How often to replace kitchen sponge, towels, mattress ...

Author: Evelyn

Dec. 06, 2023

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Tags: Textiles & Leather Products

We all have things lying around the house that we know we should replace, but just how often should we be swapping them out? Here's what the experts say about these six common household items.

Toothbrush

When toothbrushes get old and frayed, they actually stop cleaning as effectively. The American Dental Association recommends that you replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles look worn out. The ADA also advises that children's toothbrushes typically need to be replaced more often than adult brushes, so keep a regular eye on the bristles in your bathroom and update accordingly!

Are those toothbrushes past their expiration date?

Shutterstock / Oleg Krugliak

Eye makeup

The longer your eye makeup is lying around, the easier it is for bacteria or fungi to get in, which can cause eye or skin infections. "The bathroom is where people tend to store cosmetics, and, unfortunately, it’s probably the perfect place for bacteria to grow — it’s warm, and it’s moist," Kelly Dobos, a cosmetic chemist, told TODAY.com.

While some cosmetics can last a long time in your closet, eye makeup has a short shelf life.

Africa Studio / Shutterstock

Mascaras or other liquid or creamy products that you use around the eyes should be replaced more often than other kinds of makeup, as they can cause you more problems the older they get. "The things that are most likely to give you an infection are creams, or things that are wet or dark or damp," said optometrist Dr. Andrea Thau. The FDA notes that most manufacturers recommend discarding your mascara two to four months after purchase, and experts agree that most eye makeup should be replaced after three months.

Getting a bad night's sleep? Could be time to get a new mattress.

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Mattress

Are you tossing and turning more than usual, or waking up with back pain? It could be time to swap out your mattress. Most good quality mattresses have a life expectancy of nine or 10 years, says The Sleep Foundation.

A few ways to tell if you're due for a replacement: You can feel the coils in your mattress, you have aches and pains when you wake up, and when you get up, you can see the indentations or impressions in the mattress from where you've slept.

RELATED: What to know when buying a new mattress

Side note: Your pillows will likely need freshening way before your mattress. Here's a great guide on how to clean them, and the “fold” test can tell you if you need new ones altogether: Fold the pillow in half and let go. If it unfolds and bounces back to its shape, keep sleeping! If it stays folded, it's time to send it to pillow heaven.

The clock is ticking on those sponges by your sink.

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Kitchen sponge

Sponges collect some of the grossest things in your kitchen, and can become breeding grounds for bacteria like E.coli, salmonella, yeast and mold. You can keep things clean and extend the life of your sponge by cleaning it daily in hot, soapy water, zapping wet sponges in the microwave for a minute or two, or running them through the dishwasher.

None of these methods fully eliminate germs, however, so to be extra safe, toss your kitchen sponge every week or so, or when it gets slimy or stinky — whichever comes first.

RELATED: How often you should clean kitchen sponges, hairbrushes, more

A fluffy towel is the best feeling on the planet.

Peter Scholey / Alamy Stock Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

Bath towels

There’s no hard and fast rule here, but to get that fluffy feeling when you step out of the shower, you’ll want to replace your bath towels when they lose their absorbency — which experts say is about every two years.

"Towels are subject to daily use and frequent washing, so it's inevitable that they will eventually start looking tired," Parachute founder Ariel Kaye told TODAY. "We suggest donating your old towels to your local animal shelter or re-purposing them as cleaning rags. Good for you, good for the environment." Keeping them clean in the meantime helps avoid mold and mildew and protects you from allergens, so launder every three uses.

When to get rid of your running shoes really depends on you.

Halfpoint / Shutterstock

Running shoes

This is one of the most hard-to-define categories, because no two runners wear out their shoes the same way. (In fact, some hardcore runners we talked to for this story declined to be identified, noting that no one wants to offer "rules" on the subject!)

The general guideline is that you should replace your shoes between 300 and 500 miles, but if you're not a serious runner, it can be hard to know what that means. Luckily, many free running or workout apps (like Nike+ Run Club), will track your miles and can even alert you when it's time to consider buying new shoes.

Here are some rough guidelines if you're totally in the dark. If you run or work out in your shoes twice a week, you should probably invest in a new pair once a year. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are running six to seven days a week, you'll burn through your shoes in more like four months. And if your workouts are somewhere in between, your replacement time will also fall somewhere on that spectrum.

You should also pay attention to these factors:

  • The tread test: Flip your shoe over and check the tread on the bottom for flat spots or inconsistent wear. If you find places that are worn down, that's a sign that the rest of the shoe is ready to say goodbye.
  • The bounce factor: If your shoes no longer feel bouncy or springy under your feet, they're likely not supporting you the way they should.
  • Pain in your lower back, knees, ankles, shins or other muscle aches: These could be signs that your shoes are worn out.

The bottom line is not to keep wearing a worn-out pair of shoes, because when your shoes stop supporting you, you risk injury — and that's never worth it.

Don't remember the last time you cleaned your towels? You might want to stop what you're doing and throw them in the washing machine ASAP.

In fact, the hand, bath and kitchen towels in your home are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. According to Jason Tetro, a microbiologist and author of "The Germ Files," it can not only cause some unpleasant aromas, but it could also potentially lead to skin irritation or an infection.

