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.
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
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
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 which 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 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
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.
Loofahs Should Go After 3-4 Weeks
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.
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.
Eye Contact Cases Are Done After Three Months
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
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!
A Child’s Car Seat Can Deteriorate, Lessening Its Effectiveness
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.
Giant Containers Of Petroleum Jelly — Get Rid Of Them
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!
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.
Storage Is Important For Feminine Care Products
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.
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.
Your Antibacterial Cleaners Might Not Be As Effective As You’d Like
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!
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.
Motor Oil Also Has A Shelf Life
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
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
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
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.
Keep Apples Out Of The Cold
Apples can last a week or two at room temperature, but they start to get mealy pretty quickly if you keep them in the fridge. Also, apples can cause other fruits to ripen faster because of the natural gas that they emit. You don’t want to trap all of that gas in your fridge with your other perishables.
Enzymes within apples become far more active at room temperature, making the apples way more nutritious.
Avocados Do Better On The Counter
If you have some unripe avocados that you want to ripen up, the fridge is definitely not the place for them. The cold air causes avocados to ripen more slowly. Leave your avocados in a cool, dry place, like on your counter in the open air.
But make sure to eat them before they get too ripe. There’s nothing worse than an overripe avocado. If you feel like your avocados are starting to get too ripe, you can pop them in the fridge to slow down that process.
Keep Bananas Out In The Open
Bananas hold on to their nutrients better when they are kept out of the fridge. Cold temperatures actually slow down the ripening process (as we saw with the avocados). But there is also a lot of moisture in most refrigerators which can cause bananas to turn brown or even black.
If you really want to keep bananas around for a long time, slice them into small pieces and store them in plastic bags in the freezer. Frozen bananas are perfect for smoothies.
Grow Your Own Basil
You shouldn’t store basil cuttings in the fridge. Refrigerators are dark and your basil can’t get any sunlight in there. Basil has been known to wilt in the fridge.
Instead, place any leftover basil in a cup half full of fresh water, and then place that cup by a sunny window. Your basil will last a lot longer, and it may even sprout roots, which means that you can replant it and grow infinite basil.
Don’t Dry Out Your Bread
Nothing dries out bread faster than leaving it in the refrigerator. At cold temperatures, bread will turn stale, dry, and tasteless. Also, bread acts as a kind of sponge and it will soak up whatever odors are lingering around your fridge.
To be safe, store leftover bread in a breadbox. This closed-off box will keep moisture from escaping from your delicious bread. If you don’t have a breadbox, you can always store your bread in a microwave. Just make sure you don’t accidentally turn it on.
Save The Carrots!
Carrots can actually rot and become waterlogged and droopy if they’re left in the fridge for too long. You should store your carrots away from direct sunlight in a place with low moisture.
If you’re cutting up a bunch of carrots to serve alongside chicken wings or something, you can put them in a container of water and place that in the fridge, but only if you’re going to eat them within a few hours.
I Really Hope Nobody Keeps Cereal In The Fridge
I don’t know anybody who stores cereal in the fridge. I shouldn’t need to tell you this, but the fridge is not a place where cereal belongs. The moisture in there will cause the cereal to wilt and become much less crunchy.
Cereal should always be stored in a cool dry place, like a pantry or a cupboard. Nobody likes soggy cereal. Unless you’re one of those people who like to let your cereal get soggy in the milk before you eat it…
Chocolate Doesn’t Belong In The Fridge (Sorry)
I know a lot of people absolutely love cold chocolate, but the ideal temperature for chocolate is actually between 65 and 68°F, which is much warmer than the average refrigerator.
Only store your chocolate in the fridge if you live in a very warm part of the world and your chocolate is at risk of melting completely. If you really love freezing cold chocolate though, I’m not going to stop you from eating it that way.
Citrus Fruits Belong In The Pantry
Typically, a ripe fruit is a sweet fruit, which means that fruit that’s kept at room temperature will ripen faster and develop more sweetness. Citrus fruit can be rather sour if it’s not given enough time or space to ripen.
