Spring cleaning is a thing this time of year in Singapore, as people try to get theirs done before Lunar New Year. (Find out why here.)
Whether you follow this CNY tradition, use it as a reason to declutter your home now with these quick tips – it can benefit you both physically and emotionally!
1. Old books, magazines and newspapers
Unless you're planning on opening a library or bookshop in the near future, it's probably wise to donate reading material you no longer read to places like libraries and charity shops. That doesn't mean you should go tossing out your collector's edition of classics, though – just the ones you won't go back to anymore.
2. Expired sauces, condiments and snacks
Raid your entire fridge and pantry to pick out the items that are already past their due date – there's probably more than you would expect. It's easy to forget the collection of sauce packets from fast food chains, or chocolates from your previous trip that you've been saving for a special occasion (but never opened). If they're expired, into the garbage they go!
3. Socks that are missing their other half
If your sock's missing pair hasn't showed up for months, there's a good chance it's gone for good.
4. Cords with no home
Charging cables with no item to charge? Into the bin it goes – if you haven't touched it in a year, you probably don't need it at all!
5. Gadget manuals
We're talking about those bulky instruction books that come with your electronic purchases. Pretty much everything can be found online now – and do you really need instructions in three different languages? We think not. Throw them out along with the product boxes you've been saving, that really just take up space unnecessarily.
Replace: Every 1-2 years
Pillows collect dead skin cells, dust mites and fungi, so it's a good idea to replace these when they're looking or smelling funky. If hygiene isn't the problem, think about whether they're giving enough support. Memory foam pillows last longer but if yours is getting soft, it's time for a new one!
Replace: Every 7-10 years
If your mattress is showing signs of wear and tear, or you wake up with aches and pains, it's time for a new one! It's not always obvious, though – if your mattress is older than seven years, it's usually no longer providing you with the best comfort and support. (Tip: Read about the only mattresses in Singapore made of body-coutouring material so advanced it's NASA-certified!)
Replace: At least once a month
Depending on how often you use your sponge, if it doesn't smell or discolour, it should last up to a month.
9. Chopping boards
Replace: When it looks worse for wear
Using a different board for different food groups will make them last longer. Be sure to season wooden boards with oil nad wash using hot water and detergent after every use. Replace a board when it starts to look stained and old.
10. Cleaning products
Replace: Every 1-3 years
Throw out any empty bottles and check the expiry dates on those that are still filled. If you're not sure, you can tell by how well something is working.
11. Bath towels
Replace: Every 2 years, or if they smell even after cleaning
Especially if you chuck them frequently into the washer and dryer, your bath towels can fade and become stiff. Donate old towels to animal shelters or recycle them as kitchen rags, unless they've got mould or stains on them. (Struggling with humidity and mildew in your home? Consutl this. Want to upgrade your bathtowels? Go here!)
12. Old receipts, bills, and ticket stubs
Only keep the most important documents – toss everything else! If they've been sitting there all year, you're never going to look at them again anyway.
13. Expired medication
Go through your medicine cabinet carefully and throw away any pills or consumables that have expired, as they can cause more health problems if someone accidentally consumes them.
14. Dried up or spoilt pens
You've probably amassed quite a collection of pens over the year but not all of them might still be functioning. Test each one out on a blank sheet of paper, and chuck those that don't work anymore!
15. Unused party favours
Admit it – you still have door gifts from distant relatives' weddings sitting somewhere in a drawer. If you're not going to use it, give it away, donate it or simply get rid of it!
Replace: Every 3-6 months
If the bristles on your toothbrush are starting to splay (as opposed to remaining stick-straight), it's time to replace it. A trick to check is to look at your toothbrush from the back – if you can see the bristles sticking out, it's a sign that your toothbrush needs to be changed. (Are you brushing too hard? Have a too-stiff toothbrush? Check out this expert advice on keeping your teeth and gums healthy.)
17. Bath mats
Replace: Every 1-2 years
Especially if they're often waterlogged, your trusty bath mat can get grimy and worn down!
18. Scratched non-stick pans
The non-stick coating can flake off and be mixed in with your food, causing health problems when ingested. Make sure to throw out any such pans if they've been scratched – it's better to be safe than sorry!
19. Makeup brushes
Replace: Every 2 years
Yes ladies, your precious makeup brushes have an expiry date too!
20. Water filters
Replace: Every 2-6 months
Different filter brands have different guidelines on how often you should change the filter, so make sure to check with yours. (Feel like you drink more water each day in hot and steamy SG? You may be right.)
21. Contact lens case
Replace: Every month
Bacteria can survive in the moisturised, contact lenses' solution for a long time. Avoid causing irritation to or infecting your eye and exchange the cases monthly to ensure germ-free view.
22. Toilet brush
Replace: Approximately every 6 months
This is to avoid the risk of spreading bacteria with the used brush instead of scrubbing them away. Here's a tip – fill your brush holder with a mixture of water and toilet cleaner when it is being stored away. This way, your brush also helps clean your toilet with the cleanser when you use it!
23. Soap bars
Germs like to breed on wet environments, such as wet soaps. Even after 48 hours, there are still microorganisms on it, including pathogens! We suggest making use of two different bars of soap – while one is drying, you can use the other one. When the soaps harden, bacteria has zero chance for reproduction. (Shh, here's the founder of Green Is The New Black's favourite, secret eco-cleansing bars.)
24. Shaving razor blades
Replace: Every 2 weeks, or earlier if they turn rusty or blunt
Do you store your razor in the shower? Not a good idea. The humidity, hair residue and foam makes the environment conducive for the spreading of mould. Instead, hang the shaver on a holder where it is dry, because no moisture = no germs!
Hidden germs are formed when you dry your hands quickly with a dishtowel and place it back wet! According to a study, 89% of all towels are contaminated with E. coli, causing illnesses including gastric diseases, as bacteria can spread easily in these cozy cottons due to their high moisture content.
Tip: wash your dishtowels at no less than 60 ºC to kill off germs.