How often do you actually check the dates on your bathroom toiletries and make-up? We should get into the habit of checking products to ensure we don’t cause ourselves any minor irritations. Set aside time at least twice a year to do a bathroom stock-check. I find January and July are really good times for this (with January comes my new year declutter and with July comes the summer holiday, when the suncreams come out). Put products with a shorter lifespan to the front of your cabinets and ensure you finish them before opening another similar product.

You may have products that haven’t quite reached their expiry date, but are already gunky. Check each item well for odd textures, smells and colours – if these things have changed, it is time to toss the product. Use mini storage baskets and put them into your bathroom cabinets, labelled, for different types of items, such as ‘shampoos’ or ‘body washes’. This way, you will always know how much you have left of each type of product. Try not to over-buy. Use up what you already have before buying more. This will save a huge build-up of products that can take ages to get through. Toiletries expiry guide This is a rough guide – always check a product’s shelf-life once opened, which will be printed on the packaging.

  • HAIR STYLING PRODUCTS Up to 1–5 years (products containing alcohol tend to last longer)
  • DEODORANT Up to 3 years SHAVING CREAM Up to 2 years
  • TOOTHPASTE Up to 2 years (always check the expiration date, as the product contains fluoride)
  • MOUTHWASH Up to 3 years
  • BODY WASH Up to 3 years
  • BODY LOTION Up to 3 years
  • FACIAL CLEANSER Up to 2 years
  • FACIAL MOISTURISER Up to 2 years
  • EYE CREAM 6–12 months, once opened
  • SUNSCREEN 1 year (this is government regulated)
  • ANTI-ACNE PRODUCTS Products containing benzoyl peroxide will only be effective for 3 months; other products can last up to 1 year (depending on ingredients)
  • ANTI-AGING PRODUCTS 6–12 months (depending on ingredients)
  • SHAMPOO 1–2 years (opened); up to 3 years (unopened)
  • CONDITIONER 1–2 years (opened); up to 3 years (unopened)
  • FOUNDATION Up to 18 months MASCARA Change every 3 months – or immediately if you have suffered an eye infection
  • LIQUID EYELINER Up to 1 year – or replace if you have suffered an eye infection
  • EYE AND BROW PENCILS 1–3 years (depending on quality). Sharpen before each use to avoid eye infections
  • LIQUID EYE SHADOW Up to 1 year
  • LIPSTICK 2–3 years (depending on quality). Always keep the lid on LIP GLOSS 2–3 years (depending on quality)
  • LIP PENCILS 2–3 years (depending on quality)
  • CREAM BLUSHER Up to 1 year
  • POWDER BLUSHER 2–3 years (depending on quality)
  • BRONZER 2–3 years (depending on quality)

Nifty cleaning tips for pet owners

Owning a pet is a delight – they can bring so much joy into your life, but it isn’t always easy! Trust me, I know. Cleaning up after furry friends can sometimes feel like a dull, never-ending task, but it doesn’t have to be. The key to being a good pet owner is to be organized.

My family had wanted a dog for a long time and it took me a while to decide whether I could bring a furry friend into my home. But I was sensible and I did my research.

For anyone thinking of introducing a pet to their home, I highly recommend borrowing a dog for the day, to see how you feel and how you cope.

Loving your pet is a lot more important than being stressed over muddy paws and shed hair. By following these simple tips you can make life with your pet easier.

DOG CLEANING TIPS Are you worried your home has developed a doggie smell? Are you ready for fur-free floors and fresh-smelling sofas? Then follow my top tips: Brush your dog daily. It removes those loose hairs before they settle on your sofa and become embedded into your carpet. Invest in plenty of throws for your furniture and wash them regularly.

Recycle old bath towels and use them exclusively for your furry friend. Be prepared for after walks. Set up a dog-cleaning station by the door. Keep an old towel and a warm bowl of water nearby, so that when you enter you can dip your dog’s paws into it before they have the run of the house. Invest in a barrier mat for all your entrances. These mats are great for absorbing dirt and will help keep your floors clean.

CAT LITTER TRAYS Cats are – in general – relatively clean, but going the extra mile to keep your home looking spotless is never a bad idea. Keep litter trays fresh. Line the bottom of the tray with a plastic bag.

When it comes to cleaning out the dirty litter tray, there’s nothing that makes the job easier and it stops the plastic from absorbing bad smells. Add a thin layer of bicarbonate of soda to the litter tray before adding kitty litter and it should help keep any smells under control between changes.

PET HAIR Every pet owner needs to have a lint roller in their cleaning caddy. It’s the perfect tool for picking up pet hair, which cannot always be easily sucked up by your vacuum. Simply run the roller over your sofa cushions daily and over any places that your pet likes to settle. You will be amazed at what you can pick up.

Rubber gloves are another great tool for picking up pet hair from your furniture, curtains, cushions and any other fabrics. Pop a pair on, dampen them slightly, then sweep your hands over the hair-ridden areas. Use your fingers to get into those hard to reach areas – hair will quickly stick to the rubber.

PET BEDS Pet beds can pick up strong odours and they need to be cleaned regularly. Make sure you choose a pet bed with removable covers. Wash bedding on a hot cycle. Use a mild detergent with no dyes or fragrance and avoid fabric conditioner.

By adding a cupful of bicarbonate of soda to the wash, this will help to neutralise any stubborn smells. If you can, save this chore for a sunny day, so that they can dry outside – great for killing bad odours. Keep a tumble-dryer sheet in an envelope under your pet’s bed to keep it smelling fresh.

PET ACCIDENTS It’s something all pet owners dread! A pet accident on the carpet not only looks bad, but the lingering odour can be really hard to get rid of. Act as quickly as you can when an accident occurs.

There are many great products you can buy for pet accidents, but I like to use a pet-friendly natural solution. These kitchen staples make an effective stain remover with added odour-neutralising properties: In a 500 ml spray bottle, mix together a 50:50 solution of white wine vinegar and water and add 4 heaped teaspoons bicarbonate of soda.

Bring it out whenever your pet has an accident. First, blot the stain with a cloth, then spray your stain remover liberally on top. Leave for 10 minutes to allow the solution to work, then blot again.

COLLARS AND HARNESSES Pet collars and harnesses can get grubby and smelly pretty quickly. Don’t keep just one set, have a few.

The easiest and most effective way to deep clean them is to put a couple of squirts of pet shampoo into a bowl and fill it with hot water. Pop the collars in to soak for at least 15 minutes, then rub them against themselves to extract any dirt. Rinse under a cool tap and pat with a towel before hanging to dry.

PET TOYS Dishwashers aren’t just for cleaning plates, pots and pans. I wash many other items in my dishwasher, including plastic pet toys, to keep them germ-free. Fabric toys can be put in the washing machine.

FRESH AIR I have my windows open all the time. I love fresh air blowing through my house and I feel it wakes my house up every morning. If you own a pet, fresh air is important and will make a huge difference in how your home feels. H