Items You Should Never Use After Their Expiration Date (And What To Do Instead)
For many people, bleach is a go-to cleaning item to disinfect their home. But since this chemical cleaning agent is so strong, it may only be used every now and then, meaning it can sit on the shelf for years at a time. However, bleach only has a 12-month shelf life from the day of manufacture. After that, it slowly loses its effectiveness, which means it may not be doing anything to actually disinfect your home.
However, if you still want to get the most out of your old bleach, it can serve another purpose in your home. A small amount of bleach, even with the ingredients slightly degraded, can make cut flowers last longer. Simply add a small amount of bleach to the water in the vase. The bleach will help to keep the flowers from dying, allowing them to bring color to your home for just a little bit longer.
Sugar tends to be a staple in your kitchen that you don’t throw away until it’s all used up. But sugar has an expiration date. If you haven’t used all your sugar in two years, it’s best not to use it at all. After that time, the quality and taste of the sugar start to head downhill. That’s why some of your sugar may clump together in unappealing mounds. Not only is the consistency off, but the taste won’t be quite right either.
However, sugar has other uses around your home. If you spend too much time kneeling in your garden, or if you have kids who play sports, you might end up with grass stains on your clothes. Although these stains look intimidating, they’re quite easy to remove with a bit of sugar. Simply combine the sugar with warm water until you end up with a paste. Then apply the paste to the grass stain and let it sit for a couple of hours. After that, wash the garment as normal and watch the grass stain lift right out.
3 Frying Pans
A good set of frying pans is a must-have in any home. However, as much as you might like to think that your frying pans last forever, that’s not the case. In fact, all frying pans have an expiration date and most only last three to five years. Experts claim most non-stick frying pans have a coating that starts to flake off as the pan ages. While it’s not proven to be harmful, it also can’t be good to ingest those flakes. Not to mention, the non-stick element of your pan will start to disappear as more and more pieces flake off.
While you probably want to get new frying pans every few years for everyday use, you don’t have to dispose of your old frying pans altogether. Instead, you can designate those aging pans as your camping cookware. Since they’ll only be used once a while, you can keep from just tossing them out while investing in more effective cookware for your everyday needs.
A well-stocked bar is a trademark element of many homes. But leaving open bottles of alcohol on your bar cart for an extended period of time will lead to a lot of expired liquor. That’s right—alcohol, too, can go bad. While the bottles will stay fresh as long as they’re unopened, popping the seal starts a ticking clock. Most alcohols should be replaced after a year. Wait any longer and you risk a rather bland taste for your next drink.
If you don’t want your alcohol to go to waste, there are a few ways to use expired spirits. For example, rubbing whiskey over your cutting board is a great way to get rid of lingering odors. If whiskey isn’t your poison of choice, expired beer can be used to fertilize the plants in your garden. Lastly, vodka mixed with a bit of rosemary can rid your hair of dandruff. Just because you can’t drink your expired alcohol doesn’t mean it has to go to waste.
Yes, even your hairbrushes have an expiration date, and it’s probably shorter than you think. Most data suggest hairbrushes should be replaced every year in order to keep dirt and grime from building up, both on the brush and in your hair. When you brush your hair, you’re transferring all the oil from your hair to the brush. If you don’t change your brush for a while, you end up with a large buildup of oil that gets transferred back to your strands each time you comb them out. To keep your hair clean and grime-free, you should replace your brush once a year.
But don’t just throw the brush away. Instead, wash it out and repurpose it as a pet brush. If you brush lightly, your pets are sure to enjoy the soothing sensation of a brush being combed through their fur. If you do decide to throw your brush out, remember to throw it in the recycling bin instead of sending it off to the landfill.
Most people tend to stick a packet of flour at the back of their pantry and forget about it. Flour isn’t the most common cooking ingredient, so it’s often pulled out once every few weeks or months when you decide to re-test your baking skills. Unfortunately, leaving flour in your pantry for long periods of time isn’t good, as it will often expire. While the flour might look and smell okay, mold and spores could be lingering amid the fine powder. Plus, the flour won’t bake effectively if it’s expired. If you truly want to be a master baker, replace your flour every six months.
Instead of tossing your expired flour in the garbage, use it to clean your stainless steel appliances. Simply sprinkle some flour onto a clean, dry cloth and rub it against your stainless steel. The flour will buff away marks and smudges, leaving shiny, pristine steel behind.
7 Dish Soap
Dish soap is something you should not buy in bulk. Even though dish soap gets used regularly, if you buy large amounts at a time, you run the risk that some of your dish soap will expire. Dish soap only lasts for roughly a year, at the most 18 months. After that time, the dish soap starts to degrade and loses its bacteria-eliminating properties. Without that benefit, your dish soap isn’t actually doing anything to clean your dirty dishes.
