I don’t know what it is about this time of year. Maybe it’s the calm after the holiday storm. Or perhaps it’s just the winter doldrums.
But either way, while other folks swear by spring cleaning, I always get my urge to purge in January. And when you think about it, it really is the perfect time to make some changes.
First, it has the “new year, new you” thing going for it. But then there’s also the fact that the weather often keeps you cooped up inside.
That means you end up confronted by all the unnecessary clutter you’ve surrounded yourself with. Plus you also often have some time to kill.
Rather than turn into a couch potato watching yet another marathon of the Golden Girls, why not do something productive instead. Try some winter cleaning.
Trash these three “toxic” offenders in your winter purge
But instead of scrubbing toilets and cleaning out closets, I have a better idea. Purge some of the hidden hazards from your home that could be silently making you sick.
Following are three of the worst offenders.
1. Old plastic containers:
If you’re like many other folks, you’ve probably been meaning to clean out the cabinet where you keep your storage containers anyway. And there’s no better time to do it than right now during your first annual winter purge.
Older plastic products often contain the industrial chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). And some new containers manufactured overseas in places like China are still made with it today.
Research has revealed that BPA can leach from food containers into our food. This is a problem because the chemical is an endocrine-disruptor. Your body has a tough time telling the difference between BPA and estrogen.
Troubling studies have found links between this synthetic estrogen and issues with brain, behavior and prostate gland development in babies and children. And other research has connected the chemical with early puberty, infertility, increases in blood pressure and diabetes.
Plus since elevated estrogen levels can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer, there’s a chance synthetic estrogens can do the same.
Pull everything out of the cabinet and pitch any old containers made of clear rigid plastic stamped with a number 7 or the letters “pc” which stand for polycarbonate. Chances are they contain BPA. When in doubt, throw it out.
But you might not want to stop there. It’s true; many manufacturers have stopped using BPA in their products. They’re typically marked BPA-FREE in big bold letters. The trouble is the chemicals they’ve replaced the BPA with, such as BPF and BPS, are equally as troubling. In fact, in some cases the synthetic estrogens released by BPA-FREE products are even more potent than BPA.
In other words, you should seriously considering tossing out all your plastic containers during your winter purge. You can replace them with glass, ceramic and steel versions instead.
But if you should decide to keep your plastic NEVER use them in the microwave. And keep in mind multiple trips through the hot dishwasher can cause them to start leaching chemicals into your food as well. So it’s best to hand wash them.
2. Commercial air fresheners:
Commercial air fresheners are a soup of creepy chemicals. And while every manufacturer uses a different “recipe,” none of the ingredients is something you want to be coating your lungs. And they could cause everything from an allergic reaction to an asthma attack in sensitive folks.
One of the worst offenders, however, are phthalates.
Like their kissing cousin BPA, these chemicals are potential endocrine disruptors. They’re one of the most prevalent industrial pollutants on the planet. And virtually every single one of us already has them hiding in our body.
Research has linked phthalates to a laundry list of potential health problems including weight gain, allergies, asthma and issues with the development of the male reproductive tract. And an Australian study linked the chemicals to some of the worst diseases plaguing is today hypertension, heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
Some manufactures have started to remove phthalates from their air fresheners. But the remaining synthetic perfumes, chemicals and propellants could still cause problems. So even if they’re marked phthalate free go ahead and trash the commercial air freshener during your winter purge.
If you’re a fresh scent fan and hate to give up your air freshener, don’t worry. We have something better. You can make your whole house smell terrific without a single chemical in the mix. Simply make an all-natural stovetop simmer.
Put several cups of water into a medium saucepan. Pick out some citrus fruit. (Whatever you have on hand is fine. You can even mix them.) Cut the fruit into slices and toss into the water. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract if you have it on hand. And perhaps a few sprigs of your favorite herbs such as rosemary or thyme.
Bring the pot to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Before long, your entire house will smell delicious. You can add more water as needed. And remember never leave the pot unattended.
3. Old bath and body products:
I have a confession. I hoard bath and body products. If a shampoo bottle has a drop still in the bottom, I hold on to it. Or if a tube of mascara might have a few flakes left, it lives at the bottom of my makeup bag for far longer than it should.
And even if you aren’t nearly as bad as I am when you stop to take a look you might be surprised to find out how often you hold on to things for far too long too. In other words, a winter purge of old bath and body products is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Ladies one of the most common culprits is that mascara I mentioned earlier. Over time, liquid makeups become home to a wide variety of germs. And then each time you use them you’re exposing yourself to those bugs.
You should be replacing your mascara within two to three months of opening it for the first time. Since it’s easy to forget, try making it a practice to set a reminder on your smartphone or jot it down in the calendar.
And while we’re on the subject of makeup here are a few more guidelines for when you should replace certain items…
- Powder eye shadow: every two years
- Cream eye shadow: once a year
- Eyeliner: every three to six months
- Foundation: once a year
- Blush or bronzer: every two years
- Lipstick: once a year
- Lip gloss: every six months
- Moisturizer: once a year
If you use a sunscreen (after spending your 20 or so minutes in the sun to boost your vitamin D) you should be replacing it every year. For help choosing a safer sunscreen click here.
Replace disposable razors weekly or bi-weekly depending on how often they are used. If any rust should appear, throw it away immediately. Drying the razor completely after each use and storing it outside of the shower can make it last a bit longer.
And toss your toothbrush every two months, or as soon as the bristles show signs of fraying or flattening.
So what you say… want to join me in a winter purge?
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