Off-brand phone chargers
mimagephotography/ShutterstockYou may be tempted to buy that cheapy model at the airport, but studies show this can pose dangers to your expensive smartphone. Ken Shirriff of How-To Geek took a dozen chargers and put them to the test. He found that most off-brand chargers provided inconsistent power, leading to battery damage. If you want to save money, well-established third-party charger brands like Belkin and Monoprice did well in Shirriff's tests. Make sure you also get rid of these everyday items that could be toxic.
Old pancake mix
Naruedom Yaempongsa/ShutterstockAccording to Snopes, packaged pancake mixes (along with many other cake mixes) can be toxic in certain circumstances. It's a breeding ground for hard-to-spot mold and bacteria, which can be fatal for allergy sufferers; toss that expired box or bag right away.
Africa Studio/ShutterstockPets tend to chew on things they aren't supposed to—and that can be dangerous if you have dried flower arrangements lying around. According to The Nest, the issue is twofold: The flowers themselves pose a threat, and so do the materials used to make the flower arrangements. Many plants are toxic to both dogs and cats, and these materials can cause serious intestinal blockages or even acute poisoning.
Mikhail_Kayl/ShutterstockYes, beauty products do go bad. Even worse—they can cause breakouts, skin parasites, infections, and loss of vision if not disposed of at the proper time. While it may be difficult to toss away our precious samples, old makeup can serve as a breeding ground for germs, harboring nasty bacteria that can wreak some serious damage. If you're unsure when you should dump cosmetics, check out how long makeup products last.
Jelena990/ShutterstockKeeping your clothes on flimsy metal for too long can damage your favorite pieces. Maeve Richmond, a home organization expert and founder of Maeve's Method, tells Well and Good: "Wire hangers truly are too thin. Not only can they cause awkward stretch marks on clothes, but they will bend over time, causing unsightly bunch-ups in our closets, and our clothing to hang at funny angles."
Old dish sponges
A3pfamily/ShutterstockA study published in Scientific Advances reveals that the most bacteria-riddled thing in your house is your kitchen sponge. Their porous nature and liquid-absorbing abilities make them the ideal living space. Even if you're practicing proper hygeine—soaping and rinsing the sponge regularly—it won't be enough. Experts recommend replacing your kitchen sponge weekly. These are 15 other things you should be replacing more often.
Jonas Sjoblom/ShutterstockMost people choose to believe spices can last foever—they don't. A report from the FDA notes that common imported spices are contaminated with salmonella at twice the rate of all other imported foods, including coriander, oregano, basil, sesame seeds, and black pepper. If you want to avoid an unexpected bout of food poisoning, make sure to clean out your pantry regularly.
mlasaimages/ShutterstockThose bargain deals are too good to be true: A non-profit organization called The Ecology Center ran tests on 99 pieces of jewelry that were purchased from 14 different discount stores from around the country, like Target, Claire's, Forever 21, and Walmart. They found that over half of the jewelry—all of which cost less than ten dollars—had high levels of toxic chemicals; 27 of the pieces had lead levels that exceeded the safe limit (300 ppm) for children's products. Make sure you throw away these kitchen items right now.
Africa Studio/ShutterstockYou may be a fan of the way they make your house or car smell, but air fresheners can contain serious toxins called phthalates—and many don't even list them as an active ingredient. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, those toxins can easily affect hormones and reproductive health, especially in children. Side effects for men included lower testosterone levels, decreased sperm counts, and lower sperm quality.
Fascinadora/ShutterstockTupperware, Gladware, Snapware, you name it—everyone has a collection of plastic containers. They're great for storing leftovers, but studies show these can contain high levels of bisphenol-A (BPA), a toxin frequently found in plastics. Even in low doses, it can have a significant impact on hormonal balance and the brain. Make sure to never use plastic containers in the microwave unless they are labeled microwave safe. Try using glass or stainless steel containers instead.