Some household items have an easy-to-spot expiry date, but what about the ones that don’t have a best-before label?

It’s obvious that mouldy cheddar and shrivelled veggies beg to be purged from your fridge, as do the fossilised crackers in the depths of your pantry. Perishable food items are an obvious throw-away, but what about the items that don’t have a best-before label pasted on them? Contrary to popular belief, even dried spices have a limited shelf life, and so do many other household items you might not know about.

Even the most fusspot neat-freak might miss these five items that are long overdue for replacing. Knowing the expiration dates can protect you against potentially hazardous bacteria and infections.

So it’s out with the old and in with the new. We’ve tallied some expert advice to guide you through the things you might want to take a second look at.

In the Kitchen

Culprit: Your sponge.

Lifespan: 1 month, if you do dishes often. Right away if it has an odour.

Why: You might be keeping your kitchen cleaning tools in rotation for a little too long. Dirty sponges can carry bacteria like Salmonella from wiping up messes from meats or fish. Try disinfecting it with bleach, in the dishwasher, or dampened in the microwave.

Want more details? Apartment Therapy has a top-notch guide on when to throw away your sponges, dishcloths, and brushes.

In the Bathroom

Culprit: Your toothbrush.

Lifespan: The experts at the American Dental Association suggest replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months or whenever the bristles become frayed.

Why: Your toothbrush is home to the many microorganisms that live inside your mouth, as well as the bacteria in the surrounding environment. Our bodies can generally defend against infections, but the ADA suggests adhering to a regular replacement cycle.

In the Bedroom

Culprit: Your mattress.

Lifespan: Yes, your mattress has a lifespan too. The National Sleep Foundation indicates that a mattress needs replacing every 8 years or so. Some experts say this period should be shorter if you’re over 40, for better support.

Why: Dust mites and mildew may take up residence in your bed over time, although regular cleaning should keep that in check. An old, sagging bed can cause avoidable aches, pains, and allergies, and exhaustion.

Check the NSF website for more tips on keeping it clean in the bedroom.

In the Laundry Room
laundry room

Culprit: Your detergent.

Lifespan: 6 months to a year, according to this article by the Huffington Post.

Why: These items may not go stale or sour, but soaps and other cleaning products can break down over time. This makes them less effective, and the plastic from the containers can even leech into the product.

In the Garage

Culprit: Your old paint.

Lifespan: According to home improvement pro Bob Vila, house paints can last between 10-15 years if they’re stored correctly. If you can’t stir it, or there are lumps, then it’s time to dispose of that trendy colour you’ve been hoarding. Some experts claim opened paint cans are best used within two years, but we say use your judgement.

Why: Because nobody wants a lumpy paint job.

So next time you’re doing a spring clean – or a winter clean – remember the sneaky items that might be lurking in your home.



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BrandSource is a national network of over 130 locally owned, appliance, electronics, mattress, and home furnishing stores all across the country.

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