25+ Everyday Items That Turn Harmful When They Expire

One thing we never forget to do, is checking the expiring date of milk in your fridge, as well as the other products in it. But, what we do forget, is to check the shelf life of other household products, such as hygiene or cleaning products. Did you know that these can become harmful to you and your family over time, or when they’ve expired? That’s because it contains several chemicals and preservatives to make it as effective as possible. So, what more products can be harmful if left on the shelf? Find out for yourself on the next page, and get ready to get rid of the products in your household.

Eye Contact Cases

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Are you a frequent user of contact lenses? Then this is for you. People who wear contact lenses may have created a habit of changing their solution, but you may not have realized that your cases have accumulated a large number of invisible germs over time, which may cause eye infection. That’s when you might wonder what the cause is of the eye infection, as you’ve changed your solution frequently and cleaned your contacts well. But, we tend to forget about the case itself, which can be the cause as well. So, after three months of use, replace it with a fresh one.

Toothpaste

Toothpaste is one of our common sanitary things that often goes unnoticed because most people are unaware that it has a shelf life. Did you know it actually does have a shelf life and that you shouldn’t keep it for too long? Here’s how you can see that you shouldn’t use a certain toothpaste anymore. When it goes bad, to the point that it doesn’t even help, it crystallizes and becomes useless, which means you may get oral difficulties. Remember to use it up in two years to maintain your breath fresh.

Loofahs

If you shower and clean yourself with a loofah, it is probably time to reconsider your bath routine. Because of the wet atmosphere, the handheld spongy scrubber is easy to remove debris from your skin as well as to breed bacteria. How weird right? Which is why, you should, after each use, rinse it thoroughly and set it aside to dry in a cool space. After 3 to 4 weeks, it is highly recommended replacing it with a new one, as the amount of bacteria on the loofah can be more overpowering.

Shampoo

Shampoos and conditioners have a shelf life as well. It is usually advised to use it within 18 months. Its fragrance and condition may alter as a result. Applying it later may result in the spread of germs to your scalp. How can you check what the shelf life is of your shampoo or your conditioner? Usually, you can find a little symbol on the back of the bottle with a number on it. That number indicates the number of months of shelf life of your product, and that also means that it is advised to use it within those months. Are you curious other everyday items in your house? Keep on reading for more.

Mouthwash

Mouthwash is another hygiene product you probably never checked, but certainly is worth keeping an eye on. It can persist for 2 to 3 years on average, although those mouthwash bottles containing alcohol will disintegrate and become ineffective at that point, which will make your daily dental routine useless, since the product isn’t effective anymore. So, before using it, do check the expiration date on the container and use it as soon as possible before it goes bad!

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly is practically a household necessity. However, it cannot be protected from deterioration beyond a certain period of time, despite having a shelf life that is quite long. Every time you dip your finger into the huge cub, it collects bacteria. So, it would be unhealthy to keep a used container for a long time, as it contains a lot of bacteria that have been together for a while. Especially if you use it on your skin or for other purposes. If you don’t want to waste them, consider using little containers!

Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Every ten years, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be changed. Otherwise, it will not work in the long run. It is therefore preferable to check their manufacturing dates and replace them if they have expired. But, it is also highly recommended to keep checking the status of the detectors over time, as it can occur that there is a slight defect, which can be dangerous in the case of an emergency. So, be cautious and be aware that it works all the time.

Eye Drops

People keep eye drops on hand because they can help avoid dry eye syndrome, especially for those who wear contact lenses frequently or those who have to work for hours behind a computer. This can be the cause for the dry eyes, and can even be tiring for your eyes. However, many of them may be unaware that the eye drops would be rendered ineffective 28 days after the seal is broken. Remember to throw it away, otherwise it may cause a bacterial infection, which is not what you’re looking for.

Vegetable Oil

You must be cautious of expired vegetable oil, otherwise the harmful substances it produces may make you vulnerable to neurological diseases, heart disease, and even cancer. Surprised? Or didn’t you know that vegetable oil has a shelf life or expiring date? It may be useful to know that vegetable oil has a shelf life of around six months once opened, and it may become cloudy later. If you don’t use it on a daily basis, go for a smaller bottle. Not only will you avoid throwing it away, but it will also save you money, as smaller bottles can be cheaper as well.

