Tags: hazardous | household | items | replace

Hazardous Household Items You Should Replace Often (But Probably Don't)

By    |   Monday, 29 January 2018 03:13 PM

Even the most spic-and-span home is likely to contain potentially hazardous products that long since should have been pitched into the trash.

Bathrooms, bedrooms, and kitchens are especially likely to be well-stocked with products that have outlived their usefulness and are contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, fungi, and parasites.

Here is a room-by-room guide to many such products, when they should be replaced, and why.


Razor: Especially when left in the shower, razor blades collect moisture, hair, skin residue, and foam that fosters the growth of bacteria and mold. Rinse blades with alcohol after each use and store them in a sealed container.

When to replace: Every two weeks.

Toothbrush: A toothbrush can harbor millions of bacteria that come from your mouth, splashes from the sink, and spray from toilet flushes. Rinse your toothbrush in antibacterial mouthwash after each use, and replace when the bristles become frayed.

When to replace: Every three months.

Contact lens case: Lens solutions attract airborne bacteria that mature and spread in the case.

When to replace: Every three months.

Toilet brush: Every plunge down the toilet exposes the brush to fecal matter and its moist bristles provide an ideal medium for bacterial growth.

When to replace: Every six months

Cosmetics: Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require cosmetics to have a printed expiration date, they have a limited shelf life. In one study, old makeup was found to contain 11 types of bacteria such as staph, strep, and pathogens normally found in the digestive system. Eye makeup and creams are especially susceptible to contamination.

When to replace: Monthly for makeup sponges, every three to six months for mascara, eyeliner, and eyeshadow; yearly for lipstick, face powder, and nail polish; one to five years for makeup brushes.

Bath poufs: Their sponge-like surfaces are rich reservoirs of bacteria and mold, especially when they stay moist. Remove them from the shower after each use and let them air dry.

When to replace: Monthly.


Pillows: Nightly exposure to perspiration and dead skin cells make pillows an inviting habitat for bacteria, mold, and allergy-causing dust mites. The average pillow contains 350,000 bacteria. Replace pillows if you can’t remember when you bought them, or if they become stained or smelly. Extend a pillow’s useful life by encasing it in a zippered, mite-proof pillowcase and wash pillowcases and sheets weekly.

When to replace: Recommendations range from every six months to every three years.

Athletic shoes: Worn-out shoes become inefficient shock absorbers, which can lead to foot pain and chronic conditions such as plantar fasciitis. Old shoes can also harbor bacterial and fungal growth.

When to replace: Replace walking shoes every five months if you walk 45 minutes to an hour three times a week, and every three to four months if you have a more vigorous walking regimen. Replace running shoes every 300-500 miles.


Sponge: A used sponge contains more than 10 million germs per square inch, making it the single germiest household item, studies show. Although you can disinfect a damp sponge by running it through the dishwasher or microwaving it for one to two minutes, some experts recommend stocking up on disposable sponges and tossing used ones every week or two.

When to replace: Weekly to monthly.

Dish towel: Damp towels attract bacteria and mold. One study found that 89 percent of dish towels contained E. coli, which can cause severe gastrointestinal disease. Extend your towels’ useful life by regularly washing them in hot water.

When to replace: Weekly.

Refrigerator water filter: Over time, filters collect bacteria and mold. In as little as three months, such contamination can cause an unpleasant taste or odor in the water.

When to replace: Every six months.

Plastic containers: Over time, many plastic containers degrade and release toxic chemicals such as BPA, BPS, and phthalates, which have been linked to everything from endocrine disruption to cancer.

When to replace: Every three months.

Wooden chopping board: One study showed that a wooden chopping board can harbor twice as many fecal bacteria as a toilet seat. That’s especially true for well-used boards that have deep cuts, scratches, and coloring stains.

When to replace: Yearly.

Prescription and OTC medications: Expired medication loses its potency. Some expired medication, such as the commonly prescribed antibiotic tetracycline, can even contain hazardous byproducts associated with degradation.

When to replace: Yearly.

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Bathrooms, bedrooms, and kitchens are often well-stocked with products that can be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Here is a room-by-room guide to many such products, when they should be replaced, and why.
hazardous, household, items, replace
Monday, 29 January 2018 03:13 PM
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