Even if you’re a minimalist, there are a few items around your house that you likely need to throw out. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and at some point, you’ll find yourself admitting that even the most beloved blanket, kitchen appliance, or curtains have seen better days. Some of these things will tell us when they’re ready for retirement by just going kaput—either when you least expect it or when you’ve watched an appliance struggle through a long, painful death. But then there are other household items that you don’t even realize have “expired,” so to speak. We asked home organizing professionals to share their thoughts on when it’s time to part ways with some household effects and how to make their replacements last as long as possible. While you’re on a cleaning spree, here are even more things that organizers would toss.
Item to replace: Kitchen sponge
How often to replace it: When it’s discolored, stinky, or slimy
“These breed bacteria very quickly, so my first thought is don’t use one,” says Danielle Heinrichs with Clear Space in Boulder, Colorado. “I would say that 90 percent of my organizing clients are using a sponge that I would never wash a dish with and definitely not wipe a counter with.” How you store sponges and the like contributes to potential issues. “It’s important to have anything you use to wash dishes sitting on a draining dish on the edge of the sink,” she adds, “so it has a chance to completely dry.”
Replace it with: A reusable dish scrubber sponge from Paperless Kitchen that you can throw in the washing machine. “Instead of a sponge, I prefer to use something like this washable non-scratch scrubber, which I only use a few days and then wash,” says Heinrichs. If you still want to use a sponge occasionally, find out how to clean it properly.
Item to replace: Toilet brush
How often to replace it: Every 6 to 12 months
“Toilet brushes do a dirty job, and then we put them back in a holder to fester,” says Heinrichs. “Discoloration, worn-out bristles, or a smell will be your indicators. If you clean your toilet bowl with some bleach, it will help extend the life of the brush.”
How often to replace it: Every 7 to 15 years, depending on wear
Heinrichs stresses that better-constructed couches will last longer. “Softer wood and metal frames will sag much earlier,” she explains. “Once a frame goes, there is not much that can be done to change the sag. Flipping and fluffing cushions on the couch will extend its life.”
Replace it with: Zinus’ Ricardo Sofa. With a strong frame, supportive foam cushioning, and durable woven fabric, this couch will stand the test of time. Plus, it comes in five colors, as well as in love seat and fold-out-bed options, so you’re sure to find what you need for your space.
To keep this couch or any other looking and smelling fresh, get your upholstery professionally cleaned on a regular basis or rent equipment to do it yourself. This can really extend the life of the fabric, as can flipping and fluffing cushions. Make sure to read our guide on how to clean every type of couch for some important tips before you start.
Item to replace: Duvet insert
How often to replace it: Every 10 to 15 years, with proper maintenance
“It may be time to change your duvet insert when you find yourself adding layers for warmth because it no longer gets the job done,” says Anne Gopman, founder and owner of Organized by Anne. “Over time a change in texture and filling distribution may also become an issue which let you know it’s time to move on.”
Replace it with: The LaCrosse Down Comforter from the Company Store. This product, which comes in 17 colors and four weight options, is made from fluffy, hypoallergenic, ethically sourced RDS certified down and feathers. Reviewers love the indulgent feel and the warm yet breathable materials, as well as the fact that it’s machine-washable.
To extend the life span of your duvet inserts, Gopman suggests washing them at least every six months and occasionally allowing them to air out. “Remember to check your washer capacity, and do not try to make an insert fit where it does not belong,” she warns. “This can cause damage to your washing machine and will compress the fibers inside the insert, too. Rotating your duvet inserts with the season will also give your items more life.” Don’t miss these other ways to make your bed 10 times cozier.
Item to replace: Sheets
How often to replace them: Every 2 years
As adults, we spend about a quarter of our day in bed, which means our bedding and pillows feel the impact of our body weight frequently, explains Gopman. “Washing your bedding weekly and pillows quarterly will help maintain the quality, but these items have a short life,” she says. “Signs your bedding is ready to move on are discoloration, fraying of any seams or fabric, and a change in texture from thinning out to a roughness against your skin.”
Replace it with: Charter Club Damask’s Sheets, which come in a variety of bed sizes and colors. This four-piece set from Macy’s is made from ultra-soft Supima cotton and has a 550 thread count, and it goes on super sale frequently. Reviewers rave that they feel “silky smooth against your body” and the stretchy corner bits make them fit easily over even deep mattresses.
But even great quality will only go so far in making these bedding essentials last. “The easiest solution to make your sheets go further is to buy a second pair,” says Gopman. “The additional pair allows you to rotate your sheets, giving them less wear and giving you an extra day or two to handle laundry.” Here’s everything you need to know about buying new bed sheets.
Item to replace: Shower curtain liner
How often to replace it: Every 3 months
Shower liners, and curtains, are a tricky subject, according to Gopman. Depending on their quality and how you maintain them, they can have very different life spans. “Liners, if maintained, can last up to three months,” she says. “Shower curtains, on the other hand, can last until you feel you are ready for a new look.”
