5 Things in Your Kitchen That Probably Need to Be Replaced Right Now

updated Nov 11, 2020
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Credit: Andrew Bui

Ideally, you don’t let food go to waste in your kitchen. But if something comes up and the spinach wilts before you can get to it or the bread molds before you finish the loaf, you know that it’s time to toss it. There are tell-tale signs when food is past its prime. Other things in your kitchen? Not so much. And while we’re all in this weird time warp of 2020, it’s easier than ever to let some things slip through the cracks. Somehow, time passes and we don’t realize how long we’ve had or been using certain items. When we’re so used to seeing something, too often we don’t see it, even if it’s right in front of us. These are the things we inadvertently neglect to maintain — and in the kitchen, this can be hazardous. 

Here are five specific items that are probably past their prime and need to be replaced.

Credit: Lauren Volo

1. Your sponge

Kitchen sinks are one of, if not the, dirtiest places in the entire home, and sponges are virulent contributors to this state. Because they’re often perpetually moist and frequently have bits of food trapped inside them, they are ideal breeding grounds for the many kinds of bacteria that they pick up around the kitchen. Perhaps you’ve heard that you can just microwave it from time to time to zap it of bacteria? Well that can kill off the weaker bacteria, only to cede more ground to the more dangerous, harder-to-kill varieties. (So stop doing that!) The point: Yes, absolutely, it’s probably time to replace that sponge! Rinse your sponge out thoroughly each time you use it, squeeze it to remove as much water as possible, but, depending on how often you use it, replace your old one with a new one every one to two weeks, max. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Water filter

If you pause to think about it, you’ll quickly realize that anything used to filter out bad stuff will get dirty. And when it’s saturated with said bad stuff, it won’t work well. This is precisely what happens with your water filters. Whether you have an under-sink unit, in-fridge unit, or a stand-alone pitcher, changing your water filters regularly ensures that, rather than imbibing water that’s been sifted through a backlog of undesirable gunk, you’re drinking the fresh, clean water you got the filters for in the first place! 

Not only does an old filter affect water flavor, but the buildup of deposits can also slow down the flow and harm your refrigerator. Replace the water filter in your fridge every six months with average use. Pitcher water filters should be changed out about every two months. In general, under-sink water filtration systems require their filters to be changed every six to 12 months, but, again, this depends on usage. Refer to your unit’s guidelines and keep a regular watch for signs of buildup. 

Related: How To Clean a Brita Pitcher

Credit: Sarah Crowley

3. Spices

Life’s too short for wimpy spices. Using old spices isn’t dangerous, but the more spices age, the less potent they become. Check your spices’ best-by dates, or, if you’ve decanted them, sniff them and look at them to judge their potency. Spices that are barely fragrant or that appear faded and dull aren’t going to flavor your food the way you want them to. Replacing them will bring that zing back into your cooking endeavors. 

4. Fire extinguisher

Thank goodness you’ve never had to use that fire extinguisher that’s been sitting under your sink for … how long? Obviously, your fire extinguisher needs to work in case you ever need to use it. A fire extinguisher can last anywhere from about five to 15 years, but you should check to make sure it’s still good for service. First off, the needle must be in the green area. Hoses, handles, and locking pins must also be in good condition. If in doubt, change it out. 

Credit: Hadrian/Shutterstock

5. Batteries in smoke alarm

Making sure that your smoke alarms have working batteries is imperative. Whether you (think you) know your smoke alarm is working or not, their batteries should be replaced one or two times a year. (A good way to remember this going forward is to change them when you change your clocks. Which we just recently did!) Also keep in mind that the smoke alarms themselves should be replaced every ten years.

Do you replace these things regularly?