Keep fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes out of the fridge. If you absolutely love cold oranges, store them outside of the fridge, but pop them into the fridge an hour or two before you want to eat them.
Don’t Refrigerate Your Leftover Coffee
You can actually keep coffee in the fridge as long as it’s in an airtight container. This goes for both coffee beans and leftover brewed coffee. Generally, coffee beans need to be in a cool dry place, and a fridge is cool, but not very dry.
Brewed coffee can make everything else in your fridge smell like coffee, and if it’s too hot, it can actually raise the temperature of your whole fridge, which is damaging to all of the meat and dairy you have in there.
Cool As A Cucumber Is Just A Saying
Cucumbers do not do well when they’re left in the fridge. They can quickly become waterlogged and lose a lot of their flavor. Instead, store your cucumber on your counter or in a pantry. Just don’t forget that you left it there. You don’t want to find a rotten cucumber in your pantry later on.
If you want your cucumbers to be cool because you want to put them on your eyes or something, then you can leave them in the fridge momentarily or store slices of cucumber in ice water.
Eggs Aren’t Kept In The Fridge In Some Parts Of The World
In some countries, eggs aren’t kept in the refrigerator in grocery stores or in people’s homes. That’s how it’s done across the pond in the UK. A study recently uncovered there found that it actually makes no difference whether or not you store your eggs in the fridge, so you might as well save yourself some fridge space.
Not so in the US! Please keep in mind that the FDA recommends that eggs be kept in the fridge, however. It’s best to read the full precautionary statement before quitting the fridge on this one.
Don’t Put Flour In The Fridge
I haven’t met very many people who store wheat flour in the fridge (I don’t think I’ve met any, actually), but just in case you were thinking about putting flour in the fridge, there is absolutely no reason to do so.
Flour should be stored in a dry place and in an airtight container. You can put it in the fridge if you want, but it’s just going to take up a lot of fridge space.
Most Tropical Fruits Like Tropical Environments
Tropical fruits come from tropical places where it’s warm and rainy and the sun is always shining. You don’t want to take a tropical fruit and put it in a cool, dry fridge. That’s the opposite of what it needs.
Fruit like mangoes, plums, kiwi, apricots, and peaches actually ripen at a slower rate in the fridge and they’ll lose flavor and nutrients faster. Just leave tropical fruit in a bowl out on your table or kitchen counter. They’re so pretty to look at, too. Leave them out for everybody to see.
Keep Garlic Out Of The Fridge
Garlic is another food item that doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge. If you do keep it in the fridge, it can get rubbery and even start to sprout. It can look totally normal, but then when you cut it open, you’ll notice little green sprouts inside.
Leave your garlic in a specialized garlic jar, or even in a pair of breathable nylon pantyhose. You can also peel the garlic and store the peeled cloves in your freezer.
Oh Honey, Don’t Put Honey In The Fridge
It may seem obvious to you, but you really shouldn’t store honey in the refrigerator. The cold air will cause the honey to crystallize, which isn’t great. If your honey does crystallize, just put the whole jar in a warm water bath to dissolve the crystals.
Honey is a natural preservative, so it doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge or freezer for it to last a long time.
Hot Sauce Likes It Hot
When it comes to any kind of hot sauce, you have to remember that these products have a pretty long shelf life. They’re full of natural preservatives like vinegar and they often don’t contain very many actual fruits or vegetables.
You should store hot sauce away from direct sunlight and keep it in a cool, dry place like a pantry or a cupboard. If you’re a hot sauce fanatic, you might just want to leave it on the table because you know you’re going to use it again with your next meal.
Jam Your Jam Into The Pantry
Jam is packed with preservatives, both natural and artificial, and it’s literally built to last. Keeping it in the fridge won’t make it last any longer.
What will make it last longer is taking care not to contaminate your jam jar. If you’re having jam with any kind of cheese (by the way, fig jam, pictured here, goes wonderfully with brie, and basically every cheese on the planet) don’t use the same knife to spread your jam and cut your cheese. If you get any cheese in your jam jar, that will make it spoil faster.