Canned Food

Canned food, if not properly stored, can be dangerous to your health as they contain a lot of preservatives to keep the food edible for as long as possible. Thus, it’s best, and recommended, to keep your cans in cold, dry environments. Furthermore, remember to check their “best before” dates on a regular basis, especially for acidic foods, which have a shorter shelf life. Do keep in mind that the expiring dates aren’t always accurate in the supermarkets, as there can be some outdated in between.

Motor Oil

Motor oil is one item that is quite expensive, so whenever you find a good deal, you have the tendency to stock up on the bottles. Except, you shouldn’t! Motor oil, like many other items, has a shelf life. It is important to keep it in a cold and dry area; experts recommend storing it in a cool and dry environment. Before using any motor oil in your car, check its consistency – even if it is past its expiration date. According to YourMechanic.com, “if it is thick and sticky, and has solid or gel-like particles, do not use it.” It is not safe to use if the additives seem to have separated from the oil.” You don’t want to ruin your car, because of ineffective motor oil, do you?

Cords

Cords do not have expiration dates, however that does not mean they can be used indefinitely, as they can damage as well. When they crack or when you see that the wires underneath the actual cord are exposed, you’ll know you have a fire hazard in your home. Check them on a regular basis and throw them away if you see any minor damage. It might even be a better idea to replace them as soon as you discover even the slightest damage to the cords. It’s better to be cautious than sorry!

Bleach

Bleach is another household product that should raise red flags, as you shouldn’t keep this product for a long time. Not only since it is quite a strong household product, but also because it can be quite harmful. The preferred disinfectant is effective within its expiration date, however it loses effectiveness six months after opening. So, try not to buy too much bleach if you don’t use it frequently, and avoid keeping it for longer than six months.

Sponges

A sponge spends a significant amount of time cleaning your filthy dishes and whatever else you want to clean with it. And, out of habit, we try to use it for as long as possible, as it would be a shame to throw a new sponge away. But, did you know that germs can grow even if you are careful about cleaning and drying them? It is best practice to replace them after two weeks of regular use. According to a 2017 study, a sponge can cause an increase in bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. That doesn’t sound like something you want to catch because you kept a sponge for longer than necessary.

Mattress

If you don’t feel like you’re getting a good night’s sleep, it’s probably not the way you’ve been laying down on your mattress, but think about how long you’ve had your mattress. Saggy mattresses are ineffective at maintaining your body in a comfortable sleeping position, and they may cause back pain or poor sleep. What to do: According to The Sleep Foundation, you should replace your mattress when it’s six to eight years old, if it’s sagging, or if it starts to squeak or make other noises. If you find yourself waking up stiff or if your allergies worsen at night, it may be time to invest in a new mattress.

Dish Detergent

You might be surprised to learn that even your dishwasher detergent has a short shelf life, and that it should be changed every three months. Surprising, right? This is mainly due to the strength of the dishwasher detergent, as it decreases over time, leaving you with little to no bubbles at all. When the enzymes deteriorate, all of your efforts to clean your plates or other dishes will be useless. So, even for this, try to buy a smaller bottle in case you won’t be able to finish a larger bottle every three months.

Disposable Razors

Disposable razors are significantly more convenient than electric razors, especially when traveling. They’re an easy option, since you can throw them away without feeling guilty of the amount of money that you’ve paid for them. Nonetheless, they might be a breeding ground for bacteria, as you may keep them for a few more uses afterwards. Especially, when you keep them in a wet environment, such as the bathroom. To avoid skin rashes and irritation, replace it after three shaves, and keep them dry.

Children’s Car Seat

The safety of a child in a car seat is crucial, as you want to travel as safe as possible with your children. While there is no expiration date on this product, it is vital to note whether the car seat components are deteriorating. The disadvantage of a child’s car seat is wear and tear. Because they’re made of plastic, a material that brittles over time, it’s possible that the seat won’t last. Besides, you don’t want to put your kid in a seat that is going to break at any moment. Fortunately, you have another six years until you need to replace it, but do keep checking it every now and then.

