You may not realise that there are quite a few household items which have expiration dates attached to them that you shouldn’t ignore. Don’t worry though, as the specialist designer of kitchens in Glasgow, DM Design, is on hand to advise about how long you should keep items for before getting them replaced, as well as the potential consequences of keeping them for longer than this period:

In the bedroom…

Item: Pillows

How long before you should replace them: Every two years maximum

Reasons why:

Pillows are known to house bacteria, accumulated mould, sweat, dead skin cells, and dust mites which feed off the aforementioned dead skin cells. Considering you will be resting your face on your pillow at the end of each day, it’s vital that you replace them at least once every two years.

Warning signs that your pillows will need to be replaced include if they have become stained or smelly, as well as if they stop feeling supportive. You can also extend their period of usefulness a bit by washing pillowcases on a weekly basis.

Item: Mattresses

How long before you should replace them: Every eight years maximum

Reasons why:

With around a third of your life spent sleeping, you spend a large amount of your time resting on your mattress. However, both those associated with the mattress industry and the Sleep Council have recommended that you replace your mattress at least once every eight years, as this is found to be the time when the item will have lost most of its original comfort and support.

You can prolong the life of a mattress by flipping it and rotating it at least once a year. However, telling signs that it’s time to get a new one will be if you wake up in the morning feeling tired, have noticed worn, lumpy or visible sags around your mattress, or if your body is stiff and sore after a night’s sleep.

In the bathroom…

Item: Toothbrushes

How long before you should replace them: Every three months (this also being the case for the brush head if using an electric toothbrush)

Reasons why:

Dentists recommend that you replace your toothbrush — or the brush head if using an electric toothbrush — every three months. This is because the items are magnets for bacteria, which can accumulate from toilet spray when a toilet is flushed with the lid up, splashes from a bathroom sink while washing hands and also bacteria present in your mouth — between 100 and 200 species of oral bacteria can exist in your mouth alone! All of the bacteria mentioned can be harmful and may lead to tooth decay or gingivitis.

You can reduce how much bacteria gathers on a toothbrush by rinsing the item thoroughly after brushing and then allowing it to air dry, as well as soaking toothbrushes in antibacterial mouthwash once you’ve used it. However, bristles becoming frayed is a sign that it’s time to replace your toothbrush.

Item: Toilet brushes

How long before you should replace them: Every six months maximum

Reasons why:

Continuously scrub your toilet with the same brush and the result is moisture will be created on the item’s bristles. This, in turn, will lead to bacteria thriving and spreading around your toilet and bathroom.

As a result, you should refrain from keeping the same toilet brush for longer than six months at a time. Keep an eye out if the brush looks grungy and grimy though, as these are signs that the item should be replaced as soon as possible. Plus, it’s not like you’re going to be spending a fortune on each toilet brush!

In the kitchen & utility room…

Item: Fridges & washing machines

How long before you should replace them: Between 15 and 30 years, depending on the manufacturer

Reasons why:

Fridges and washing machines can last a long time. Depending on the manufacturer that you’ve opted for, these essential items of your kitchen or utility room could remain effective for between 15 and 30 years after you first purchased it new.

However, you may want to look into buying a new fridge or washing machine once your current one reaches 15 years old. This is because fridges and washing machines built today are known to use a lot less energy than models that were manufactured even 12 years ago.

While it is unlikely that you’re going to be switching your fridge on a regular basis, one side note regarding your fridge is that you should aim to replace its water filter twice a year if your unit comes complete with this feature. This is due to these filters collecting bacteria and building up mould over time.

Item: Chopping boards

How long before you should replace them: Once a year maximum

Reasons why:

According to studies, wooden chopping boards can harbour up to 200 percent more faecal bacteria than toilet seats. This is in spite of the idea that wooden chopping boards are often deemed to be the more hygienic of the different types of chopping boards available!

Of course, ensuring you are thoroughly cleaning chopping boards once you’ve used them can rid the items of potentially harmful bacteria before you need them next. However, colouring stains and deep cuts are clear signs that it might be time to buy a new one.

Around the home…

Item: Smoke detectors

How long before you should replace them: Every ten years for the entire unit, once a year for the batteries

Reasons why:

The National Fire Protection Association has warned that three out of every five home fire deaths are caused by fires that take place in homes which either have no smoke alarms at all or no working smoke alarms. It’s statistics like these that should act as a wake-up call to ensure your home’s smoke alarms are in good working order.

It is generally advised that the entire unit of a smoke detector is replaced at least once every ten years to reduce the risk of the item malfunctioning. However, the batteries for a smoke detector should be replaced on an annual basis at the very least.

Look to carry out frequent tests of your smoke detector batteries throughout the year too, so that you will know first-hand if the units are running low on power.

Item: Carpets

How long before you should replace them: For an apartment-grade carpet — between 1 and 5 years maximum; for a medium-grade carpet — between 5 and 15 years; for a high-grade carpet — between 15 and 25 years maximum.

Reasons why:

It can be difficult to pinpoint an exact date when you should replace your home’s carpet, as the decision will hinge on the quality of the material, how you treat the carpet and how you maintain it.

There are some signs which will tell you that it might be best to buy a new carpet. It’s only natural that your carpet will go through some general wear and tear, for instance, but consider purchasing a new one if large chunks of your current carpet have become matted, is filled with large rips and tears, and has lost its tuft.

Carpets also gather various odours. While this can be sorted out with a thorough, regular clean of your carpet if a lingering smell remains then it’s a sign that the odour has penetrated deep into the fibres of the carpet, the carpet pad or the subfloor. A new carpet is often the most cost-effective solution here.