Ketchup Doesn’t Need To Be In The Fridge
Contrary to popular belief, ketchup doesn’t actually need to be stored in the fridge, even after the bottle is open. That’s why all of those diners can just leave glass bottles of Heinz ketchup out on the tables for hours at a time.
This stuff is chock-full of preservatives. As long as you don’t contaminate it, ketchup can last for a really long time. Now you don’t need to worry when you’re slathering it onto your burger.
Melons Don’t Need To Be Refrigerated
There is nothing better than a cool slice of watermelon on a hot summer day, but you really shouldn’t be storing your watermelon in the fridge. When kept at room temperature, melons will keep their natural antioxidant levels balanced.
If you want that delicious cold melon, store the melons at room temp, slice them up about an hour before you’re ready to eat them, put those slices in the fridge, and enjoy an hour later.
Leave Olive Oil In The Pantry
You probably have always stored your olive oil in the pantry, which is definitely where it belongs. The fridge is no place for an expensive bottle of olive oil (the king of all oils, by the way. Coconut oil is getting some good press lately, but olive oil is still the king).
The cool temperatures in your refrigerator will only cause the oil to harden and form something resembling butter. That’s not what anybody wants.
Dry Pasta Remains Good Two Years Past The Printed Date
According to the US Department of Health & Human services, dry pasta remains fresh for two years in the pantry. If you’ve already opened the package, you should consume it within one year. Eat By Date offers the same estimate.
Because fresh pasta often contains eggs, it only lasts one to two days in the fridge. Cooked pasta, whether dry or fresh, lasts up to a week in the fridge. If you want it to last longer, you can keep it in the freezer for six to eight months.
Cook Eggs Within Three To Five Weeks
Packaging expiration dates reflect food quality, not safety. This rule is especially true for eggs, which can last in the refrigerator for three to five weeks. As a general rule, you can safely eat your eggs two to three weeks beyond the “sell by” date.
The US Department of Agriculture offers a more detailed method. “This three-digit code indicates the date of packaging, starting with January 1 as 001 and ending with December 31 as 365…You can store fresh shell eggs in their cartons in the refrigerator for four to five weeks beyond this date.”
Raw Meat And Poultry Last A Long Time In The Freezer
Although meat only lasts a couple of days in the fridge, it can stay fresh long after the expiration date in the freezer. According to FoodSafety.gov, whole meat can last up to one year in the freezer, while ground meat can last three to four months.
“Food poisoning bacteria does not grow in the freezer,” reports the US Department of Agriculture, “so no matter how long the food is frozen, it is safe to eat. Foods that have been in the freezer for months may be dry, or may not taste as good, but they will be safe to eat.”
Coffee Creamers Stay Fresh For Weeks
Since most coffee creamers contain a lot of preservatives, they usually last weeks after their expiration date. Liquid creamers usually last two to three weeks after opening, regardless of the printed date. The USDA recommends tossing it out after three weeks.
Half and half is one of the freshest creamers out there, so it only stays fresh for three to four days. However, you can keep it in the freezer for up to four months. Non-dairy creamer can last up to two years if they are stored at room temperature. Once you open it, store it in the fridge for one to two weeks.
Throw Away Spices After A Certain Amount Of Time
Although many people think their spices are indefinite, that isn’t always the case. McCormick & Company, an American spice seller, says that the only indefinite spices are salt and vanilla extract. Other extracts will become rancid after two to three years.
Although old spices won’t harm you, they will grow stale. Ground spices last up to three years beyond the “best by” date, while whole spices (such as whole peppercorns and bay leaves) last for up to four years. You can revive the flavor of some spices by cooking them in hot oil or gently toasting them on a skillet.
Vegetables Last For Weeks Beyond Their ‘Best By’ Date
Not all vegetables come with an expiration date, and these usually last around one to two weeks in the fridge. Those that have a date — like carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, and spinach — often last longer than their date suggests.
