We’re used to checking the expiration dates on food (even though many of them are bullshit), but other household items expire, too. Read on for a list of things that you shouldn’t expect to be able to use forever — and how often you’ll need to replace them.
You should always replace a bike helmet after a crash, or any time it starts to show cracks or other signs of damage. But even a pristine helmet won’t last forever. Check with the manufacturer for when to replace the helmet. If they don’t say, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends replacing bike helmets after 5 to 10 years.
Gasoline deteriorates over time. Use your gas within 3 to 6 months of purchase. If it’s been stored in a hot area or if the cap isn’t on tight, it can go bad even sooner.
First aid supplies
We have a whole guide here on when to replace each item in your first aid kit. Bandages lose their stickiness and may not be sterile in the package anymore after 3 to 5 years. Antiseptic wipes should be used within a year of their date of manufacture. Those instant-cold compresses tend to expire within two years. And don’t forget that medications have their own expiration dates, after which they may not be as effective.
Like bike helmets, child safety seats should be replaced after they’re in a crash or after they reach their expiration date, whichever comes first. You can expect a car seat to last 6 years.
It’s fine to chuck your old sunscreen each year, but you probably don’t need to. If sunscreen doesn’t have an expiration date listed, it’s considered good for 3 years after purchase.
Fire extinguishers don’t have a strict expiration date, but disposable ones should be replaced after 12 years, and the rechargeable kind should be recharged after 6 years.
It’s smart to save your old paint cans after doing a project, since this way you have a supply for touch-ups as needed. But don’t bother keeping them around for as long as you live in your house. Manufacturers recommend you use latex paint (the most common type of house paint) within a year or two. But if it’s stored in good condition, it may still be usable up to 10 years out.
Smoke alarms have a manufacture date on the back. When you change the batteries, take a minute to check that date, and replace the alarm if it’s more than 10 years old.
Batteries usually have an expiration date either printed on the package or on the battery itself. Even if they haven’t been used, old batteries tend not to hold as much of a charge as new ones. Alkaline (disposable) batteries may last up to 10 years; rechargeables usually need to be replaced after five.
Mattresses don’t usually have a hard expiration date, but check with the manufacturer to see how long your mattress is expected to last. Most are done after 10 years, but the exact lifespan will vary depending on what the mattress is made of.
Bleach loses its potency over time. Various sources put its shelf life at three, six, or 12 months, but one simple way to tell is to sniff it — if the smell is weak or nonexistent, it’s probably time for a new bottle.
If you’re used to saving disposable hand warmers from winter to winter, it’s important to know that old ones won’t necessarily get warm when you need them to. Hot Hands says that their warmers will expire after 4 years. Check with the manufacturer of your own favourite brand.
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