Expiration Date Cheat Sheet

Disclaimer: This post was originally published on our UK partner’s site.

Expiration dates come on almost everything — from butter and eggs, to your lipstick and pillows. Some grocery items are not always entirely accurate, and certain household items should be recycled earlier than expected. The truth? The lifespan of the things we buy isn’t always as straightforward as you may think.

You may be surprised that canned fish can last a lot longer than you think. We associate fish with that most noticeable of expiry symptoms — the bad smell. But tinned tuna may be good for three years or more. The people who come up with the expiry dates are often basing them not on when the food goes bad — but just when it becomes ‘noticeably different’. Some connoisseurs even prefer it when their canned fish has ‘matured’!

Other items may seem to last forever, when really the opposite is true. A child’s booster seat for example should only be used for about six years. It can be so common to receive one as a hand-me-down from another family but over time, its effectiveness as a safety item can become compromised. There’s a lot of give-and-take when it comes to getting the best value from the things we buy, but you stand a better chance of coming out on top if you’re informed about what’s going on. Our new infographic gives a great ‘at-a-glance’ guide to the estimated lifespan of over forty household items and there are a few surprises in there. It’s a great way to begin engaging with the items you own, and taking back some of the decision-making power from the manufacturers! Please note that some products have their own expiration dates that differ from the average. Make sure you check the labels, especially on safety-related items like child car seats. visualization of consumer products expiration dates with dots to show length of time[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

HEALTH & BEAUTY
Disposable Razor**1 week
Natural loofah**2 weeks
Mascara**3 months
Toothbrush**3 months
Hydrogen peroxide**6 months
Nail polish**12 months
Shampoo**1.5 years
Body lotion**2 years
Perfume**2 years
Rubbing alcohol**2 years
Insect repellent**2 years
Lipstick**2 years
Sunscreen**3 years
Lip balm*5 years
FOOD
Potato*3 weeks
Apple*6 weeks
Ginger*2 months
Beets*3 months
Garlic*8 months
Bottled fruit juice*8 months
Peanut butter*9 months
Marshmallows*10 months
Oatmeal*12 months
Protein bars*12 months
Peanuts*2 years
Mayonnaise*2 years
Worcestershire Sauce*5 years
Barley*8 years
Dehydrated vegetables*8 years
Rice*Indefinitely
Sugar**Indefinitely
Honey**Indefinitely
Dried coffee**Indefinitely
Soy Sauce*Indefinitely
Cornstarch*Indefinitely
Vinegar**Indefinitely
CLEANING
Bleach**3 months
Laundry detergent**6 months
Laundry detergent**9 months
Washing up liquid**12 months
Baking soda**Indefinitely
HOME
Air freshener**2 years
Pillows**3 years
Duvets**5 years
Towels**5 years
Alkaline batteries*7 years
Smoke alarms**10 years
Paint**10 years
Varnish**10 years
Carpet**15 years
ELECTRONICS
Surge protector**2 years
Apple watch**3 years
iPhone**4 years
Laptop**5 years
Tablets**5.1 years
Digital Cameras**6.5 years
Flat screen TVs**7.4 years
MOTORING
Fire extinguisher **3 years
Brake oil**3 years
Child’s car seat**6 years
Tires*10 years
Airbags**10 years
Motor oil*Indefinitely
KEY*Unopened, **Used
Sources

Bottone, E. 1993. Loofah Sponges as Reservoirs and Vehicles in the Transmission of Potentially Pathogenic Bacterial Species to Human Skin. jcm.asm.org Eat by date. How long do potatoes last? Eatbydate.com

Ad Council. 2016. Save The Food. savethefood.com

Hobby Farms. 2016. 22 Foods You Can Store In Root Cellars - Hobby Farms. hobbyfarms.com

New Hampshire Department of Education. EPA Registered Hard Surface Disi nfectants Comparison Chart. education.nh.gov

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2014. Cosmetics Safety Q&A: Shelf Life. fda.gov

Fitness Magazine. 2016. When To Toss It. fitnessmagazine.com

Boogarrd, K. 2015. 7 Household items you should never use past the expiration date. Bustle

Real Simple. 2016. 77 Surprising Expiration Dates. realsimple.com

McNally, N. 2015. Does Oatmeal Go Bad and Lose Its Nutritional Value? livestrong.com

Hoffman, C. 2015. Why (and When) You Need to Replace Your Surge Protector. howtogeek.com

Smith, S. 2016. How Long Does Moisturizer Stay Good?. realsimple.com

Sharma, R. 2012. Expiry dates and auto parts. Carwale

Gibson, L. 2016. Is sunscreen from last year still good? When does sunscreen expire? mayoclinic.org

Huffpost own. 2014. The makeup expiration dates you need to know. Huffington Post

Apple. Apple environment answers. Apple.com

Siegle, L. 2013. What is the lifespan of laptop? Guardian.com

The sleep council. The seven year hitch. Sleepcouncil.org.uk

Strutner, S. You need to wash your towels more often that you think. Here’s why. Huffington Post

Taylor, B. 2105. The average lifespan of 7 popular tech products. Smartphones.specout.com

Transport Canada. 2011. Children’s car seats and booster seats: How long are they safe? tc.gc.ca

Tarantola, A. 2016. Batteries: The Absolute Definitive Guide. gizmodo.com

Ely, C. 2014. The life expectancy of electronics. Consumer technology association

Smith, L. 2015. People Are Keeping Their Mattresses Way Too Long. goodhousekeeping.com

USA Emergency Supply. 2016. Storage Life Of Dry Foods. usaemergencysupply.com

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 2016. Replacing smoke alarms FAQs. nfpa.org

Dresdner M. 2011. How to determine if varnish has expired.Rockler

Michelin. Do I need new tires? Michelinman.com Doityouself. Carpet padding types. Doityourself.com

Kitchen Daily. 2012. How To Test Baking Soda And Baking Powder For Freshness. huffingtonpost.com ELF. 2016. Does Motor Oil expire? - Advice elf.com

McGee, H. 2016. Aging canned goods: Why time and heat can make your canned tuna and Spam even more delicious. slate.com

Consumer Reports. 2016. When to retire a child seat, how to recycle an old one. consumerreports.org

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Barbara Davidson

About 

Babs is a Senior Content Writer and financial guru. She loves exploring fresh ways to save more and enjoy life on a budget! When she’s not writing, you’ll find her binge-watching musicals, reading in the (sporadic) Chicago sunshine and discovering great new places to eat. Accio, tacos! 

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