(AscendHealthy.com) – Do you know what’s lurking inside your medicine cabinet? It’s likely home to a number of expired products that may be ineffective or even dangerous to your health. You should aim to take inventory of what’s in your cabinet at least a couple of times a year.
So, what are the worst offenders? Here are 11 products to toss from your medicine cabinet.
1. Expired Sunscreen
Be sure to check out the expiration date before applying old sunscreen. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires sunscreen to have an expiration date unless the manufacturer has proven the product will maintain effectiveness for 3 years. While it’s possible that it might be effective longer, sunburn isn’t worth the risk.
2. Outdated Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer begins to lose its effectiveness not long after you open it. The reason? The alcohol in the sanitizer starts to evaporate. Once it reaches less than 60% alcohol, the hand sanitizer is no longer effective. The expiration date — which is usually 3 years — is when the manufacturer expects the alcohol content to dip below 60%.
3. Old Tampons
Tampons might not seem like the most obvious item to purge, but their shelf life is 5 years. And that time frame is only if they’re left in the package and not exposed to moisture, which can cause mold and bacteria to grow. You’ll probably use your tampons before they’re too old, but if you happen to find an expired box in the medicine cabinet, toss it. If you’re unsure, take note of mold, discoloration or foul odor.
4. Your Toothbrush
How often do you replace your toothbrush? According to the American Dental Association, you should replace your toothbrush at least every 3-4 months — more frequently if the bristles become frayed. A worn-out toothbrush is less effective at cleaning your teeth. If you use an electric toothbrush, you should aim to change the head just as often.
5. Old Toothpaste
Most of us go through toothpaste before it’s too old. If you happen to find an old tube in your medicine cabinet, it’s important to check out the expiration date, which is usually about 2 years. While old toothpaste won’t actually harm you, the fluoride will become less effective — increasing your risk of cavities.
6. Expired Medications
The FDA requires drug manufacturers to provide an expiration date for all prescription and over-the-counter medications. This date is when the manufacturer is able to ensure the safety and full potency of the drug. While you might be tempted to use an outdated prescription, it’s best not to — especially when it comes to insulin, liquid antibiotics and nitroglycerin. Your safest bet is to toss any expired meds.
7. Skincare Products
It’s important to know when to toss skincare products. Acne products containing benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid generally need to be tossed within 4-6 months after opening. Air exposure causes these ingredients to break down, leading to skin irritation. Anti-aging products that contain ingredients like vitamin C, glycolic acid and retinol can last 9-12 months, as long as they’re vacuum-sealed in air-tight pump bottles.
8. Outdated Contact Lens Solution
Do you have full or half-empty bottles of contact lens solution stored in your medicine cabinet? If so, it might be time to throw it out. You should always check the expiration date before using it. Using expired contact lens solution can lead to infection, vision loss and even blindness.
9. Opened Eye Drops
You might think you can keep your eye drops until the expiration date, but that all depends on whether you’ve opened them. The expiration date only applies to unopened bottles of eye drops. Once you’ve opened the bottle, you should discard it after 3 months — even if the expiration date is a year later. The bottle, once opened, can become contaminated by any bacteria on the eyelid.
10. Old Cosmetics
Age is an important factor to consider when going through old cosmetics. You should also make note of changes in color, odor and consistency.
As a general rule of thumb, use the following dermatologist-recommended guidelines for deciding when to toss your cosmetics:
- Mascara – 4-6 months
- Lipstick – 8 months
- Eyeliner – one year
- Foundation and concealer – one year
- Eyeshadow and blush – 1-2 years
If you’re not sure how long ago you opened your makeup products, consider tossing them to reduce your risk of a bacterial infection.
11. Rubbing Alcohol
If you have a bottle of rubbing alcohol in your medicine cabinet, it’s important to check the expiration date. Rubbing alcohol tends to last 3 years, at which point it becomes less effective.
Routinely cleaning out your medicine cabinet can eliminate clutter, reduce your risk of contracting harmful bacterial infections and prevent you from using ineffective products. Aim to clean out your medicine cabinet at least twice a year.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension!
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