There is nothing that gives me the heeby jeebies more than a dish sponge. I absolutely will not touch them. If I’m in your home, I will use a clean rag to move it out of my way so as not to have that breeding ground of funk-infestation touch my skin.
Science backs me up. Two-thirds of sponges tested, according to the book Organic Housekeeping, carried E. coli, salmonella, and staphylococcus. And here we are, just wiping it across our dishes to “clean” them and rub down our countertops. This is how people get sick!
Ideally, a kitchen sponge should be replaced after every two or three uses. Uses. So if you prepare three meals a day at home, that means you’re replacing a sponge once a day. You can disinfect a sponge and make it last longer by running it through your dishwasher cycle, but that’s not good enough for me. I use a dish brush.
Our homes, even the cleanest ones, are stocked full of everyday items harboring germs. We innocently hold on to pillows, shoes, mascara and toothbrushes for long stretches of time, almost always surpassing their unknown expiration dates.
For a healthier, cleaner home, and ultimately a healthier body, use this guide to do some serious spring cleaning around your house.
Yoga mat: Six to twelve months. Replace sooner if signs of wear are evident, like thinning, holes or smells.
Bike helmets: Immediately after a crash or if older than 1993. Then follow this guide for replacement.
Sports bras: Six months to one year. Enell says their sports bras can last up to two years with proper care.
Daily bras: Eight months. It takes less than a year to breakdown the elastic in a new bra.
Running shoes: After 300-500 miles. This is more often for marathon runners and at the higher end of the mileage for casual runners.
Mattress: Five-10 years; seven is a recommended average. A surprising factor is if you regularly wake up feeling tired, your mattress may need to be replaced.
Crib mattress: After one baby grows out of a crib mattress, get rid of it. Don’t buy used and don’t share a used mattress. A study links used crib mattresses with SIDS.
Pillows: Six months. “A host of critters and debris can be found in the very pillow you lay your face on night after night,” as well as your body’s dirt, oil and dead skin cells.
Carpet: Ten years. Pet stains should prompt frequent replacement, as breathing ammonia from animal urine can affect allergies, asthma, migraines and more.
Air filters: One-3 months; 6 months in warmer climates.
Smoke alarms: Ten years for the unit; yearly for batteries. FEMA says the risk of dying in a house fire is reduced by half when a working smoke alarm is present.
Bath poufs: Monthly. Like a sponge, these harbor germs, bacteria, mold. Let them dry between uses, which means don’t store it in the shower.
Hair brush: Replace when the bristles show wear.
Toothbrush: Three to four months. Replace more frequently if the bristles begin to fray, especially true for children, says the ADA.
Menstrual cups: Yearly. With proper maintenance and care, Divacup says the product should last a full year.
Mascara: Three months, or when it starts to clump and flake.
Face/eye makeup: Six months for liquids or creams, two years for powder.
Liquid eyeliner: Three months.
Lipstick and gloss: Two years.
Nail polish: One year.
Makeup brushes: One to five years, depending on care. Wash weekly with warm water and baby shampoo.
Makeup sponges: Monthly.
Refrigerator water filters: Six months. Recommended to follow manufacturer guidelines for ice makers, water pitchers, etc.
Deep fryer oil: Three uses if you’re not cleaning and filtering the oil. Seven uses if you do. Replace oil more often if you see changes in color, viscosity, odor, and smoke point.
Ground Spices: Two to three years
Whole Spices: Three to four years
Herbs: One to three years
Extracts: Four years
TapGenes Takeaway: Reduce the risk for germs and illness by replacing some of these 28 common household items you didn’t know are harboring bacteria.
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