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55 things you should probably replace right away

Surge protectors, smoke detectors, sponges -- when should you throw it out and get a new one? Now you know.

Jessica Learish
1 of 55 Google via Amazon/Portland Press Herald via iStock

Your smoke detector that's old enough to drive a car

It's time to get the jump on your spring cleaning, and the gadgets around your home are a great place to start. Seriously.

Tragically, consumer goods don't last forever. Our gadgets become obsolete. Our pillows go flat and fill up with dust mites. There are a lot of things in our homes that we don't give a second thought -- or a second scrub -- as often as we should.

Such as? Well: Sure, you always replace the batteries in your smoke detector, but the US Fire Administration says you should also replace the entire smoke detector every 10 years.

2 of 55 Philips/iStockphoto

Your worn-out toothbrush

Dentists recommend changing your electric toothbrush head once every three months, or sooner, if the bristles become frayed.

If you're still using an old analogue toothbrush or you're ready to upgrade to a new electric toothbrush system, consider the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 6100, our pick for the best electric toothbrush for whitening your teeth.

3 of 55 Chris Monroe/CNET/iStockphoto

Those cracked and chipped grill grates

If your grill grates are cracked or the porcelain coating is chipping away, it's time for new grates. Trust us: You don't want to bite into a hunk of hot porcelain in your burger.

Or, you could buy yourself a brand new grill. The Royal Gourmet three-burner gas grill is CNET's best value grill of 2019.

4 of 55 Fat Brain Toys via Amazon/iStockphoto

Baby bath toys

That rubber duck could be home to some ugly stuff. A 2018 study found that some bath toys -- specifically, the kind that water can get inside -- were home to mold, drug-resistant Legionella, E.coli and listeria.

Toys like the BPA-free Waddle Bobblers are easy to clean and won't expose your little ones to harmful germs. 

5 of 55 BUNN via Amazon/iStockphoto

Your aging coffee maker

Experts say that coffee makers should be descaled every three to six months. Descaling removes mineral deposits from your machine.

If you're not a descaler, you might want to start over with a brand-new coffee maker like the Bunn Thermofresh.

6 of 55 ecobee via Amazon/iStockphoto

Your dumb thermostat

You can save money and reduce your carbon footprint by upgrading your home's thermostat to a smart device like the Ecobee4 smart thermostat.

7 of 55 Belkin via Amazon/iStockphoto

Your old, worn-out surge protector

Worn-out surge protectors can cause all sorts of problems. After years of use, some of them lose their surge-protecting abilities, and your devices could be vulnerable to serious damage. Some power strips can even overheat, which is a major fire hazard.

Newer models, such as this one from Belkin, have indicator lights that tell you when your devices are protected.

8 of 55 Kona via Amazon/iStockphoto

That metal grill brush

Overused grill brushes can shed dangerous metal bristles onto your grill grates -- you know, where you cook your food. If some areas of your brush have fewer bristles, or if the brush is worn, those are  warning signs.

If you're shopping for a new brush, consider a bristle-free brush alternative like the Kona 360. This brush makes it easy to clean the top and bottom of your grill grates so they're as clean as they were before you grilled your first burger.

9 of 55 Apple via Amazon/Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Those yellowing, tangled earbuds

Sure, there are ways to clean your earbuds, but if they're already pretty lived-in, the cleaning process can be tedious and could result in damaged earbuds.

Treat yourself to a new pair of Apple AirPods.

10 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto and Simple Human via Amazon

Your scratched, gross garbage can

The humble garbage can holds all kinds of waste and, if we're being honest, probably doesn't get quite the same cleaning attention as the rest of your kitchen.

Scratched plastic trash cans can collect bacteria just like a scratched plastic dog bowl or plastic food container.

A stainless steel trash can, like this one from Simple Human, is a lot easier to clean.

Fire and safety. Fire extinguisher stands in front of  fireplace
11 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

The fire extinguisher that came with your house

And while we're on the subject: Is your fire extinguisher past its prime? There are a few ways that aging fire extinguishers can lose effectiveness, but most remain useful for five to 15 years.

Check for dates on the inspection tag. If your fire extinguisher looks like an antique, it's probably time for a new one.

Luckily, you can get a brand new fire extinguisher on Amazon Prime.

Tech Hardware Shoot
12 of 55 T3 Magazine

All of your climate-control filters

Maybe you stay on top of changing the filter in your home's air conditioner. But have you treated your air purifiers, smart fans and dehumidifiers to a fresh filter recently?

