9 Things You Should Throw Away for Better Health

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When we talk about the steps you need to take to get healthier, they often involve buying new things: workout clothes, fitness equipment, ingredients for healthy recipes, and the list goes on. But becoming the healthiest version of yourself also means throwing away the stuff that’s holding you back-and we don’t only mean junk food. Get your recycling or garbage can ready!

1. Antibacterial soap

Antibacterial soap is no more effective at killing bacteria than the regular stuff-and they may not be safe, according to a 2014 FDA report. Triclosan, the active ingredient in antibacterial cleansers, has been shown to alter hormone regulation in animals, and there’s also concern that the chemical may contribute to antibiotic resistance.

2. Frayed toothbrush

If you’re brushing in the morning and the evening like you’re supposed to, then your toothbrush bristles are probably becoming frayed and worn faster than you realize. “In my experience, bristles start to fray after about two months of use, so I recommend my patients replace their brushes every three months,” says American Dental Association spokesperson Ruchi Sahota, who is a practicing dentist in California. Worn-out brushes are less effective at cleaning teeth and fighting off decay.

3. Clothes you don’t wear anymore

Take a peek in your closet. How many items have you not worn within the last year? Many people who’ve lost weight keep the bigger sizes around in case they regain it, while others hold onto the size 2 jeans they wore in high school, thinking maybe if they diet they’ll fit again. In either case, seeing these items every day can bring on anxiety. That’s not how anyone wants to feel when getting ready.

4. Leftovers lingering in the fridge

When it comes to highly perishable food that contains animal ingredients, the rule of thumb is to eat, toss, or freeze after three days, says Michael P. Doyle, PhD, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia. “Listeria is linked to scary things like meningitis, miscarriages, and even death,” he says. “It can grow to millions at refrigerator temperatures in under a week.”

5. Old mascara

Liquid makeup, including mascara, can harbor a lot of germs, says Thomas Steinemann, MD, an American Academy of Ophthalmology spokesperson who practices in Ohio. That’s why he recommends throwing tubes away two to three months after opening. “Each time you use mascara, you are brushing it and any germs onto your lashes,” he says. “You’re also contaminating the brush with even more bacteria present on your skin or eyelashes, then plunging it into a moist room-temperature environment, which encourages bacterial growth.” One of the primary functions of eyelashes is to keep debris and germs from entering your eye, so it’s important to keep the makeup you put on them as germ-free as possible, he adds.

6. Dirty contact lens case

“Using a dirty lens case is one of the primary risk factors for getting eye infections,” says Dr. Steinemann, who recommends replacing you lens case at least every three months, as well as cleaning, air-drying facedown, and using fresh solution daily. “Even if you care for your lens case fastidiously, a grimy biofilm builds up on the surface that’s a magnet for dirt and germs,” he explains. “If you don’t change it out for a new one, you’re putting yourself at risk for a potentially serious eye infection like a corneal ulcer that can become infected and-even when healed-result in a scar that could affect your vision,” he adds. Don’t mess with your eyes, people!

7. Old lip gloss

Anything that’s used around your mouth collects a lot of bacteria quickly, and the longer the bacteria sits in a moist tube, the more it grows. This increases your chance of infection if it gets into a cut or crack on the delicate skin of your lips. For this reason, experts recommend that you throw out lip gloss or other lip makeup no more than six months after you open it and begin using it, or by the expiration date, whichever is sooner.

8. Stretched-out bras

When’s the last time you went bra shopping? The elastic in bras can get stretched out over time (the washing machine speeds up this process) which means less support for your girls. “Replacing a bra whenever it no longer lends comfort and support will help reduce back pain in heavier women, and can slow the natural process of aging in breast tissue,” says breast specialist Kristi Funk, MD. (That “natural process of aging” is sagging.)

9. Your kitchen sponge

Studies show the kitchen sponge is the germiest thing in the average American household, says Tierno. While some experts recommend microwaving sponges daily to zap bacteria, Doyle recommends skipping them completely: “When you use a sponge to clean meat juices, which can contain harmful microbes like salmonella, and it stays moist at room temperature, they grow quickly and studies show even the dishwasher doesn’t kill them.” He advises using a washcloth to clean dishes instead, grabbing a clean one every few days, and throwing the dirty ones in with your laundry. “Because it’s thinner, a washcloth dries quicker than a sponge between washes, which helps significantly slow bacterial growth,” he explains.

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