Medicine cabinets are often a black hole for all kinds of products, from expired pills to dead batteries. Chances are, if you open your medicine cabinet, you'll find old or unmarked prescription bottles or maybe even some foul-smelling liquid products in damaged packaging that you once thought may come in handy someday.
In actuality, those products may have expired and may cause more harm than you realize.
Listed below are 14 things you probably have in your medicine cabinet that may have long since expired and now pose a threat to your health. (h/t to AskAPrepper.com)
Old medicines – Medicines can cost a lot of money, so it's understandable why some people keep their prescription medicines past their expiration dates. But old or expired medicines can be dangerous if they've already lost potency. It's best to throw them away. You should also get rid of medicine containers that are unmarked or have faded labels.
Old cosmetic products – Some people also like to keep old lipsticks, powders and other cosmetic products because getting rid of them feels wasteful. But cosmetic products can expire and cause infections and damage the skin when used. Here's a guide on when to throw away makeup.
Discolored products – If a product is no longer the same color or smell as when you bought it, then it may be time to throw it away. Changes to color, smell and texture indicate that a product has been exposed to too much light, which can affect its potency. Get rid of any discolored products.
Pimple products – Products designed to treat pimples contain active ingredients, which can lose their potency over time. If you have old pimple products in your medicine cabinet, it's best to throw them away. It's highly unlikely they're still effective against pimples.
Old rubbing alcohol – Rubbing alcohol doesn't really have an expiration date. But it does start to evaporate after some time, usually two to three years. Once that happens, it may no longer be effective at killing germs. It's best to throw away old rubbing alcohol and replace it with a new bottle.
Old contact lens cases – People rarely think to clean contact lens cases because they're practically always filled with contact lens solution. However, this is exactly why contact lens cases can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Get rid of cases you're not using immediately.
Expired contact lens solution – Contact lens solution is another product that many people don't think expires. But it does, and it's also very easy for contact lens solutions to become contaminated. Never use contact lens solution past its expiration date and get rid of old ones to be on the safe side.
Old petroleum jelly – Every time you stick your finger in a container of petroleum jelly, you introduce bacteria into it. Left sitting in your medicine cabinet, that tub of petroleum jelly can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Throw that away immediately. Buy only small tubs of petroleum jelly if you need it.
Damaged bandages and feminine hygiene products – Tampons, sanitary napkins and bandages are sterilized before leaving the factory. They're also individually packaged to keep them sterile. Therefore, it's safe to assume that the product is no longer sterile once its packaging is damaged. Throw away bandages and feminine hygiene products with damaged packaging immediately.
Products in damaged packaging – Always assume that anything with damaged packaging has already been contaminated, even if the product itself is unused. Throw these away and just get new ones.
Old razors – Razors can rust when water sits on the meta. Once a razor blade rusts, it quickly becomes dull, which can result in nicks during shaving. Keeping your razors in your medicine cabinet where moisture can become trapped will easily cause them to rust.
Dead batteries – So many small devices kept in medicine cabinets, such as digital thermometers and electric razors, require batteries. Old or dead batteries will easily damage those devices if they aren't removed. Routinely check the batteries in small devices you may have in your medicine cabinet.
Non-functional medical devices – You should also make sure that any small device you may have in your medicine cabinet is still working. If they still don't work even after you've replaced the batteries, throw them out and just get new ones. Chemicals from their components can leach and pose a health risk.
Make it a habit to check your medicine cabinet and dispose of products that are old, expired or unmarked.
Learn more about what a prepper's medicine cabinet should look like by reading articles at Preparedness.news.