Most smart fans, like the Dyson Pure Cool Link, will let you know with a phone notification when they're ready for new filter. The filter will last one year if you use your fan 12 hours a day.

USB connector
13 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

That Micro-USB cable that you wrestle with daily

Micro-USB cables are often the victims of what manufacturers call "rough use." People yank cables out of their devices and crumple them into luggage pockets. After a while, damaged cables can charge your devices much more slowly -- or not at all.

If you're rough on your cable collection, there are sturdily built options on Amazon with hundreds of five-star customer reviews and a 12-month warranty.

Cleaning the dirty toilet.
14 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Your dirty, frayed toilet brush

If your toilet brush's bristles have started to fray, the brush can't scrub away the bacteria it's intended to remove. 

Take a look at your trusty toilet brush and see if today is Christmas for your commode.

The OXO Good Grips Hideaway toilet brush comes with a discreet canister with ventilation slots so your brush can dry while it's stowed away.

DVR and Remote Control
15 of 55 DonNichols/Getty Images

That cable box and pricey subscription

Take a page out of the millennial handbook and replace your clunky cable box or satellite receiver with a compact streaming device

American households spend around $100 per month on their cable bill. Depending on the number of streaming services -- and what kinds of services -- you want on your device, you could save hundreds of dollars every year by cutting the cord.

Leftovers in Plastic Food Containers
16 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

That plastic container with the mysterious haze

Leftovers are great, unless the thing that's left over is bacteria. If your plastic food containers are cloudy, warped or scratched, they could be harboring germs that could make you sick.

Replacing your entire collection is cheaper than you might expect.

One of the greatest inventions since right turn on red: the
17 of 55 Chuck Kennedy/MCT/Tribune News Service via Getty Images


How long has that bottle of ketchup been in your refrigerator? Did you know that ketchup only lasts nine to 12 months after opening? 

Just buy a new bottle of ketchup.

Metallic handcrafted hangers hanging in wooden empty cabinet
18 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Those infernal wire hangers in your closet

These horrible hangers, which aways seem to find their way back into your closet, can ruin your clothes. The super-slim and often warped shape of wire hangers can stretch out your favorite shirt, and the sharp ends of the wire can catch on delicate fabrics.

Invest in nonslip velvet hangers or sturdy wooden ones to prolong the useful lives of both your hangers and your wardrobe.

Woman replacing filter in a water pitcher
19 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

The filter in your water purifier

Brita recommends changing the filters in its pitchers once every 40 gallons or so to maintain optimum water flavor.

20 of 55 Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Impossibly dirty dish rags

The same thing goes for those old dish rags that are perpetually damp and mysteriously stained. Experts say you should throw your dish towels in the washing machine after each use and retire them if odors remain even after you've washed them. 

Get some fresh, white dish rags. Your countertops will thank you.

Used kitchen sponge
21 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

That raggedy kitchen sponge

Sponges are supposed to be for cleaning, but you'd be surprised how many people continue using sponges past their useful lifespan -- two to four weeks, depending on how often you use the sponge.

Don't wipe more germs onto your dishes than you remove. Just invest in some new sponges.

Female hands holding lens
22 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

That contact lens case on your bathroom shelf

An improperly disinfected (or improperly handled) contact lens case can become a home to germs that you really, really don't want finding their way into your eyes. Don't ask us how we know.

If you have any doubt about your lens case hygiene, it's time to buy some new ones.

Makeup accessories.
23 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Your years-old makeup

Don't be the person who has an adverse reaction to year-old mascara. Mascara, specifically, only lasts three to six months before it expires. Lipsticks and foundations last around two years.

You probably need some new mascara.

Make up brushes in bag
24 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Your makeup brushes that you've never cleaned

Experts say makeup brushes should be cleaned every one to two weeks. It makes sense. You put them on your face.

If you don't remember the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes, today's the day to start fresh.

Close-up of two blue ice packs
25 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Aging ice packs

After years of keeping your food nice and cold, old ice packs can crack, leaking chemicals into your lunchbox.

If your ice packs have been around for a while, it might be time for some new ones.

Asian food ingredients in an Indo-China Market, Goleta, California
26 of 55 UniversalImagesGroup

The brown rice in your pantry

Because there are oils in the bran layer of brown rice, the shelf life is much shorter than that of white rice. Uncooked brown rice keeps for around six months in a pantry and a bit longer, if refrigerated.

