I'd like to make a controversial statement:
Household chores are not fun.
Yeah, you heard me—cleaning stinks. Personally, I'd rather be doing a number of things, like skateboarding with a backwards hat on, or staying up all night eating pizza and not doing any homework.
Sooner or later, though, we're all forced to hang up our backwards hat in favor of another, less-cool hat: the grown-up hat. Yes, chores are an essential part of being a boring, exhausted adult (one that would rather go to bed early, perhaps after eating a plate of vegetables).
But even the tidiest among us could be neglecting some pretty gross stuff—the type of stuff that's right there under our noses. I'm talkin' about the everyday household things that practically beg to be neglected, usually because of how little we actually think about them when they're not being used.
Here are some of the worst offenders—the disgusting companions of your daily routine that have flown under the radar long enough. If you have no choice but to be a responsible, chore-doing adult, you may as well be thorough about it.
1. Replace your warped, germ-infested cutting board with the best one I've ever used.
Everyone loves wooden cutting boards—they're aesthetically pleasing and feel great to use. Unfortunately, they tend to be tricky to clean since they can't just be tossed in the dishwasher at the end of a meal.
And then there's the issue of basic food safety: Wooden cutting boards feature uneven, porous surfaces that see relentless scraping, gouging, and scoring over the course of their lives. Once you introduce food to the equation, all bets are off: Your cutting board is now a prime breeding ground for disgusting (not to mention potentially harmful) bacteria.
There's a good chance they use Epicurean cutting boards in the kitchen of your favorite restaurant. Their dense, non-porous wood fiber is safer than regular wooden cutting surfaces, softer on blades, and can even be washed in a dishwasher. They're one of my favorite tools in the kitchen. Ditch your smelly, discolored cutting board and start fresh.
2. Get a new dish sponge and get rid of the one you've been using for way too long.
How often do you change your sponges? Be honest—it's probably not often enough.
A study published by Scientific Reports last summer concluded that dish sponges are much more bacteria-laden than previously thought, since they tend to be warm, wet, and covered in food particles. These researches concluded that dish sponges should ideally be replaced at least once a week—even if you're in the habit of cleaning them in the dishwasher, the microwave, or submerged in boiling water.
Your best bet is to step-up your dish sponge game by being more thoughtful when it comes to buying them. Lucky for you, we've done most of the ground work already. In our round-up of the best kitchen sponges of 2018, we found that Scotch-Brite's all-purpose Dobie pads were the overall best option for most people. Plus, a three-pack will only set you back about five bucks—that should last you about a month.
3. Stop using that horrible pouf ball thing in the shower—it's not good for you.
There's no way my friends, family, and co-workers aren't sick and tired of me yelling about those mesh shower pouf things by now, but that's not going to stop me from bringing it up every chance I get.
In the interest of time, I'll keep it short: That $3 pouf ball thing you've got hanging up in your bathroom right now is a straight-up nightmare. It's full of dead skin cells, potentially harmful bacteria, and because it's never really completely dry, it's getting worse by the minute. Dermatologists hate them, I hate them, and damn it—you deserve better.
These Japanese nylon bath cloths are long enough to scrub your back, can be hung up to dry on a towel rack, and won't fall apart in a washing machine. They've helped me with breakouts, dry skin, and maintaining some peace of mind. Grab a three-pack for around $12 and don't look back.
4. Your toilet brush's only purpose is to clean toilets—there's never a bad time to get a new one.
Your toilet brush—you do have a toilet brush, don't you?—lives in a creepy, gross little corner next to your toilet. Its only job involves being inside of your toilet bowl. There's a very good chance, therefore, that the time has come for a new one.
I've had the unfortunate opportunity to try a number of budget-friendly toilet brushes throughout the years, and almost all of them had fatal flaws that left me fed up. For my money, the best affordable toilet brush is the Libman "Designer" bowl brush and caddy. What I dig most about this set are the slits that wrap around the caddy, which allows for proper air circulation. As a result, the brush doesn't end up festering in its own moisture.
5. The grease-splattered area surrounding your stovetop burners doesn't have to be nasty.
Scrubbing your stove to a spotless shine can sometimes seem like a Sisyphean situation—with every new meal comes a new wave of grease splatter. So when I saw these disposable aluminum burner "bibs" in my friend's kitchen recently, I was kind of blown away. Why hadn't I ever considered the prospect of a product that prevents this predicament in the first place?
They're designed to fit the burners of just about any gas-powered stovetop (particularly the garden-variety stovetops you might find in an apartment), and a pack 45 of them only costs about ten bucks.
6. Your bath towels are honestly starting to smell funky.
Like those mesh shower poufs, towels collect dirt, dead skin, toilet microbes, and moisture, making them the perfect place for bacteria to throw a five-alarm rager and invite all their friends.
Before I tell you how often you should be washing your towel, I've got to warn you: You're not gonna like it. Hell, I don't like it.
You ready for this? Every three to four uses, max. That's uses, mind you—not days—and that's only if you're hanging the towel up in a way that allows for it to dry completely.
