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Here is how often you should replace personal items

I spent the better half of yesterday morning helping a friend jazz up her place as part of the surprise Valentine’s Day evening she was planning for her husband. We had to dig deep in the closets looking for the silk sheets, white fluffy towels and the special Pjs. Then it was time to tackle the kitchen and dining and this is where we ran into trouble. Try as we could we could not find table linen, dish towels good enough to match the splendor we had in mind. It became apparent that it was time to ditch and buy new items for the kitchen.

Before you judge my friend how often do you replace your everyday items?

Recent studies reveal that our phones, sheets, pillows, bras, tea towels, pjs and now even our mattresses are just some of the items that are teeming with bacteria and germs. Here is what microbiologists recommend.

Kitchen sponge

You might have thought your kitchen sponge is not dirty because it is always in contact with soap and water.  However it cleans a variety of places where it collects up to 10 million bacteria per square inch making it one of the dirtiest things in your home. Experts recommend that any cloths and sponges used to clean up in the kitchen should be thrown away and replaced every week. Researchers also found that cleaning your sponge is ineffective in getting rid of bacteria, so the best way to make sure you are not inviting unwanted diseases like food poisoning and cholera into your kitchen is to really replace your sponges once a week.

Hand towels

Even after washing, our hands still have some residual germs, so whatever is left on them gets transferred onto hand towels, which then make a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to thrive – thanks to its moistness and texture. To break the cycle, swap your hand towel every two days.


The plastic containers are handy for packed lunches and dinner leftovers, but they are not meant to be used for more than three months. Apparently, Tupperware boxes harbour a lot of chemicals such as BPA, BPS and phthalates.

Dish cloths

When you drop your cloth by the sink after every use, it gives bacteria the chance to breed very quickly. A study revealed that 89% of dishcloths contain E.coli, which can sometimes be deadly to small children and elderly people. Get new dish cloths every week.

Chopping board

Because you use your board for different types of foods including raw meat and fish, studies have shown that they can host 200% more faecal bacteria than a toilet seat. Replace your boards once a year, especially if they have got food stains, deep crevices or cracks, which are lovely little hiding spots for nasty germs.

Wooden spoons

Wood is more porous than metal or plastic, creating more nooks and crannies for germs to get in, multiply and hide from frequent washing. Ideally they should be replaced every five years but if any part of them turns dark or softer it could mean that the wood is rotting and need to be replaced.


Those nasty little red bumps are a sign that your razor could be covered in bacteria. Why? Whenever you shave, you’re making tiny cuts in your skin, which any bacteria lingering on your razor can enter and infect.  Of course, if your razor is rusty or just isn’t doing its job that is a sign it should be thrown away. You can extend the life of your blade by rinsing it properly after every use, and storing it somewhere dry like your bathroom cupboard or a windowsill. It is advisable to replace every five to seven uses.

Bed sheets

Bed sheets soak up a serious collection of sweat, body oils, saliva (if you drool), and dirt from outside, sexual fluids, and even urine and faecal matter. Infrequent cleaning of sheets and pillowcases allows the fluids to seep into the pillows and mattresses, and those are much more difficult to clean than sheets. The dead skin cells that you shed every night can attract dust mites that feed off of the cells, and can affect breathing for people with asthma. Sheets should be washed at least once a week and replaced maximum every year.


Dental experts recommend brushes should be changed once a month if you suffer with bleeding gums and after three months in any case. To give your toothbrush a daily clean after it’s done its job on your teeth, run it under warm water and a bit of mouthwash.

Bath towels

Our bath towels need to be washed every week and that’s only if you’re drying them correctly every day. They should be replaced every year or sooner if they lose their fluffiness.


We bet you never considered that your wallet needed a wash, especially once a week. Tests have shown that purses and wallets sometimes carry E.coli and other nasty germs (well, it’s no wonder when you consider how often it’s handled). Use alcohol-free baby wipes for leather wallets and you can hand wash cotton materials.


Scientists discovered 7,000 types of bacteria on phones and although most are harmless, some are not. When you use your phone it heats up, providing the perfect conditions for bacteria to multiply. Clean your phone daily with an antibacterial wipe to get rid of potentially harmful germs


Doctors have found that up to a third of a pillow’s weight can be made up of bugs, dead skin, mites and their faeces, and the average unwashed pillow can contain a revolting 16 species of fungi. Luckily, washing once every three months should kill most bacteria.


Unless you have had a particularly sweaty afternoon then you might want to wash the odd bra after just one wear, but on average bras should be washed every two-three wears.  This also keeps the shape nice, too, as over washing can quickly damage the elastic.


As we sweat a lot in our sleep, not washing your pjs regularly can lead to a nasty amount of bacteria. We also lose dead skin cells in bed, and these can be left on your pyjamas. To prevent infections wash your nightwear after every two wears, or at the very least, once a week.


Experts recommend replacing mattresses every eight years is the optimum for a decent night’s sleep.


We all have that a favourite pair that we become attached to, but how often should we really be replacing our pants? Experts recommend that panties made of polyester, satin and lace should be replaced change their pants every three to four months. If you do stick to cotton underwear, refresh your collection every six month.