When to Change Things Around the House

Everything has an expiration date, but do you know how often you need to be replacing common household items? 

By: Ellen Foord
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Air Filters

When the air in your house is being circulated through an air conditioner, it pays to clean out the filter regularly. If it’s been a while, brace yourself, these hardworking filters can accumulate quite a coating of dust, pollen and debris. For HVAC units, change the filter every three months. Two months if you have pets. And every 30 days if you have allergies. For window units, shake out dust and wash the filter. Allow the filter to dry completely before placing back in the air conditioner so it doesn't mold.

Pillows

It's gross to think about but you share your pillow with dust, dirt, oil, dead skin cells, and dust mites. Pillows should replaced every three years or as often as every six months for allergy sufferers. Pillows should be washed every three months. Down alternative pillows can go into the washing machine, while down feather pillows need to be dry cleaned. Looking to extend the life of your pillow? Buy a zippered cover and wash every three weeks.

Batteries in Safety Equipment

If you’re waiting for the smoke/carbon monoxide detector to beep before you change the batteries, you may be putting yourself and your family at risk. Set an alarm on your phone, put it on the family calendar, or pick a holiday as the yearly reminder to change those critically important batteries.

Makeup

Who knew your favorite mascara had such a short shelf life? Only three months. The same goes for liquid or gel eyeliners, too. As for the life of other cosmetics, you’ll get a year out of lipsticks, lip liners, concealers, oil-free foundations, cream shadows and cream blushes. Sturdier makeup like pencil eyeliner, lip gloss, and powders (blushes, bronzers and shadows) will last two years. Once an item has hit its lifetime max, ditch them so you don’t end up with icky (and infection causing) germs on your face.

Sponges

If your sponge has an odor or feels slimy, bad news. It’s likely that sponge is harboring E.coli, salmonella, yeast and mold due to the warm, moist environment that’s so welcoming to those nasty germs. To reduce the germs, wash the sponge, then microwave while wet for two minutes, or run it through the dishwater. But remember, you may be able to reduce the number of bad bugs, but washing probably won’t eliminate them. That’s why sponges should be replaced every week. Or make the switch to a dish brush.

Water Pitcher Filters

If you tend to ignore the indicator on the water pitcher you're not alone. But you should change the filter every 40 gallons, which normally works out to every other month. Change more frequently if you have hard water.

Refrigerator Water Filter

Modern refrigerators often have indicator lights to remind you to replace the filter for the water dispenser, but if yours doesn’t, you should be replacing it every six to 12 months.

Vent Filters

If your range hood filter is stainless, chances are it has collected an impressive amount of cooking grease. Remove the filter and soak it in a solution of boiling water, baking soda and dish soap before scrubbing with a dish brush. Rinse and replace. Filter too far gone? You can get replacements at most home improvement stores. 

Toilet Brush

Make sure the gunk you’re removing from the toilet doesn’t end up hanging out and festering on the brush bristles and in the cup. After cleaning the toilet, sandwich the toilet brush between the toilet rim and seat, so that the brush head is suspended over the bowl. Spray with a disinfecting cleaning spray and allow to sit for a few minutes. Rinse with hot water and allow to sit until dry. The key is not putting this bad boy back dirty or wet, trapping any germs in the holder. Replace every six months.

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