Batteries

Batteries have an average lifespan of ten years, as they will leak acid over time. But, it can also happen earlier than the ten years. So, do keep an eye on your supply of batteries, if you have one, as it can ruin the other batteries in the package as well. One of the best precautions is to keep a new supply of batteries on hand in case of an emergency. Do keep in mind, that once you notice the acid leaking, that children don’t touch it as it can be harmful. Remember to wash your hands at all times.

Pillows

Have you ever considered how nasty your old pillow can be? In reality, it can harbor dead skin cells, hair, and body oil, as well as dust mites. If you have asthma or allergies, don’t wink at it. So, what’s recommended is to frequently have them washed or wash them yourselves in order to get rid of the bacteria and everything else that has been gathered on the surface of your pillow. It is also highly recommended changing the pillow covers frequently in order to avoid allergies.

Flour

Flour is a kitchen staple that many of us keep on hand without question. However, flour, like many other foods, has the potential to expire over time, especially if not stored properly. Fortunately, it’s rather easy to know when flour has turned. It will smell rancid and may even have visible mold if it has been exposed to water. “While not all molds are toxic, some can create dangerous substances known as mycotoxins,” according to Healthline. These chemicals have the potential to cause symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.” Bottom line: inspect your flour well before cooking or baking with it.

Feminine Care Products

Female hygiene products are another typical household item that you would never expect to have an expiration date. Tampons and pads are often constructed of cotton, making them prone to mold and bacteria. Keep an eye on its storage time from time to time. Maybe it could be an idea to not have a large stock of feminine care products as the cotton can easily hold on to bacteria and mold.

Hydrogen Peroxide

When it comes to first aid materials, hydrogen peroxide is one of the top five items that come to mind. However, did you know that even this product has an expiring date or a limited shelf life? In a few months, after having opened the bottle, the hydrogen peroxide will turn into water, leaving the product useless and ineffective. Even the closed bottle has a one-year shelf life. So, when you buy it, keep in mind that you should replace it after one year, as it won’t be useless after that.

Slippers

Slippers can be a source of fungal infection because you wear them every day for around six months, maybe even longer, until they’re not wearable anymore. But, don’t be concerned as there is a solution for this as well. You may avoid this by washing them thoroughly, so you get a chance to get rid of the bacteria in between, and replacing them with a new pair every month. It can also be an idea to have another pair of slippers, so you can switch it up between two pairs, so you can give them a rest.

Pacifier

Replace your baby’s latex pacifier every couple of weeks, regardless of how long it has been used. It is prone to break over time, and the resulting cracks act as a magnet for germs, which go directly into the mouth of your baby, which you want to avoid at all cost. Not only that, but the latex can collect a lot of dust and other bacteria over time, and that can only be unhealthy for the baby.

Fire Extinguishers

People keep fire extinguishers in their homes in case of a rainstorm. But, in reality, once you buy a home item, you tend to forget about it and leave it where it is stored. It is recommended to give it an annual inspection and the gauge a monthly check to ensure that it remains operational in case of emergency. Furthermore, it is recommended that it be updated every 5 to 15 years. But, this obviously depends on the usage and the state of the fire extinguisher that you have.

Laundry Detergent

When washing your clothes, make sure you use the most recent laundry detergent. Why, you wonder? According to The Spruce, laundry detergent, like many other cleaning chemicals, does not expire or go bad with time, but rather loses its effectiveness. Most laundry detergents have a “best used by” date printed on the container, but if they don’t, The Spruce recommends using unopened liquid laundry detergent within nine months to a year of purchase, and opened liquid detergent within six months. It’s not so much a matter of time for powdered detergents as it is of solidifying, which means it may not “dissolve appropriately or fully in the washer.”

Paint

Paint is another item that can be found in many homes for an endless period of time, because you buy these things in bulk, and it is a waste of money to throw it away just like that. You use half a can and then store the remaining in the basement until the temptation to do touch-up work hits you ten years later. Your paint has most likely gone bad by that point. Glidden claims that unopened latex or oil-based paints have a two-year shelf life. That is, if you don’t freeze them and keep them away from heat sources like the furnace. Of course, depending on their formulation and storage, some paints and products may last longer.

