every three to four months — or more often if the brush frays.

Why? It harbors bacteria, usually including fecal coliform bacteria released into the air of your bathroom when you flush a toilet, according to the ADA.

Clean your toothbrush regularly and replace it at least four times a year, the ADA recommends.

2. Kitchen sponge

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If you don’t think your kitchen sponge is dirty, one look at the scientific report published by Nature.com will change your mind.

Many variables cause bacteria to build on kitchen sponges, but suffice to say they get dirty very quickly and can spread bacteria in your home. The experts recommend you change your sponge at least once a week.

3. Refrigerator water filters

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You know that the water filter in your refrigerator traps contaminants. But if it’s not regularly changed, it can transfer contaminant to your drinking water, according to healthfully.com. In extreme cases, that can also include mold.

Many refrigerators have a warning light that alerts owners that they need to change this filter. If yours doesn’t, read your owner’s manual for guidelines. Consumer Reports recommends replacing the filter every six months.

4. Bath towels

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You may feel clean when you step out of the shower or bath, but your towels aren’t. Yeast, mold and bacteria including E. coli are among the lifeforms that thrive on your towels, especially in the humid bathroom.

There are a host of variables including material and frequency of use that contribute to how often you should replace bath towels. Every two years is a good rule of thumb.

5. Bath mats

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Most bath mats are very sturdy, but, like towels, they have a lifespan dictated by many variables. Even though they don’t touch every part of your body, as do bath towels, they do harbor germs. You should replace them at least once every two years, according to bathplanet.com.

6. Slippers

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Old slippers lose their shape, meaning that they can cause wearers to slip and fall. But even if they do maintain their form, they are a breeding ground for mildew, fungus and bacteria. This podiatrist’s website recommends you replace slippers at least once a year.

7. Plastic food containers

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If you still use plastic food containers, discard the ones that are scratched, cloudy and stained. They can transmit dangerous compounds and bacteria into your food that can lead to heart disease and other health concerns. That’s especially true of containers that are, say, 10 years old. Toss them.

8. Shower loofah

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The shower loofah looks elegant, but it’s a breeding ground for germs and bacteria that can infect your newly shaved or otherwise nicked skin. Thoroughly wash and dry your loofah after each use and replace it every three weeks or so.

9. Nonstick pans

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There are a host of variables about nonstick pans, but many agree that scratches may allow dangerous toxins to escape into your food. Don’t take chances. Toss out your scratched pots and pans.

10. Range hood filters

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You may not even know that your range hood has a filter if yours doesn’t have a filter replacement indicator. You want to change the filters every few months, so they don’t fill your air with grease and toxins. Although there’s no set time for when you should replace a filter, a general rule of thumb is at least once a year — more frequently if you cook a lot.

11. Kitchen towels

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You should wash kitchen towels every day or every other day and replace them once a year. Not only do they become stained and faded, but over time they also become homes for germs and bacteria. Plan to replace them at least once a year. If you hate to part with them, store them for one-time uses such as cleaning up after pets.

How often do you replace the things listed here? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Nancy Dunham
Nancy Dunham @NancyDWrites

Nancy Dunham is a freelance journalist based in the Washington, D.C., metro area.


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