Nowadays, more and more people are becoming health conscious and taking necessary steps to stay healthy.
People are ready to invest in gym memberships, yoga classes, workout clothes, fitness equipment, ingredients for healthy recipes, and the list goes on. But many people forget that there are things in their home that are detrimental to their health and well-being, and could work against all their efforts.
On a daily basis, you come into with numerous items in your house—many of which have health risks that can accumulate over time. Hence, before beginning a new health-conscious start, you need to throw away many common items from your bedroom to your kitchen and even your bathroom.
Failing to throw out or replace these everyday objects can put your whole household at risk and make you more prone to illness.
Here are the top 10 things you should throw away to stay healthy.
1. Plastic Food Containers and Bottles
To stay healthy, it is important to throw away your plastic food containers and plastic bottles. This will reduce your exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA), bisphenol S (BPS) and phthalates.
BPA, a compound used in manufacturing polycarbonate and other plastics, is a harmful chemical. Even the U.S. government’s National Toxicology Program agrees that exposure to it is bad for human health.
Exposure to BPA interferes with reproductive development in animals and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans. This harmful chemical even increases the risk of cancer of the breast, prostate and thyroid.
A 2009 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives reports that drinking anything from polycarbonate bottles increased the level of BPA excreted in human urine. Such bottles release the chemical into the liquid that people drink.
Heat, along with wear and tear through multiple washings, can increase the amount of chemicals being leached from containers and bottles. Your best bet is to avoid plastic bottles and containers altogether, and replace them with glass bottles and containers.
2. Antibacterial Soaps and Detergents
If you regularly buy antibacterial soaps and detergents, it’s time to change this habit to stay healthy.
The “antibacterial” tag does not keep you healthy and protect you against germs and bacteria as you might believe. Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that people use plain soap and water to wash their hands.
Antibacterial soaps and detergents are harmful due to the presence of the chemical called triclosan. Such hygiene products also contain other harmful chemicals, such as triclocarban, 2-butoxyethanol, BPA, d-limonene, dyes, parabens, phthalates and chloride.
A 2009 study published in Toxicological Sciences reports that triclosan exposure can significantly impact thyroid hormone concentrations.
Triclosan can alter hormone regulation and may interfere with fetal development in pregnant women. Other health problems linked to triclosan include allergies, endocrine disruption, weight gain and inflammatory responses.
3. Air Freshener
Air fresheners and room deodorizers are loaded with chemicals that are harmful for your health. They usually contain phthalates that have been linked to cancers and other health problems.
In most cases, these products contain a compound called 2, 5-dichlorophenol (2, 5-DCP). It is an endocrine disrupting chemical which is linked to earlier age of menarche.
Instead of masking bad odors with room fresheners and chemical sprays, try to identify the root causes and deal with them.
You can also prepare homemade air fresheners using baking soda and essential oils. Another option is to prepare small sachets or pouches using dried flowers, herbs and spices.
Plus, you can create a stove-top potpourri using citrus fruits and aromatic spices to make your home smell nice and fresh. Just simmer ingredients like orange, cranberries, lemon, lemon zest, lavender, cinnamon, mint, rosemary, bay leaves and star anise in a pot full of water.
4. Kitchen Sponges
You must throw away your kitchen sponges every two weeks to stay healthy.
The kitchen sponge that you regularly use to wash your dishes and clean your countertops can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and other pathogens, such as viruses. It is the dampness and dirt on the sponges that aid in harboring these nasty bugs.
Experts report that a sponge can harbor 10 million bacteria per square inch and can be as much as 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat.
Even the cleanest, most well-kept sponges need to be thrown away two to four times a month. In between replacements, you must run your current sponge through the dishwasher to help keep germs at bay.
A 2006 study published in Saint Martin’s University Biology Journal found that for cleaning a kitchen sponge, the dishwasher had the largest bacterial reduction, reducing bacteria by 57.3 percent, followed by boiling and the washing machine method.
A washcloth is actually a better option than a sponge for regular kitchen use. As a washcloth is thinner, it dries quicker than a sponge between uses. This slows down the growth of bacteria. But still be sure to toss it in the washing machine frequently for a good cleaning.
5. Old Nonstick Cookware
Though easy to clean and incredibly popular, nonstick cookware is a popular item in your kitchen that you must throw away.
With regular use, the Teflon coating may begin to break down at the molecular level, and toxic particles and gases get released. When you breathe kitchen air polluted with fumes from overheated Teflon, you are putting yourself and your family at a higher risk for developing flu-like symptoms.
Also, nonstick pans expose you to PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), a chemical associated with tumors and developmental problems in animals. Health experts are concerned about its possible effects on humans as well.
Instead of using Teflon-coated nonstick cookware, opt for cast iron cookware. In fact, using cast iron cookware will supply you with iron every time you cook. Plus, when cooking in cast iron pans and skillets, you do not get exposed to harmful toxic fumes.