If you don't remember buying the brown rice in your pantry, get yourself a fresh batch.

medicine pills and bottles
27 of 55 dszc / Getty Images

Those pills you bought at the pharmacy 5 years ago

Those over-the-counter drugs in your medicine cabinet don't last forever either. Make sure to check the expiration dates before treating your aches, pains and sniffles with old pills.

For example, if your bottle of ibuprofen is expired, or you detect an unusual smell, it's time to replace that bottle.

Man repairs hood in kitchen. Replacement filter in cooker hood
28 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Your stove's range hood filter

When you cook on your stove, your range hood filter catches oil, smoke and food particles. If you clean your range hood filter frequently, you can postpone replacing it.

If you pretty much never think about this filter and you cook regularly, you might want to take a peek. And if the filter is corroded, dented or warped, consult your appliance's manual to find a compatible replacement.

Beagle eating from plastic food bowl
29 of 55 tirc83/Getty Images

Your pet's plastic bowls

Plastic pet bowls can be problematic in a couple of ways. Scratches from your pet's nails or teeth can act as a breeding ground for bacteria. And some pets also develop allergies to plastics in their bowls.

Metal or porcelain bowls are much easier to keep clean.

Boy sleeping with dog
30 of 55 gollykim/Getty Images

Your flattened old bed pillows

You sleep, you sweat, you drool. Every night, our bed pillows collect body oils and dead skin cells. Most experts recommend replacing your pillows every one to two years.

Omelette folded over the artichoke
31 of 55 DeAgostini/Getty Images

That scratched nonstick pan

Non-stick pans transform into super-sticky pans with hard-to-clean crevices once they're scratched. Good Housekeeping reports that, with moderate use, nonstick pans will need replaced every three to five years.

Dispensing Water from Refrigerator
32 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Your refrigerator's water filter

Experts say your refrigerator's water filter should be changed once every six months. Consult your appliance's user manual to find out which filters are compatible.

Dog in outdoor bath
33 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Your mildewy shower curtain liner

We know your dirty secret, and it costs less than $10 to replace it. Don't take another shower with a mildewed shower curtain liner. Get a new, mildew-resistant one instead.

toothbrush in cup
34 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Your toothbrush holder

The bottom of your toothbrush holder can be the perfect collection zone for the various bacteria that are floating around your bathroom. You should be sanitizing your toothbrush holder weekly. If you have a dishwasher, and your toothbrush holder is dishwasher-safe, that's a simple enough solution.

You could also opt for a metal toothbrush holder that doesn't collect as much moisture and is easy to clean.

Father and son playing basketball
35 of 55 NoSystem images/Getty Images

Your first-aid kit

The contents of your first-aid kit could probably use refreshing. For example, hydrogen peroxide lasts only six months after it's opened. Antibiotic ointments like Neosporin also may lose their potency if they've been expired for many years.

Invest in a new first-aid kit with all the essentials.

Industrial Laundry Room Dryer Vents
36 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Plastic dryer vent covers

Your dryer vents hot air out of your laundry room through a vent. But some homes are fitted with plastic dryer vent covers that can melt, decay or catch fire.

Metal dryer vent covers are sturdier and less dangerous.

Italy - Biennale del Gusto in Venice
37 of 55 Marco Secchi/Corbis via Getty Images

That old jug of olive oil

Olive oil lasts around two years unopened. But once you open it, you'll want to use your olive oil in 30 to 60 days to enjoy the oil's best flavors and nutrients.

Kitchen pantry Flour and Masa
38 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

That flour you bought three Christmases ago

A bag of white flour in your pantry will stay good only for about a year. If your flour has an unusual smell or wet-looking clumps, it's time to replace it.

Man Shaving with Razor Holding Throat Dark Gray Background
39 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

The disposable razor you're still using for some reason

If you use your disposable razor multiple times each week, your razor will go dull within a few weeks. Dull razors can cause skin irritation, and nobody wants that.

That's why they're disposable, people.

Messy bed. White pillow with blanket on bed unmade. Concept of relaxing after morning.
40 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Your old bed sheets

You should replace your bed sheets every couple of years or so. After years of use, bed sheets will inevitably become irreversibly stained and worn out from repeated trips through the laundry.

Plus, sheets are relatively inexpensive, and fresh sheets are fantastic.

Old grunge wooden cutting kitchen desk board background texture
41 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

That grungy, scratched cutting board

Studies have shown that scratched-up soft wood and plastic cutting boards are nearly impossible to rid of bacteria. Soft wood cutting boards also dull your knives.

