We get it, you invest in kitchen tools and want to make them last forever. However, some kitchen items just lose their quality over time, some deteriorate due to neglect while some can virtually last you forever. It’s important to regularly inspect your kitchen tools and accessories not just for aesthetics but also for you and your families safety. That Tupperware container you inherited from your mom that’s 15 years old may not be as safe as you think. We looked closely at 11 common kitchen items and we’re going to help you discover when it’s time to throw in the towel and toss them.
I hang onto dishcloths and towels longer than I like to admit. When you dry dishes here and there it doesn’t seem like a towel could get dirty so quickly but it actually can. We often use dish towels to dry dishes, wipe up counters or spills on the floor but keep in mind everytime it touches an area that has had dirty food, a beverage spill or what have you that bacteria will slowly build up over time.
Furthermore, dishcloths often sit in the sink for too long too. Bacteria thrives in wet environments which makes the kitchen sink the perfect target. Think about how many food spills or dirty dishes you have wiped with that dishcloth. Since these items can be easily laundered it would be wise to replace these on a daily basis and at most, replace them once a week.
Play It Safe: If not daily, at least once a week
Next to the dishcloth, we can quite often expect to find a sponge in the kitchen sink. Sponges are often necessary cause they can offer the kind of elbow grease that a cloth can’t especially for those hard to clean kitchen pots and pans. Like kitchen cloths, sponges can be a bacteria magnet. For the same reason, they sit in damp areas and often become wet, damp and sometimes don’t always fully dry.
Ideally, it would be best to toss your sponge daily but that would be quite wasteful and could get expensive. Since you can’t really wash your sponge in the laundry, as long as you leave it next to the sink for dishwashing purposes only you can hold onto it for a week or two. It’s important to wash your sponge after you’ve used it by cleaning it with hot soapy water. Keep in mind, if you ever touch it with raw meat it is best to throw that thing out right away. Lastly, try not to clean your kitchen counters with a sponge and use a cloth you can launder or paper towels you can compost.
Play It Safe: Biweekly at most
For starters, it is extremely important to designate different cuttings boards for different types of food. If you have a bad habit of cutting up your lettuce on the same cutting board you cut your raw chicken on, let me stop you right there. You need to cut that habit. Anything that touches food, especially foods that could sauce sickness (raw meets and even raw veggies) can be a source of contamination.
Some believe plastic cutting boards are cleaner and safer than wooden cutting boards but this isn’t always the case. Plastic cutting boards may be easier to clean and sanitize but they are also prone to scratches and deep groves once you cut on them. Whether you’re using a wooden or plastic cutting board as soon as they begin to develop deep grooves that are hard to clean is a good sign it’s time to toss and replace.
Play It Safe: When it’s worn
If you go into any household you will often find some sort of non-stick pots and pans. They’re popular for good reason. They are easy to clean due to its coating that prevents food from bonding to the surface. Further, due to the non-stick surface allows us to cook with little to no oil or butter.
As long as you maintain your non-stick pots and pans properly, including zero use of metal utensils on the surface and proper washing, should get you at least 5 years. However, if your pots and pans show any sign of peeling and or scratching on the surface it is definitely time to replace it both for the quality of the pan as well as your safety, who wants to ingest flaked off Teflon- No thanks!
Play It Safe: Max 5 years
Plastic containers are the saving grace when it comes to leftovers. When looking for the right ones we often lean towards shape and size and then strategically look for that “microwave safe” label. Afterall what are leftovers if you can’t reheat them in the same containers, am I right?
Considering we often heat and freeze those containers as well as store them in the fridge, there is no wonder that the plastic can break down over time. If you neglect a plastic container for too long and avoid the warning signs of when it’s time to toss, you risk contamination in your food. This can occur from heating the plastic which in turn, can leach chemicals into your food. If your plastic containers show any signs of deformation, discoloration or bad odor it is definitely time to toss and replace them.
Play It Safe: When they show signs of deformation, discoloration or have a bad odor
Now you might be asking yourself, what is the difference between ordinary plastic containers and Tupperware? To be honest, not a whole lot besides the satisfaction of getting a brand name. Tupperware has been around since it was established in 1946 in Massachusetts, United States. Tupperware launched and offered an opportunity for individuals to become their own bosses and start their own business by becoming a Tupperware Consultant. Since then it has built up a long and trusted reputation.
