Many are hyper-aware of expiration dates when it comes to food, but that's not the only thing that can go bad. There are plenty of everyday items that can be detrimental to your health, and you don't even have to ingest them. For instance, bath towels and pillows can harbor bacteria that remains even after being washed. Items like helmets and car seats degrade over time, while things like fire extinguishers and toothpaste can lose their effectiveness. Read on for more household items that it may be time to replace.
Disinfectants Can Fall Below Sanitation Standards
Disinfectants and other cleaning supplies can easily get lost underneath the sink or in the back of a cabinet somewhere. But before you go using a long-lost bottle of Lysol, you may want to consider its age.
After an extended period of time, the ingredients in cleaning products can become ineffective or altered due to their plastic containers. For antibacterial cleaners, you can safely expect a year of optimal results. Other cleaning products can last up to two years, but it's always safest to check with the manufacturer.
Paint's Texture Changes Over Time
Paint doesn't just go bad when it's dried up. In fact, odds are that any paint that's been stored in a garage is already expired. That's because paint needs to be kept in a space with a controlled temperature between 50 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
While a tightly sealed lid can prolong the life of paint, it all comes down to the kind of paint. With the proper care, oil-based paints can last 15 years while latex ones typically survive up to 10 years. Things to look out for are smell and texture. It's important to check these because using bad paint can result in a streaky, uneven finish.
Old Hydrogen Peroxide Could Be Ineffective
Hydrogen peroxide is a wonderful item to have on hand since it's an antiseptic that can clean out cuts or help soothe a sore throat. Hopefully, it's something that doesn't have to be used terribly often. However, that's also why it's important to be aware of the expiration date.
Once opened, hydrogen peroxide generally lasts about half a year, after which it won't be as effective. A simple way to check if the solution is still good is to pour a little in the sink. If it fizzes, then it has yet to decompose and is still okay to use.
Stagnant Gas Can Harm Power Tools
Weingartz warns that you have only 1-2 months from the time that you've purchased gasoline to the time it goes bad. That's because ethanol absorbs water and humidity, which dilutes the gas over time.
While watered-down gas doesn't sound dangerous, it can cause damage to equipment like lawnmowers or snow blowers. For this reason, it's best to empty out any excess gas in tools you haven't used for a while and to avoid storing gasoline for prolonged periods.
Bath Towels Can Harbor Bacteria
Bath towels are made extra thick to absorb as much moisture as possible so you don't drip all over the house. This explains why bath towels get their musty smell after only a few uses, as they are highly susceptible to bacteria growth.
Not only do bath towels hold in moisture, but they also collect millions of dead skin cells. For this reason, experts advise washing your bath towels every three uses, preferably with a two-wash cycle using both vinegar and laundry detergent. Even with this method, it's best to replace high-quality towels every 5 to 10 years.
Fire Extinguishers Need Regular Maintenance
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you'd need to use a fire extinguisher, the last thing you'd want is to discover it no longer works. That's precisely what can happen if the extinguisher has expired.
Since each fire extinguisher can last a different amount of time, it's important to regularly maintain them. Fireline advises having your extinguisher professionally inspected every year. Doing so can not only ensure that the extinguisher works, but can identify problems ahead of time to expand the shelf life upwards of 20 years.
Expired Toothpaste Might Not Perform As Well
Toothpaste seems like it would last forever, which can lead some to buy it in bulk. But according to dental experts, toothpaste expires two years after it was manufactured. While expired toothpaste won't be directly harmful, it can have ingredients that are no longer active.
This means that old toothpaste may lose its effectiveness, leaving your teeth less protected without the advantage of fluoride and other active ingredients. Fortunately, many toothpaste tubes have an expiration date on them, or at least a manufacturer date.
Sunscreen Can Lose Its Strength
According to the Mayo Clinic, the FDA requires all sunscreens to maintain their effectiveness for three years. For those who don't live in a sunny area or don't use sunscreen very often, those three years can fly by unnoticed.
Dermatologist Debra Jaliman warns that expired sunscreen not only loses its effectiveness, but also may cause skin irritation. To ensure that your skin is properly protected from the sun's rays, check your sunscreen's expiration date or toss it out after a few years.
Car Seats Undergo Wear And Tear
Since furniture is the last thing you'd expect to expire, it can be surprising to hear that a car seat has a definitive expiration date. All car seats must have a sticker with a manufacturer's date on it for the sake of safety.
It's important to check this date since car seats can remain on store shelves or be purchased second-hand. They typically expire after six years due to wear and tear that can compromise a child's safety. Especially for those with multiple children, it's important to double-check car seat dates before using them.
