Battling a barrage of clutter can be a real struggle. For some people, it's just keeping up with it all that's the difficult part, while for others, there's a deeper sentimentality or other issues at play. And though it's not always easy to throw (or give) things away, it's often necessary. There might even be some things you didn't realize you should throw away right now that can help you get started on your larger organization project.
In some cases, old or expired products should be thrown away because they're no longer effective or even could make you sick or spread germs, in other cases, it might just be time to face facts and recognize that these items are simply cluttering up your living space, that you don't need them anymore, and that it's time to get rid of them.
You probably don't need to be told that rotting food, actual trash, and the like are some of the things that you might want to throw away as soon as you can, but there are some other, perhaps less obvious, items that you should also clear out on a regular basis — and the date by which you should throw them out might be sooner than you think.
1. Old Makeup
Though some people don't realize it, your makeup, nail polish, and other cosmetics aren't good forever. Good Housekeeping reported that U.S. regulations don't require expiration dates on all cosmetics, which means you might not know when you need to pitch products. Mascara should be tossed after about three months, liquid foundation and concealers after six months, and most powders, pencils, and lipsticks should go after about two years at the latest. If it's been longer than that, there could be bacteria growing in the product or it could simply start to degrade.
2. Expired Medications
Depending on what the medication is, keeping medications around the house long after they've expired could really affect your health. You can't simply throw them all away, however. Consumer Reports reported that there are a few ways to safely dispose of unused, unwanted, or expired medications. You can take unused medications to a pharmacy or hospital to turn them in, mail them to facilities that will safely dispose of them, drop them off at certain police stations during the Drug Enforcement Agency's National Prescription Take-Back Day, throw certain medications in your trash if you mix them with other materials (like coffee grounds), or even flush them. Do more research to find out the most appropriate and safest way to dispose of the specific medications you have at home.
3. Old Or Expired Spices & Seasonings
The potency of spices starts to diminish after a period of time — they're not good indefinitely. The Kitchn reported that spice company McCormick recommended that whole spices are OK for four years, dried herbs are good for one to three years, and ground spices are good for three to four years. That being said, it can't hurt to do an inventory every so often, giving spices and herbs a sniff or a taste to determine whether or not they're still imparting the right flavor. Sometimes, lightly toasting the spices in a dry pan can help bring out the flavor, but otherwise (or if you don't want to bother), it's best to throw them out and start over.
4. The Dish Sponge You've Been Using For Months
Kitchen sponges can harbor germs so they need to be cleaned regularly and occasionally thrown out to make sure that you're not accidentally making yourself sick or ineffectively cleaning your dishes and kitchen. Self reported that if your kitchen sponge smells, you need to sanitize it before using it again. Dr. Philip Tierno Jr, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU School of Medicine, told Self in the aforementioned article that if you sanitize it after each use, a sponge can typically last for 30 to 45 days. If it gets worn out or if you're not sanitizing it regularly, you might need to toss it.
5. Scratched Nonstick Pots & Pans
If you have scratched nonstick cookware in your cabinets, it's time to toss it out. The Kitchn reported that scratched nonstick pans can increase your exposure to the chemicals present in the nonstick surface. They could potentially cause health issues if overheated or damaged, as Dr. Robert L. Wolke, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained, told Good Housekeeping. If you don't want to toss all of your nonstick pans, it's still probably best to replace any scratched pans with new ones.
6. Outdated Electronics
Anything that's outdated and you're not able or willing to use anymore might as well be tossed. There's simply no reason to let outdated electronics (and their chargers and cords) clutter up your drawers. The Today Show website noted that a tangle of cords and outdated electronics can also be confusing because you're unsure which cords and chargers go with which electronics. Give them away to someone who might be able to get some use out of them.
7. Used Air Filters
Air filters need to be changed regularly, so if you aren't changing yours, you might want to toss the filter that's been in use since you moved in. Consumer Reports noted that you can easily change furnace filters in three steps. Then, once you change it, you either need to dispose of the old one or clean it thoroughly, in the case of a washable filter. Just make sure changing out the filter isn't a one-time thing.
8. Your Toothbrush
If you go to the dentist twice a year and only change your toothbrush after an appointment, you're probably not actually changing it often enough. The HGTV website reported that the American Dental Association advises that you throw out your toothbrush every three months.
9. Anything Broken Or Damaged That You Haven't Fixed
If you have odds and ends items lying around the house that are damaged or broken, it might be time to get rid of them. Organization expert Peter Walsh told the Oprah website that if you haven't fixed something within a year, it's time to toss it out. If you haven't fixed it by then, you're probably never going to get around to doing so.
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