Medicine cabinets have been known to collect various health and medical items for the purpose of sitting tight until they’re one day called back into action. We commend proactively preparing for minor health issues that may crop up. But your arsenal of products is only as strong as its individual components, and the fact is that many of us hold on to things we shouldn’t.
To help make sure you’re not wasting time or valuable space on products that are no longer effective and, in some cases, potentially harmful, here is a list of 5 useless items commonly found in the medicine cabinet:
Witch hazel – Sure, it’s an effective astringent and anti-oxidant. But chances are, you probably have numerous other products that serve the same purpose, like calamine lotion, rubbing alcohol, and acne cream. So maybe witch hazel isn’t exactly useless, but you probably could afford to cut it out of an overcrowded medicine cabinet.
Old sunscreen – Sunscreen is only good for up to three years. After its expiration date, it loses effectiveness. But if you’re like me and you leave the bottle in the car all summer so it’s handy for trips to the beach, you might as well chuck it early. Being exposed to high temperatures (like those in a closed car in the summertime) will also cause sunscreen to lose effectiveness.
Unused antibiotics – First of all, shame on you for not taking the full course that your doctor prescribed. The idea that you can discontinue antibiotics when you feel better is a common misconception. In reality, some of the bacteria from the infection you were fighting probably lived on, built up a resistance to antibiotics, and spread. Besides antibiotic resistance, you could also open yourself up to a more serious infection, like MRSA.
But to my point, discard these unused antibiotics. Not only should you not attempt to diagnose yourself in the future and treat yourself with them (since you could be totally wrong), you’ll just be compounding the problem of antibiotic resistance.
Old cough syrup – If I come down with a cough once a year, it’s a lot. So, if there’s a bottle of cough syrup in my medicine cabinet, it’s very likely that I won’t even be able to remember when I bought it. Liquid medications, along with gel capsules and suspensions, lose effectiveness past their expiration dates more quickly than pills and capsules. But what’s worse is that they are also more susceptible to bacterial contamination.
Old toothpaste – I’m someone who likes to stock up on everyday items whenever there’s a sale. I like to keep emergency backups of things like toothpaste in the cabinet in case I run out. But I often forget about those backups and just purchase and use new products immediately. When I do find that toothpaste backup though, I’ll make sure to throw it away. The fluoride in toothpaste loses the ability to bind to the enamel past its expiration date, making it less effective against cavities.
Do you have any useless medicine cabinet items to add to our list?
Sources: wikipedia.org, womansday.com, mayoclinic.com, fda.gov, toothpaste.com