8 Things in Your Home You’re Not Replacing Often Enough

8 Things in Your Home You’re Not Replacing Often Enough

While keeping many household items—like detergents, cleaners, and cosmetics—past their expiration dates isn’t necessarily as risky as eating expired food, it can decrease their effectiveness and potentially cause more problems than they solve. For the sake of your home’s cleanliness and safety, here are the products you should inspect and potentially toss.

Laundry detergent and bleach

If you aren’t doing multiple loads of laundry per week, you probably don’t need to buy detergent in bulk. It doesn’t go bad, per se, but it does lose its cleaning power over time. Liquid detergent can sit unopened for up to 18 months at normal temperatures but should be used within six once the seal is broken. Laundry pods should also be used within six months and stored in a dry, airtight container. Powdered detergents are good for a long time unless exposed to moisture, which can result in soap deposits on your clothes.

Bleach also begins to break down after about a year, decreasing its disinfecting and sanitizing power. Look for the production date stamped on the bottle.

Cleaning products

Like detergent, the chemicals in household cleaning products degrade over time, making them less effective at keeping your home clean and sanitized. If you deep clean often and go through products in a year or two, you’ll probably get your money’s worth. However, if you find bottles tucked away that haven’t been touched in recent memory, test them out: anything clumpy, discolored, smelly, or that fails to foam up is probably expired.

Cleaning supplies

Again, cleaning supplies don’t come with an expiration date, but you’re likely holding onto them way past their suggested use. Your toilet brush should be tossed and replaced every few months—otherwise, bacteria can build up in the bristles and on the handle. Kitchen sponges should be tossed out every few weeks (or swapped for an alternative that can be washed and sanitized, like a dish cloth or a silicone scrubber).


If there was ever a product you want to be at maximum effectiveness, it’s sunscreen. The FDA requires sunscreen manufacturers to make formulas that last for three years, so if you go through bottles quickly, you probably don’t need to worry too much about expiration. But it’s good practice to check bottles you haven’t used in a while—like at the start of the summer—for expiration dates. You should also check the date upon purchase, and if there’s no expiration listed, write one on the container.

Cosmetics and medications

Your bathroom cabinet is full of items that expire, like cosmetics, toothpaste, and pharmaceuticals. Keeping these items past their expiration can decrease their effectiveness (like toothpaste, which is good for about two years from the manufacture date) or increase the risk that the product will degrade or be exposed to bacteria and fungi. While cosmetics aren’t regulated, most have a recommended shelf life listed on their labels. Mascara in particular should be tossed every few months.


Your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head should be replaced about every three months, according to the American Dental Association—more often if you are sick, or for kids who tend to chew on the bristles. An old and degraded toothbrush won’t clean as thoroughly, leaving plaque behind and allowing germs to hang out around your teeth.


There are nearly a dozen appliances in your home—furnace, dryer, HVAC, range hood, etc.—that require filters, all of which need to be replaced on a regular basis to keep everything running at maximum effectiveness (which keeps your indoor air, water, and clothes clean). Depending on the type, you should be replacing filters every one to six months.

Lead Image Credit: Netflix/iStock

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