Nothing lasts forever, but that doesn’t stop certain people from holding on to stuff for way too long. While they may avoid being labeled a “hoarder,” their cabinets, shelves, and closets are stuffed to the brim with things that should’ve been thrown out months before.
You may be surprised by all the items that you keep using after the recommended period. Grab some garbage bags and get into the cleaning mindset: trashing these 20 items (probably in your house right now) might improve your health — or even save a life!
1. Pacifiers: Babies might not like this, but parents should switch out pacifiers every couple months. Otherwise, the latex will start to crack, or the pacifier will become a hotbed for germs if your child becomes ill.
2. Skillets: Flipping a pancake is already stressful enough, so don’t make it any more difficult. Replace your non-stick pans every six to twelve months, and there will — hopefully — be fewer kitchen disasters.
3. Power strips: We all juggle a thousand devices these days, and that means we juggle a thousand charging cables, too. To prevent fire hazards, test out your power strips every couple years to make sure they can handle a plethora of cords. Your phone will thank you.
4. Bug spray: Anyone can slap away a single mosquito, but an entire swarm is another question. But don’t rely on that old bottle of bug spray. It actually loses its potency as time goes on. Only the newer stuff will help keep the itch away.
Aurora / Svetlana Bahchevanova
5. Couch: Be honest. How often do you actually clean your sofa? If you own pets, grime will overrun your couch after several years, and if you sit frequently, it’ll sag and be less comfortable. High-quality furniture lasts longer, so a pricier sofa is likely worth the investment.
6. Bike helmets: Smart cyclists always take measures to protect themselves. Not only should you wear a helmet, but you should also buy a new one every once in a while. They often sit in your garage and bake, and high temperatures make helmets less resilient.
Flickr / Chris Deatrick
7. Fire extinguishers: Most of us hope to never have to put out a fire, but in the event that you need an extinguisher, you’d certainly want it to work. For proper fire safety, service it every couple of years and consider replacing it every twenty.
8. Yoga mat: While you’re busy finding your center, tons of bacteria are finding their way into the grooves of your yoga mat. Rotating new mats into your routine helps prevent nasty infections like athlete’s foot.
Flickr / Sandy Moynihan
9. Toothbrush: Even if you brush your teeth twice a day just like the dentist says, it might not be doing you any good if you’re using an old brush. After a couple of months, the bristles wear out and become home to all kinds of microscopic gunk.
10. Hairbrush: To keep your ‘do looking fresh, definitely clean out your brush every week and consider getting a new brush each year to keep your mane really fresh. It should be noted that any hairbrush works perfectly as a pretend microphone, regardless of age.
11. Makeup: Even the bravest beauty queens out there can’t lean on one cosmetic forever. Each item has a limited shelf life, after which it’ll be less effective. Additionally, you should absolutely toss out makeup after applying it to an infected area like a cold sore.
12. Passwords: It’s not just physical items you need to replace. To ensure your security online, experts recommend that you update your computer passwords every couple of years. That way, you can always stay one step ahead of identity thieves!
13. Sponges: Though it’s one of the handiest cleaning tools around, your sponge can do more harm than good after a couple weeks. You can boil it in hot water to eliminate bacteria growth, or just throw it out! Make sure you don’t nail anybody in the face with it, though.
14. Water bottles: It’s a safe bet to stock up on bottled water in case of emergencies, but the plastic caps actually start to deteriorate after a couple of years. Its chemicals start to bleed into the water — so you should probably avoid old bottles (you can still stack them into a fort)!
15. Tires: Without regular tire inspections, your car is at a high risk for accidents. If you notice bald patches on the rubber, then it’s definitely time to switch. But you don’t have to toss the tire out in the garbage — maybe it could make a nice swing?
Flickr / Marilou Goodwin
16. Running shoes: Exercising is the bee’s knees, but make sure you’re using the right tools. For running shoes, you’re best off grabbing a new pair every 300 miles. After that point, your shoes won’t provide the same support, and you risk all kinds of injury.
