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9 Nasty Things to Throw Away Today

From dangerous to disgusting — you don't want these in your home

Time for Spring Cleaning

En español l April includes not only Earth Day on the 22nd, a perfect time to think about recycling, but also National Take-Back Initiative Day on the 26th, when you can safely bring in expired or unused drugs. So start spring with a clean sweep by getting rid of these nine things — and we'll tell you the right way to do it.

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Hazardous Waste

Aerosol cans, batteries, motor oil, antifreeze, paint — they all need to be disposed of properly so they don't contaminate the environment or accidently harm children or pets. Visit, a huge clearinghouse for recycling info, to help you find a place that will safely dispose of hazardous material.


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Piled-Up Plastic Containers

Containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 may contain BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical that leaches into food as containers age or get heated in the microwave or dishwasher. Tupperware made before 2010 can also have BPA. Replace with new plastic or glass containers, which do not contain the chemical.


Expired or Unused Medications

Toss your old drugs in a safe, legal, eco-friendly way. Do not flush them down the toilet or put them in the trash. Take them to official collection sites on National Take-Back Initiative Day, April 27. Check the SMARxTDisposal website for other approved disposal ideas.

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Old Spice(s)

Dried-up, decades-old spices won't make you sick, but they won't add flavor to food or impart any nutrients either. The experts at McCormick say seasoning blends last one to two years; herbs and ground spices, one to three years; and whole spices, up to four years.


Moldy Makeup

Makeup stays safe for only a limited time; after that, bacteria that may cause infection can start to grow — especially in eye makeup. Mascara has the shortest shelf life (two to three months), followed by lip gloss (six months). Replace foundation after six months to a year, at most.

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Crusty Contact Lens Cases

Studies show that up to 92 percent of cases are contaminated due to poor cleaning and hygiene. Eye experts and the government say cases should be replaced every month to three months, and cleaned and air-dried (facedown) daily. Use fresh soaking solution every day — no topping off or reusing.

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Pathetic Pillows

When was the last time you replaced your pillow? Pillows older than 18 months contain fungi, dead skin and dust mites that can aggravate allergies, asthma and sinusitis. Try this: Fold your pillow in half and squeeze out the air. If it doesn't spring back, it's too old.

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Expired Canned Food

Those cans you've had since Reagan was president? They need to go. Food-safety experts say canned tomatoes and fruits are good for 18 months; canned meat and vegetables, up to five years. Just don't donate them to the food bank. If they're unsafe for you, they're unsafe for everyone.


Germy Kitchen Sponge

Start fresh with a new kitchen sponge. Studies show it's the germiest thing in most American households, with bacteria thriving in the damp crevices, says microbiologist Philip Tierno, Ph.D., of New York University. To cut contamination, microwave your sponge daily in an inch of water for a minute on high heat.

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