Moisturizer

According to the Skin Smart Dermatology and Skin Care Center, using expired moisturizer may expose you to bacteria. Furthermore, active ingredients such as retinol, glycolic acid, and vitamin C breakdown after a year of opening, whilst benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid lose effectiveness between three and six months. Most moisturizers have small jar symbols on their labels that may say “12M, 18M, or 24M,” which indicate how many months the product will be useable once you open it. If you keep forgetting when you opened it first, it might be an idea to write down the year or month that you opened it. Easy, right?

Cosmetics

Sometimes, we keep cosmetics for a longer time than we should, mainly because we haven’t used it enough or because you want to keep it. But, did you know that expired cosmetics and equipment with leftovers can both serve as a culture plate for germs such as Staphylococcus aureus? These bacteria are capable of causing skin and eye discomfort, breakouts, and even blindness. As a result, we should clean these tools on a regular basis and dispose of old cosmetics.

Spices

We frequently buy spices on a whim for a certain dish, only to leave the rest untouched for a year or more since you’re not a regular user of these spices. Does it sound familiar to you? The good news is that they have a rather long shelf life of 3 to 4 years. However, you should dispose of them in the garbage can after that, otherwise they will cause digestive difficulties. Usually, when you buy these spices, they have expiring dates as well. So, before buying it, it may be an idea to check this, and if possible, buy a smaller package of it.

Medicine

Medicines shouldn’t be used after having been opened after a while, however, this can sometimes be different for pills, for example. The expired medication may be ineffective or even harmful to your health. Out-of-date insulin and liquid antibiotics, for example, can certainly be harmful, and it is strictly discouraged to use. If you have any doubts about whether you can take medication after the “best before” date, always see your doctor first. It is always better to get a new prescription than use some medicines that you already have.

Hand Sanitizer

During the recent pandemic, hand sanitizer has practically become a need. But did you realize that all of them must have an expiration date? According to Vanessa Thomas, a cosmetic scientist and the founder of Freelance Formulations, the majority of them will expire two to three years after they are manufactured as it contains alcohol for the optimal use of hand sanitizer. But, during the current circumstances, it won’t be too long before you run out of a bottle, right?

Boxed Wine

If you like your wine in a box, this is the right advice for you. Wine does improve with age, but you can’t say the same with packaged or boxed wine. If it comes in a box, it will include an expiration date, which is normally six to eight months after purchase. While most boxes are safe due to the polyethylene, others contain Bisphenol A. (BPA). You’d think that this wouldn’t have much of an effect on your health, but this is a chemical that has been linked to fertility problems and heart disease. So, the next time that you buy boxed wine, don’t keep it for too long. Were you aware of this?

Sunscreen

The common rule of thumb is that sunscreen has a three-year shelf life, but this does not take into account for how long it has been sitting on a store shelf. The FDA requires that all sunscreens carry an expiration date on the packaging, however this might be difficult to find at times. “If you can’t locate a date on the label, write down the month and year you bought the product,” advises Daniel Atkinson, a UK-based general practitioner and clinical lead at Treated.com. Have you had a sunscreen for longer than three years, then it would be wise to throw it away.

Towels

We tend to use and keep towels until they’re harsh to dry yourself, but did you know that this could be harmful? Even our trusted bathroom towels need to be reevaluated every three years for sanitary reasons. They are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria since they are constantly exposed to warm and damp surroundings. Washing them in hot water on a regular basis can help, but it also wears the cloth down faster, making them less effective at drying us off. The bottom line is that those towels should be replaced every three years or so.

Sunglasses

When you buy sunglasses, you tend to get the nicest ones, but these can be quite expensive. Which is a shame, as experts encourage changing your sunglasses after a couple of years. Researchers discovered, in a study published in the journal Biomedical Engineering OnLine, that sunshine exposure wears down the lenses of sunglasses, making them less efficient at protecting our eyes from harmful UV rays. As a result, these experts recommend that we replace our shades every two years or so. People who live in high-UV-intensity places should do even more frequently.

Running Shoes

Have you ever kept shoes that are slightly ruined, but they’re still comfortable enough? Well, that’s one thing that is not recommended, especially with running shoes. Running shoes have a 400-mile shelf life, according to Fleet Feet specialists. This is due to the fact that “the outsoles begin to get bald, and the soft cushion becomes compressed under our weight” with repeated use. When shoes reach the end of their useful life, they lose their ability to protect your feet and joints from the repetitive pounding of running, which can lead to increased soreness and damage.” Even non-runners can benefit from replacing their walking shoes more frequently, especially if they are experiencing discomfort or suffering with an older pair.

