Time moves quickly, and expiration dates have a way of sneaking up on us.
If you periodically check for expired items in your refrigerator and medicine cabinet, congratulations—you're way ahead of the rest of us. But don't forget to set reminders in your calendar for other household items you should be replacing regularly, too.
If you wash the dishes every day, you should replace your sponge every two weeks; mold and bacteria can accumulate when it's wet on a regular basis. You can improve matters by "sanitizing" the sponge in the microwave or popping it onto the top level of your dishwasher. If you're not washing the dishes that often, you can go a couple of months before replacing it.
Even though herbs and spices are dried, they're not meant to be honorary lifetime members of your kitchen. Replace dried herbs once a year, and ground spices every other year. If the spices are intact in the container, however, they can stay fresh for as long as four years!
No matter how careful you are with your pots and pans, nonstick surfaces aren't engineered to last forever. A good rule of thumb is to replace them every five years. If you notice your pans warping or developing discolored patches, your surface has been compromised and will affect the quality of your cooking. If the surface is scratched, it's definitely time for a new pan; you don't want any chemicals flaking into your food.
If you've heard that you should be replacing your pillows and dismissed the advice, take it seriously now: dust mites multiply at alarming rates and could be the reason your allergies are acting up. If you don't wash the pillows, get some new ones after six months. If you launder them carefully, they can last up to three years. Newer pillows are designed to be washed, and some will even allow you to wash the stuffing separately. Decorative pillows are fine to keep, as long as you're not using them to sleep on.
It doesn't matter what mattress you have—spring, foam, hybrid, water—if you're not using a protective cover, you should replace your mattress after five years. If you're using something to guard against moisture, dust mites, and bed bugs, you can wait up to 10 years. Aside from hygienic concerns, a past-its-prime mattress can dent, droop, and even cause back problems. Take the opportunity to try a new model that better suits your needs.
When you have a vacuum cleaner that doesn't require bags, it's easy to forget that the filter is working overtime. Make a note to change out the filter every three to six months, or check the instruction manual to see if you can wash it instead.
It's easier to remember which household items you should be replacing regularly when they get dirty. But you might overlook shower curtain liners because it seems like they're getting clean with you. Nope. They're probably growing mold and mildew in the folds, so be sure to replace them sometime between every three months and a year.