Household Items You Should Get Rid of Now

In the world of home maintenance and upkeep, there are some things that feel easy to replace, like when you replace your pillowcases or buy new bath towels. But there are also some things that must be replaced (and often!) . The items on this list fall into the second category. Stick to these four family staples longer than you should, and you run the risk of spreading germs, dust, or dirt around your entire home. The good news is: replacing these household essentials shouldn’t take long at all – pile it onto your weekend to-do list and avoid all the nasty consequences of keeping these items around.

The Kitchen Sponge
You’ve probably heard it before, but it bears repeating: porous kitchen sponges are the ultimate breeding ground for bacteria. And new research shows that the old trick of cleaning sponges in the microwave doesn’t really work, and that the only solution is to replace them more often. You can avoid spreading E. coli and salmonella to every dish you think you’re cleaning, so it’s worth stocking up on this cleaning essential.

How often. At least once a week Or consider using a replacement sponge, like this silicone scrubber.

Studies have shown that after just two years of use (how long have you had your pillow?) , more than a third of a pillow’s weight is actually made up of dust mites (both live and dead) and dead skin. If that doesn’t make you throw your pillow out the window immediately, we don’t know what will.

How often. If you have a synthetic pillow that you’ve never washed, plan to replace it about every 6 months. If you wash your synthetic or down pillows at least twice a year, they should last you 3 years.

body wash (liquid soap)
A loofah is basically your shower’s equivalent of a kitchen sponge. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be clean enough to eat, but its crevices do breed bacteria, and the humid environment of your shower helps bacteria grow.

How often to replace the plastic loofahs Replace them every two months. In addition to spreading bacteria, they will tend to lose their shape, which loses their ability to exfoliate.

water filter
If you have a refrigerator with a built-in water filter, chances are you don’t change the filter very often. When it isn’t changed often, the filter can’t do its job of separating impurities from your home’s drinking water. Even if you don’t notice a difference in taste, a build-up of minerals can slow down the flow of water.

How often to change your water. Check your refrigerator model’s guidelines, but many brands recommend changing the filter every six months or so.

Old plastic food storage containers
When shopping for plastic food storage containers these days, you may notice a little sticker or note assuring you that they are “BPA-free.” But BPA, a plastic chemical that some believe can affect development, was once common in such containers. While the FDA reports that exposure to low levels of BPA is safe, if you’re still concerned, you may want to throw out those containers you’ve been stashing away for decades.

How often to throw them away. Throw out old plastic containers and invest in BPA-free options or stylish glass alternatives.