Mascara

Have you ever used mascara that has been in your make-up collection for a while? I’m pretty sure the majority has. But it’s a big no-no to use old mascara, as inconvenient as it sounds. Did you know that there is a 36.4 percent increase in microbial growth pollutants in the tubes three months after opening a new product? One of the key contaminants that can seriously harm your health is Staphylococcus epidermis. Eye infections, vision deterioration, and the growth of bacterial infections are all common side effects. Make careful to replace your mascara every three months!

Acne Medication

Acne is a condition that can appear during your teen years, but adults can also experience it. And, while using acne medicine to treat rashes and pimples may appear to be a worthy cause, it could, if you’re not careful, end up drying your face and worsening skin problems like blackheads. This is because of the substances, Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which have a shelf life of about 4-6 months before they are no longer useful. So, keep this in mind when you buy acne medication, as you don’t want to cause more irritation on your skin.

Vitamins

Vitamin pills are consumed probably every day by a large amount of the population. But, did you know that even these can be used for a limited amount of time? Most vitamin bottles include “use by” dates, which indicate when the chemical may begin to breakdown and lose potency. It is not harmful to consume a vitamin after its expiration date, but you may not get all of the essential ingredients listed on the label. So, in order to get the most out of your vitamins, either try to take them every day with a strict routine, or buy a smaller bottle.

Hairbrush

Because your hairbrush is most likely composed of plastic or wood, you may believe it will last forever. But, that’s where you’re wrong. After a while, it begins to collect dead hair and styling products, resulting in buildup. This makes it difficult for your brush to pass through your hair and do its job, and may cause damage to your hair. “The product debris can irritate the scalp, causing redness, itch, and scale,” explains Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D. of SkinSafe Dermatology and Skin Care. What you should do: Keep an eye out for brush damage, such as separated bristles, as a sign that it needs to be changed. Experts recommend replacing your hairbrush every six months to a year, even if it hasn’t lost its integrity.

Cutting Board

Cutting boards are probably one of the utensils that are extremely useful in your kitchen. But, even these should be replaced after a certain amount of time. Your cutting boards come into contact with a wide range of foods, washing, scrubbing, and disinfecting them after each usage is essential. However, your cutting boards may have been exposed to one too many sharp knives and may have lost their integrity over time. At this point, it’s difficult to scrape food residues out of the deep grooves that have formed, increasing the likelihood that bacteria and particles may become caught in the board and contaminate your food. What to do: According to an article released by NC State University, “when your cutting board has developed a lot of deep grooves from regular use, you probably need to replace it.”

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce can be a great addition to get more taste to the foods that you cook, but it is high in salt, which prevents bacteria growth and contamination. Your soy sauce should last for a long time, although it may lose flavor after a few years. Keep an eye (and a nose) on your soy sauce; if it starts to smell funny or changes texture, it’s time to replace it. What to do: Keep it in the fridge to extend its life. “Once opened, the soy sauce loses its freshness and the flavor begins to change. By refrigerating the sauce, the flavor and quality will be preserved for a longer period of time “according to Kikkoman USA experts

Wooden Kitchen Utensils

Wooden kitchen utensils are popular because they are gentler on your cookware and have antibacterial properties. If they are used frequently, they, like other utensils, may begin to show signs of wear and tear. You may prolong the life of your utensils if you take good care of them. What you should do: Hand wash these tools, rub them with mineral oil, and remove stains with fine sandpaper to keep them in good condition, according to New Hampshire Bowl and Board experts. Even if you take care of your wooden cutlery, “Wooden spoons can eventually break when they dry out or are exposed to extreme temperature changes,” experts warn. It can be harmful when these materials split, crack, or dry out.

Bike Helmet

If your bike helmet is expired, it may not be able to fully protect your head in the event of a crash. The cushion and protecting materials inside your helmet can lose their integrity over time, decreasing its effectiveness. What to do: According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, if your helmet has already been in a crash or has been damaged in another manner, you should replace it. You should also replace your helmet if it doesn’t fit properly, the technology is outdated, or it’s been more than five years since you bought it.