Once vegetables go bad, they develop a slimy texture, brown spots, and rotten smell. Many don’t reach this point until a couple of weeks beyond the “best by” date. However, prepackaged greens often go bad around their expiration date since they’re chopped.
Cooking Oils Will Remain Safe For Years
While there are several different types of cooking oil, they all have similar shelf lives. The USDA agrees that most cooking oils are safe to use for up to one year after opening. Coconut oil will remain fresh for up to three years.
Storing cooking oils in a cool, dark pantry is the best way to keep them fresh. Since oxidation causes the oil to decay, tightly seal the lid after each use. If the oil smells or tastes rancid, it’s gone bad. Some oils also grow dark and flavorless once they’ve expired.
Bad Cheese Relies More On Smell Than The Package Date
Because cheese is made through molding, it often lasts beyond its expiration date. The USDA claims that soft cheese lasts one to two weeks in the fridge, while hard cheese can be consumed up to six months in the fridge unopened. If you’ve opened the package, it’ll last three to four weeks.
In general, you can tell when your cheese goes bad through smell. If some areas have molded, you can cut them off and eat the rest safely. Some mold colors, such as orange, blue, and green, are not edible.
You Can Safely Drink Milk Beyond Its Printed Date
Milk’s life span depends on its fat content. In general, most dairy milk can last five days beyond its printed date. Non-fat milk stays fresh up to ten days, while whole milk can last up to a week. If the milk looks discolored or smells rotten, it’s spoiled.
While non-dairy milks keep up to a month if they’re unopened, they usually last around a week after opening, according to FoodSafety.gov. Spoiled non-dairy milks will taste sour and have a thicker texture than fresh milk.
Alcohol Does Go Bad After A While
Contrary to popular belief, most alcohol won’t last forever on your shelf. According to researchers at Bacardi, glass bottles make alcohol more prone to spoiling. While this research isn’t peer-reviewed, it does suggest that light, warmth, and air accelerate alcohol’s decay rate.
According to FoodSafety.gov, white and red wines remain fresh for one to two years. Beer only stays good for six to nine months after its expiration date. Hard liquors, such as whiskey, tequila, vodka, and brandy, will last for many more years. Once you open the bottle of any alcohol, it’ll only stay fresh for a couple of days.
Raw Fish Lasts Longer Than Cooked Seafood
How long fish stays fresh depends on the type of seafood and how it was prepared. In general, raw fish lasts longer in the freezer but less long in the fridge. Raw cod, salmon, and halibut stay fresh one to two days in the fridge and six to nine months in the freezer. Smoked fish can stay in the fridge for five to seven days, but only three to six months in the freezer.
Some canned fish, like tuna, can last two to five years past its printed date. And air-packed smoked fish can last two to three weeks in the fridge, according to FoodSafety.gov
Some Condiments Can Last A Year Or Two If Unopened
While most labels recommend refrigerating condiments, you can keep them in the pantry, according to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Similarly, the expiration date on these condiments is only quality-based. How long they stay fresh depends on the condiment.
Mustard can stay fresh up to one year after opening, while relish remains good for nine months. Ketchup and chili sauces remain edible for six months after opening. You can safely eat commercial mayonnaise and horseradish within two to three months after opening.
Butter’s Expiration Date Depends On How You Store It
Butter can last beyond it’s “best by” date if you store it correctly. If you keep butter at room temperature, it’ll only stay fresh for one to two days, according to the USDA. When the butter is anywhere above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the oils inside of it begin to decay.
Keep your butter in the fridge, and you can enjoy it up to one month later. In the freezer, it’ll last for six to nine months. Fortunately, you can easily tell when butter goes bad; it becomes too soft, too hard, or develops mold.
Chocolate With White Film Is Still Fresh
According to Eat By Date, chocolate lasts for months beyond the printed date. In the pantry, chocolate chips and bars last two to four months, and they last for six to eight months in the fridge. Truffles and Belgian chocolate stay fresh for one to two months after the expiration date.
