Replacing items in your home can be an inconvenient and costly business, so it’s not surprising many of us wait until something is broken, or no longer fit for purpose, before swapping it for a newer model.
But according to experts, holding onto everyday items for too long can have a detrimental effect on your health – and the results are not pretty.
From mattresses and pillows to kitchen utensils and cleaning equipment, household items can become a breeding ground for germs and diseases, so understanding their life cycle is the key to keeping allergies and bugs at bay.
Take those lumpy, yellowing pillows you’ve been meaning to replace for months – according to the Sleep Council, an old pillow could contain as much as 10% of its weight in skin scale, mould, dead and living dust mites and their allergen-laden droppings.
To avoid this gruesome scenario, the Sleep Council recommends that pillows are replaced every two years and duvets, for the same reason, every five.
Dr Robert Oexman, Director of the Sleep to Live Institute in the U.S, takes things a step further, advising they are changed as often as every six months.
But if those figures make you feel a little uncomfortable, you’re not alone. According to a study of 2,000 Brits, the average person uses their pillows and duvet a year longer than recommended.
Jed MacEwan, Managing Director of Ergoflex, which commissioned the survey, said: “We can’t quite believe that 82% of Britons don’t know the recommended time periods which dictate when you should replace your bedding, not to mention that the average Briton uses their pillows and duvet for between one and two years longer than they should.
“Not only are they increasing their chances of having restless nights, they’re also risking sustained periods of sleeping without an adequate level of support to the neck and head, along with various hygiene problems that may arise from dust mite infestations in older bedding.”
If changing your bedding every few months still sounds a little excessive, you could take a tip from Allergy UK and help maximise protection of your bedding against dust mite allergens by using allergy-proof covers on bedding, and washing bedding regularly.
But although Allergy UK cites the bedroom as the home’s main hotspot when it comes to dust mite allergens, the bedroom is not the only room in the house that could be harbouring unwanted guests.
The toilet is the obvious hotspot when it comes to the spread of germs and bacteria but research suggests the kitchen is just as germ-ridden.
According to NHS Choices, although most people think of the toilet as the most contaminated part of the house, the kitchen sink typically contains 100,000 times more germs than a bathroom or lavatory – which doesn’t say much for those dishcloths and washing up sponges.
To help keep your home as healthy as possible, we’ve compiled a list of some of the worst offending household items when it comes to spreading germs - with an expert recommendation on how long you should keep them.