This 15-Minute Project Helps You Get Your Home Ready for the Year Ahead

published Jan 6, 2022
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A person standing in front of an open refrigerator inside a kitchen
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Apartment Therapy’s January Cure is a free 20-day program all about loving on your home and preparing yourself and your space for the new year. Sign up now to get daily lessons sent straight to your inbox!

The primary goal of the January Cure isn’t a perfect space — it’s a space that’s freshly renewed to carry you through another year. So while we’ll do plenty of looking ahead, there’s also a fair bit of looking back and clearing out things that could be holding you down — if not physically, then mentally.

One easy thing you can do to prepare your home for the year ahead involves a simple sweep of one category of items that all literally have an expiration date. When there’s a date on the bottle that says in no uncertain terms that this object reached the end of its useful life about three months ago, you can confidently get rid of it.

That’s what we’ll do today.

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Prop Styling: Tom Hoerup

Day 4: Clear expired things from all over your home.

Make a sweep of your home looking for expired food, beauty products, or anything else that’s taking up needless space because it’s literally gone bad.

I’d start in the kitchen, clearing the fridge, freezer, and pantry of expired goods. Expiration dates aren’t an exact science, of course, but you can trust your gut about what’s not going to be used before it turns. Toss those things into the trash or compost, and rinse glass and plastic containers for the recycling bin.

Next, visit the bathroom — or wherever you store skincare and beauty products. Those things expire, too, although it’s not always as obvious: Somewhere on the packaging, there should be a “PAO” (period after opening) symbol that looks like a small, open jar. The number inside that symbol represents how many months after opening that product will stay active and safe for use. So if you’re holding a bottle of pre-pandemic sunscreen with a 12-month PAO, it’s time to toss it.

For anything without a PAO symbol, or products you don’t remember when you opened, trust your eyes and nose. (This is also a good time to remind you to stash a Sharpie in the bathroom so you can write down your open dates on your grooming products.) If the product changed texture or color, or smells rancid, it’s a good sign it’s turned.

Some other spots to check for expired items are your purse or backpack, first aid kit, and your cleaning supplies (cleaning solutions lose their effectiveness over time — anything more than a year old is potentially suspect).

No matter the objects or areas you decide to tackle today, don’t stress yourself out trying to remove every single expired good. The goal today is a quick, painless pass to give your home a feeling of renewal, and even just tossing one grody mustard bottle is a win!

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More Ways to Participate in the January Cure: