As it turns out, items around the house have expiration dates for a reason – at least sometimes. We all do our best to keep our homes nice and neat, but a lot of people don’t realize that going through your hygienic products, foods, and other household items should probably factor into that clean-up process. In fact, the more you ignore, the more likely it is you are probably leaving something on your shelf that could cause some problems down the road. Truthfully, some of these things don’t even have expiration dates listed. But don’t worry – we’re here to help you get to know the lifespan on products you use every day before they can wreak havoc on your health.
Canned goods, the staple for every person who has built a bomb shelter or doomsday bunker. Watching movies, TV shows, and just generally having an understanding of what people will do with their canned goods leads to a false sense of perspective that they will last indefinitely. In actuality, canned goods have a shelf life of about 4 years or so – assuming they are being stored properly.
Most canned goods actually do come with an expiration date, and make sure not to ever eat them after that date comes. If you risk eating spoiled canned food, you are risking a bad bout with food poisoning!
Were you aware that your toothpaste can go bad? You know that at some point you or someone you know has definitely just picked up a super old tube at some point in their life and said, “I’m just going to use this even though it seems extremely old and probably disgusting.” Well, it appears that may have actually been the case.
Most people don’t realize that toothpaste actually can become ineffective as the mixture ingredients that produces the health benefits can separate and crystalize over time. It’s probably not as much that the old toothpaste is actively unhealthy as much as it is the fact that it simply isn’t keeping your teeth healthy the way you are hoping. Ultimately, after about two years you need to get rid of that old tube of toothpaste and get a new one, otherwise you might as well be brushing with water.
Whether it’s allergies, dryness, or some other form of itchiness and irritation, eyedrops can really go a long way toward relieving all kinds of eye discomfort. There’s a lot of different types of eye drops that you can pick up at your corner pharmacy too for all different purposes. Because of this, you might be keeping an old bottle or two around your medicine cabinet just to make sure they’re handy if you need them.
Well, it might be time to think again. Eye drops should really only be used for about 4 weeks or 28 days after you’ve broken the seal on a new bottle. They are instilled with preservatives that sterilize the eye drops for that 28-day period. After that period is up, it can actually be a risk of infection to keep using them.
Disposable razors are a commonly overused product in the house. According to Infection Control Today they are actually very easily susceptible to gathering dirt and bacteria. You may not have to clean them much, and therefore they seem really easy, but the longer they sit the nastier they can get.
Technically, you should not use disposable razors more than three times before you change them. As they sit around, they can cause irritation, rashes and worse. So make sure to be careful!
Spices are something we tend to spend a lot of money on, and only use very little of at a time. So they are really prone to sitting in our cabinets or on our shelves for months or years longer than they probably should. Believe it or not there is an ideal timeline in which to use the spices in your spice cabinet despite the fact that many spice bottles don’t have much information on them with regards to expiration.
Technically, the USDA considers spices to be shelf stable and to never expire, but in truth, after about 2-4 years of sitting on your shelf at home, they can lose their potency and flavor. Old spices won’t really do major harm but they might not make your food taste much better, and they could also force an unexpected trip or two to the bathroom.
Another item with no expiration date on the packaging is your toothbrush. Does that mean it just lasts forever – or at least until you decide it got really gross and can’t imagine putting that thing in your mouth? In truth, most dentists agree that you really need to be changing your toothbrush once every 4-6 months, especially if you suffered any kind of illness, big or small, over the course of that time. Bacteria and germs do gather on those bristles and people need to be careful not to keep re-ingesting that bacteria.
There’s a reason the dentist gives us a new toothbrush every time we go to our 6 month checkup!
Wine drinkers need to know that wine that comes in boxes doesn’t last as long as wine that comes in bottles. Collectors know how to store their wine bottles in a way that ages them and makes them get better and better, but if your wine is sitting in a box, this is not really the case. In fact, boxed wine tends to expire after about 6-8 months.
For the most part, the boxes used are probably safe, but some boxes contain a chemical called Bisphenol (BPA) which can cause fertility issues and lead to heart disease. So be careful!
Check the expiration dates on your vegetable oils! Many people leave them around their pantry and use them as they choose over however long it takes, but expired vegetable oil can actually really cause a lot of health issues. Expired, spoiled vegetable oil can develop nasty chemical compounds that are connected to cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders.
Typically, oils last about 6 months once you open them. If you’re not sure, try to rely on the smell, color or cloudiness of the product. If something looks or smells off, it might be safer to just get rid of it and get a new bottle.
Contact Lens Cases
If you’re a contact lens wearer, let’s face it, you probably aren’t following your Dr. recommended time allotment for your lenses, and you may not even realize there’s a danger to using the same case for too long. Most people are aware of and good about the fact that they need to change their solution every time they put their contacts in their case again, but it’s important to also switch out your lens case every 3 months at least. They are major carriers of bacteria and over those 3 months can start easily causing infections and other eye problems.
Sunscreen is a hyper-important product to use when you and your family are going ot be out in the sun taking in rays. Everyone knows how meaningful it is at combatting the sun’s rays that can lead to skin cancer, which kills more than 15,000 people in the United States each year. Therefore, it’s just as important to know when your sunscreen expires.
Generally, sunscreen is given an effective life of about 3 years, but it is important to take into account that sometimes what you are buying was produced or sat on a shelf in the store for a while. The bottles that are bought now often come with an expiration date, so make sure you find that and use it. If not, make sure you are replacing that bottle before 3 years comes around!
