Bathroom Closet Cleanout

You may find you have a little extra time on your hands this weekend to clean de-clutter.

If there’s one storage area in your home that gets neglected, it’s your closets – it’s so easy to simply shut the door and pretend the clutter isn’t there. Today we’re discussing the bathroom variety, to ensure you and your family only use safe products in the year ahead. C’mon, cleaning is cathartic – let’s turn up the safety and ditch some expired and unused stuff!

Prescribed medicines. Prescription drugs deserve your attention first as these medicines shouldn’t be used after a year from their purchase date to avoid chemical changes, bacterial growth or decreased effectiveness.1 Pull everything out and evaluate dates, placing those older than a year in a zippered plastic bag.2 Once complete, don’t throw the bag away as doing so may leave the medicines able to be found and consumed by animals or children. Instead, seal your bag and take to a local pharmacy for proper disposal. If your pharmacy doesn’t have the ability to help, check with your local police or fire department for assistance. If you can’t find a public prescription drop box, add kitty litter, coffee grounds or sawdust to the bag before disposing to make the contents unattractive to pets and kids.3

Keep in mind that a medicine cabinet located in in a warm, humid bathroom may not be the best place for medicine storage. Consider securing remaining medicines in a small lockbox kept in a cool, dry place.4

Over-the-counter medicines. The dates on these products make it super simple to know which need to go. If they’re expired, pitch them. Follow the same plan for bagging and disposal as you would for prescription medicines.5

Makeup. Over time, it’s easy to amass a large collection of makeup products, yet very rare that we pull it all out and purge old or unused items. Once opened, makeup becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Make sure your stash is in top shape by sorting through all your makeup products. Toss anything you don’t use or that’s broken, keeping in mind many cosmetic brands offer recycling programs. Here’s how to gauge the age of your glam:

  • Don’t stretch mascara too far – it can be the culprit of eye irritations and infections. If it’s older than three months, say goodbye.
  • Foundation lasts up to 12 months, but if you notice off-putting smells or texture changes before then, pitch it.
  • Powder concealer may last you two years, liquid concealer only one. Changes in color tip you off to expiration.
  • Powdered blush and face powder can last two years if you avoid cross contamination from water or oils from other products.
  • Bad news alert: eye shadows and eyeliners are healthy for about three months only. Anything older should go.
  • Change out lipstick about once a year, when it shows signs of hardening or texture change, or when you’ve been especially sick.
  • If cared for properly, makeup brushes can last for years. Wipe them off after using and clean them with a gentle hair shampoo or brush cleaner every two weeks.6

Toiletries. First question: do you still use it? If you don’t, or you won’t, it’s time to get rid of it. For those items you plan to keep, do a second scan. If you find discoloration, or a product smells differently from when it was purchased, purge those as well.7 We all love our bathroom and beauty products, but we only need the ones we use that remain in good shape.

Once you’ve done your bathroom closet clean out, reorganize your storage space so items are easy to spot and reach. And come back next year to do it all again!

1 “Special Features - Don't Be Tempted to Use Expired Medicines.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, 1 Mar. 2016.
2, 4,5 “Safe Disposal of Medicines - Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, 11 Jan. 2018.
3 Stephen, Janise. “6 Tips to Help ‘Spring Clean’ Your Medicine Cabinet.” The National Kidney Foundation, 12 Aug. 2014.
6 Panych, Sophia. “Does Your Makeup Have a Shelf Life? How to Know When Your Beauty Products Expire.” Allure, Allure Magazine, 26 June 2016.
“Decluttering the Bathroom.” HGTV, Scripps Networks, 10 Nov. 2015.