Replace it with: This mildew-resistant PEVA shower curtain liner from mDesign, which is under $9. Even though it’s incredibly budget-friendly, you’ll still want to maintain it so you can keep it for as long as possible. “Shower liners can extend their life span if washed regularly,” explains Gopman. “But if it’s a shower that sees a lot of use, like a kids bathroom, the amount of soap scum and mold may build faster.”
Item to replace: Throw pillows
How often to replace them: Every 5 to 10 years
Gopman says decorative bed pillows tend to last longer than throw pillows for the couch, which see more abuse. Plus, she adds, synthetic pillows begin to see a breakdown within the two- to three-year mark.
Replace them with: In the bedroom, you can splurge a little with something like this delicate and breezy-looking Boll & Branch Leaf Accent Pillow. Just make sure to follow the directions to clean them properly. These pillows, for example, should only be spot-cleaned, while others should undergo a semi-annual washing. Swapping out pillow covers can also give the others a break, and it can be an affordable way to refresh your home and make it look more expensive.
Item to replace: Small kitchen appliances
How often to replace them: Every 10 to 12 years
Your blender, food processor, and toaster all fall under this category, and they should remain functional for quite some time. “Signs it may be time to upgrade are broken pieces, frayed wiring, an inconsistent motor, or missing pieces that cannot be replaced,” says Gopman.
Replace it with: If you need a new blender, you can’t go wrong with a Ninja. This 72-ounce model has nearly 20,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, and it crushes ice, blends, and purées perfectly, whether you’re making smoothies, margaritas, or anything else.
“Give your appliances extra life with regular cleaning, maintenance, and don’t forget to sharpen the blades on your blender and food processor,” she recommends. Find out the ways you might be inadvertently shortening the life of your home appliances—including your new blender—and make sure to avoid those mistakes!
Item to replace: Bath mat
How often to replace it: Every 18 to 24 months
“A bath mat is one of the most used items in the bathroom, so we recommend washing your bath mat every one to two weeks,” says professional organizer Shannon Krause, owner of Tidy Nest. “Depending on how many people are using that bathroom, you’ll probably see enough wear (discoloration, fabric snags) to replace it in about 18 to 24 months. If you have a bath mat with rubber backing, you’ll want to replace that as soon as it starts to shed or crack. No one wants a slippery bath mat.”
Replace it with: Amazon Basics Everyday Cotton Bath Rug. For less than $20, you’ll get two of these basics, which come in eight colors. Reviewers like that these affordable mats hold up well when machine-washed and that they’re soft, simple, and get the job done.
To make any bath mat last even longer, Krause recommends hanging it over the tub wall when not in use instead of keeping it on the floor. Plus, she adds, “if your mat has a rubber back, we recommend avoiding the dryer when laundering. Air-dry to extend the life span of the rubber backing.”
Item to replace: Curtains
How often to replace them: Depends on their condition
“Curtains can tie a room together, so keeping them clean and in line with your home’s aesthetic is important,” says Krause. Her team suggests replacing curtains when you’re tired of the design (hey, it happens) or when they are visibly beyond repair. “If there are holes (from a cat climbing up them) or the edges are frayed or the fabric is faded, it’s time to let them go,” she says.
Replace them with: These Intelligent Design Alex Curtain Panels are a bold, fresh choice…as long as they go with your decor, of course. Plus, they won’t break the bank; a 63-inch two-pack costs just $33.99, and the 84-inch version rings in at $39.99.
Krause suggests changing your curtains out with the seasons to extend their life. You should also clean them regularly. “Use an upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner a few times a month and get them professionally cleaned at least once a year, especially if you have allergies,” she says. You might also want to pick up one of these dependable vacuums, with the proper attachments for this task, if you’ve had yours for ages.
Item to replace: Bed pillows
How often to replace them: Every 1 to 2 years
It’s a little gross to think about, but your skin sheds a lot in a year, and all of that dead skin lands right on your pillow. “You may see some yellow staining on your pillow due to oil and sweat, which can breed bacteria,” says Krause. “If you’re having trouble breathing or you’re embarrassed to see your stained pillow undressed, it’s time to toss it.”
Replace it with: The Beautyrest Fresh Sleep Antimicrobial Memory Foam Cluster pillow, which features a moisture-wicking knit treated with antimicrobial technology to keep it fresh for as long as possible. Beyond that, you can also take another precaution. “We like to use multiple pillow protectors specific for allergens that have full-zipper closures,” Krause says. “Wash pillow protectors one to two times a month. Wash your pillow every three to five months, or every one to two months if you suffer from allergies.” To wash, she suggests using cool water, then drying on low heat, and using wool dryer balls or tennis balls in the machine to help them keep their shape. Here are more tips to wash pillows the right way.
