Don’t floss, peel veg or wash your jeans: 40 things you can stop doing right now


A group of senior doctors has released a list of 40 procedures it considers to have little or no benefit. Could we apply similar thinking to everyday life?

If youve ever washed out a wound with saline instead of tap water or requested an x-ray for lower-back pain, youre a fool. According to a list drawn up by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, both practices are pointless; doctors only go along with them because theyre terrified that you will turn on them if they dont. The list of useless procedures runs to 40 items, covering everything from wrist fractures to palliative chemotherapy, and has been released in the hope that medical professionals will eventually reconsider using the treatments.

But medicine isnt the only area where were coerced into taking action unnecessarily. Here are 40 more things you shouldnt bother doing.

1 Eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day

The British government advises that we each eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. In Denmark, its six. In Australia, its seven. In 2014, campaigners tried upping it to 10. Just eat some vegetables and be done with it.

2 Taking vitamin C supplements

If you feel a cold coming on, its pointless to reach for the vitamin C tablets. Study after study has concluded that unless you live in a frozen wilderness, smoke an incredibly large number of cigarettes or subject yourself to extreme physical stress on a regular basis vitamin C wont do anything.

Not worth the bother … dental floss. Photograph: Alexandra Rowley/Getty Images

3 Flossing

In August, the British Dental Associations scientific adviser declared flossing to be pointless, adding that all floss-based studies of the past 25 years have been of very low quality. If youve never flossed your teeth, you were right all along. Go out there today and flash the world that foul-smelling, grey-green smile of yours. Youve earned this.

4 Washing your jeans

The sensible thing to do with dirty clothes is to wash them. But the CEO of Levis has advised that you should never do so with jeans, because washing them makes them look bad. Instead, why not try rubbing off stains with a toothbrush, leaving them to air outside and never having any friends because you smell of dirt and sweat?

5 Having a landline

No one calls your landline telephone. You never call anyones landline. No one will have a landline at all 10 years from now. They exist purely to complicate the act of changing your broadband provider.

6 Drinking eight glasses of water a day

You dont need to drink eight glasses of water a day. The figure first appeared in a recommended dietary allowance guide in the US 70 years ago, and it doesnt take into consideration your age, your height, your weight or your activity level. Instead, just drink until your wee is no longer dark. That means youre hydrated.

7-14 Overusing your fridge

Dont put tomatoes in your fridge, because it stops them tasting of anything. Dont put potatoes in your fridge, because it will muck up their starch and make them taste funny. Dont put bread in the fridge, because it will go stale faster. Dont put onions in the fridge, because they need to be well ventilated. Dont put bananas in the fridge, because theyre tropical fruits. Dont put avocado in the fridge, because they will never ripen. Dont put ketchup in the fridge, because it doesnt need to be kept in the fridge. Dont put eggs in the fridge, because I saw Stephen Fry say on TV once that he didnt, and he seems like a man whos got his stuff together.

15 Washing your hair every day

Nobody in the history of the world washed their hair as much as we do now. Daily washing is thought to be unnecessary. Every couple of days is good, or less if your hair is curly. Or never at all, if you want people to avoid you like the plague.

16 Taking a polling card with you to vote

On the register? You dont need your polling card. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA

Obviously, democracy is rigged and one vote never changes anything anyway. However, if you do go out to vote, leave your polling card at home. In Britain, if youre on the electoral register, you dont need it.

17Peeling vegetables

Full of fibre … carrot peel. Photograph: Linda Long/Getty Images/EyeEm

Most of a vegetables insoluble fibre is in its peel. Stop throwing away delicious fibre, you weirdo.

18 Owning more than 10 items of clothing

A Canadian pilot called Matt Souveny recently spent a year getting by on just one pair of trousers, one pair of shorts, a shirt, two T-shirts, a sweatshirt, trainers, boots and a belt. This proved that people own too many clothes, or something. Anyway, look, you should do it.

19 Communicating with words

A language of their own … emoji characters. Photograph: Unicode Consortium/Hannah Jane Parkinson

Still using words? Please. Emoji is now the fastest-growing language in history, thanks to its ability to bypass international barriers. Whichever way you look at it, thats pretty smileyface smileyface thumbs-up dancing-lady smileyface.

20 Pressing the close door button in a lift

As tempting as it is to hammer the close door button in a lift when you see your arch-enemy approaching, theres no point. Its most likely a placebo button, designed to give you the illusion of control and stop you remembering that youre in a metal box dangling from a wire 45 metres in the air.

21 Ordering anything in the top-right-hand corner of a menu

Menu design is a skill rooted in complex psychology. Knowing that your eye will naturally fall on the top-right corner of the menu, this is where restaurateurs often place their most profitable items. Why not help run these crooks out of business by ordering from the bottom of the menu, where youll find items with smaller margins?

You could win … but you probably wont. Photograph: Andy Lauwers/Rex Shutterstock

22 Discarding out-of-date food

When food reaches its sell-by date, that doesnt mean it suddenly becomes poisonous it means that the supermarket has guessed this stock should be rotated. Unless it smells terrible or is covered in mould, youre probably fine.

23 Playing the lottery

Youre far more likely to be struck by lightning twice than to win the UKs Lotto draw. Just give up and accept your miserable fate.

24 Taking toothpaste on holiday

If you must buy toothpaste (see 30-34), stop wasting your luggage allowance on it. There are shops where youre going. Buy toothpaste there.

25 Napping

Last month, a doctor from the University of Tokyo claimed that regular, hour-long, daytime naps can boost the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 45%. So, basically, its been nice knowing you. (That said, many studies have extolled the benefits of a quick snooze.)

26 Pressing C on a calculator multiple times

Its called the clear button, not the incremental clear button. Stop bludgeoning it every time you finish doing a sum.

27 Buying antivirus software

Earlier this year, the US Department of Homeland Securitys computer-emergency readiness team issued a warning about a popular brand of antivirus software after finding that it contained critical vulnerabilities. Most browsers now have content-verification systems that do the job better.

28 Stretching before exercise

A young man wasting his time. Photograph: Valery Matytsin/TASS

Its unlikely to improve performance or minimise injury. All it does is make you look like a bendy, Lycra berk.

29 Standing in line at the departure gate at the airport

You have a ticket with a designated seat and aeroplanes are uncomfortable. It wont take off without you. Calm down.

30-34 Buying expensive products

Why buy air freshener when you can just fill an orange peel with salt? Why use rinse aid in a dishwasher when you can just use white vinegar? Why buy laundry detergent when you can just grate some soap and put it in a jar with washing soda? Why buy deodorant when you can just rub coconut oil and baking powder on your armpits? Why buy toothpaste when you can basically wipe your homemade deodorant on your teeth?

35 Filing a tax return

If you owe less than 3,000 in tax, its often unnecessary to fill in a self-assessment sheet. Just ring HMRC and settle up over the phone instead.

36 Visiting a travel agent

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