Some of the most bacteria-laden items we touch daily are not found out in the dirty, grimy world-at-large. They’re actually in our homes. Household items, especially personal items that are regularly in contact with our skin, are breeding grounds for harmful bacteria and other nasties. According to Time, items that stay moist or wet, such as kitchen sponges, hand towels, toothbrushes and toothbrush holders, are the dirtiest.
If some items are not replaced often enough, their use could lead to skin irritation or infection. What’s more, expired skin products, such as sunscreen and moisturizer, may not work as well as they do when they’re fresh. For this reason, it’s important to replace personal items on a regular basis. How often should they be replaced? Find out the full scoop here.
The most obvious breeding ground for germs; the common toothbrush can hold up to 10 million or more bacteria, as reported by Women’s Health. To protect from germs, replace toothbrushes every three to four months and after each illness. Since a lot of the bacteria found on toothbrushes comes from fecal matter, never store a toothbrush close to the toilet. Instead, store in a closed cabinet.
According to NBC News, cosmetics can contain bacteria, mold and yeast. Contaminated cosmetics can lead to skin irritation, breakouts and infection. The only way to fight the yuck is to replace cosmetics regularly.
How long do they last? Keep applicators no more than three months, and that’s only if cleaned regularly. Liquid eyeliner should also be replaced after three months. Other cosmetics last a bit longer: six months for cream eye shadow and pump foundation, and two years for pencils, lipstick and powders.
Pillows collect dust mites, dead skin cells, sweat and drool. Use a pillow protector to keep pillows clean, and wash it at least once a month, advises Men’s Health. Additionally, wash pillows themselves every six months. If it can't be washed, it should be replaced on the same six-month schedule. As a rule of thumb, pillows are good for a few washes before they get lumpy or fall apart.
Skincare products like sunscreen, do not last forever and are given expiration dates. Generally speaking, sunscreen is good for up to three years after the container is open. After that time, the product becomes less effective, though it can still be used as long as users know that it has lost effectiveness.
Kitchen sponges are some of the dirtiest things in any home. In addition to cleaning sponges daily in the microwave or dishwasher, it should be replaced every two weeks. Frequent sponge users may also want to opt for a quick-dry microfiber sponge. These sponges harbor fewer bacteria and need to be cleaned and replaced less often.
If it’s been a while since these items have been purged and replaced, it’s time to do so. Go around the house and find those items that get contaminated quickly and toss them out — and imagine the germs that are leaving with them.