From toothbrushes to towels, you should replace these 7 household items more often than you realize

Replacing these items on a semi-regular basis will ensure your home stays clean and hygienic

Large bathroom with centralwhite bathtub
(Image credit: Future / Photography Darren Chung)

Cleaning all of the items in our homes that regularly get dirty is an important part of maintaining our properties, ensuring we're living in a comfortable and sanitary space. But to keep our homes as hygienic as possible, it's also essential to know when items simply need replacing rather than just another clean.

Of course, not everything in our homes needs regular replacement – for example, keeping furniture for as long as possible is an excellent idea. But more delicate items that get used daily or that often experience damp or wet conditions should really be replaced regularly – and perhaps even more often than you think.

Not only will doing so allow you to maintain high standards of cleanliness in your home, but it will also ensure that these items continue to perform well for you. But which items should we be looking to repurchase and replace, and how often should we actually be doing so?

7 items you should be replacing regularly 

The items below are all used almost daily and can accumulate a significant amount of grime as a result—which is why experts suggest that they should ideally be replaced regularly, alongside regular cleaning.

However, it's important to note that the rate at which you should replace the items below depends on how regularly they are used, how dirty they get during use, and how durable said items are.

That said, here are some solid timelines to follow if you're keen to keep your home and its contents as clean and sanitary as possible.

1. Your toothbrush

Amazon Prime Day toothbrush deal

(Image credit: Future / Polly Wreford)

It might sound like an obvious one, but it's a wise move to buy another toothbrush on a semi-regular basis – most importantly, to avoid your current one becoming ineffective. 

'It is best to replace your toothbrush every three to four months because the bristles become frayed and less effective at cleaning teeth,' says cleaning expert Lina DaSilva, Founder at Toronto Shine Cleaning. And if you have an electric toothbrush, the experts suggest replacing the head with the same frequency. 

Nick Hedburg, a real estate agent at As-is Home Buyer, agrees, explaining that if you’re wondering whether your toothbrush has had its day, there’s usually an easy way to work it out. 'My tell-tale sign to change a toothbrush is when the bristles get disorganized – then, you know that it has reached its maximum capacity,' he says.

2. Towels

A wooden hutch with stacks of folded bath towels

(Image credit: mDesign)

Perhaps surprisingly, towels also need to be replaced regularly, largely because they become less effective over time.

'Towels tend to lose absorbency and become rough after two years of use, so you should replace yours around then,' says Jennifer Bell, professional organizer and Founder of Bell Home Organizing.

Lina DaSilva agrees, suggesting that you should 'replace or rotate towels when they no longer dry effectively or start to smell, even after washing your towels. Usually, this is every two years, but it does depend on their use and care.'

To reduce waste, Jennifer Bell suggests considering how you can reuse your towels before simply throwing them straight into the trash. 'You can turn old towels into cleaning rags or consider donating your old towels to a local animal shelter,' she says.

3. Pillows

Eddie Bauer Extra Soft Feather Pillow Twin Pack on a bed.

(Image credit: Wayfair)

They're something that we all use every day for hours at a time, so it makes a lot of sense that our pillows should be changed pretty often!

'Pillows should be replaced every one to two years, as they will easily collect dust mites, skin cells, and oil over the years, which can eventually affect your breathing and health,' Lina DaSilva says.

This rule seems very sensible - most of us spend up to eight hours (maybe more) lying our heads on our pillows every night, which means they're bound to collect sweat, dust, dirt, and all kinds of nasties naturally over the months and years. 

While washing your pillows is a good solution in the interim to keep them fresh and comfortable, most will eventually need to be replaced entirely to maintain hygienic conditions in your bedroom as you sleep.

4. Your bath mat

Brown bath mat

(Image credit: Target)

Our bath mats are also not designed to be used for years and years (or decades) on end. In fact, they can actually hold a large amount of bacteria, and so should be replaced every couple of years, according to most professionals.

'I advise replacing them every one to two years – but you must wash them every week or two to keep them clean, as well,' Lina DaSilva says. 'This regular washing helps, but over time, fabric mats can accumulate bacteria and lose their effectiveness.'

Professional organizer Tabisa Majwega, Founder of Heart First Organizing, expands, sharing that a bath mat's position and constant usage levels in our bathrooms is the reason it must be replaced annually or every two years.