A hardwood cutting board made from a single piece of wood is your best bet for maintaining a clean cutting surface that doesn't ruin your knife collection.

Opening a blockage in the sink
42 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Your sad, droopy plunger

You absolutely don't need to keep a plunger around that's so droopy it can no longer create a vacuum. 

Retire that bad boy, and invest in a new one that stands up (so to speak) to the test.

Spice Drawer
43 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pretty much all of your spices

Spices lose their flavor while they sit in your cabinet. Experts recommend replacing your spices every couple of years or so. Don't know if your spices are still fresh? Give them a sniff. If they don't have an odor, they likely don't have a flavor either.

Stacked ice cube trays in a freezer
44 of 55 Spauln/Getty Images

Old, possibly hazardous ice cube trays

Some old, plastic ice cube trays could be made from plastic that contains a chemical called bisphenol A, also known as BPA. Research has shown that BPA can leach into food and liquid and could be harmful to humans.

BPA-free ice cube trays are widely available online.

Suntan Lotion Popular on Florida Beach
45 of 55 Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Old sunscreen

If you haven't been to the beach in three years, odds are that sunscreen at the back of your cabinet is past its prime.

If your sunscreen has separated into an oil-and-film suspension and shaking it doesn't help, it's time for a new bottle.

Yellow Fever, Malaria or Zika Virus Infected Mosquito Insect Bite on Green Background
46 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Your insect repellent

The typical consumer-brand mosquito repellents last somewhere between 18 month and three years. 

Give the bottle a sniff if you're unsure. If it doesn't smell like it did when you bought it, it likely won't do much to protect you against insect bites.

old used dirty nail polish bottle on wood cement background
47 of 55 Getty Images/iStockphoto

That dried-up, separated nail polish

This is just clutter taking up space in your cabinet. Nail polish this far gone won't spread onto your nails anyway. Opened bottles of nail polish stay good for approximately two years. Treat yourself to a fresh bottle of polish.

48 of 55 Getty/Laura Battiato

Your old bar supplies

Liquors won't go bad, but mixers definitely can. Vermouth is basically just wine, and will last about three months in the fridge, and even less in your cabinet. Simple syrup will last longer, but can get cloudy or smelly. If you can't remember the last time you made an old fashioned or mojito, toss the mixes and just do shots.

49 of 55 Getty/Stephen Mallon

Your old car seats

Did you know that car seats expire? Their materials can degrade, and they can be supplanted by safer models. Generally, a car seat has about five or six years of life, and the expiration date will be printed on it. If your seat is old or a hand-me-down, check and make sure it's still good. If in doubt, get a new one.

50 of 55 Amazon via Ready America

The stuff in your disaster kit

Just having a disaster prep kit doesn't mean you're done preparing for a disaster. Ready.gov reminds you that expired items in a disaster kit should be replaced regularly, and emergency water rations should be changed out every five years. Yes, even water should be periodically replaced.

51 of 55 Getty/TimSA

That dull old paring knife

There are two schools of thought regarding paring knives. One is that you should get a really expensive one and sharpen it when necessary, and the other is that you should get cheap ones and replace them when they get dull. If you've got the cheap ones, chances are they're dull. They can be replaced easily.

52 of 55 Getty/EyEmm

All your worn out socks

An old sock can be warm, comforting and soft. But if it's got a hole in it, it can give you a blister or callus. They can also absorb sweat and lose their elastic. Nothing comforting about that. It's a good bet that some of your socks are a little battered, so it's a good time to do an inventory.

53 of 55 Getty/ShaunL

Your ancient bath towels

As long as you wash your bath towels in hot water every three to four uses, there's no hurry to replace them. But if they're starting to get thin, tired, and less absorbent, then get new ones and give the old ones to an animal shelter.

54 of 55 Getty/Patrick Norman

Your expired vitamins

FDA regulations don't actually mandate that vitamins carry an expiration date, only a "use by" or "best by" date. Generally, vitamins will last about two or three years, and while an expired vitamin won't hurt you, it's not as potent once it gets old.

55 of 55 Getty/Kenny Williamson

Your chipped wooden kitchen spoons

Wooden stuff lasts longer, right? It can, but if you use wooden kitchen utensils, they can absorb moisture, get cut up or chipped -- all great ways for bacteria to hide in them. Chances are, you haven't replaced these in years. It may be time to re-spoon.

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