Home is where the heart is. Where you live is a place where you unwind, rejuvenate, and relax. It's common to routinely clean your home and keep things tidy, as well as dig into the occasional deep clean. But one house chore that's probably not on your to-do list is checking the expiration dates on your household products. Skipping this step might mean that you're taking unnecessary risks you're not even aware of. Take a look at the household products that need to be tossed out once they've reached their lifespan. This can get tricky, as some don't even have a labeled expiration date.
Toss Your Toothpaste After Two Years
Cosmetic dentist Sean Tomalty says toothpaste is something people don't even realize can go bad. That's a shocker because we rely on it to keep our smiles bright and our breath fresh! "After time, toothpaste will become ineffective, and the ingredients will begin to separate and crystalize," Tomalty explains.
It's not so much of an immediate threat, as the separation usually happens after two years. If you do happen to wait to use your paste after some time, "You'll expose yourself to oral conditions and ailments which could become larger health concerns," says Tomalty.
Toothbrushes Don't Have An Expiration Date, But...
What good is toothpaste without a proper toothbrush? Well, since they don't have an expiration date, you might feel that you can use them for an extended time. However, there is a golden time frame, after which, you should be switching out your toothbrush.
Dentist Rashmi Byakodi, says, "The American Dental Association recommends every three or four months or sooner if the bristles become frayed."
Old Spices Can Cause Digestive Problems
Spices can be expensive, so many of us will want to hold onto them so long as there is still some left. Maybe you bought a new spice for a specific recipe and haven't touched it in a year. Is it still good?
Jocelyn Nadua, RPN, care coordinator at C-Care Health Services said, "They can last for multiple years, typically in the three-to-four-year range, but after that, they lose their potency and can cause some digestive problems." They won't put you in the grave, but you will end up on the toilet.
Eye Drops Expire 28 Days After You Break The Seal
Sometimes, eye drops can save you from the most irritating dry eye scenario. It's convenient to have some around the house but be wary of keeping it around longer than their expiration date recommends.
"Eye drops are generally formulated with a preservative that keeps the product sterile for 28 days after breaking the seal," says Erin Nance, MD. The best practice would be to toss the bottle four weeks after you've opened it up. There's a chance that it can cause a bacterial infection!
They Might Be In A Can, But Look Out
Canned goods have a longer shelf life than produce, but these have an expiration date, too. Typically, the lifespan of canned food is between one to four years when stored properly, in a dark, cool space.
"Many people feel canned items can last 'forever.' Not so!" says Lisa Lewis, MD, a pediatrician in Fort Worth, Texas. "Never used canned foods after the expiration date." Lewis further warned that if you digest spoiled canned food, you may get food poisoning symptoms.
Boxed Wine Doesn't Last As Long As Bottled
If you prefer your wine out of boxes, then this is for you. Wine does improve with age, but you can't say the same about the packaged or boxed version. If it's in a box, then it has an expiration date, usually six to eight months after purchase.
While most boxes don't pose a threat because of the polyethylene, others contain Bisphenol (BPA). That's a chemical that could lead to fertility problems and heart disease.
Mouthwash Is Good For A Few Years
Another hygiene product that you'll want to keep track of is mouthwash. This product doesn't spoil after a few weeks or months, it actually can last a few years, which is a decent shelf life.
Cosmetic dentist Sean Tomalty says, "Mouthwash containing alcohol is an antiseptic, but in time that can dissolve and become ineffective after two to three years." You have plenty of time to use it all before that happens!
Expired Vegetable Oil Is One To Watch Out For
Expired vegetable oil is one product that you want to be hyper-aware of. University of Massachusetts professor Eric Decker explains that spoiled vegetable oil develops dangerous compounds related to neurological disorders, cancer, and heart disease.
Generally, vegetable oil expires around six months after you open the seal, and should be tossed out. Signs of the product going bad include a bitter smell, a change in color, or it becomes cloudy. It's safer to purchase a smaller bottle if you don't use vegetable oil regularly.
Sunscreen Has A Three-Year Life Span
The general rule of thumb is that sunscreen lasts for three years, but this doesn't take into account how long it's been sitting on a store shelf.
The FDA requires that all sunscreens include an expiration date on the packaging, but sometimes it might be hard to locate. "If you're struggling to find a date on the packaging, make a note of the month and year you bought the product," says Daniel Atkinson, a UK-based general practitioner and clinical lead at Treated.com.
