Is it time to clean up your kitchen and throw away some of the things that have lingered for far too long in your cabinets? If you’re struggling to know whether it’s time to throw away old food or other items, consider these key items that should be thrown away as soon as possible.
1. The Sponge in Your Sink
Are you still using a sponge to wash your dishes? If so, it doesn’t matter how old it is: get rid of it! Sponges quickly collect germs, and even if you’re trying to clean it, chances are, you aren’t getting all of those germs back out again. Instead, use a dishcloth to take care of your dishes, since it can be thrown in the washer.
2. Condiments Past Their Expiration Date
When condiments reach their expiration date, it’s time to toss them straight into the trash. Many become separated or start to go bad quickly once they past their “best by” date. Instead of holding onto them (and potentially contaminating the dish you’ve slaved over with bacteria), go ahead and buy new condiments–and this time, buy smaller containers of the ones you don’t typically use up.
3. Old Baking Powder
Do you have baking powder that’s been sitting around in your cabinet for a long time? Check the expiration date first. If it’s getting old or if you’ve recently made baked goods that didn’t seem to rise as much as you thought they should, go ahead and test the baking powder: put a little bit in some hot water. If it bubbles, you’re good to go. No bubbles? Time to drop it in the trash and start over with fresh baking powder.
4. Freezer Burnt Items
Are there items in your freezer that have far exceeded even their freezer life? Items covered in frost are probably freezer burnt, which means that even if you cook them up, they aren’t going to taste very good. Go ahead and toss out those items. Creating a rotation system for your freezer can help prevent you from losing track of old items.
5. Ancient Spices
Have you noticed that you’re using more and more of your favorite spices to get the same potency? Take a look at the expiration dates on your spices. If they’ve been open for mroe than a year, it’s time to clean them out and start over. They won’t make you sick, but they won’t offer the great flavor you want for your food, either.
6. Partially Used Broth Cartons
Unless you’re making soup, you probably won’t use the entire container of broth when you open up one of those cardboard cartons. Unfortunately, once you open them, they won’t last very long. If it’s been open for more than a week, go ahead and drop it in the trash–and next time, plan to freeze any leftovers.
7. Funny or Strong-Smelling Meat
If the meat hasn’t been frozen, it’s easy to check its “use by” date before you start cooking. Sometimes, however, you may find that meat goes off even before you have a chance to cook it. Take a look (and a smell) of the meat before you start cooking it. If it smells bad, it’s probably not going to taste good, either–and there’s a good chance you’ll end up with food poisoning. When in doubt, throw it away and try something else.
8. Scratched Wooden or Plastic Items
Do you have a cutting board with deep grooves from frequent use or a rolling pin with excessive signs of wear? What about a plastic mixing bowl with deep gouges or cracks? Those items often harbor bacteria, which can make you sick. Go ahead and throw them away and replace them with glass, which will be less likely to scratch over time.
9. Scratched, Peeling Nonstick Cooking Pans
Your nonstick pans make it much easier to cook your favorite dishes. Once it’s scratched, however, those nonstick surfaces may start peeling away–and that nonstick surface could make you sick if it ends up in your food.
It’s time to deep clean your kitchen and get rid of the things that you don’t need. By tossing out these nine items, you can keep yourself and your family healthier.