By Holly M, Contributing Writer
While there are plenty of things that we replace only when they’re worn out or depleted, some household items need to be replaced more frequently. We’ve all got that favorite pillow or mascara that we’ve been hanging on to for years, but it really is healthier to let go. Here’s a handy guide to help you know how often many common household items should be replaced.
For most people, brake pads should be replaced after about 50,000 miles, but it can vary widely. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual to see the recommendations for your vehicle. In general, it’s a good idea to ask your mechanic to check your brakes whenever you have the tires rotated or oil changed. If they begin to make a squealing or scraping noise, replace them immediately to avoid failure.
The average car battery lasts about four years, but this can vary depending on the climate where you live, how you drive, and the condition of your car’s system. If you see corrosion or signs of wear, it might be safest to test or just replace the battery. Also be aware if your battery starts to smell like rotten eggs as this could mean it’s overheating.
The rule of thumb used to be every 20,000 miles, but advances in technology have muddied these waters. Consult the owner’s manual for your car to see how often it’s recommended that you change your oil, and be sure to use the grade specified to keep your vehicle in top condition. Whatever you do, don’t wait for the light to come on to tell you to get more oil. That causes unnecessary wear and tear on your engine and can lead to much bigger problems.
Every 24,000 to 36,000 mil3 years for most drivers, you should change your car’s radiator fluid. This is because dirt and other contaminants can build up in it, causing your car’s cooling system to work less efficiently. If you tend to drive in extreme heat regularly, consider changing it more often, about every 12,000 miles or once a year.
Remember to clean your bath mat regularly, and be sure to replace it every two years to prevent a buildup of germs and possible other nasties.
You should throw out disposable razors or blades every week or two. If they ever begin to appear rusty or corroded, they can lead to big health issues, so don’t chance it. Ensuring that the blade is allowed to completely dry after each use can prolong its life.
If you have a natural loofah, you should replace it every month. Synthetic versions tend to last about twice as long, so every two months will suffice. Either way, make sure to store it in such a way that it can dry completely after each use.
You should replace your toothbrush about once a season, or every three months, according to Oral-B. This keeps them in good condition, and doesn’t allow germs to hang around for long periods. You should also replace your toothbrush immediately after you’ve been sick with a cold or other illness.
This is one of those items where quality of materials and frequency of use can make a big difference. Generally, you can hang on to towels until they begin to lose their absorbency, but you really should wash them every three days or so.
A good quality duvet can last several years with regular washing. Be sure to clean it at least once a season. If you have a high-quality duvet, you can hang on to it for about 5 years on average. Less expensive ones should be replaced after 2-3 years.
We’ve all seen the ads on TV featuring terrifying looking mites and statistics on dead skin build up. These are truly excellent reasons to replace your mattress every seven to ten years, according to Prevention magazine. To help your bed last longer, many experts recommend vacuuming the surface each time you change your sheets.
Because the quality and construction of pillows varies so much, this can be a little harder to pinpoint. A handy trick for most types is to fold the pillow in half. If it springs back to its flat shape, it still has some life left in it. If it doesn’t, it’s time to replace it. Of course, this doesn’t work on foam pillows or some other specialty types. On average, most pillows should be replaced about every six months, but memory foam or other structural pillows can last 18-36 months.
Cosmetics and Beauty Products
Given the price of a decent foundation, it’s good to know that they have a longer shelf life than most cosmetics. Generally, liquid foundation will last about six months to a year. If you start to notice it separating or clumping, or an unusual odor or texture, it’s time for a new bottle.
Since you double dip it every time you use your lip gloss, you really should throw it out after about 6 months, or immediately after any type of illness. You may also notice changes in color or smell, which also indicate it’s time to replace.
You should get a new mascara every two or three months. Because it’s a liquid and used near your eyes, it’s especially vulnerable to bacterial contamination. Don’t risk your eye health by trying to hang on to your favorite tube.
Nail products like polishes and treatments generally last about a year. Pay attention to shelf life and look for signs of age like separation or clumping. Nail polish that has been kept too long can harbor bacteria or fungus and lead to serious infections. Be sure to ditch your nail tools like clippers or files if they begin to look corroded or rusty.
Powdered cosmetics like blush, eye shadow, and others tend to pose fewer health risks as they’re less likely to harbor nasty germs. Generally, these items last one to two years. You should, however, be sure to regularly clean the brushes you use to apply them.
This may seem like one of those items that you can hang onto until you run out, but most antibacterial creams tend to lose effectiveness about a year after they’re opened. Replace them annually to make sure your first aid kit is always ready to go.
Contact Lens Products
You should replace your lens solution 3 months after the seal is broken, according to experts. For many, this is pretty natural as you use it up in that time, but if you don’t use as much, your solution can become contaminated just by repeated contact with the air each time you use it. Get a new case every three months as well to preserve the health of your eyes.
If you have a stash of vitamins in the cabinet because you don’t take them frequently, or you only use them to treat specific causes, you might want to clear the cache out. Most vitamins lose potency about 3 years after they’re produced. Because there’s often no easy way to tell how long it sat on a warehouse shelf, experts recommend you get rid of them two years after purchase if no expiration date is present.
Portable fire extinguishers are a great safety item to keep in the house, but they don’t last forever. After a while, even unused extinguishers begin to lose pressure, which renders them useless. If you have a rechargeable model, be sure to have it serviced at least every six years. Other models should be replaced once every ten years.
Most people know that your smoke alarm batteries should be tested monthly and replaced at least once a year. But you may not realize that the alarm itself should be replaced once every decade.
Heating and A/C
Heating and A/C filters affect the air quality of your entire house, so it’s important to remember to change them. During peak seasons, check for buildup every month, and be sure to replace the filter every 3 months to keep your family breathing easily.
Refrigerator Water Filters
If your fridge has a built in water and ice system, there’s a filter inside to keep things fresh. You should replace this at least every 6 months, or more often if you use it a lot. Many refrigerators now have a filter replacement warning, but if not, set yourself a reminder so you don’t forget!
Many modern vacuum cleaners come with washable filters. These should be cleaned out every 3-6 months depending on the frequency of use. For models with disposable filters, the same timing applies. Replace them every 3-6 months to keep your vacuum working efficiently.