Don't Take Your Chances With Skincare Products
Expired face products can cause infections, breakouts, or other skin reactions. "When you have a skincare product, use it consistently until you have no more so that you don't use it later when the product has lost its effectiveness or can be harmful," says Alain Michon, MD, medical director at Ottawa Skin Clinic.
Most skincare products should be tossed out six to twelve months after opening to eliminate risk. Purchasing a smaller bottle might be the way to go.
Disposable Razors Are For Three Shaves Only
They may be more convenient than the electric razor alternative, as you don't have to clean them or make sure they're charged. But disposable razors can also be a magnet for bacteria, according to research from Infection Control Today.
Another precaution is making sure that you don't over-use these razors past the lifetime they're intended for. After three shaves, you're susceptible to skin rashes and irritation. So don't forget to swap them out or prepare to suffer the consequences.
Prevent Eye Infections By Throwing Out Mascara
Using old mascara can be detrimental in many ways. Optometry, a medical journal, published a study in 2008 shedding light on mascara. The report found that three months after opening a new product, microbial growth contaminants 36.4 percent of the tubes.
The main one is Staphylococcus epidermidis, Streptococcus species, or you can also call it fungi. You can get eye infections or, in rare cases, damage your vision! It'd be best to swap your product every three months.
Sponges Are Magnets For Germs And Bacteria
A sponge spends lots of time cleaning your dirty dishes, and whatever else you decide to clean with it. Even if you're adamant about rinsing and drying them, germs still build up.
The best practice would be to change them out after two weeks of regular use. A 2017 study found that a sponge can lead to an increase of bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella. That doesn't sound like anything you want to catch because you kept a sponge longer than you needed to.
Know When Your Bleach Goes Bad (Because It Stops Working)
Bleach is a household product that families have been using for decades. It's a favored disinfectant, but the expiration date might arrive quicker than you think. That might not what you would expect from something as powerful as bleach.
The Scripps Research Institute says that it starts to lose its potency about six months after opening it. While that on its own isn't dangerous, expecting it to kill the same amount of bacteria is a cause for concern. Remain mindful of when you bought it.
The FDA Says To Toss Old Shampoo And Conditioner
As with most products, you can tell when a shampoo or conditioner goes "bad." There's usually a change in the smell, consistency, or both. The Food and Drug Administration does not require manufacturers of shampoo and conditioner to print expiration dates onto packaging, but it does recommend that consumers ditch their bottles once they've been open for about 18 months (earlier if you notice something weird).
Not only are the products less effective at cleaning and conditioning at this age, but they can also spread bacteria onto your scalp, which opens the door for infection.
Pillows Get Pretty Gross
How often do you replace your pillow? If it isn't every one to two years, then you're not following the recommended standards. The National Sleep Foundation explains that pillows absorb our dead skin cells, hair, and body oil.
All of that makes for a scary breeding ground for dust mites. Dust mites are scary triggers for those who have asthma and allergies. Also, if you use one for too long, it can become bad for your back and neck as well!
Giant Containers Of Petroleum Jelly -- Get Rid Of Them
Petroleum jelly is one of those products that are useful for so many things around the house. But as you can imagine, giant tubs of the helpful stuff can go bad after a while. Part of the reason is that you have to dip your fingers into the tub to get the jelly out, which spreads bacteria.
Your best bet is to buy smaller containers and to toss any that have been hanging out in the medicine cabinet for years. Vaseline brand petroleum jelly containers do contain expiration dates, so pay attention to them!
Cracked Cords Should Be Trashed
With no expiration date in sight, how can electrical cords and extension cords become dangerous? Well, after some time, they get worn out or frayed, and at that point, they're fire hazards.
Replace them at any sight of damage you might see. Wear occurs when people step on them or even when they get pinched between large pieces of your furniture. The last thing you want is a fire in your home caused by a wire you thought was safe.
Dish Detergent Expires After Three Months
Yes, dishwasher detergent helps get rid of all the grime on your dishes when you use the dishwasher, but for how long? Nancy Bock of the American Cleaning Institute says that you should replace your detergent every three months.
If not, the enzymes degrade, and they can't clean your dishwasher load as effectively. That means that your dishes might not be as clean and healthy to eat off of as you'd hope.
Old Medicine Should Be Disposed Of
Did you know that the bathroom is a terrible place to store medications? That's because things tend to get damp and warm in the bathroom, which is bad for prescription and non-prescription medicine.
Doctors recommend tossing any medication past its printed expiration date. Dr. Heather Free is a spokesperson for the American Pharmacists Association and she says, "what I tell patients is to follow the true expiration dates [on packages] just to be cautious."