If you’re struggling to use your dish soap before it expires, try making homemade ice packs with your excess soap. This will work whether or not the dish soap has passed its expiration date. Simply fill a Ziploc bag with dish soap and put it in the freezer. The result is a gel ice pack that stays cold much longer than a bag of ice. Plus, you can refreeze the dish soap a few times to get as many uses out of it as possible.
8 Laundry Detergent
Much like dish soap, laundry detergent also has an expiration date, and it’s not nearly as long as you think. Laundry detergent only lasts about six months after it’s opened. After that, the bacteria-eliminating chemicals become less and less effective, meaning your clothes aren’t actually getting that clean.
If you’ve had your laundry detergent for more than six months, it’s better to find another use for it. While it’s best to throw the actual liquid away, you can give the plastic bottle housing your laundry detergent another life. Simply decorate it however you want, then cut a hole in one of the sides about halfway up the bottle. Put birdseed at the bottom and place the bottle in a safe place outside. Just like that, you have a homemade bird feeder!
If you purchase a brand new pair of sunglasses, you probably buy them with the intent to keep them for years to come. However, sunglasses, like many things, also have an expiration date. While they’re made to block harmful UV rays, they start to degrade over time. If you keep your sunglasses too long, they’ll no longer be effective at providing the protection your eyes desperately need. Experts suggest your sunglasses should be replaced every two years, or whenever you notice a significant change in the lenses.
However, you don’t have to just throw your sunglasses away. If you’re very attached to a particular pair, don’t toss them in the garbage. Instead, keep the frames and simply replace the lenses. New lenses will provide the UV protection you need, without forcing you to let go of your fave pair of glasses.
10 Cutting Boards
Keeping your cutting boards clean is an essential part of keeping bacteria and other food grime out of your favorite dishes. But while you might scrub and sanitize your cutting boards after every use, they’re still not made to last forever. Eventually, using a knife consistently on the cutting board will take its toll. The knife will create grooves and other inconsistencies that can trap bacteria you can no longer wash off. That’s why you should replace your cutting board every few years when you notice it has accumulated some of those deep grooves.
However, you can still get a bit of use out of your old cutting boards. While they may no longer be safe for food preparation, they’re the perfect tool to bring some organization to your kitchen. You can fit cutting boards upright in your cabinets to create defined spaces for your household essentials. This will keep your cabinets more organized and designate a place for these items to return to after they’re used by your family. If you want to ensure the cutting board doesn’t fall over, create small grooves in the bottom of your cabinet that the cutting board can easily slot into.
11 Bar Soap
A single bar of soap can last for a long, long time, but it still can’t last forever. Experts recommend you shouldn’t store your bar soap for more than three years. In addition, certain bar soaps have their own expiration dates, which you should definitely follow. If the soap starts to become dry and cracked, you’ve used it a little too long, running the risk that bacteria might start to grow on its slippery surface.
However, when a bar of soap gets too small, it can be difficult to use it for washing, so it ends up being wasted. If you are looking for a way to use those last bits of bar soap before they expire, try re-forming all those slivers into one whole bar. Simply collect all the bars in a washcloth or mesh bag and tie it shut with a rubber band. The soap will soak through the washcloth, allowing you to clean yourself and use up those last stubborn bits of soap.
Believe it or not, spices do have an expiration date. While most of us tend to keep them for years and years, often refusing to replace them until the full jar is empty, spices should be replaced every one to three years. Thankfully, eating expired spices likely won’t make you sick. However, the flavor and scent of the spice will lose its strength over time, which may explain why your cooking has been tasting rather bland.
If you’re ready to replace your spices, find another use for the expired seasoning. Rather than tossing them into the trash, you can create spice sachets that have deodorizing effects. Simply fill a small sachet with your favorite spices and place the sachets in the mustier areas of your home. Some favorite spices for this hack are sage, thyme, and oregano.
Those fun loofahs in your shower are the perfect way to keep yourself clean. As long as you adhere to their expiration dates, that is. Loofahs generally shouldn’t be used for more than two months, which is far less time than most people actually keep them in the shower. However, gross dead skin can build up in loofahs, making them less effective at actually cleaning your body. In addition, the damp environment of the shower easily allows bacteria to grow in the loofah. Yuck.
But even if you’re ready to find a new cleaning device for your body, you can still repurpose your old loofahs. Simply unravel the loofah and stick the mesh in the bottom of your gardening pots. Then place any stones or other materials on top. The loofahs allow water to drain, but they also keep the gardening materials together in a mesh bag, which makes it easy to re-pot your plants at any time.
