When someone mentions spring cleaning, we tend to think of projects in the bedroom, garage or yard. But, spring is a great time to give some attention to your bathroom and purse as well. Why? Your toiletries, like most consumer products, have a shelf life.
Although using them beyond their expiration date isn’t likely to be harmful, the items may be less effective or produce unpleasant side effects like odor or skin irritation. Consequently, it is a good idea to take a close look at your toiletries each spring — and again in the fall if you really want to stay on top of things.
How to “Spring Clean” Your Personal Care Items
Spring cleaning is most effective if you do it systematically. Here are five steps to follow:
- Check the expiration dates on items that have them, and discard old products. For those that don’t have dates, assess the look, feel and smell. If it fails any of those tests, thrown it out.
- Donate or discard things you never use. Rather than letting old toiletries clutter your storage space, donate unopened items that have not exceeded their shelf life and discard opened ones.
- Make a list of replacements you’ll need.
- Clean makeup applicators, brushes and sponges. Removing accumulated makeup and skin cells will help these items last longer and work better.
- Clean the place where your toiletries are stored — medicine cabinet, purse, etc.
How Long do Toiletries Last?
A number of factors affect how long a toiletry item will last, from its ingredients to the way it is cared for. But, below are rules of thumb for some common items.
● Mascara – Replace every three months; if you’ve had an eye infection, discard immediately
● Lipstick – Lasts two to three years (test it for performance)
● Lip balm – Lasts up to five years
● Moisturizing lotion – Can last up to two years if in a pump dispenser or one year in a jar (if the product contains SPF, check for an expiration date)
● Nail polish – Can last one to two years (shake to see if the color blends properly)
● Sunscreen – Should be replaced annually to ensure effectiveness
● Shampoo – Can last up to two years if opened and up to three years if unopened
● Rubbing alcohol – Can last three to five years
● Toothpaste – Can last two years but may have an expiration date
Taking a little time to review your toiletries at least once a year can ensure that they always provide the results you’re looking for.