Experts Recommend Tossing Towels After Three Years
Even our trusty bathroom towels need to be reevaluated for sanitary reasons every three years. Since they're constantly subjected to warm and wet environments, they are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria. Washing them frequently in very hot water can help, but it also wears the fabric out faster -- meaning they're less effective at drying us off.
The bottom line is that you should replace those towels every three years or so.
Keep An Eye On Hydrogen Peroxide And Rubbing Alcohol Expiration Dates
When it comes to first aid, you only want to use products that are fresh and effective, right? Well, that means keeping a close eye on the expiration dates of hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol, both of which lose effectiveness past that all-important "use before" date.
If you think you'll forget, just put a calendar reminder in your phone when you first buy the products. Also, buy smaller-size bottles so you're not wasting so much if you do have to toss it before you've used all the product.
Would You Ever Think To Replace Your Sunglasses?
Many people might be reluctant to trade in their costly and stylish Ray-Bans every couple of years, but that's exactly what some experts have advised us to do. In a study published in the journal Biomedical Engineering OnLine, researchers found that sunlight exposure wears down the glasses' lenses, making them less effective at protecting our eyes from dangerous UV rays.
Therefore, these experts recommend replacing our shades every two years or so. People who live in areas with high UV indexes should do so even more frequently.
Avoid Expired Acne Medications
This might come as a surprise to many of us who rely on acne medication to keep our skin clear and healthy-looking. Acne meds need to be tossed and replaced once they're reached their expiration dates, because they lose their effectiveness after that point.
Two of the most common acne-fighting ingredients, Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, only have a shelf life of four to six months before they lose effectiveness!
Slippers Can Become Breeding Grounds For Foot Fungus
They're oh-so-cozy when they're new, but experts warn that bedroom slippers can become oh-so-gross after only about six months of use. Even if you don't wear yours outside as in the photo, they quickly become host to a slew of germs and bacteria when we wear them on a daily basis.
Because of this, experts recommend replacing your comfy slippers every month or so to be safe. After all, there's nothing cozy about a fungal infection.
Flour Can Become Moldy
Flour is a kitchen staple that many of us keep on hand and don't think twice about. But just like lots of other foods, flour also has the capability of going bad over time, especially if not stored properly.
Fortunately, it's pretty easy to tell when flour has turned. It will smell rancid or even contain visible mold, especially if it's been exposed to water. According to Healthline, "[w]hile not all molds are harmful, some can produce dangerous chemicals known as mycotoxins. These compounds can trigger symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea." Bottom line: take a good look at your flour before cooking or baking with it.
Get Your HVAC Checked Regularly
Tony Abate is the vice president and chief technical officer at AtmosAir Solutions, based out of Connecticut. According to him, it is especially important for people with respiratory problems to have their HVAC systems serviced at least twice a year to maintain good indoor air quality.
"An HVAC (heating and air conditioning) system not properly serviced at least once or twice a year can cause mold, dust, odors, bacteria, and airborne viruses due to poor air filtration and ventilation systems," he warned.
Batteries Have A Long Shelf Life, But...
Most batteries have a shelf life of about ten years. After this time, there's no real threat to us healthwise if we attempt to use some (they just won't work). However, if you need the batteries in the event of an emergency, such as for a flashlight in the case of a power outage, you could really be left in a bind.
It's a good idea to keep a fresh stock of batteries on hand for emergencies and make sure the expiration date is clear. Replace them as needed.
Fire Extinguishers Will Stop Working Over Time
This is one household item that you don't want to find yourself in need of. Fire extinguishers are items that we tend to buy, put under the kitchen sink, and then forget about. But experts warn that fire extinguishers do expire over time.
The reason is that gas escapes from the seal over time, and once that pressure is gone, the extinguisher won't be able to operate. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, "an expiration date cannot be fully trusted and there is no foolproof way to know if an extinguisher is no longer functional. Due to the extremely destructive potential of fires and the relatively low cost of extinguishers, it is advisable to replace or recharge questionable extinguishers."
Running Shoes Should Be Replaced Every 300 Miles For Maximum Support
According to the experts at Fleet Feet, running shoes have a shelf life of about 400 miles. This is because after repeated use, "[t]he outsoles begin to go bald and the cushy foam gets compressed under our weight. When shoes are on their last legs, they lose the ability to protect your feet and joints from running's repetitive pounding, which can lead to increased soreness and injury."
Even people who aren't runners can benefit from changing their walking sneakers out more frequently, especially if they're experiencing discomfort or pain in an older pair of shoes.