These Household Items Can Become Dangerous Once They Go Bad

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.

Disposable Razors Are For Three Shaves Only

razor shave
Supple/Unsplash
Supple/Unsplash

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.

Toss Your Toothpaste After Two Years

kid getting his teeth cleaned
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

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…

brushing her teeth
Peter Bischoff/Getty Images
Peter Bischoff/Getty Images

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.

Shahrooz Yazdani, DDS, of Yazdani Family Dentistry, says, “Changing your toothbrush every four months or so is important, particularly if you’ve had a cold in that span because minuscule germs will have developed on the bristles of your brush.” Set a reminder on your phone to help you remember to change yours.

Old Spices Can Cause Digestive Problems

up close spices
amiion/unsplash
amiion/unsplash

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?

Speaking of spices, 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

2_cym
Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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 food in a box
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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

wine in boxes
ORJAN BJORKDAHL/AFP via Getty Images
ORJAN BJORKDAHL/AFP via Getty Images

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 which could lead to fertility problems and heart disease.

Mouthwash Is Good For A Few Years

rinsing your mouth
Paul Zimmerman/WireImage
Paul Zimmerman/WireImage

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

woman choosing vegetable oil
MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images
MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images

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 includes a bitter smell, change in color, or becoming cloudy. It’s safer to purchase a smaller bottle if you don’t use vegetable oil regularly.

Sunscreen Has A Three-Year Life Span

man using sunscreen
Justin Setterfield/Getty Images
Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

The general rule of thumb is that sunscreen lasts for three years, but this doesn’t take into account how long its 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

woman using face cream
good_citizen/unsplash
good_citizen/unsplash

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.

Loofahs Should Go After 3-4 Weeks

loofahs
young.organic/Instagram
young.organic/Instagram

A loofah is a sensational instrument to help clean our bodies. They’re convenient and offer a better clean than other alternatives. While that might be true, but you need to watch out for how often you swap it out for a new one.

“We use loofahs to exfoliate our skin, but if we don’t allow them to dry out, the dirt and dead skin cells on our bodies get stuck in the weave of the material,” says Atkinson, the UK practitioner. A study from 1994 revealed that loofas have the power to spread bacteria capable of giving you an infection! Dermatologists recommend that you throw out your loofah after three-to-four-weeks.

Eye Contact Cases Are Done After Three Months

glasses in one hand
freepik.com
freepik.com

If you don’t fancy a nice pair of glasses and prefer contacts, watch out for those cases. It’s essential to develop a habit of changing your solution every time you use your contacts.

Also, Mark Bowers, an optometrist at Blountville Family Eyecare, says you need to switch out your cases every three months at the bare minimum. “Bacteria can form an invisible film lining on the lenses, which is called a biofilm. This biofilm protects the bacteria from the solution, thus increasing your risk of infection,” Bowers explains.

Prevent Eye Infections By Throwing Out Mascara

gigi hadid
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Maybelline New York
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Maybelline New York

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

up close to a sponge
cdc/unsplash
cdc/unsplash

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.

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)

1_cym
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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.

Pillows Get Pretty Gross

woman holding a pillow
teri1123/unsplash
teri1123/unsplash

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!

A Child’s Car Seat Can Deteriorate, Lessening Its Effectiveness

baby-car-seat
Sharon McCuthceon
Sharon McCuthceon

A child’s car seat is critical for their safety. And while this product doesn’t have an expiration date on it, it’s important to note if the car seat materials are deteriorating.

Wear and tear is the downfall of a child’s car seat. Since they’re plastic, a material that becomes brittle over time, it’s possible that the seat won’t be in proper condition over time. Luckily, you’ve got a good six years before you can expect to change it out for a new one.

Cracked Cords Should Be Trashed

electrical wires
DIY Photolibrary/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images
DIY Photolibrary/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

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

it isn't as safe as you think
Illustrative image of Finish Newscast/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Illustrative image of Finish Newscast/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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

medicine cabinet
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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

dries the Bernese mountain dog Mia with a towel.
Guido Kirchner/dpa (Photo by Guido Kirchner/picture alliance via Getty Images
Guido Kirchner/dpa (Photo by Guido Kirchner/picture alliance via Getty Images

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

A paramedic's first aid kit.
Donat SorokinTASS via Getty Images
Donat SorokinTASS via Getty Images

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?

sunglasses expire
Counselling/Pixabay
Counselling/Pixabay

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

acne medicine
Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images
Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images

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

pink fluffy sandals
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

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.

Storage Is Important For Feminine Care Products

Sanitary products and tampons on sale
Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images
Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images

Another surprising household item that can become dangerous if used past its expiration date: certain feminine hygiene products. Dr. Alyssa Dweck is an OB-GYN who says that storage is key for feminine care products such as tampons.

“Think about cotton,” she said. “It’s susceptible to mold and bacteria,” not something ideal for a hygiene product. Using moldy products can lead to itching and irritation, so your best bet is to store these items in a dry and cool place. Tampons have a shelf life of about five years, according to Dweck.

The FDA Says To Toss Old Shampoo And Conditioner

A shopper holds a bottle of Redken brand shampoov
Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images
Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

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.

Flour Can Become Moldy

flour
INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images
INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

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

Steven Sweet, from Windham, works on a gas furnace
John Ewing/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
John Ewing/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

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.

Your Antibacterial Cleaners Might Not Be As Effective As You’d Like

cleaning spray
JESHOOTS/Unsplash
JESHOOTS/Unsplash

If you’re taking the time to do a thorough cleaning/disinfecting of your home, then you might as well be sure that the products you’re using are still up to the task. We’ve already learned that bleach loses its effectiveness after about six months, but what about other products?

Good Housekeeping reports that multi-surface cleaners work pretty well for about two years, but products with antibacterial properties have a shortened shelf life of just one year. Be sure your house is as clean as you think by checking those dates!

Giant Containers Of Petroleum Jelly — Get Rid Of Them

cases of petroleum jelly
Cate Gillon/Getty Images
Cate Gillon/Getty Images

Petroleum jelly is one of those products that’s 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!

Batteries Have A Long Shelf Life, But…

drawer of old batteries
Photofusion/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photofusion/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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.

Motor Oil Also Has A Shelf Life

Mobil Super motor oil bottles
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Just because you see a bargain on motor oil at the auto supply store doesn’t mean you should stock up on the stuff! Just like so many other products, motor oil also has a shelf life. Where you store it can make a difference; experts recommend keeping it in a cool and dry place.

Check the consistency of any motor oil before using it in your car — even before the expiration date. YourMechanic.com reports that “[i]f it is thick and sticky, and has solid or gel-like particles, do not use it. If you see that the additives seem to have separated from the oil, it is not safe to use.”

Fire Extinguishers Will Stop Working Over Time

fire extinguisher
Peggy_Marco/Pixabay
Peggy_Marco/Pixabay

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.”

Don’t Give Your Baby An Old Pacifier

pacifier
Beeki/Pixabay
Beeki/Pixabay

Although it’s tempting to save money and purchase certain baby supplies second-hand, experts caution against buying used pacifiers. Some brands print an expiration date on their product packaging, but as a general rule, it’s a safe bet to change out your child’s pacifier every couple of months (especially rubber ones).

According to HealthyChildren, natural rubber can break up over time, resulting in a choking hazard if a piece of the pacifier comes loose. Always keep an eye on the pacifier’s condition and note if it has any discoloration, tears, or weak spots.

Running Shoes Should Be Replaced Every 300 Miles For Maximum Support

replace shoes
MonikaP/Pixabay
MonikaP/Pixabay

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.