Spring Cleaning for Health

April 26, 2019 Dr. Elizabeth Meade


Spring is a great time to tackle cleaning, home projects, and organization. But when the Marie Kondo urge strikes, don’t forget to include areas that can most affect your health. Cleaning up certain spots in your home can make a big difference in your well-being!

The medicine cabinet: This is a great time of year to go through all the medications in your home, as well as personal care products like makeup and sunscreen. Sort through your medicine cabinet, removing anything that is expired or that you no longer use.

  • Medications - Remember that we don’t recommend throwing any medications into the trash or into the water system – we don’t want animals getting these either. You can take most medications back to pharmacies or clinics for safe disposal. Narcotics and other controlled substances require a specific drop-off spot – you can find those close to you here.
  • Sunscreen – It expires too! Don’t forget to check the date on any bottles you have around the house and toss them if they are past their expiration – and take note to stock up on a new supply for this coming spring and summer. 
  • Makeup - Similarly, makeup should be regularly combed through. Solids like powders or pencils typically last longer than liquid formulations, which should be thrown out around about a year. Pot formulations where potentially dirty fingers touch the surface should be tossed within 6 months. Anything that goes on your eyes needs special attention! Doctors often see patients who contract serious eye infections from using contaminated makeup. Get rid of mascara within 3-6 months, and eyeliner within 6-12 months.

The pantry: Let’s take this opportunity to think about the type of food we want to be eating to nourish and strengthen our bodies, and the things that don’t serve us as well. We know that we’ll eat what’s around us, so the best way to cement healthy habits is not to keep junk food around at all! This is a good time to take stock of what you have – pull everything out of your fridge, freezer, and pantry one section at a time and survey the selection. What’s expired? That goes. What’s close to expiration? Can you find a way to use it now, or donate it? Anything that looks or smells “off” goes into the trash. Now the harder part; consider getting rid of foods that don’t help make you healthier. If you find a pantry or a freezer filled with processed foods, sugar-added products, or things with minimal nutritional value, out they go! Your body will thank you, and so will your brain – it’s much easier to make healthy choices when they’re the majority of what’s available to you.

The bedroom: Finally, focus on sleep. Does your bedroom have a television or other screen? Try move it somewhere else. Getting screens (including phones) out of the place we sleep has a major effect on sleep quality and duration. Consider moving your phone charger out to the living room or kitchen and using an alarm clock to wake up. Spring is a great time to clean curtains if you have them – they can collect tons of dust and debris. Blackout curtains are even better for maximizing healthy sleep habits! And if you have an upholstered headboard, don’t forget to vacuum it – this can also collect lots of junk that can lead to allergies and other symptoms. Finally, flip your mattress! If you have a pillow-top or another type of mattress that can’t be flipped over, at least rotate it 180 degrees so that the patterns of wear are evenly distributed. If not, flip and rotate!

These are great places to start making changes that can lead to improved health and quality of life. Happy organizing – here’s to a healthier home!

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