Spring Cleaning List: 10 Things to toss or replace yearly

Out with the old, in with the new. Need to do some spring cleaning but don’t know what to do exactly?

As we approach a new year, a good thing to do is to take stock of the things you’ve amassed over the year (or have hoarded for a long time), and see what needs to go. Treat it as a way of detoxifying your home and decluttering your personal space, so that you can step into a new year, new you afresh!

18 Things to throw away before Chinese New Year

Helpling, a platform for cleaning services, says you can start by throwing commonly germ-infested items away. Here are 18 things to throw away or replace when you’re doing your spring cleaning.

1. Old cleaning materials

It’s time to take a good hard look at your collection of cleaning materials, including mops, brooms, scrubs, sponges, and toilet brushes.

If any of them is looking really rough around the edges, it’s probably time to replace them. Having new bristles can help you clean up more effectively, saving energy in the process.

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2. Yellowing bed sheets & mattresses

If your bedlinen is going gray or developing suspicious stains, it’s time to let them go and buy new ones. The same goes for your mattress and pillows — take advantage of the holiday sales to get their replacements.

If your mattress is showing signs of wear and tear, or you wake up with aches and pains, it’s time for a new one. But sometimes it’s not always obvious — if your mattress is older than seven years, it’s usually no longer providing you with the best comfort and support.

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3. Dying plants

In Feng Shui terms, dying plants aren’t good for the home. Replace these with new ones to bring in good energy before the Chinese New Year.

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4. Expired food and other consumables

Check your larder and fridge for any food that’s well past its consume-by date. The same goes for condiments, like ketchup and chilli sauce, health supplements, and medication. It’s also a good idea to invest in some containers to organise loose food items in the fridge, such as fruits and drink cans.

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5. Old dehumidifiers and scent sachets

There are probably some old scent sachets and Thirsty Hippo dehumidifiers that we’ve long forgotten about lurking in your wardrobe. Replace those with fresh ones for the new year.

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6. Chipped or stained plates & bowls

We all have that chipped plate or coffee-stained mug that we can’t bear to throw away. Invest in some new ones, especially if you’re welcoming plenty of guests into your home this new year.

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7. Chopping boards

Over time, cutting boards can become a breeding ground for germs, whether the boards are wood or plastic. They live and multiply on the board, especially when grooves form over time which can’t be cleaned properly. Check your cutting board — if it has deep grooves scored into it, it’s probably time to replace it.

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8. Old soap containers

If you have reusable soap containers, check the insides and the bottom — it’s likely that if you’ve had them for a long time in a damp place like the bathroom, mould and soap scum would have accumulated over time.

Throw out any empty bottles and check the expiry dates on those that are still filled. If you’re not sure, you can tell by how well something is working.

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9. Towels and bath mats

Being damp almost all the time means that towels and bath mats are the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. If you’ve had yours for a long time and they’re starting to show signs of staining or fraying, consider investing in new ones this new year.

Especially if you chuck them frequently into the washer and dryer, your bath towels can fade and become stiff. Donate old towels to animal shelters or recycle them as kitchen rags, unless they’ve got mould or stains on them.

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10. Plastic bags

Which true blue Singaporean homeowner doesn’t have a plastic bag full of other NTUC plastic bags?

Sort through these and keep only the bags that are large enough to be reused as dustbin liners or for food waste disposal, and place the rest in a recycling bin in your estate. Same goes for the ’nicer’ paper shopping bags — keep only 5 or 6, and recycle the rest.

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Spring Cleaning List: 10 things to toss or replace yearly

11. Shaving razor blades

Do you store the razor in the shower? The humidity, hair residues and foam makes the environment conducive for the spreading of mold. Replace the blades every two weeks – or earlier when they get rusty or blunt. Our tip: Hang up the shaver on a holder where it is dry, because lesser moisture, lesser germs.

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12. Dishwashing sponges

Sponges are used for keeping stoves and cutleries clean, right? Unfortunately that’s not always the case: an old sponge might be spreading more dirt than removing it.

On average, there are more than 10 million germs on a sponge per square meter. So, if you use a sponge daily, don’t forget to replace it every week! Also, if you are using the sponge to scrub the toilet, throw it away immediately – don’t be too stingy.

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13. Cutting or chopping boards

Be it wood or plastic – one thing is certain: over time, cutting boards become a large germ battlefield. Meat and vegetable residues will turn mouldy, no matter how well you clean it. Although there is no fixed lifespan for cutting boards, deeps cut marks are a good indicator to say goodbye to them.

Using a different board for different food groups will make them last longer. Be sure to season wooden boards with oil and wash using hot water and detergent after every use. Replace a board when it starts to look stained and old.

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14. Dish or kitchen towels

Do you dry your hands quickly with the dishtowel and place it back wet? This is how hidden germs are formed.

According to a study, 89 per cent of all towels are contaminated with E. coli, causing e.g. gastric diseases. Bacteria can spread perfectly in these cottons due to the high moisture content. So replace your dishtowels once a week and wash it at 60 degrees.

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Spring Cleaning List: 10 things to toss or replace yearly

15. Pillows

A comfortable pillow is necessary for a relaxing sleep. But the following items make it unbearable: loose hair strands, dried skin and sweat that seeps into the pillow. Despite the protection of the pillowcase, this creates a nutritious place for mites.

Pillows collect dead skin cells, dust mites and fungi, so it’s a good idea to replace these when they’re looking or smelling funky. If hygiene isn’t the problem, think about whether they’re giving enough support. Memory foam pilllows last longer but if yours is getting soft, it’s time for a new one.

Dispose your pillow at least once every three years. You can extend the lifespan by washing it every three months at 60 degrees in fine washing program.

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16. Soap bars

Germs like to breed in a wet environment, such as wet soaps. Even after 48 hours, there will still be microorganisms on it, including pathogens. Our advice: Use two different bars of soap. While one is drying, use the other one. When the soaps harden, bacteria will have minimal chance for reproduction.

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17. Toothbrush

A study has shown that millions of bacteria can spread causing gastric diseases, just by the use of one toothbrush alone. Therefore, replace your toothbrush every three months and throw it away immediately after a cold. This is how you prevent a new infection!

If the bristles on your toothbrush are starting to splay (as opposed to remaining stick-straight), it’s time to replace it. A trick to check is to look at your toothbrush from the back — if you can see bristles sticking out, it’s a sure sign that your toothbrush needs to be changed.

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18. Contact lens cases

Many cases are actually contaminated with fungi and bacteria. And bacteria can survive in a moisturised area for a long time! This means they can mature on the lenses as well as on the eye. It is therefore important to exchange the cases every month to ensure a germ-free view.

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Spring Cleaning List: 10 things to toss or replace yearly

19. Medicine

Go through your medicine cabinet carefully and throw away any pills or consumables that have expired, as they can cause more health problems if someone takes them unwittingly.

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20. Stationery

You may have accumulated quite a collection of pens over the year, whether from hotels or events, but not all of them might still be functioning. Test each one out on a blank sheet of paper, and chuck those that don’t work anymore.

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21. Door gifts & wedding favours

Admit it — you still have door gifts from someone’s wedding sitting somewhere in a display glass shelf. If you’re not going to use it, give it away, donate it or simply get rid of it because you don’t need unnecessary clutter in your life!

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22. Old pots & pans

The non-stick coating can flake off and be mixed in with your food, causing health problems when ingested. Make sure to throw out any such pans if they’ve been scratched. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Parts of this story first appeared on The Singapore Women’s Weekly.