When we think about becoming healthier, we often think about joining a gym and starting to eat a more balanced diet. These things are both very important, but becoming healthy also means throwing away anything that is harmful or holding you back.

Every day you encounter harmful household items – here are 15 things that you should throw away today for better health.

1. Old running sneakers

Running shoes experience serious damage every time you exercise in them, so make sure you replace your pair every three to six months. As they wear down they lose cushioning, so your feet and muscles take most of the force, meaning you are more likely to suffer from running injuries in the future.

2. The kitchen sponge

Studies have found that the kitchen sponge is the germiest thing in the average household, but swapping to a wash cloth will reduce the germs. Sponges suck the germs inside of them, and as they stay at room temperature any bacteria in them will thrive. Wash cloths hold far less germs, and putting them through the washing machine each week will help to kill bacteria.

3. Plastic cutting boards

Bacteria can grow in the cuts and grooves on a plastic cutting board, and it is very difficult to clean away once it is there. Wooden chopping boards are a great alternative as antimicrobial wood kills bacteria.

4. Antibacterial soap

According to a report from the FDA, antibacterial soap is no more effective than normal soap – and it may even be dangerious. The active ingredient in antibacterial soap can alter hormones in animals, and there are growing concerns that antibacterial soap is linked to antibiotic resistance.

5. Plastic containers

Old plastic containers made from clear, hard plastic that are stamped with “7” or “pc” can be dangerous to your health. They contain BPA, a harmful synthetic compound that can leak into food that is stored in the plastic container.

6. Diet soda

A study from Nature found that the sweeteners saccharin and sucralose in diet soda can disrupt your gut bacteria, which can cause health problems like glucose intolerance.

7. Air fresheners (solids, plug-ins and sprays)

Although some companies have promised to phase out phthaletes, most air fresheners still include them. Phthaletes can have harmful effects on overall development and the reproductive system.

8. Old air filters

Air filters can accumulate around 40 pounds of dust, which it will then recirculate throughout your house. This can aggravate allergies and asthma, and sometimes very old air filters will grow mould. Swap your air filter for an air purifier to make sure you can breathe easy at home.

9. Frayed toothbrush

Old, frayed toothbrushes gather bacteria and they are less effective at fighting off decay – swap your toothbrush every three months to help maintain a healthy mouth.

10. Food leftovers

Have your leftovers have been in the fridge for three days? If so, it is time to eat them, freeze them or throw them away. Listeria grows in food at fridge temperature, and it is linked to meningitis and miscarriages.

11. Old mascara

Liquid make-up can harbor germs, and every time the mascara wand touches your face you add new bacteria to the mix. Throw away your tube after 3 to 4 months of use to keep your eyes safe from infection.

12. Old lip balm or lip gloss

A moist lip balm tube is filled with bacteria from your mouth, and if your mouth is cracked or cut you may get a mouth infection. Try to replace your lip balms or glosses every 6 months after opening.

13. Unclean contact lens case

It doesn’t matter how clean your lenses are if the case you keep them in is dirty. Over time a biofilm will build up on the surface of the lens, which encourages the growth of bacteria. Most opticians recommend that the lens case is replaced every 3 months.

14. Clothes you will never wear again

Do you actually wear everything in your wardrobe? Many people keep clothes that are either too small or big for them, on the off chance that their weight will change and they will fit into the clothes ago. Realistically you don’t use these items, and seeing them can make you feel upset or under confident. Only keep clothes that you can wear!

15. Your smartphone, tablet and laptop

You don’t have to get rid of your technology, but recent studies have found that overuse of these devices is linked to anxiety and depression. Look out for your mental well-being by going offline every day for a few hours.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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