If you see a white film on your chocolate, don’t fret. That’s called “chocolate bloom,” when the cocoa butter melts and re-solidifies. You can still eat it. If you see white dots on the edge of your chocolate, that means it’s getting old. However, you can still use the bar in cooking.
You Can Store Nut Butters For A Long Time
Whether or not it’s refrigerated, nut butter can last up to a year unopened. Commercial peanut butters will last longer; you can eat some peanut butter up to two years after buying it. Natural butter, such as natural peanut, almond, or cashew butter, last up to three months after opening.
You’ll know when your nut butter goes bad when it tastes rancid. To keep them fresh, store your nut butters in a cool area such as a shaded pantry or fridge. Contrary to other butter types, Nutella only stays fresh around two to three months after the printed date.
Cereal Lasts Six To Eight Months Unopened
If you keep your cereal box unopened, it’ll last for six to twelve months on the shelf, according to FoodSafety.gov. After you open it, you can keep it for two to three months. Breakfast cereals don’t go bad in the same way that fresh foods do.
“There is not that much of a quality issue,” Emily Broad Leib, director of Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic, told TIME. “If you leave your cereal box open, it can get stale, but you are not going to get sick from it.”
Yogurt Can Be Eaten Past Its “Best By” Date
Yogurt doesn’t go bad as quickly as other dairy products do. Both Greek yogurt and low-fat yogurt last around one to two weeks in the fridge, regardless of the printed date. If you freeze yogurt, you can eat it for up to two months later, according to Eat By Date.
Drinkable yogurts and yogurt with fruit don’t last as long. Both will stay fresh for up to two weeks. If your yogurt produces extra liquid, develops mold, or smells sour, throw it out.
You Can Safely Store Canned Goods For Years
If you store your canned food in a cool, dark location, it will last years beyond it’s “best by” date. Cans containing meat, vegetables, or potatoes will are safe to eat two to five years in the pantry. Highly-acidic canned foods (such as pickles, tomato soup, and sauerkraut) last for a year and a half.
If a food can appears rusted, dented, or swollen, it’s gone bad. And after you open them, they’ll only stay fresh for a couple of days in the fridge. Acidic food remains ripe for a week, while canned meat and vegetables stay fresh for up to four days in the fridge.
Frozen Fruits And Vegetables Go Bad Within The Year
Most of us tend to toss food into the freezer and forget about it. But some frozen treats, such as fruit and vegetables, will go bad within the year. Regardless of its “best by” date, frozen fruit will last for six to nine months. Frozen vegetables remain safe to eat for eight to ten months.
To tell if frozen produce has gone bad, wash off the ice crystals. If the fruit or vegetable maintains its color and texture, then it’s safe to eat. Spoiled frozen produce can also shrivel or lose color.
For Frozen Dinners, Breakfasts, And Desserts
How long food lasts in the freezer depends on what it is and whether it’s cooked. Most pre-made meals are already cooked, so they’ll go stale within three months. However, frozen food never produces a health risk as long as it’s kept frozen. After a while, the flavor will disappear.
Frozen dairy products like ice cream usually last two to four months. Grain-based dishes, like pancakes and waffles, stay fresh for two months. Most TV dinners will remain tasty for up to three months in the freezer.
Salsa Can Last For Weeks
Have you ever found a bottle of salsa shoved way to the back of the fridge and wondered what to do with it? Maybe you’re preparing Mexican food, or maybe you’re throwing a party and just need some dip. In any event, relying on the best-by date isn’t always best.
When it comes to salsa, you can safely eat it up to two weeks after the best-by date. However, the greatest sign is the appearance. If it seems to have a film on it, throw it out.
Don’t Open The Chips!
Unopened, chips can last for months. Once the chips are opened, they still can last for a very long time. The issue is whether or not they are kept in a truly air-tight environment. Chips that haven’t been opened are less likely to be exposed to oxygen, which enables bacteria to grow.
However, since chips are often doused in salt, the likelihood of them developing a substance that can harm you is slim. The real issue is simply quality. They’ll eventually get stale.