Household Items That Are Expired But You Still Use At Home
Here are a couple of household items we overlook and why it’s necessary to stop usage when it has exceeded its useful point.
When to throw away: Replace your pillows every year.
Why: Hair and body oils will have soaked into a pillow’s fabric and stuffing after a year of nightly use, making it a breeding ground for odor causing bacteria and allergy triggering dust mites. Using protectors can double the life of your pillows.
When to throw away: Replace your mattress after 5 to 10 years.
Why: A good mattress lasts 9 to 10 years, according to the National Sleep Foundation, but consider replacing yours every 5 to 7 years if you don’t sleep well. A study at Oklahoma State University found that most people who switched to new bedding after 5 years sleep significantly better and have less back pain.
3. Air conditioners:
When to throw away: Keep air conditioners until they die.
Why: With proper maintenance, including annual servicing, a room or central air conditioner can easily run for up to 15 years, especially if you don’t operate it year round, says Bill Harrison, president elect of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers. Check the filter at least every 6 weeks, particularly in humid weather. “If dirt covers the filter so you can’t see the original material or view light through it, clean it or buy a new one,” he says.
When to throw away: Replace vitamins after 2 years to maintain their potency.
Why: Independent tests find that most nutritional supplements are good for 3 years if stored in a cool, dry place, says William Obermeyer, PhD, vice president for research at ConsumerLab.com. Because the product may have been sitting on store or warehouse shelves for a year, throw it 2 years after purchase if there’s no expiration date.
5. Fire extinguishers:
When to throw away: Replace fire extinguishers every 10 years.
Why: Portable extinguishers may lose pressure over time and become ineffective whether or not they’ve been triggered, says Lorraine Carli, national spokesperson for the National Fire Protection Association. If your extinguisher is rechargeable, have it serviced every 6 years or when the pressure is low.
6. Water filters:
When to throw away: Keep water filters 20% longer than normal.
Why: “Filters that make health claims like lead removal are designed to provide a margin of safety in case they’re not changed on time,” says Rick Andrew, operations manager at NSF International, an Ann Arbor, MI based company that tests filters. Those equipped with expiration indicators last 20% longer than their recommended life so a filter certified to clean 100 gallons actually purifies 120. Filters without an indictor last even longer, cleaning twice the number of gallons claimed.
7. Cutting Boards
When to throw away: You can hold on to cutting boards indefinitely.
Why: How you sanitize the board—and notits age—is what kills bugs such as E. coli and Salmonella. “The decision to replace one is ultimately based on when you think it looks used up,” says Brenda Wilson, PhD, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Even a board with deep cracks or grooves is safe if it’s sanitized after each use: Wash the board with detergent and hot water; then rinse and flood with a solution of 1 part full strength white vinegar to 4 parts water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Rinse with clean water, pat with a clean towel, and air dry.
8. Contact lens solution:
When to throw away: Discard contact lens solution after 3 months.
Why: “Once the seal is broken, germs can contaminate bottles that are left uncapped or that lack a backflow device, increasing your risk of infection,” says Louise A. Sclafani, OD, an associate professor of ophthalmology at University of Chicago Hospital. Get a new case every 3 months, too.
When to throw away: Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months.
Why: The Nigerian Dental Association recommends a 3 to 4 month rotation because frayed and worn bristles don’t clean as well leaving teeth more vulnerable to decay.
10. Eye makeup:
When to throw away: Throw away eye makeup 6 months after opening to prevent infection.
Why: The applicators used to apply mascara, liner, and shadow are repeatedly exposed to bacteria in the air and on your lashes; after 6 months of everyday use, they can overpower the products’ preservatives, says John Bailey, PhD, chief scientist at the Personal Care Products Council. Liquid products that don’t touch the eyes, such as foundation, can be used for up to 2 years; dry face products like powder and lip items are generally formulated to last at least 3 years
11. Antibacterial cream:
When to throw away: Discard antibacterial cream after 1 year.
Why: Beyond a year, the antibiotic is probably still good, but the chemical mix in the ointment may start to go bad, which may make the product less effective.
12. Dandruff shampoo:
When to throw away: You can hang on to dandruff shampoo for 3 years.
Why: Most medicated shampoo will stay effective at least that long if there isn’t an expiration date. Adding water to an almost empty bottle to get the last bit from the bottom dilutes preservatives and makes them less effective, so toss the remainder after several days.
Sources: Cosmopolitan Magazine, Home Magazine UK, Home Knights