Bike Helmets Degrade In Fluctuating Temperatures
While bike helmets don't come with a precise expiration date stamped on them, the Snell Memorial Foundation advises replacing them every five years. The reason helmets need to be replaced at all is similar to why car seats expire: they degrade over time.
Fluctuating temperatures can make helmets expand and contract, causing the material to gradually break down. Helmets also absorb oil and sweat, so they should be replaced for hygienic purposes as well. Finally, new and improved helmets can have better safety standards than old ones.
Motor Oil Can Separate Over Time
Total Lubricants suggests using motor oil within two years of purchase for best results, but also states that motor oil is typically safe to use for up to five years. These dates are based on an unopened container that is kept in optimal conditions.
One reason that motor oil expires is because its components can separate and form deposits. Once they've developed, these deposits cannot be redissolved and therefore the oil needs to be thrown out.
Sunglasses Can Become Less Protective
As stylish as sunglasses are, their ultimate purpose is to protect your eyes from harsh light. Like sunscreen, sunglasses lose their effectiveness over time. That's because the sunglass lens coating that blocks UV rays becomes damaged over time.
The more you wear your sunglasses, the quicker this coating will break down, and the sooner the lenses will need to be replaced. Cohen Eye Associates advise that everyday sunglasses be renewed every two years, regardless of brand or price.
Smoke Detectors' Sensors Can Become Compromised
Like fire extinguishers, smoke alarms are the last thing you'd want to expire without realizing, especially in the event of an emergency. The National Fire Protection Association advises replacing smoke detectors every decade because their sensors can weaken over time.
For the same reason, carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every five to seven years. While these detectors can still appear to work, experts advise sticking to the guidelines because studies show that there's a 30% chance of these sensors failing after 10 years; the risk increases to over 50% after 15 years.
Power Strips Can Become Fire Hazards
Power strips and surge protectors should be given special attention since they can become dangerous over time. While both devices look about the same, a surge protector clamps the surge of power to prevent it from running through your plugged-in devices.
Regardless of this feature, both power strips and surge protectors can become damaged over time, particularly if they are overworked. Depending on how much electricity you use, it's worth replacing these items every two to five years. Rose Brothers Electric recommends simply replacing the items as soon as the warranty expires.
Makeup Can Grow Bacteria
Since cosmetics sit on your skin all day long, it's a no-brainer that their expiration date needs to be taken into consideration. Since makeup is moist and comes into contact with your skin, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
While expiration dates aren't clearly marked on most makeup items, beauty experts advise tossing liquid eye cosmetics out after three months. Most other items are safe to use for up to a year, while lipstick and powder blush is good for up to two years.
Batteries Lose Their Energy Over Time
While we'd like to think that batteries hold onto their power until they're used up, this simply is not true. In reality, batteries have something called a self-discharge rate. This means that they lose power even when sitting idle.
Manufacturers place a "Best If Used By" date on batteries that is based on when the battery will lose 20% of its life on its own. While expired batteries aren't dangerous to use, their performance will be affected.
Pillows Accumulate Debris And Can Attract Dust Mites
Finding the right pillow can be such an ordeal that once you have your perfect one, you may not want to let it go. The reality is that even your most beloved pillow collects oil, dirt, and dead skin cells over time, which can eventually start to attract dust mites.
In addition to the problem of hygiene, older pillows may lose the shape that made them so desirable in the first place. PimaCott recommends replacing synthetic fill pillows every six to 12 months and down pillows every two to three years to ensure your best night's sleep.
Old Running Shoes Can Put Pressure On Joints
While most shoes can be swapped out whenever they no longer look appealing, running shoes need to be given special attention. That's because they provide shock absorption and stability necessary to protect the body, especially joints.
Verywell Fit recommends replacing running shoes every 300-400 miles. The exact time to replace the shoes will depend on how much the runner weighs, what surface they run on, and the style they run. It's also important to consider the shoe style since not all athletic shoes are designed the same.
Spices Eventually Lose Their Taste
Unlike many items in your kitchen, spices don't actually expire in the traditional sense. Though they are safe to consume for extended periods, it's worth noting that they'll lose their taste after six months to a year.
The easiest way to tell test what condition your spices are in is to simply smell them. The stronger the odor, the more taste they'll offer. According to Taste of Home, ground spices don't retain their flavor as long as whole spices do.
Tea Becomes Less Potent Over Time
Like spices, tea is safe to consume for as long as you wish. The only problem is that tea will lose its potency, so you may end up feeling like you're drinking hot water. Some tea bags even have expiration dates, but that's for quality, not safety.
Tea bags typically last at least a year in the pantry, after which they may change gradually in taste and color. The smaller the leaf, the quicker it will lose its potency, so tea bags generally go bad more quickly than loose tea leaves.