Germs, heat, sunlight, toilet water mist … they’re all enemies of some of your favorite wellness products. These culprits can make your go-to products less effective, and potentially even dangerous. Here are six common products you may be storing incorrectly — and where to keep them instead.
Where to keep products like face creams and eye creams depends somewhat on what’s in them. Products that have preservatives or come in a sealed tube or airless pump can be popped into a makeup bag or medicine cabinet, no problem. But those that contain heat-unstable ingredients like vitamins A and C can become less effective if exposed to heat — so keep them in the fridge.
The best place for your favorite fragrances? The fridge. Perfume has a shelf life of about three to five years, but light, heat, and variations in temperature can break down its chemical structure faster. If you can’t keep it in the fridge, pick a spot that’s dark and protected from heat, like a closet or drawer far from any windows and radiators.
The bathroom’s a pretty natural spot for your toothbrush, right? The problem: your toilet. You can create what’s known as an “aerosol effect” after flushing, sending all those toilet germs flying through the air and landing wherever … including on your toothbrush bristles. Soap and dirty water from your bathroom sink are potential issues too, so make sure you pick a spot on the counter far enough away from the toilet and the sink. If you’ve got limited space, a medicine cabinet can work too, as long as there’s enough airflow to dry your toothbrush quickly — bacteria and microbes grow faster in damp conditions.
You probably know that if a condom hasn’t seen the outside of a wallet since 2003, it’s not safe to use. But your pockets, glove compartment, and trunk are off-limits, too, along with pretty much any spot that gets exposure to moisture, heat, natural sunlight, or fluorescent light. Your condoms are safest at room temperature or a little below, so keep them in cool, dry spots like a nightstand, jewelry box, or sock drawer.
Think of your tampons as gremlins — no matter what, don’t get them wet. That means keeping them away from your shower and toilet, where water can damage the wrapper and cause bacterial growth on the tampon itself. Keeping your tampons in the box (or at least not mingling freely with the pens, loose change, makeup, and old receipts in your purse) is a good idea for the same reason. If you spot a tampon with a torn wrapper, toss it — there’s a chance it has picked up loose debris around it while unsealed.