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Spring cleaning season has arrived! It’s the perfect time to rewatch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo or press pause on Netflix and actually put some of the organizational guru’s philosophy into practice. Your bathroom should be a calm oasis in your home. After all, it is literally where you go to detox.
But for many of us, our bathrooms are yet another mess magnet. Drawers overflow with tiny lotion samples and hair product packets that we just know we’ll use one day. Shower caddies contain slimy empty bottles of bath gel and conditioner. And towels sometimes (ahem, often) pile up on the floor.
These jumbles of junk are bad for our health. Research has found that they increase stress, decrease focus, and lead to unhealthy eating and reduced activity. To combat clutter fatigue, Kondo recommends only keeping things that “spark joy.”
As you sort through your feelings about your five different tubes of sunscreen, remember Kondo’s wisdom and ask yourself another one of her questions, “Is this the kind of place where I’d want to unwind and take a long bath?”
If the idea of letting go of all your precious lotions and potions sounds daunting, knowing that many of them are harboring bacteria may be just the nudge you need. We’ve compiled the following guidelines to help you know when to thank these items for their service and say good-bye.
Protect your precious skin and peepers from irritation and bacterial infection. Any opened jars of creams that you dip your fingers into should be thrown out after six to nine months. Pumps can last up to a year.
Sunscreen has to be stamped with an expiration date unless it’s been proven to last three or more years. But who’s to say how long one of those dateless bottles has sat on the shelf or in the bottom of your beach bag? And once you pop open a tube, the water inside may begin to evaporate, causing the solution to become unstable.
Another surprising concern: If you have dared to apply sunscreen while in the sun, you’ve risked further degradation of the formula. (Apparently, sunscreen needs its own sunscreen.)
With so many moist nooks and crannies for bacteria to host a shindig, you’ll want to replace these pretty frequently.
Toothbrush bristles should stand at attention. If they start to lazily splay, throw them away! Another reason to replace your toothbrush on the regular? Like your mouth, it’s a bacterial playground. An average toothbrush is home to 10 million bacteria or more — including E. coli and Staph.
Unless you are a frighteningly infrequent brusher, you’ll finish off your regular toothpaste long before the expiration date. But what about all those little travel tubes that you’ve collected? They’re not necessarily dangerous if they’ve entered the terrible twos, but fluoride’s cavity-fighting powers will have started to fade and bacteria and fungi may have set up shop. Yeah, yuck.
The antiseptic ingredients eventually start to dissolve and break down, leaving your rinse vulnerable to bacterial growth.
You’ll never need to toss your trusty Cocofloss. It never expires, it’s always ready to scrub away joy-killing bacteria, and it helps you keep one of life’s greatest sources of joy — a bright smile! As Kondo says, “Things that are cherished shine.”