Technically speaking, Tupperware can last forever. Since they stand the test of time it isn’t uncommon to find inherited Tupperware in the house. However, Tupperware didn’t officially declare their products to be BPA free until March 2010, read HERE. You can do the math if your Tupperware doesn’t have that BPA free label or shows any signs previously discussed with other plastic containers then it is definitely time to toss it. And to help our environment, if possible and accommodated in your city, make sure to recycle your plastic containers.
Virtually lasts forever (after 2010 production)
Plastic lids deserve their own category because let’s face it, many of us store our plastic containers in a disarray. For the wise who store their lids directly on the container that it belongs to, I applaud you. However, if you’re like me and don’t have the patience they often get thrown in a cupboard or drawer with the rest.
There are a few things to look for when determining whether it’s time to toss your lids. Firstly, if the lid is showing any signs of warping and or can no longer seal to the container then there is no point in hanging on to it. Afterall, what good is a lid if it can’t seal and keep your food fresh. Furthermore, if the lid shows any signs of cracking you’ll want to toss it too. Lastly, it would be smart to dedicate time at least once a year to match up your lids to containers, if you’re holding on to any stragglers who don’t have a matching buddy it’s time to toss them, we don’t need that type of disorganization in our lives!
Play It Safe: When broken
For those who don’t have the luxury of an ice cube maker in their fridge will have to resort to ice cube trays. Now, you can find ice cube trays in all shapes, sizes forms and even materials. It’s as if all your childhood ice making dreams have come true. Practically speaking, however, the most common ice cube tray is a plastic or silicone mold. Although did you know they won’t last you forever?
The easiest sign to tell if your ice cube tray is on its way out is if it develops an odor that even a decent washing can’t fix. Our ice cube trays are victim to many things in the freezer such as freezer burn, gross freezer aromas etc. If you often use a silicone mold it’s important to make your ice, transfer to an airtight container and store the silicone mold in a dry cupboard. This is because silicone is much more absorbent than other materials and can cause some bad tasting ice. A good rule of thumb is don’t store your ice in its tray for more than a week or it will absorb all the funky smells from your freezer and your guests will have to pretend their drinking good tasting water.
Play It Safe: When they give off a bad odor
It is safe to say almost everyone has heard about the danger of grill brushes by now. If you haven’t, there have been several scary stories in the news raising awareness about grill brushes and what an old one can do to us. Some stories stated that the wire bristles fell off into the cooked food and punctured their throat. Wire bristles could even puncture the stomach and even our intestines so it’s extremely important to pay attention to the quality of the brush.
If you still swear by a grill brush with wire bristles you need to be wary of when it’s time to toss it. Whether you store it in your kitchen or right beside the barbeque it won’t last you as long as you think. It’s important to inspect it regularly and if any bristles become lose it’s time to toss. You will generally find you can get only a couple months out of your brush and then it is time to replace.
Play It Safe: Every Couple of Months
Wood is known to be one of the oldest materials used for a large variety of tools. Specifically, in the kitchen, wood is an excellent material because it is known to be naturally antibacterial and can last for very long periods of time. Like wooden cutting boards, it is important that we take care of our wooden tools to prolong their lifespan too.
If your wooden utensils become dry or worn you can condition them with a mineral oil or beeswax conditioner. It’s important to note that you cannot use other oils such as olive oil or vegetable oil because they can go rancid. However conditioning our tools won’t make them last forever and eventually, they will split or crack. When this happens that will be the biggest and easiest indicator that it is time to toss and replace.
Play It Safe: When they show signs of cracking
If you invest in a good quality set of knives they should last you a really long time, like your lifetime type of a long time. However, over time and after prolonged usage knives can become dull. This isn’t a reason to toss your knife. Many knives can be saved by getting them sharpened or sharpening them yourself.
If you have a cheap set of knives and sharpening them isn’t doing the trick then it’s time to toss them and invest in a good quality set. Furthermore, if the handles break off and are beyond repair that is another sign that you should definitely toss them. The bottom line is if you invest in good quality tools and maintain their quality they’re well worth your hard-earned dollars.
Virtually lasts forever
Many households have a cast iron skillet. Whether it was gifted as a wedding gift or past down for generations this durable cookware can last forever. It can last forever but only if you are willing to take care of it properly.
The only way you’ll need to toss your cast iron skillet is if it cracks or breaks which can occur often if you drop it. However, many caked on food residue or corrosion can be removed. It is also important to season your skillet everyone once in a while to maintain it’s integrity.
Virtually lasts forever