6. Dirty Contact-Lens Cases
Although lenses are generally safe and comfortable, if you don’t use and take care of them properly, you are increasing your risk of several eye complications, including vision loss.
When it comes to use of lenses, most of us ignore the importance of the cases in which we put our lenses at the end of the day. Using a dirty lens case is one of the primary risk factors for eye infections.
A 2015 study conducted at the University of New South Wales analyzed the hygiene habits of 119 lens wearers related to lenses and storage cases. Researchers found that of all the lens cases studied, 66 percent tested positive for bacterial or fungal contamination. Contamination rates were higher among people who had worn lenses for two or more years.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends replacing your lens case at least every three months, along with cleaning it, letting it air-dry face down, and using fresh solution daily.
To prevent contamination of lens cases, always wash your hands with soap and water before handling lenses, regularly air-dry the lens cases and avoid using disinfecting solutions of lens cases from different manufacturers.
7. Chemical-Enriched Cosmetics
From shampoo to lipstick, from nail polish to sunscreen, there are many cosmetic products that both women and men use on a daily basis. When it comes to cosmetic products, the market is flooded with chemical-enriched products, which increases the chance of choosing the bad over the good.
Using the wrong product means you are getting exposed to toxic chemicals, which includes lead, beryllium, thallium, cadmium, arsenic and so on. These harmful chemicals can be found in different makeup items, including foundations, powders, blushes, mascaras, eyeliners, eye shadows, lipsticks and lip glosses.
When shopping for cosmetics, opt for those with mineral-based pigments and natural oils. Choose soaps and shampoos free of synthetic fragrances and chemicals like triclosan, which can alter hormone regulation in the body.
Instead of using inexpensive sunscreens made with oxybenzone, which may cause health problems when it penetrates the skin, always opt for one made from minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Be sure to check the expiration date of cosmetic products and discard the items accordingly.
8. Frayed and Worn-Out Toothbrushes
As you use your toothbrush, the bristles get worn down and frayed. Brushing your teeth with a toothbrush that has frayed bristles does not clean your teeth properly. Such a toothbrush is less effective at removing the plaque and calculus that accumulates on your teeth. Hence, you need to throw away worn-out toothbrushes for optimum oral health.
According to the American Dental Association, if you are brushing twice daily as recommended, you will need to replace your toothbrush every three months. If you do notice your toothbrush fraying well before the three-month mark, you may be brushing too hard and damaging your teeth.
To prevent your toothbrush from getting damaged, always store it properly – upright and dry. It is also recommended to store your toothbrush in its case to prevent mold and bacterial growth.
However, before storing your toothbrush, it is important to properly clean it by rinsing it thoroughly with tap water.
9. Worn-Out Running Shoes
Running on a daily basis is good for your health, but running on worn-out shoes is simply bad for your feet.
Most running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 400 miles. This means, if you run 30 miles a week, you must replace your shoes about every three months.
According to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, midsoles lose their shock-absorbing capabilities with prolonged use. This means more force is transmitted with every step to your muscles, bones and tendons, which in turn increases the risk for injuries. Running in such shoes also causes sore knees, achy feet early in the morning, back pain and tight quads.
Even if you do not run, replace your shoes about every six months, or as soon as you notice that the tread is looking worn out. A good indication that you need to replace your shoes is if you feel they are not as comfortable and supportive as when they were new.
10. Stretched-Out Bras
For all women, it is important to go bra shopping every six months. In fact, you must replace a bra whenever it no longer lends comfort and support. Wearing stretched-out bras for months is bad for your health.
The elastic in bras gets stretched out over time, making it less supportive for your breasts. This can lead to sagging breasts as well as neck and back pain. The problem can get severe if you exercise in stretched-out bras.
To extend the life of your bras, avoid washing them in a washing machine. Also, never put them in the dryer, as it can disintegrate the fabric, stretch out the shape and ruin the underwire. Always wash your bras by hand in cool water and dry them in a shady place.
- It is even important to discard clothes you don’t wear anymore. You can donate such clothes to needy ones.
- Throw away leftover food kept in plastic containers in the refrigerator after a couple of days.
- Discard that stash of diet soda sitting in your refrigerator. It does no good to your health and in fact increases your risk of developing metabolic syndrome. It also causes you to gain weight.
- Instead of spending money on commercial cleaning products, make your own natural cleaning products using basic ingredients like baking soda, borax, soap powder, vinegar, lemon and hot water.
- If you have an air purifier at home, don’t forget to replace the filter every so often. A dirty filter will blow contaminants back into your air.
- Dispose of unwanted or expired medicines. Ask a pharmacist how to dispose of medication properly.
- Throw away spices that have been hanging out in your cabinets for years, as spices lose flavor with time.