Item to replace: Doormat
How often to replace it: Depends on condition, but a good rule of thumb is when the bristles wear down
“The doormat sees a lot of dirt and a lot of traffic,” says Krause, “so you’ll want to replace it if it no longer stays in one place.”
Replace it with: This PLUS Haven Pure Coco Coir Doormat, which has heavy-duty backing and can be used indoors or outdoors. Choose from 12 sweet and simple designs that cost less than $20 a piece.
Of course, a doormat is subjected to a lot of abuse, but a little TLC can help it last longer. Krause recommends shaking it out once a week to get that first layer of dirt off the mat and out of your house. Once a month, give the mat a deeper cleaning. How you do this will depend on the material of your mat and can include either vacuuming, hanging it outside, banging it with a broom, or using a bristle brush to remove debris. You can also always hose it down.
Item to replace: Smoke detector
How often to replace it: Every 10 years
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the risk of dying in a home fire is reduced by half when the home has working smoke alarms. They recommend checking the date on the back of your smoke alarm to ensure you replace it in a timely manner. Additionally, test smoke alarms once a month to make sure they’re in working order.
Replace it with: Kidde Battery-Operated Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarm. You get two essential functions with this essential safety device, and the voice feature will tell you if there’s a fire, a carbon monoxide danger, or just a low battery.
Make sure you keep an ample supply of the batteries your smoke detector requires on hand to avoid any unwanted beeping noises at unfortunate hours. FYI, you should also be aware of these fire hazards in your home.
Item to replace: Bath towels
How often to replace them: Every 2 years
“Bath towels are one of those items that take up prime real estate in the linen closet or bathroom, so if your towels have lost their absorbency, [are] faded, torn, not fresh smelling, or you have incomplete sets, I would encourage replacements,” says Tanisha Porter, owner of Natural Born Organizers.
Replace them with: A set of Cariloha 600 GSM Bamboo & Turkish Cotton Bath Towels. They’re odor-resistant, highly absorbent, and super soft, and they’re nice and roomy.
To extend the life of your bath towels, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s laundry instructions. “I know in an effort to get the laundry done, sometimes everything is thrown in the warm/cool cycle, but check the tag,” Porter says. That’s just one of the laundry mistakes you probably didn’t realize you were making.
Item to replace: Nonstick cookware
How often to replace it: Approximately every 5 years
If food is beginning to stick to your “nonstick” pans, you need to replace them, according to Porter. “When the nonstick coating is scratched terribly, it’s time to look out for sales on your favorite brand,” she says. “Also, when the handle on that one particular pot is loose—or is no longer attached and laying on the shelf waiting to be reconnected—it’s time.”
Replace it with: This Kuhn Rikon 8-inch Allround Frying Pan, which will be your new favorite kitchen item. Made of durable stainless steel and a nonstick coating with titanium particles, it resists scratching and, of course, ensures that food doesn’t stick to it. Titanium is actually one of the safest types of cookware you can buy.
To keep nonstick cookware in the best shape possible, avoid stacking these pans on top of one another, which can lead to unwanted scratches on the surface. If you have limited storage space and stacking is the only option, place a paper towel or paper napkin between each one to protect the coating.
Item to replace: Mattress
When to replace it: Every 6 to 8 years
“I would argue that our mattress is equally as important as our refrigerator,” says Porter. “They are both vital to our self-care. Everything is based on a good night’s sleep. I encourage a mattress replacement when your mattress is no longer comfortable. Period. That is it. This should be a non-negotiable for all of us.”
Replace it with: Casper’s Nova 12-Inch Hybrid Mattress, which offers a plush top, trademarked seven-area Zoned Support, and spring coils. Reviewers say their sleep has improved tenfold since buying this bed and that they love the targeted support. Here’s what you need to know about how to buy the right mattress for you.
Protecting your new mattress is pretty easy with the purchase of a mattress cover—as long as you use it, that is. “I tend to find a fair amount of mattress covers balled on the floor in the closet and on the top shelf of a linen closet,” says Porter
Item to replace: Microwave charcoal filter
When to replace it: Every 6 months
“Most over-the-range microwaves have a grease filter, to purify the air while you cook, and a charcoal filter that helps reduce odors,” explains Katie Sadler, Whirlpool Kitchen Brand Manager. “Both should be changed regularly. The charcoal filter should be changed every six months, while the grease filter should be cleaned on a monthly basis to ensure peak performance.”
Replace it with: A new filter made specifically for your microwave. For consumers who have Whirlpool microwaves, head to Whirlpool.com for options.
While there’s no way to extend the life of your microwave’s charcoal filter, you’ll be pleased when you replace it routinely because there will be a significant reduction in kitchen odors. While we’re on the subject, make sure you’re not making any of these mistakes that shorten the life of your microwave.
*Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.