14 Power Strips
Most people have power strips they’ve kept for years and years. However, that could be a huge safety risk to your home. Power strips only last for roughly seven years. After that, they go bad and greatly increase the likelihood of an electrical fire. If you want to keep your home safe, replace your power strips on a regular basis.
However, don’t just toss your power strips in the trash. While they don’t have another safe and practical use, that doesn’t mean they should just end up in the landfill. Instead, you can drop your old power strips at an electronics store, where they’ll recycle them for you.
15 Motor Oil
If you tend to do the basic maintenance on your car yourself, it’s not surprising that you would build up an impressive stock of motor oil. But if you don’t use the oil within five years, it’s probably best not to use it at all. After five years, motor oil can start to separate. The change in consistency can make it less effective, and at times even damaging, to your vehicle.
But don’t throw that motor oil out just yet. Instead, keep the oil on hand for some general maintenance around your home. Even after the expiration date, motor oil can be used to grease up stiff bike chains, fix squeaky doors, and silence squeaky grill hinges. While it won’t stick as well as some other oils, it will be an effective solution to some common problems in your home.
If you’re someone who plans ahead, you probably buy a large pack of batteries and store it somewhere else until one of your devices runs out of juice. Unfortunately, there are some risks associated with this method. Surprisingly, batteries do have expiration dates. Many batteries lose their capacity over time, meaning they won’t work effectively, even if they’re brand new. In addition, if used too far after their expiration dates, the batteries can leak, causing serious damage to your electronics.
However, you can do more than just throw your batteries away. With a little research, you can find organizations that turn batteries into fertilizer. These places extract the zinc from the batteries and turn it into a substance that will help plants to grow. While you might not see the benefits directly, you can rest easy knowing that you’re reducing pollution in the environment and putting your old batteries towards a good cause.
Once you buy a set of towels, you probably keep that same set for a long time. In fact, most people don’t throw their towels away until they’re torn and ratty. Even then, it’s hard to part with these bathroom necessities. However, evidence suggests that towels should be replaced every three years. Even if you wash them consistently, towels have a tendency to build up bacteria and germs that stem from their often-damp state. These germs won’t disappear completely in the wash, so it’s better to just get new towels altogether.
Even if you’ve decided your towels are no longer fit for their intended use, you can still extend their life by giving them a new purpose. Simply take your towel and roll it up along its longest edge until it’s one long cylinder. Then put the towel at the base of any door in your home to eliminate a draft. Not only will your house stay a little warmer, but you’ll also save your towels from the landfill.
When you invest in a good pillow, you often hope that it will last for years and years to come. However, that’s not always the case. In fact, pillows should be replaced roughly every 2-3 years. That’s not exactly the lifelong investment you were hoping for. However, over time, pillows can warp and lose their shape, leading to serious neck pain. Beyond that, the longer you keep the pillow, the more likely it is that it will be invaded by dust mites.
But instead of throwing those pillows away, simply repurpose them. While old pillows might no longer be comfortable for sleep, they can be useful outdoors. Simply replace your pillowcase with a trash bag and keep the pillow in a dry place outside. Then, when it’s time to garden, you can put the pillow under your knees and save your joints from the pain of kneeling on the hard ground.
Most people know that toothbrushes shouldn’t be used forever. But what are the risks if you continue to use your toothbrush after the expiration date? As a key element of your oral hygiene, toothbrushes should be changed every three to four months. Any longer and the toothbrush is no longer effective at cleaning your mouth. That means plaque and food debris will stay on your teeth, increasing your risk of cavities and other dental problems.
But don’t throw your toothbrush in the trash just yet. Instead, hang onto it and discover your new favorite cleaning device. Toothbrushes are an effective way to clean the grout in your kitchen or bathroom, ridding it of built-up gunk and making your home look brand new. Simply pour baking soda onto the grout and scrub away with your old toothbrush. With a little bit of elbow grease, you’ll have your grout looking sparkling clean in no time.
20 Printer Ink
Printing isn’t nearly as common as it once was. However, there’s still the occasional document that requires a hard copy. Depending on how much you print, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that your printer might survive on a single cartridge for over two years. But after that two-year mark, your printer ink cartridges expire. Although they might work effectively, you run the risk that they’ll burst inside of the machine or, even worse, that you’ll end up with blurry documents.
Instead of tossing your ink cartridges, try recycling them instead. If you drop these cartridges at your local office supply store, they’ll usually take them right back. That way, your ink cartridges can live a new life, rather than contributing to the large pile of trash in the landfill.