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7 Things You Should Never Keep in Your Home, According to Experts

These household items are unhealthy and toxic.

It's not something most of us think about, but there's a lot of hidden dangers around your home that you're probably not aware of. From toxic cleaning supplies to kitchen items we use daily, experts we spoke with reveal what things to toss immediately and why. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Cardboard Boxes

Cardboard boxes

Karin Ashley, an Integrative Women's Health Nurse Practitioner shares, "If you're keeping a pile of boxes from online shopping indoors to eventually move outside, or if you are using them for indoor storage, it's time to stop! Shipping boxes have quite a journey before they get to you, originating in a warehouse, thrown on dirty conveyor belts, into trucks, trains, planes, bags, and crates. The boxes are exposed to bugs, chemicals, molds, and honestly who knows what else. Corrugated boxes are excellent places for cockroaches, spiders, and other bugs to lay their eggs, due to the small holes. If you don't get the boxes out of your house in a timely manner, you could end up with an infestation. Is exposure to chemicals on a cardboard box going to kill you? No. However, our environment is so saturated with chemicals, and our bodies are struggling with the load. The best way to support our bodies in detoxifying chemicals is to reduce exposures whenever we can, and often that means the little things!"


Leaving Deli Meat in the Fridge for More Than 5 Days

deli meats

"Why are pregnant women advised to avoid lunch meat?," Ashley asks. "For the same reason everyone should avoid lunch meat that has been opened for more than 5 days: Listeria. Listeria is a bacteria that can cause listeriosis in the body, a form of food poisoning. Listeria bacteria is also found in other meats, unpasteurized cheeses, and produce that hasn't been adequately cleaned. Listeria infection can be dangerous for anyone's health, with symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache. People with suppressed immune systems and pregnant women can experience more severe reactions. If you're not sure how long your deli meat has been in the fridge, it's best to toss it. If it's been 3-5 days, you can reduce the potential bacteria count by heating it in a pan prior to eating."


Plastic Food Storage

plastic containers

Ashley says, "You may have heard about BPA in plastics, or see products advertised as "BPA-free." BPA has been in plastic products for decades, but has only recently been acknowledged as harmful in recent years. BPA is still found in almost all feminine hygiene products. Unfortunately, BPA has been replaced with other harmful substances like BPS and phthalates. These chemicals are endocrine disrupters, meaning they confuse the hormonal balance in both men and women, leading to early puberty, menstrual irregularity and pain, endometriosis, PCOS, and menopause symptoms. Plastics leach into our food, especially if the food is warm. Stop microwaving food in plastic should be your first step, then work on finding healthy alternatives to plastic like glass, silicone, bamboo and stainless steel."




Gabby Martin, supervisor at Bio Recovery shares, "As cleaners we can personally attest to how potentially dangerous bleach can be. We actually don't even use it in our cleanups because of how complicated and potentially dangerous it can be on your health and body. With the kind of cleanups we do, it can create a serious chemical reaction and make the problem even worse. And even as a cleaning product alone it doesn't always treat the problem. One thing is for certain, though, if you have bleach in your home that you are using until you run out, make sure not to mix it with any ammonia based products. Mixing the two creates a fatal chloramine gas and can even potentially cause pneumonia. And it's not just ammonia, either. For this reason, we recommend holistic/organic products when possible."


Aerosol Cans

Aerosol for insect control in the hands of a woman wearing a mask.

Martin says, "Aerosol cans contain a mixture of dangerous chemicals under the cap, all which can explode unpredictably. When this happens, the cap can  injure or, quite literally, take someone's eye out."


Harsh Cleaning Products

cleaning products

Dr. Jacob Hascalovici MD, PhD, Clearing Chief Medical Officer asks, "Can you pronounce the ingredients in your household cleaning products? If the answer is 'not so much,' then you may want to consider using vinegar, baking soda, and more biodegradable products. Even common products like ammonia and bleach can be harsh on your skin and could irritate your eyes and lungs. Harsh products can also kill off healthy bacteria and can also impact your epigenetics (the way your genes regulate themselves) in potentially negative ways. Gentler products can still clean thoroughly (say hello to lemons, for example!) while also being kinder to your microbiome, the bacteria on your skin and in your digestive system." 


The Kitchen Sponge

hand squeezing soap from blue sponge

Dr. Hascalovici states, "Foam sponges are ubiquitous, but they're also ideal breeding grounds for bacteria. And while many bacteria are helpful and healthy for us, it's not always a good idea to breed certain kinds of bacteria by using the same sponge over and over in the kitchen, wiping up egg whites, meat juice, random crumbs, and more. Many sponges don't dry thoroughly, and so everything you've been trying to clean up keeps marinating until you wipe your counters again. Are those counters really as clean as you'd like? Consider alternate kinds of sponges, sanitizing your sponge more thoroughly, using washable hand towels, or other alternatives. Considering how much you probably use your kitchen, it's a good idea to keep it clean."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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