We focus a lot on cleaning around here, and the occasional decluttering. But I want to talk about those things in the home that are forgotten about, often for a long time. These are the things that need occasional replacing to work their best!
In an ideal world, you’d be laundering your pillow covers as often as your sheets, and the pillows themselves about every 3 months. But if you have allergies, you might want to replace your pillow completely every 6 months, to keep dust mites from sending your sinuses into overdrive. The rest of us can get away with replacing about every 3 years—that is, assuming that the pillow hasn’t lost its oomph before that, and assuming regular washing.
I’m actually throwing myself under the bus here because I’m really guilty of this one; I’m like a squirrel stocking up on nuts for a long winter! Socks tend to not last very long, they break down, start to wear on the heel and toes, or you get those mysterious singles that go missing. My new mantra is going to be to keep a running inventory of what I have by ensuring that I pair up and inspect all socks each laundry day, and move on from the ratty ones or those that don’t have a partner. There’s actually some good uses for single socks so I’ll try and re-purpose them as often as possible!
We tend to think of liqueurs and spirits as something that you can keep around forever. And technically, you can, but don’t expect your G&T to taste as refreshing if the G is going on 5 years old. The alcohol begins to evaporate over time, and this eventually degrades the flavors. So go through your liquor cabinet, and if anything has been sitting there for longer than 2 years, now is the time to toss it. Make a shopping list of those favorites that you actually use (fun excuse to restock!) but just ditch those things that never get tossed, and going forward, only buy in small amounts as needed.
Though we’ve heard it often enough to change our toothbrushes every 3 months, lots of us are guilty of not really keeping track, and those months sure go by fast. Let this be a reminder to replace your toothbrush—and remember to do it more often if you’ve been sick.
Herbs and Spices
At least one reason why restaurant food tastes so much more vibrant than home cooking? They go through their spices too quickly for any of them to go bad. Ground spices should be replaced completely at least once every 2 years, and dried herbs about once a year. Also toss and replace any spices that have darkened, like paprika or chili powder.
Try to get in a groove of washing your sponge every day—toss it in the dishwasher when you run it, or zap it in the microwave for several minutes. If you maintain it this way, you can hold on to a sponge for a few weeks. But after that—or if it starts to maintain a stank—replace it.
Filters, Filters, Filters
You’ve got ’em all over the house. Make a list of them all, to make sure that you don’t forget about them, and change (or clean) them all at once. Just a few off the top of my head: the water filtration system, the exhaust hood, the central air system, and the furnace.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Batteries…
The best idea is to choose an annual date—say, January 1—and just replace all the batteries in all the devices in your house at once. (While you’re at it, you can hit those non-essential devices, like the remote control.) That way, you never risk them running out and beeping away to an empty home while you’re on vacation, and you can buy all the batteries at once and get the job done, rather than have the task on a never-ending to-do list.
…and Perhaps the Detectors Themselves
Experts recommend replacing the entire device every 10 years, to ensure that everything works properly.
If you flip and rotate regularly (every 6 months), a good-quality mattress can last you upwards of 20 years. However, many mattresses start to wear out long before that. If you start to suspect that that crick in your neck is not actually from stress, but from discomfort at night, it may be time to treat yourself to a glorious new mattress.
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