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There's no better time to open your cabinets, take out your pots and pans, and assess what you really have than in January, when renewal is on everyone's minds. While some kitchen tools are meant to last forever (gloriously patina-ed cast-iron pan, I’m looking at you), there are others that you really should replace every year. If you haven't already, give your kitchen the new-year-new-you treatment and swap these dull, bacteria-infested tools out for fresh ones.
Yes, microplanes are the best. You can use them for everything from grating citrus and shaving cheese. And they are sharp, razor-sharp. But they don’t stay like that forever, and in order to make the most of all that grating goodness, you need to keep a sharp microplane around. Replacing these bad boys annually—depending on how often you use it, of course—ensures you’ll always have a sharp grate.
Whether you're drying dishes, wiping your hands, or mopping up a mess, dish towels pick up hundreds upon hundreds of bacteria throughout the day. Yes, you should be washing them often, but once a year, it’s a good idea to toss out the old ones and start clean.
Like towels, dish sponges are a total bacteria trap. Yes, microwaving them can help zap out the germs, but replacing them regularly is the best practice. These ones by Skura Style are made of patented polyurethane foam instead of cellulose to stay fresh longer.
Yes, I know, you love that beautiful wooden butcher block. But whether they are plastic or wooden, cutting boards should be on your annual replacement list. Although soap helps disinfect boards, sharp knives create deep grooves and gauges in the boards, which can harbor bacteria. (In order to keep boards longer, use separate plastic boards for raw meat and seafood.)
Plastic Storage Containers
Think about it: how many times have you reused that plastic container? Even if you’ve purchased BPA-safe containers, oily residue and strong smells are hard to kick. Older containers, or the flimsy plastic takeout offerings you're probably reusing, often contain BPA, a compound that’s been linked to a whole host of problems. Why not start the season with a new collection, or better yet, get glass ones? This OXO set of both glass and plastic containers means you can opt for mainly using glass around the house for storing leftovers, but you'll still have some plastic for carting lunch to work without making your bag super heavy and fragile.
A good Y-peeler (or a straight peeler if that's more your speed!) is a kitchen essential not just for peeling vegetables, but for making your food look pretty, slicing cheese, and making the best raw asparagus dishes this spring. But even if you have the best peeler, these guys don't stay sharp forever. Luckily they're cheap! Rather than buying a pricier vegetable peeler, buy an inexpensive variety (or a set of three!) and treat yourself to a replacement each year. That way you won't ever face a mound of potatoes with a dull peeler—nobody deserves that fate.
The same goes for paring knives. Since it's essential that your paring knife be extra-sharp, you're actually better off buying an inexpensive variety and replacing it every year or so (depending on how much you use it, of course). Don't bother sharpening it—that's for your fancy chef's knife.
Have any rubber spatulas lying around that are worse for the wear? Maybe they got left too near the stovetop and melted into something that vaguely resembles abstract art? Repurpose them into sculptures for your garden or something and buy new ones that will actually work to fold together cake batter. Our associate editor Joe loves these all silicone ones from Tovolo, and they come in a convenient set of four sizes.
Damaged Wooden Spoons
Wooden spoons can get chips or cuts in them—and that makes bacteria linger in the nooks and crannies of the wood. If you're still using your mom's cast-off spoon from the '70s, consider buying yourself an all new set this year.
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Originally Appeared on Epicurious