Here’s How Often You Need to Replace 10+ Common Household Items

Kelly Bryant

Kitchen sponge

How often to replace it: When it’s discolored, stinky, or slimy

“These breed bacteria very quickly, so my first thought is don’t use one,” says Danielle Heinrichs with Clear Space in Boulder, Colorado. “I would say that 90 percent of my organizing clients are using a sponge that I would never wash a dish with and definitely not wipe a counter with.” How you store sponges and the like contributes to potential issues. “It’s important to have anything you use to wash dishes sitting on a draining dish on the edge of the sink,” she adds, “so it has a chance to completely dry.”

Toilet brush

How often to replace it: Every 6 to 12 months

“Toilet brushes do a dirty job, and then we put them back in a holder to fester,” says Heinrichs. “Discoloration, worn-out bristles, or a smell will be your indicators. If you clean your toilet bowl with some bleach, it will help extend the life of the brush.”

Item to replace: Couch

How often to replace it: Every 7 to 15 years, depending on wear

Heinrichs stresses that better-constructed couches will last longer. “Softer wood and metal frames will sag much earlier,” she explains. “Once a frame goes, there is not much that can be done to change the sag. Flipping and fluffing cushions on the couch will extend its life.”

Item to replace: Duvet insert

How often to replace it: Every 10 to 15 years, with proper maintenance

“It may be time to change your duvet insert when you find yourself adding layers for warmth because it no longer gets the job done,” says Anne Gopman, founder and owner of Organized by Anne. “Over time a change in texture and filling distribution may also become an issue which let you know it’s time to move on.”

Item to replace: Sheets

How often to replace them: Every 2 years

As adults, we spend about a quarter of our day in bed, which means our bedding and pillows feel the impact of our body weight frequently, explains Gopman. “Washing your bedding weekly and pillows quarterly will help maintain the quality, but these items have a short life,” she says. “Signs your bedding is ready to move on are discoloration, fraying of any seams or fabric, and a change in texture from thinning out to a roughness against your skin.”

Item to replace: Shower curtain liner

How often to replace it: Every 3 months

Shower liners, and curtains, are a tricky subject, according to Gopman. Depending on their quality and how you maintain them, they can have very different life spans. “Liners, if maintained, can last up to three months,” she says. “Shower curtains, on the other hand, can last until you feel you are ready for a new look.”

Item to replace: Throw pillows

How often to replace them: Every 5 to 10 years

Gopman says decorative bed pillows tend to last longer than throw pillows for the couch, which see more abuse. Plus, she adds, synthetic pillows begin to see a breakdown within the two- to three-year mark.

Item to replace: Bath mat

How often to replace it: Every 18 to 24 months

“A bath mat is one of the most used items in the bathroom, so we recommend washing your bath mat every one to two weeks,” says professional organizer Shannon Krause, owner of Tidy Nest. “Depending on how many people are using that bathroom, you’ll probably see enough wear (discoloration, fabric snags) to replace it in about 18 to 24 months. If you have a bath mat with rubber backing, you’ll want to replace that as soon as it starts to shed or crack. No one wants a slippery bath mat.”

Item to replace: Curtains

How often to replace them: Depends on their condition

“Curtains can tie a room together, so keeping them clean and in line with your home’s aesthetic is important,” says Krause. Her team suggests replacing curtains when you’re tired of the design (hey, it happens) or when they are visibly beyond repair. “If there are holes (from a cat climbing up them) or the edges are frayed or the fabric is faded, it’s time to let them go,” she says.

Item to replace: Bed pillows

How often to replace them: Every 1 to 2 years

It’s a little gross to think about, but your skin sheds a lot in a year, and all of that dead skin lands right on your pillow. “You may see some yellow staining on your pillow due to oil and sweat, which can breed bacteria,” says Krause. “If you’re having trouble breathing or you’re embarrassed to see your stained pillow undressed, it’s time to toss it.”

Item to replace: Smoke detector

How often to replace it: Every 10 years

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the risk of dying in a home fire is reduced by half when the home has working smoke alarms. They recommend checking the date on the back of your smoke alarm to ensure you replace it in a timely manner. Additionally, test smoke alarms once a month to make sure they’re in working order.

Item to replace: Bath towels

How often to replace them: Every 2 years

“Bath towels are one of those items that take up prime real estate in the linen closet or bathroom, so if your towels have lost their absorbency, [are] faded, torn, not fresh smelling, or you have incomplete sets, I would encourage replacements,” says Tanisha Porter, owner of Natural Born Organizers.

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