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How Often Do You Need to Replace Your Bathroom Essentials?

By: Justin Chaplin
January 22, 2020

You know that saying, "Out with the old and in with the new?" We're pretty sure it all started when someone stepped into their bathroom in horror and realized nothing was less than a year old except their toilet paper.

Before you toss all your bathroom items into one giant garbage bag and start over from scratch, read up on when you should throw out those bathroom must-haves, from toilet brushes to makeup.

  • Bathroom Essentials
  • Personal Hygiene Items
  • Skincare
  • Makeup
  • Medications and Supplies
  • Words of Advice

Bathroom Essentials

Let's kick off the bathroom items list by scrutinizing your must-haves.

Toilet Brush - Science says we should toss our toilet brushes every six months in between safe, baby-proof cleanings. Okay, it's not science, but just good common sense to throw out your toilet brush when it's too gross to keep in your apartment. You should toss it after a bout of a stomach bug or if it’s been six months. 

Shower Curtain - Steam, soap scum, and post-party funk can start to make your shower curtain look dingy and dirty. Add a liner to your shower and scrub it down every few months. Throw a fabric shower curtain in the wash every three or four months. 

Showerheads and Filters - Ever wonder how much grime is shooting out of your showerheads and onto your head? If you're nervously patting your head right now, you're not alone. You probably need to replace your shower head cartridge every six months to a year. It depends on the manufacturing and how often you shower. 

Bathroom Mat or Rug - It may come as a shock, but you only need to replace bathroom items like mats once every year or two. It depends on how well you clean it. Wash it once a week with your towels unless you and your roomie have filthy feet. 

Bathroom Sponges - Your kitchen sponges that sit around collecting germs are likely dirtier than your toilet. Meanwhile, tidying up your bathroom once in a while isn't a cause for alarm to toss all your sponges. Toss those bathroom sponges once every three months unless you keep funky bathroom habits.

Bathtub - Did you know you actually need to replace a bathtub once in a while? If your tub looks like it came from a junkyard, ask your landlord if it's been replaced in the last 10 to 15 years. If it's been a decade or more, it's time. 

Bathroom Scale Battery - Have you noticed how everyone keeps the scale in the bathroom so we can shed extra ounces along with extra clothes? If your scale is acting up, try swapping out the batteries. The rule of thumb is every three years for alkaline batteries or 10 years for lithium.

Personal Hygiene Items

Adulting is all about admitting we can't wipe our hands on our pants anymore and using a bath mat instead of tracking water through our apartment. Here's what to replace to keep your personal hygiene habits in check.

Hand Towels - Do you creatively turn bathroom items like towels on their bar, so no one notices they're permanently stained, frayed, and torn? Time to change them. Otherwise, replace them every two years. Wash them every few days to keep germs at bay.

Bath Towels - It turns out, we should replace our towels before they're so threadbare they resemble toilet paper. Try replacing bathroom items like towels every two to three years. That is, unless they're exceptionally thin or dingy. In that case, upgrade yourself to guest towel status and dry yourself in luxury.

Loofah - You know that fabulous loofah that made you feel like you were on Oprah's Favorite Things? Well, if that was longer than a month ago, you need to replace it. Mold is also a deal-breaker at any point, especially if you're Oprah.

Toothbrush - Follow the American Dental Association’s (ADA) advice. Toss your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. We also recommend throwing out any toothbrush you suspect your roomie mistakenly used after a late night on a pub crawl. 

Razor Blades - There's no hard and fast rule about when to throw out razor blades.  Watch for nicking of the skin, pulling, or lots of gunk piling up. A subscription box of your favorite blades can also help you remember and make your skin feel amazing.

Hairbrushes and Combs - It's easy to ignore the mess going on with your brush or comb when it's shoved into a drawer with other bathroom items. Clean your hair tools once a week or sooner if your hair is long or full of products. Otherwise, toss those hairbrushes and combs about every six months.

