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Toiletries 101

How would you answer the following question?

“When it comes to toiletries, how many unused containers of…

Shampoo Toothbrushes

Soap Aspirin Razors Shaving cream Mouthwash Nail files Cotton swabs Deodorant, lotion Make up Perfume

…are stacked behind your medicine cabinet, stuffed into shoeboxes or are filling drawers in the bathroom?”

Is your answer:

A. I have just enough toiletries and replace them when I run out B. I have tons of (and most likely outdated) replacement toiletries

A week ago I worked with a client who has a tendency to buy a great deal of replacements. I’m not talking an extra bottle of Nyquil, I’m talking five extra bottles. And she lives alone. As part of an initiative to clear out the clutter in her home we happened upon an enormous cabinet filled with stacks of toiletries. For a moment I thought I’d stumbled into CVS.


We first checked expiration dates. Though some items can be used even after these dates expire, is Ibuprofen from 2008 still as potent? Into the garbage went box after box, bottle after bottle, and as they did, I read the sticker prices. $15.99. $11.99. $9.99. The calculation was staggering. Even though stores offer “deals,” think twice before buying too many because it’s not worth it if they’re not used.

Like unworn clothing, unused toiletries take up valuable real estate. How many of us hold on to things we’ll most likely never use? Moroccan hair oil bought in a weak moment from a stylist, a Costco sized box of Tums that could choke a horse, or a lawn-sized bag of mini travel shampoos and soaps. And then there are the items we started using and never finished. I’m currently on a mission to use up every opened container and to stop with those impulse buys.

Toiletries, aside from being costly, can create their own clutter. This happens because we often don’t know what we have at home and buy more than we need when we’re at the store. To stay in check, a few times a year I dump my “tote of toiletries” onto the floor. I pitch anything that’s expired. Next I fill a bag of items I won’t ever use and drop it at a nearby church that accepts donations. Just another way to clean out clutter, and help someone at the same time.

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