How often to clean your towels | How often to replace your towels | How to get odors out of towels | Best towels to dry dishes | Should bath towels and kitchen towels be washed together? | How often to wash washcloths | How often to wash kitchen towels | Best bath towels, according to shoppers

How often should you clean your towels?

To avoid smelly towels and potential irritation or infections, you should wash your bath towels at least once a week, Tetro recommends. For hand towels, which are used more regularly and not always on completely clean hands, you should switch them out every one to two days.

How often should you replace your towels?

With frequent washing comes quicker breaking down of the towel's fibers and materials. While there's no official rule to follow about when you should replace your towels, you'll want to get rid of them when they start to lose their absorbency. With many brands, that tends to happen around two years in. In addition, if you have a towel that still has a funky odor after being washed, you may want to toss it, according to New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King.

Your kitchen towels are even worse germ offenders since they're used for many different things. In fact, a study conducted by the University of Mauritius concluded that 49 percent of kitchen towels had a high bacterial count, especially when used for multiple purposes.

How do you get odors out of towels?

"Wash the towels using a detergent designed for odor removal," suggests Jessica Ek, senior director of digital communications at the American Cleaning Institute. "Afterward, make sure to fully dry the towels before putting them away."

Ek says that's the easiest way to remove odors, but you can also soak towels in distilled vinegar for at least half an hour before rinsing them and then laundering in the washer and dryer.

What are the best towels to dry dishes?

Ek says that microfiber towels tend to be very absorbent and a good option for dish towels. She also says cotton and linen are good options.

Should bath towels and kitchen towels be washed together?

"Generally, it is best not to mix the bathroom cleaning cloths with those used to clean food preparation surfaces or dishes," mentions Ek.

How often should you wash washcloths?

Ek suggests washing them after a few uses. "Although if you’re sick or have a skin infection, you may need to wash it more frequently," she recommends.

How often should you wash kitchen towels?

"It depends what they’ve been used for," says Ek. "If you clean up raw chicken juices, that towel should be washed immediately. If you only use it as a drying towel, you may not need to put it in the laundry for several days."

With all that said, you may realize that you are way overdue for a replacement — or you at least need to add some new ones to your rotation for when all your others are in the laundry basket. Below, we rounded up several options for your kitchen and bathroom, including some that are specially designed to keep germs at bay.

Best bath towels, according to shoppers

With over 36,000 verified five-star ratings, Amazon's bestselling towel set is made with 100 percent Turkish cotton and comes with all the essentials your washroom needs. It also comes in 15 colorways to match your home's color scheme.

We're obsessed with Ree Drummond's signature floral design aesthetic — and now you can bring that vibrant feeling into your bathroom with her new Walmart essentials collection. Of course, the line includes super comfortable (and fade-resistant) towels that remain as bright as The Pioneer Woman's personality.

These towels use polygeine technology to help keep odor and bacteria at bay. The waffle-textured towel is also lightweight and breathable.

This shopper-loved set from Amazon comes with four towels, so you'll always have one to swap in when you're behind on the wash. The extra-large soft cotton towels will make you feel like you're wrapping yourself in a cozy blanket every time you get out of the shower.

Not only are Parachute's bath towels incredibly soft, but they're quick-drying, too, thanks to the Aerocotton Technology which allows air to pass through the fibers more quickly. They come in six colors, and you can grab a single towel or an entire set — complete with two bath towels, hand towels and washcloths — for $136.

Best hand and face towels, according to shoppers

According to the brand, the plush cotton in these hand towels only gets softer with every wash. They're absorbent and quick-drying, so they're built to last. To maximize absorbency, the company recommends that you soak them in cold water for 12 hours before your first use and hang to dry. After that, you can throw them in the washing machine as you normally would.

According to one Shop TODAY writer, not only are these towels thick and soft, but they'll make your bathroom feel like a spa.

OK, hear us out: while these towels from Tushy are technically made to be used on your behind, we think they'd make pretty good washcloths, too. They're soft, absorbent and come in a pack of five. According to King, cloths made from bamboo are less likely to harbor yeast and bacteria. Plus, they're gentle on your skin.

You deserve a washcloth that feels as soft and luxurious as your bath towel. Fortunately, Brooklinen's got you covered with their bestselling option that's made with 100 percent Turkish cotton and a durable z-twist construction.

Best kitchen towels, according to shoppers

According to Dr. Charles Gerba, a professor of virology at the University of Arizona, you should never hang your kitchen towels on the handle of your refrigerator because they can contaminate the handle. Instead, you should have a separate hanger to store them.

Thankfully, these bestselling dish cloths have a handy hanging hook that makes that much easier to do so. The honeycomb weave of these kitchen towels also makes them super lightweight and absorbent.

Durable, versatile and good for the planet, Grove Collaborative's kitchen towel set is made with 100 percent cotton and comes with hundreds of rave reviews backing them up. "As soon as you see these towels, you know you just bought something that will last a long time," added one verified shopper about their quality.

This 12-pack of towels currently has more than 37,000 verified five-star ratings. It comes with six solid and six gingham towels. Plus, you can choose between a variety of color options to match the aesthetic of your kitchen.

With terry cloth on one side and a waffle texture on the other, these all-purpose pantry towels really can do anything. They're made from absorbent Turkish cotton and come in nine color options.

How often to replace kitchen sponge, towels, mattress ...

Your towels should be replaced more often than you think

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