Contact Lens Case - The health of your eyes is contingent on where you store your contact lenses. Contact lens cases may look durable. However, the American Optometric Association recommends replacing them within three months. 

Clothes - Clothes can last indefinitely. So, you don’t need to replace them until you're ready or need an excuse to reinvent your wardrobe. Unless you just wore a sweatshirt for a quick errand, it's best to wash your clothes after every wash. And who are we kidding, those bras are only going to get washed after every three or four uses. That’s generally okay if you're not working up a New Year's resolution sweat.

Skincare Products

It seems like people are pretty good about investing in skincare. However, many are less conscientious about throwing out those washes and creams that are older than our last relationship. Here's how to approach your "toss the skincare" routine. 

Face Wash - Do facial cleaners even expire when they're designed to... well, clean? It's time to throw out your facial cleanser if it suddenly smells weird. It’s also time to toss it if it’s now a different color or texture than when you bought it, or it feels off.

Soap - Here's some good news for hoarders who love to hold onto those fancy bars of soap. Use them up now. A well-drained bar of soap lasts about a month before it starts breaking down and getting slippery. That can make your bathroom items look gross by association.

Shampoo - Did you score an apartment with lots of linen closet space? You can stock it with shampoo and leave it untouched for a few years. However, once it's open, you should toss it within 18 months. 

Creams - Creams don't just feel amazing on our skin. Those bottles and jars make our bathroom look like a spa. Instead of holding onto these bathroom items indefinitely, throw them away within a year. You may need to toss them sooner if your skin starts to feel itchy. You can also squash those temptations by knowing those open jars can breed bacteria and transfer to your face. 


We all want to look our best strolling through the neighborhood or bar-hopping across the city. However, experts say we still need to toss that makeup before it gives us a funky rash or bacterial infection. 

Mascara - Love pumping up your non-existent eyelashes with mascara? Replace your tube of mascara every three months to avoid red eyes and bacterial infections.

Eyeliner - Mascara and eyeliner usually go hand in hand. They should also journey into the trash can together with other bathroom items. Throw out that eyeliner every three months. That’ll help keep your eyes looking healthy and fresh.

Foundation - Foundation gives your skin an even, glowing look. You can use the same bottle for about a year. Throw it out sooner if the consistency changes or you suddenly notice an unpleasant skin reaction.

Lipstick - Worried that we're going to insist you toss your super special lipstick? You can keep it for about a year after its first use. However, you can stretch that a bit if the consistency and color are still holding up.

Blushes - Transform your sunless, wintry face with some blush for up to two years after its first use. Then, toss it and find something else to brighten up those cheeks.

Eyeshadows - Like blushes, eyeshadows can usually stick around your bathroom for about two years after their first use. You might want to toss them sooner if you're reusing the same old makeup brush or digging your fingers in to scoop out those last powdery bits.

Makeup Brushes - Makeup brushes may keep your face look flawless, but need some upkeep. Maintain them, clean them, then toss them about every three months with your other bathroom items.

Medications and Supplies

Let's all vow to not be those grown-ups who keep cough syrup that's five or six years old around in case of an emergency. Here's what to do about those old meds and supplies.

Medication - Unlike a bag of chips that you can probably still eat after the expiration date, you need to toss expired medications immediately. You could risk popping a few pills whose composition has changed and is now too strong or too weak. Then, you may not understand how it's impacting your body. Just say no.

First Aid Kit - Remember how you felt like such a grown-up after getting that first aid kit? Now you can go adulting every few months by checking on what’s inside that kit. Make sure any pain relievers are still current, supplies are in good shape, and any flashlight batteries are still working.

Three Words of Advice

When in doubt about bathroom items, our advice is, “toss, replace, and repeat.” If not for yourself, do it for your roommate, who has to live with the hand towels you haven't replaced since graduating college.

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Justin is a Content Manager and contributing author at Apartment List, helping people navigate the world of renting. Justin previously spent his time earning his BBA in Marketing from Boise State University. Read More
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