Why You Should Probably Toss That Old Bottle Of Shampoo

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
If there's one place you don't expect to find bacteria, it's in the products that are supposed to make you cleaner. But, as NPR reports, it turns out there's almost always bacteria in our soaps. It's not really a problem, though — until it is.

Last week, a variety of Gilchrist & Soames shampoos and body washes were recalled for possible Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacter gergoviae contamination. This certainly isn't the first time something like this has happened. Basically, certain species of bacteria live in even the places we assume to be germ-free, like, for instance, hand soap. Most of the time, this is totally fine; the bacteria are either harmless or exist in numbers below the FDA's threshold for recall.

However, some of these bacteria (such as Pseudomonas species) can cause serious infections. And, over time, a product's built-in antimicrobial agents lose their effectiveness — at that point, bacteria can get out of hand. If a product is unopened, this takes about three years. But, once it's opened, a product should be used within a year, dermatologist Zoe Draelos, MD, told NPR. And, if it's at the point where the liquid is separating from the lipid components, definitely toss it.

Still, bacteria are everywhere. And, even if they can be scary sometimes, we couldn't live without them. So, we might as well learn to appreciate them for the little buddies that they are. (NPR)
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