We’ve covered toothbrushes and toothpaste, so what about mouthwash? Typical mouthwashes do have a pretty long lasting life as they can sit for a few years before becoming a problem. Often, mouthwashes use alcohol as an antiseptic and to keep your mouth clean. These can dissolve and lose effectiveness after 2-3 years, but even then it won’t likely cause a major problem for your personal health, it just won’t actually be doing the job you bought it for.
Make sure to be extra careful with expired face products. They are known to cause infections or painful and rough skin reactions. If you are using skin care products, just make sure to use it consistently until you are out of it unless you plan on getting rid of it entirely. After about 6-12 months you should consider tossing it anyway. You may even want to consider just using smaller bottles from now on.
Loofahs are amazing cleaning devices, offering a great scrub and providing a fantastic amount of lather on not too much soap. Many people love using them for their effectiveness as they clean so well. But nobody seems to realize how grimy and nasty they can get sitting in the shower for weeks of use, especially if they aren’t fully dried out each time. A 1994 study showed that loofahs can actually cause and spread bacterial infections on your body.
The most common recommendation now is to switch out your loofah after 3-4 weeks of use. If you’ve been using yours longer, you probably should toss it and get a new one.
There seems to be a lot of eye related products on this list!
Old mascara is another fickle product to avoid using. A study in 2008 actually found that after 3 months, opened mascara products began to grow bacteria on around 40% of containers. Researchers found staph and strep species of fungi growing on the mascara tubes. This bacteria can cause infections and even long term vision problems, so make sure you use new mascara!
Your sponges are basically germ magnets. It’s not really that surprising when you think about it, you’ve been using them to clean dirt off your dishes, out of your sinks, off your countertops and etc. They certainly don’t come with an expiration date, but it’ll be important that you switch them out on a regular basis. Studies have shown that regardless of how well you dry your sponges out they gather tons and tons of bacteria including E. Coli and salmonella. Regular recommendations now are to try to switch those dish and cleaning sponges out every two weeks.
Shockingly, one of the most powerful cleaning solvents and household products actually goes bad over time. If you make sure to check the bottle, there is an expiration date that might come sooner than you think. After about six months, bleach starts to lose its effectiveness. Perhaps that on its own isn’t dangerous, but if you’re hoping that it will disinfect the germs and bacteria you’ve been cleaning off your surfaces, you’ll need to rely on something newer.
First Aid Products
Hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol are very commonly used to disinfect all of our cuts and scrapes. Needless to say, it should be pretty important to us that our first-aid products are fresh and in decent shape to help heal. As a result of that, it’s important to know the “best by” dates on your peroxide and isopropyl alcohol bottles. Once those dates pass, your products become way less effective at cleaning and disinfecting, so make sure to pay attention!
You may not think about it, but pillows are actually one of those household items that you are supposed to replace with relative frequency. This applies even to pillows in pillowcases, but especially to any throw pillows or pillows that get a lot of use that do not have cases. Pillows absorb a lot of skin cells, hair, and body oil. This makes them prone to gathering dust mites over time which are a very common allergen and cause of asthma.
It is recommended that people replace their pillows once everyone to two years, so think about how long you’ve had those pillows on your beds, and if you need something new, you could be in for a more comfortable sleep!
Well, it’s a weird circumstance to be in, but after you’ve spent a couple hundred bucks on your Ray-Bans and Oakleys, there are actually exeperts that advise you should switch out your sunglasses every two years. Studies have shown that the UV ray protection sunglasses offer for the health of our eyes actually breaks down and degrades slowly over the course of a couple years from being exposed to the sunlight itself.
Therefore, the current recommendation is to actually get a new pair of sunglasses within a couple years to keep your eyes protected and safe. It might even be worth your time to switch them out even more frequently if you live in areas that have more sunlight than average.
Electrical cords and extension cords don’t really have any expiration dates, but you can tell when they’ve become unsafe for use. You may have noticed some of your phone chargers beginning to fray on one side of the connection. This happens when cords begin to wear out, and they are a sure sign that you need to get rid of those cords immediately. It is highly unsafe to use any electrical cord, whether it’s plugged into a wall, or simply plugged into the charging port on your phone. Once that happens, they become very dangerous fire hazards. A new cord is a lot more preferable to a fire in your house!
Even though we wash our bath towels periodically, we still have to be concerned with the bacteria they pick up. Experts suggest we actually get rid of our towels and totally replace them every three years. Despite all the loads in the wash, the fact that they sit around in hot and humid bathrooms can allow them to gather that bacteria even faster than normal fabrics do. Additionally, all those loads wear the towels out faster too, so replacing them every three years is a really good standard to live by.
You might think it’s insane, but dishwasher detergent does lose its effectiveness. It takes about 3 months, but that’s when you need to start working toward replacing the dish detergent you have. As the detergent sits, the active enzymes that clean your dishes degrade and they become less able to actually clean your dishwasher load, and before you know it, you’ll be unloading your dishwasher with dishes that are still dirty. So make sure to keep it up with fresh detergent!
Child Car Seats
There are a lot of rules for parents as it pertains to putting their babies and children into car seats as they grow. Parents spend a lot of time picking out seats, and a whole lot of money on them as well. One thing people don’t realize though is that car seats actually have an expiration date. Most of them are printed on the underside or back of the seat. For the most part, they last 5-6 years, but by then the plastic the seat was made from can degrade and become less safe. The good news is, if you are just using it for one of child, you will be good to go, but once you get in the territory of reusing the seat for multiple kids, then you’ll have to start being careful.
It is very important to note the expiration dates on your medicines. Just follow the dates on the bottle. Expired medical products can be less effective and even risky as they change their chemical composition and decrease in strength. On top of that, certain expired medications can grow bacteria, and old antibiotics can fail to treat infections. The path that is better safe than sorry is to just dispose of your expired medications for a new bottle.