'Fabric bath mats require frequent replacement because the prolonged drying time makes them highly susceptible to developing mold and mildew,' she explains. 

But as well as washing them regularly, there are ways to keep them as sanitary as possible during their years of use. 'Spraying fabric bath mats with a vinegar and water solution and placing them in the dryer on an air-dry setting can help speed up the drying process after use, avoiding as much bacteria build-up,' Tabisa says.

5. Kitchen sponges

Someone cleaning a a glass stove top with a sponge and soap

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kitchen sponges are one of the most often-used items in our homes – and, let’s be honest, they can also be one of the grimiest, thanks to constantly wiping up spills, crumbs and more. As such, Lina DaSilva suggests that it’s important to replace these often.

'Kitchen sponges should be replaced every two weeks, or more frequently if they smell or are heavily soiled,' she says. 'And by this, I mean that you should be throwing out your current sponge and getting a new one, whether you’re wondering about your dishwashing sponge or the one you use to wipe down counters.'

It's important to replace kitchen sponges at this pace as they actually harbor way more dirt than we might care to admit, according to professional cleaner Axel Avery, from Oakville Maids House Cleaning Service. 'Our kitchen sponges are constantly in contact with food and water, and even if you clean and squeeze them after each use, you still have microscopic food debris in there that bacteria feeds from.' 

In fact, he even suggests considering an alternative product to clean your kitchen with. 'Honestly, I’d stay away from kitchen sponges in general and replace them with a dish brush that is dishwasher safe. They're just easier to disinfect and dry,' Axel says.

But before you throw your sponge in the trash, remember that it can come in useful elsewhere in the home. 'I like to take the old sponge and use it in the mudroom before tossing,' Tabisa says.

6. Certain cosmetic items

bath with storage rack, mirror and body brush

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Cosmetics like skincare, makeup and body care products also require regular replacement – because although they may linger in our bathroom cupboards for years, they’re not actually good for that long! 

Tabisa explains, ‘Every cosmetic item features a small jar icon at the bottom with a number on it to indicate the length of months it is good for, so you should be sure to replace opened items in line with this number. This will avoid any skin or eye irritation caused by a bacteria build-up, or simply an out-of-date product.'

In the same vein, she also suggests taking stock of the rest of your makeup collection regularly. 'Replace your makeup brushes every six-eight months to again avoid any facial irritation, and be sure to clean makeup brushes and sponges regularly during this time, too,' Tabisa recommends.

7. Toilet brushes

yellow horizontal striped tiles behind toilet and a wooden vanity sink unit

(Image credit: A. Naber Design)

A toilet brush is arguably one of the most unpleasant items in our homes, so if it's not something you've ever switched out or thought about replacing, consider this your reminder to do so.

However, these rather grimy items probably don't need to be replaced as often as you think. 'Toilet brushes are often forgotten because people don't like to even think about them!’ Nick says. 'But I highly suggest replacing them yearly, as long as you wash them thoroughly after every use anyway – as they are clearly a breeding ground for germs.'

To wash your toilet brush between replacements, swill it around the clean water that enters your toilet bowl when you flush a clean toilet. For extra sanitization, spray the brush's head with vinegar before allowing it to sit for about half an hour. Finish by rinsing it again in the clean water from the toilet flush.

Of course, remembering to replace all of these items at the correct time is easier said than done. So, if you don’t want to rely on your own memory to ensure you swap out that toilet brush or pillow, Tabisa Majwega, Founder of Heart First Organizing, has an easy trick for remembering to make the change: 

'The best way to remind yourself to replace these items is by setting recurring reminders in your calendar every time you open a new item.' This is likely best done on an online calendar, where you can easily set a reminder a year or two in advance.  

Contributing Editor

Amy Hunt is a freelance lifestyle writer and editor primarily covering homes and interiors, wellness, travel and careers. She was previously Lifestyle Editor at woman&home, commissioning and editing the homes, books and features sections of the website,

In 2019, she won the AOP Digital Journalist of the Year Award, for her work on Having worked in the industry for over eight years, she has contributed to a range of publications including Ideal Home, Livingetc, T3,Goodto, Woman, Woman’s Own, and Red magazine.