The golden rule: If it's dull, blunt or smells weird, it's time to replace it.

By F&W Editors
June 26, 2017
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It's okay to admit it: your kitchen contains tools, utensils, cookware and even seasonings that are past their prime. While some items, like your best knives and cast iron pans, can be restored, others simply need to be replaced. Our Food & Wine Test Kitchen staff shared their tips on which kitchen items need to be refreshed regularly and how to tell if they are salvageable or not. Here are the kitchen items that you probably need to replace in the near future.

Enrique Díaz / 7cero/Getty Images

Serrated Knife

Serrated knives can’t be sharpened, so once you’re feeling some resistance when slicing with one, it's time to replace it.

J.A. Henckels 5" Serrated Utility Knife, $30 at amazon.com

Microplane

After a while, microplanes get really dull (and there is no way to sharpen them). The day that you’re working too hard with one, it’s done.

Zester Stainless Steel Grater, $8 at amazon.com

Wooden Cutting Board

Wooden cutting boards will last forever if they’re cared for correctly—that includes washing, drying and keeping them well-oiled. If they're not cared for properly, they'll split or warp.

John Boos Block Maple Wood Reversible Cutting Board, $133 at amazon.com (originally $215)

Kitchen Towels

If they start to smell or they become threadbare, it’s time to toss your kitchen towels. If you wash them regularly, kitchen towels can last you a long while, even several years.

12 Pack Dish Towels, $13 at amazon.com

Wooden Spoon

Wooden spoons will eventually crack, even if you care for them really well. Once they crack, you need to replace them.

OXO Good Grips Wooden Spoon Set, 3-Piece, $12 at amazon.com

Sponge

The minute that you smell anything on a sponge that you don’t enjoy smelling, pitch it. You can microwave sponges too, or put them through the dishwasher if yours sanitizes.

O-Cedar Multi-Use Scrunge Scrub Sponge (Pack of 6), $10 at amazon.com

Pastry Brush

You definitely need to replace your pastry brushes regularly. When the bristles start to fall out and are really dirty or greasy, it's time for a new set.

Pastry Brushes, Set of 2, $12 at amazon.com

Nonstick Skillet

As soon as you see any serious wear on a nonstick pan, it’s time to replace it. Buy cheap ones, toss them out and use a new one every six months or so.

Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Nonstick 7-Inch Open Skillet, $28 at amazon.com

Vegetable Peeler

When your peeler gets dull or it breaks from overuse, get a new one. Since Y-peelers are often carbon steel, they’ll last longer and hold their edge, but you have to dry them immediately after washing them or else they’ll rust.

Kuhn Rikon 3-Set Original Swiss Peeler, $8, amazon.com

Spices

Key advice: You have to replace your spices. You can’t just use them indefinitely until they’re gone. Spices will last about three months if they’re ground and up to six months if they’re whole. Try to buy organic spices whenever possible because conventional spices are irradiated when they’re imported into the country, which kills everything that gives the spices flavor.

Gneiss Spice Everything Spice Kit, $130 at amazon.com

Cooking Oil

Oil should be stored in dark glass and in a cool, dark area or even in the fridge. If it’s cold pressed oil, it will go rancid quickly. If it’s highly refined oil like canola, it’ll have a longer shelf life. 

Palermo First Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $9 at amazon.com

Baking Soda & Baking Powder

There are expiration dates on baking soda and baking powder, but the simplest way to tell when they’ve gone bad is to just test them with water to see if they’re still reactive.

Flour

You should store your flour in the freezer, especially whole wheat flour. The fat in the flour will eventually go rancid, so be sure to keep an eye on it.

King Arthur Flour Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour, $5 at amazon.com

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