Autumn Cleaning: 5 Things to Give the Boot

November 4, 2019

Although Spring is historically known as the time to go through your things and do some thorough cleaning, I like to partake in this process twice a year. Autumn is the perfect time to get organized and sort through things. Living in Chicago, we are bringing out a whole new wardrobe and probably storing our summer clothing. In a few months, the holidays will be here, thus being organized now can prepare for a smooth season and maybe give us some items for our Christmas wish lists.  They may not be the most glamorous gifts, but they are definitely needed.





When is the last time you replaced your pillows?  Did you know that using a proper pillow that “pops” back into place after you fold it in half is crucial to your sleep?  “If you have a plain-old, inexpensive polyester pillow, you should be replacing it every six months,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of the book Good Night. “But if you have a memory foam pillow or any one with structural integrity, it’ll last you anywhere from 18 to 36 months.”




Ladies, when is the last time that you cleaned your make up brushes (or sponges, etc. basically anything that you use to apply make up)?  At a minimum, make sure that you are cleaning your make-up brushes and applicators monthly.  There are over-the-counter cleansers specifically for cleaning your brushes, BUT you can simply use clarifying or baby shampoo, dish detergent, an unscented bar soap, or a mild oil, such as olive or almond oil.



No matter which method you use, do not let your brushes dry standing upward (hairs pointing toward the ceiling). According to The Beauty Department, the water will settle into the glue that’s holding all the bristles together, and everything will start coming apart.   Lay your brushes on a towel, flat or on a gentle downward incline.  If after washing, the brush feels stiff and dry, it’s perfectly acceptable to use a drop of conditioner on it and rinse out.




Whether you’re drying dishes, wiping your hands, or mopping up a mess, dish towels pick up hundreds upon hundreds of bacteria throughout the day. Yes, you should be washing them often, but once a year, it’s a good idea to toss out the old ones and start clean.


Bath towels should be replaced every two years, if they lose their absorbency or show wear. Donate worn out towels to animal shelters or use them as a pet mat in your car. You can also turn them into cleaning rags or keep them around for messy jobs you don’t want your nice towels around – like drying the car.


Keeping towels clean is another important factor, since bath towels are commonly covered in bacteria. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, told Time that he found that nearly 90% of bathroom towels were contaminated with coliform bacteria and about 14% carried E. coli. The health risks come when this bacteria comes in contact with flesh wounds, such as a small cut.  In the Bobos house, we put our bathroom and kitchen towels in the wash every two to three days.




Yes, I know, you love that beautiful wooden butcher block. But whether they are plastic or wooden, cutting boards should be on your annual replacement list. Although soap helps disinfect boards, sharp knives create deep grooves and gauges in the boards, which can harbor bacteria. In order to make your cutting boards last longer, use separate plastic boards for raw meat and seafood.


Plastic cutting boards need to be replaced often if they have cut marks or become scratched. Bacteria can gather in the knife marks of your board, increasing your chance of foodborne illness. A University of Michigan study found that more bacteria was recovered from plastic cutting boards than wooden boards, and once the board became too cut up, it was impossible to thoroughly disinfect.


Sticking with bamboo or wood boards is a better investment for your kitchen and the environment. Bamboo cutting boards come from a sustainable source, but can be harder on knives. Wood boards are not as renewable as bamboo, but they are better for knife upkeep. Preserve your boards with food-grade mineral oil and disinfect with three percent hydrogen peroxide, letting the mixture fizz to kill the germs.




Something to think about … how many times have you reused that plastic container? Even if you have purchased BPA-safe containers, oily residue and strong smells are hard to boot. Older containers, or the flimsy plastic takeout offerings you’re probably reusing, often contain BPA, a compound that has been linked to a whole host of concerns. Why not start the season with a new collection, or better yet, get glass ones? 


We know you will need plastic containers for lunch or travel so just keep in mind to toss them after a year if you are reusing often. 


And remember, try to avoid heating up food in plastic containers.  When you heat up plastic, the chemicals inside can migrate out and into your food. It takes a while for that to happen, and you just need to watch out for a couple things: The amount of chemicals leaching into food depends on the type of plastic that is put in the microwave, the time it is heated and the physical condition of the container, says Dr. Halden. Old, cracked containers and those that have been washed hundreds of times often give off more toxins when heated. Any deformities or discoloration are a sign it’s time for the recycling bin.  And reheating foods heavy in cream and butter in plastic is always a bad idea. “Fatty foods absorb more of these harmful chemicals when heated,” he says.


The Author

Karen Bobos, MSed

Karen M. Bobos, MSed, has been in the fitness industry since 1996 and feels her highest accomplishments are those results achieved by her clients through her guidance. She educates clients that there is no trick to being healthy, no magic pills, but rather optimal health is achieved through eating right and moving your body.

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