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So, you still have the toothbrush with your dentist’s phone number on it? The one that came with the the goodie bag (Floss! Travel-sized Crest!) they sent you home with, after your cleaning? That’s fine, but let me ask you: When was the last time you got a cleaning? Considering most people only get their teeth cleaned every six months to a year, it might well be time to refresh that toothbrush.
My own brush—among other things—definitely does not get swapped out as often as it should, so I compiled a shortlist of things in my home (and yours), toothbrush included, that might need a quick evaluation.
Smoke Detector Batteries: Twice Yearly
Chances are, you don’t give your smoke or carbon monoxide detector much thought until your burnt meatballs create a billow of smoke in the kitchen, or it starts chirping at 3am. The rule of thumb for changing batteries on these annoying (albeit lifesaving) devices is once or twice a year, aka, more proactively than waiting for it to sound off. Plus, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month. Set a reminder on your phone and brace your ears—it’s worth it.
Toothbrush: Every 3 Months
Something that’s likely to collect bacteria (it’s in the same room as a flushing toilet, so this fact is indisputable) and then finds its way into your mouth should probably be treated with more care. Philips Sonicare recommends changing out your toothbrush (or your brush head) every three months. If this is way more than you’re used to, there’s good news: there are tons, and I mean tons, of companies that offer subscription services to keep your toothbrush so fresh and so clean (clean). Philips Sonicare, Quip, and Burst are just a few.
Water Pitcher Filter: Every 2 Months
If you’re like me, you probably ignore the flashing light on the Brita filter, too. I mostly use mine as a glorified gallon container—I mean, New York's tap water is totally fine to drink. But I’m lucky, and a lot of places don’t actually have potable water, so Brita recommends changing the filter every 40 gallons, or approximately every two months. If you live in an area with hard water, you should replace it more frequently.
Air Conditioning Filter: Every Month
If it’s been a bit since you looked inside your window AC unit...brace yourself. The filter acquires a lot of dust and grime, but fear not! You don’t even have to replace the filter, according to an HVAC source very close to me (it’s my boyfriend’s dad, the technical manager at C&C HVAC, that’s who); all you need to do is give it a wash once a month. Keep in mind you should wash it more often if you use it more than 12 hours a day. A gentle scrubbing with dish liquid and hot water does the trick; just make sure you let it fully dry before putting it back in the unit, to stave off mold.
Sheets: Every Week
Per Brooklinen, sheets should be changed and washed every week or so (we won’t tell if your number is closer to two), and ideally, sheets should be fully replaced after two years of use, with pillowcases needing replacement every six months to a year (just think about how many skin cells and mascara smudges and dust particles are in your sheets!). Or don’t, and just wash ‘em more regularly.
The Toilet Brush: Every Time
There might not actually be a more contaminated item in my apartment. I take that back: the tub drain is worse—I, unfortunately, know this from personal experience. Since it doesn’t make economical or environmental sense to get a new toilet brush every time you clean the toilet, Melissa Maker of Clean My Space advises you wash the brush every time you use it, and never, ever put it back in the brush cup still wet (this is where the nastiest growth happens). “After cleaning the toilet, rest the brush between the bowl and the seat,” she says, then “spray it generously with a disinfectant, such as rubbing alcohol, and let it sit, dripping wet, for 10 minutes or so.” Finish by “rinsing the brush in the hottest water possible and allow it to drip-dry again, using the same method.”