17. Refrigerator: When it comes to cleaning out your fridge, it’s best not to wait until it’s a biological hazard. If you have the finances, you’re best off buying a new refrigerator every ten or so years. Newer energy-efficient models might even save you on your power bills!
18. Pillows: Sleep is important, so don’t underestimate the value of a good pillow. Upgrading to a new one regularly will prevent a build-up of dust mites and provide better support for your neck and back. Sweet dreams!
19. Washers and Dryers: Quality appliances can last up to ten years (and provide your cat with countless hours of entertainment). But after that, they tend to develop serious mechanical issues or become unable to effectively wash the stink off your clothes.
20. Spices: Are you a proud citizen of Flavortown? As you would expect, salt, pepper, and other seasonings in your cupboard won’t necessarily go bad, but they do lose their taste over time. Rotate fresh spices into your kitchen and keep your recipes as tasty.
Flickr / heydrienne
21. Okay, so obviously there are plenty of things we really need to let go of, but there are plenty more that have a second life just waiting to begin! For example, rather than buy fresh wood, this carpenter used old doors, creating a funhouse effect around the yard.
Reddit / wrankin1101
22. Any veterans out there will appreciate this tip. If you’re unsure about what to do with all your old uniforms, take a page out of this book and make them into a cat bed cover! Your new superior officers (the kitties) will appreciate your service.
Reddit / hellostarbucks
23. Some dads are handier around the house than others, but this former airline pilot came up with a nifty idea. Rather than throwing away his stacks of maps, he put them to good use as wrapping paper. That’s first-class service!
Reddit / skonen_blades
24. Most people wouldn’t view a $4 t-shirt as anything special, except for standard laundry day attire. However, this DIY-designer turned the bland shirt into a highly stylish collared dress! By the looks of this photo, she’s about to step out on the catwalk.
Reddit / GrinningCatBus
25. Even the best photographers have bits of film that don’t develop properly. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve lost their artistic potential. For example, they can serve as perfectly framed canvases for miniature paintings.
26. In an effort to convert to a zero-plastic household, these innovators repurposed some empty whiskey bottles. They say that it not only offers a more sustainable option but also that “it helps our house look more rock n’ roll.”
Reddit / upsidedownmoonbeam
27. If you want a pair of shoes that are inexpensive and eco-friendly, look no further. This African entrepreneur makes comfy sandals out of old tires. Most impressively, he can size customers up to the nearest millimeter without needing any measuring tools!
Reddit / OneHundredKilometers
28. Most of us likely haven’t sat in a shopping cart for decades. However, that can all change once you realize that with a bit of DIY magic, any cart can transform into durable patio furniture! One note: it wouldn’t hurt to toss some cushions on those steel chairs.
Reddit / Rezaime
29. Don’t feel ashamed if you’re one of those people who keeps out their Christmas decorations way too long. By carefully stringing up these lights — and skipping the disposable tree altogether — you’ll have a gift that just keeps on giving.
Reddit / noslowsongs
30. We wouldn’t recommend that you stop bathing to help save the Earth. However, there are little things you can do. For instance, you can make your own shampoo bars, which will cut out the plastic bottles and only cost you $20 per year.
Reddit / eloquinee
31. Each year, we get a torrent of holiday cards in our mailboxes, often from people we barely know. Nevertheless, they could be more useful than you’d think. With a little bit of cutting, you can salvage a bunch of gift tags to use the following year.
Reddit / OfficerUnreasonable
32. Libraries often resort to dumping out old or duplicate books, but this branch came up with a novel alternative. They formed stacks of vintage hardcovers into stools. Even if they’re no longer being read, these tomes are giving people a place to read.
33. At just about any store, you can blow a few bucks on a drawer organizer that may or may not fit inside your furniture. Or, you can make a fully customizable version out of old cardboard. Put those boxes in your basement or attic to good use!
Reddit / wahlb3rg
34. In some hidden corner of our homes, many of us have stashed away a giant bundle of plastic grocery bags, which we someday hope to recycle. Finally, here’s a way to make that wish come true — just weave them into a reusable shopping bag like this one.
