How long does a toothbrush last? Or razors? Thrifty homeowners may try to push the expiration dates of some bathroom items, but squeezing out those extra few months usually offers diminishing returns. This small, humid space tends to suffer from poor ventilation, which means odors, wetness, and grime linger longer.
The result? Over time, many of the items within will degrade and take on bacteria.
“This is especially true of bathroom things that aren’t allowed to dry out all the way,” explains Sarah Hollenbeck, a housewares expert at Offers.com. Mold and mildew may sprout—and could be transferred to your hands and face (eww!).
Embrace the new! Replace the following items in your bathroom before they expire.
How long does a toothbrush last?
Life span: Three months
You might get a free brush from the hygienist, but this vital item needs replacing more frequently than just after each dental visit.
“The American Dental Association recommends changing it four times a year, but do it more often if the bristles look bent or you’ve been sick,” points out Hollenbeck.
To make it last longer: Rinse well after each use to remove saliva and toothpaste residue. And don’t scrub with all your might—you’re just hurting your gums, and the added oomph wears down the bristles.
How long does a shower curtain liner last?
Life span: Three to four months
Frankly, this cheapo item isn’t worth keeping for long. “When you see mold and mildew, pitch it,” urges Jennifer Snyder, a certified professional organizer at Neat as a Pin.
To make it last longer: If you don’t want to shell out for a new one this frequently or you’re cutting back on your environmental impact, give it a wash, says Hollenbeck.
“Toss the liner in medium hot water, add a few towels—they’ll help scrub off stuck-on dirt—and then set the cycle to gentle and hang to dry.”
How long do towels last?
Life span: Five to 10 years
The higher your towel quality, the longer it’ll keep you dry—within reason. Once you see holes and tears, cut towels into small pieces and use them for polishing and dusting.
To make it last longer: Since most homeowners have more than a couple of bath towels, rotate evenly between sets for a longer life span. And watch it with the fabric softener (use it every other load).
“Bath towels washed with softener become less effective over time as it coats the fibers and prevents absorption,” says Jamie Novak, author of “Keep This Toss That.”
How long do razors last?
Life span: Two weeks or five shaves, whichever comes first
Don’t mess with a dull blade, warn the pros, or you’ll be at risk for cuts and nicks. “Replace this item by its expiration date—even if it looks fine,” urges Novak.
To make it last longer: Carefully dry the blade and keep it out of the wet shower or tub when not in use. Moisture can cause bacteria to breed on razors, so store them in the medicine cabinet.
How long do sponges last?
Life span: Two weeks for cleaning sponges, one month for loofahs
It may sound crazy to swap it this much, but sponges do dirty work and they need early retirement.
“Even if you try some disinfecting methods, a bathroom sponge can still cause cross-contamination from counters to the shower and back again,” notes Novak. And keep track of when you bought that loofah (it’s like a household sponge for your body).
To make it last longer: A dry sponge is less likely to hold bacteria. Let it air out completely after each use.
How long does a scale last?
Life span: Five to 10 years
A quality bathroom scale should last many years, especially if you handle it with care (daily stomping can strain it). Moisture in the bathroom can corrode the battery case and the electrical panel.
To make it last longer: Calibrate your scale according to the instructions, and remove the batteries if you don’t plan on using it for a while—they can leak. You could also store this item in the bedroom, away from the bath’s heat and humidity, but be sure to place it on an even surface (no carpet) for best results.
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