When I moved into a new apartment this month, I took it as an opportunity to upgrade my towel situation—I needed to get enough of them to change every couple of days without needing to do laundry just as frequently. I'm also picky about absorbency, so I needed to wade through dozens of options and all of their respective user reviews for information.
Ultimately, I settled on this pack of four "hotel style" bath towels from Chakir Turkish Linens. Because I appreciate simplicity, I went with white.
Don't get it twisted—they're not the best towels you'll ever use. But at around $40 for four of them, they're perfect to have on hand if you're trying to incorporate a fresher, more sanitary towel experience into your lifestyle. Plus, they're absorbent enough that water won't stick to the top of the fabric getting all slimy.
7. That crusty old coffee machine you've had since college is way too easy to neglect.
For whatever reason, people don't pay enough attention to their coffee makers. If I had to guess, I'd say it has something to do with the nature of coffee: brown, sludgy, and with a taste people often find murky or bitter. To put it another way, as a beverage that's often brewed, left to get stale on a countertop for hours, then stuck in the microwave and consumed again later that day, it's very, very easy to neglect the machine that brews it in the first place.
As one of the dirtiest objects in your kitchen, your coffee-making device deserves extra love—not less love. For drip brewers, we recommend brewing a 1-to-1 mix of water and vinegar every couple of weeks (depending on your coffee consumption). If you're still using a Keurig, regularly running a brew cycle without a K-cup is recommended.
If your current coffee maker is crusty, cruddy, and crying out to be replaced, we've got you covered—we recently did a round-up on the best drip coffee makers you can buy right now. After extensive testing, our pick for the overall best turned out to be a $300 number that's made by hand in the Netherlands. If you're anything like me, that's a bit too steep.
For my money, this 14-cup programmable maker from Cuisinart is the best option for folks on a budget. In fact, I appreciate it so much that when it came time for me to pick out a drip coffee maker for our office break room, this is the maker I went with. It's not handmade in the Netherlands, but it makes a damn fine cup of coffee without a fuss.
8. Your filthy, bacteria-ridden kitchen sink is a nightmare.
Did you know that in most cases, a person's kitchen sink is dirtier than their toilet? Yikes. But before you go cooking tarts on the toilet seat, consider updating your sink-cleaning strategy.
We recommend fully bleaching your sink every month or so by donning some kitchen gloves, plugging the drain, and filling it with hot, bleachy water. In between these bleaching sessions, you should make a habit of scrubbing it down with a soap-filled SOS pad or a disinfectant. I usually do these touch-up cleanings every other day at the very least, but it ultimately depends on how often you dirty the sink.
If you've got a modestly sized sink and want a little extra protection, this antimicrobial sink protector from Rubbermaid will go a long way in keeping your sink free of funk, even if you throw everything in it but itself (just be sure to check the measurements of your sink first).
9. The hair-filled shower drain keeps getting clogged—here's how to stop it.
When I moved into my new place earlier this month, I was immediately made aware of the fact that the previous tenant hadn't paid enough attention to the amount of hair swirling down the drain of the tub. It wasn't hard to figure out—I was standing in ankle-deep, soapy filth-water.
There's not a whole lot you can do in this situation besides grumbling some cuss words, finishing your uncomfortable shower, and then calling a plumber after you're done. Alternatively, maybe you're the type of person who enjoys snaking your own tub drain. Personally, I am not.
After relieving the drain of what I can only describe as a sticky tube of hair, I immediately began sorting through my unpacked boxes for the TubShroom.
Admittedly, I'm not crazy about the name—frankly, I don't like anything that combines the image of a dirty tub drain with the concept of fungus. But if you can look past the ghoulish moniker, you'll learn why this nifty little bathroom gadget enjoys a cult following.
The TubShroom sits in your drain allowing water to pass through normally while it collects all of your errant hair, wrapping them around its stalk like some kind of awful cotton candy machine from hell. I'm doing a horrible job talking this thing up, huh? Look at it this way: The TubShroom was one of the first things I unpacked in my new apartment. Like, before I unpacked silverware.
10. Your mishandled leftovers will make your fridge smell and your tummy ache.
If your fridge already stinks, we can help.
If your fridge is in need of a deep clean, we've got you covered.
Once you've finished tidying up and exorcising your fridge's foul odors, consider your organizational approach—you could be limiting the lifespan of your leftovers if they're sitting on the wrong shelf.
Not too long ago, we rigorously tested a plethora of plastic and glass food storage containers for a round-up, and ultimately found Glasslock’s Oven Safe Container Set to be the overall best. These containers provide the most flexibility thanks to their oven-, microwave-, and dishwasher-safe design. They're also incredibly durable and resist stains—no more discolored plastic containers!
Of course, if you're looking for a hipper, more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic containers—one that'll make your food look way more scrumptious in the process—look no further than Bee's Wrap. We've previously written all about our love for Bee's Wrap, but here's the basic gist: It's reusable, eco-friendly food storage wraps made from fabric and beeswax, and holy moly, are they adorable.