Reddit / pegamoose
35. There’s no sight more hilarious than a little kid putting on adult-sized clothes. However, there is a sensible idea buried somewhere in all those folds of fabric. Some crafty folks have taken old dress shirts and cut baby clothes right out of the middle!
Reddit / tammyrich
36. Reusable bags tend to be pretty cheap, but do you know what’s even cheaper? Making your own! This Redditor simply took an old pet food bag and added a handle to make a trendier accessory than you’d find in any store.
Reddit / GrinningCatBus
37. More so than any other article of clothing, t-shirts really pile up. But instead of just tossing your oldies in the trash, consider sewing them into a quilt! You can experiment with colors and patterns to make it a future family heirloom.
Reddit / AlchemistDoctor
38. For most people, there’s no trash more commonplace than dead leaves on the ground. But did you know that they can make some all-natural confetti? This project is perfect for any mountain man throwing a surprise party.
39. We may not always realize it, but even the smallest components of everyday objects can be mighty when properly utilized. Just look at this mom, who knitted an entire scarf out of nothing but tea bag string! If she’s lucky, that scarf will smell like chamomile.
Reddit / fluraichean
40. After a huge dinner party, this Redditor’s friends were about to toss a huge turkey carcass in the trash. Luckily, she grabbed it and made over a dozen jars of savory stock from it! We bet you never thought the word ‘carcass’ could be so appetizing!
Reddit / HamishCat
41. You might think that one lip balm tube in the trash doesn’t mean much, but they add up to a lot of waste over time. As a matter of fact, you can eliminate this issue altogether by saving the tubes and re-filling them with a homemade, organic concoction.
Reddit / logibearr
42. Remember that not every item’s second life has to involve a ton of work. Any glass jar can instantly become a cup, though we recommend you clean it out first. And you’ll get bonus points for using a metal straw instead of a plastic one.
Reddit / battraman
43. Some objects, like pom poms hats, actually serve a purpose most people don’t know! The pom poms were put on hats to keep sailors from bumping their heads below deck, and that’s not the only everyday object with a little-known primary use…
44. Everyone knows Chupa Chups as a brand of delicious lollipops that feature a unique, square-shaped hole at the top of each stick. The square hole actually helps the lollipop stay firmly attached to the stick during the candy-making process!
45. Having a crease running down the front of suit pants might be considered fashionable now, but that wasn’t always the case. In the 19th century, suits were sent to the United States in the cargo holds of massive ships. They were pressed flat to save space, and the resulting crease was so hard to iron out that the crease just became the style.
46. Have you ever wondered about that funny “pocket” in the crotch of some ladies’ underwear? It’s there so that the seams of the underwear will appear on the outside of the garment, making the underwear much more comfortable to wear!
47. Do you know those little patches on the top of your backpack were originally placed on backpacks so that the people carrying them would have a place to loop their ropes while campin? In most cases now, those patches are just another stylish detail meant more for looking good than for function.
48. If you can’t figure out why there’s a tiny hole between your iPhone’s flash and camera lens, it’s actually a secondary microphone, which helps your phone filter out background noise. It also helps your phone’s personal assistant, Siri, understand different accents.
49. When the Heinz company was at the top of their game, they had 57 different varieties of food. Now, the number 57 is strategically placed on their glass ketchup bottles to denote the best spot to hit the bottle whenever you’re struggling to pour out your ketchup.
50. Most lotions, shampoos, and makeup products you buy have a series of mysterious symbols on them. The top-most symbol actually lets you know the shelf-life of the product! So if you see “12M” (as pictured below), that means that you have 12 months from the time you opened the bottle to use it before it expires.
51. The notched blades on retractable box cutters can seem a little confusing. What’s their point if the blade is going to eventually get dull? This long strip is actually made up of several blades, with each notch marking where the next blade one begins. When your old blade gets dull, safely break off the end at the next notch, and you will have a brand new blade ready to go!
52. You know that funny little “button” on the bottom of your rearview mirror? It actually has a purpose. When you are driving at night, pushing the button back can help you from being blinded by bright oncoming headlights without losing any visibility.