Knives(Photo: Peter Chadwick LRPS\Getty Images)

MILDEWY VINYL SHOWER-CURTAIN LINER

Fix it: Wash in the machine (on a short cycle) with some old towels, using hot water and bleach.

Keep it longer: Leave the bathroom door or a window open — and/or a ventilation fan turned on — for 20 minutes post-shower.

KNIFE WITH KNICKED BLADE

Fix it: Check stores like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table to see when a knife expert who can grind down the edge will visit.

Keep it longer: Use a block, a drawer insert, or a blade sheath to protect it. Our favorite brands, Bisbell (bisbellusa.com) and Lamson & Goodnow (lamsonsharp.com), sell options for from $5 to $25.

SAGGY SEAT CUSHION

Fix it: If the upholstery is still in good shape, remove the foam insert and take it to a Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Store to have a replacement cut to fit; a three-square-foot, five-inch-thick cushion will cost about $70.

Keep it longer:Flip cushions every few months to help them wear evenly.

WORN AND WOBBLY WOOD FURNITURE

Fix it: The easiest way to save a wiggly wooden chair leg: Stick in a toothpick where the leg meets the seat, then simply break it off. For scratches, try GHRI-tested Guardsman wood touch-up markers ($5, guardsman.com).

Keep it longer: Whether with a toothpick or with nails, support a loose chair leg sooner rather than later; if you keep the piece in use as is, you risk breaking it.

ONE THING YOU REALLY SHOULD REPLACE

A literal pain in the neck — that's what a worn-out pillow can give you. To tell whether to toss yours, give it the "break test": For a fiberfill or down- or feather-filled pillow, fold it in half with a heavy book on top. If the pillow pops back so it's flat, keep it. If it stays folded in half, it's "broken" — either use the filling to stuff smaller pillows or chuck it.

Before You Throw It Out -- These businesses will repurpose well-used items:

ANIMAL SHELTERS

Sure, they take old towels and blankets, but did you know most need pillows, pillowcases, bathroom rugs, and T-shirts, too?

GOODWILL(goodwill.org)

They accept used household items like pillows, shower curtains, linens, and furniture, which are resold to fund job-training programs.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY(habitat.org)

Donate extra paint, tile, and lumber as well as used furniture, cabinets, and fixtures to help a family in need of housing.

SMART(Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles; smartasn.org)

This trade association refers you to local members that accept most textiles (including rugs and towels), which can be recycled into, say, home insulation or carpet padding.