For most household items it’s quite simple when referring to expiration dates. However, other household staples, including certain foods, seem like they will last forever—and SURPRISE—they definitely won’t.
Here’s a list of household items that go bad and could become dangerous to your health.
It’s true, toothbrushes don’t have an expiration date, but they should be replace every now and then, according to Shahrooz Yazdani, DDS, of Yazdani Family Dentistry.
“Changing your toothbrush every four months or so is important, particularly if you’ve had a cold in that span, because minuscule germs will have developed on the bristles of your brush,” says Yazdani. “If you re-use that brush, you risk being reinfected.”
Even if you haven’t been sick, Yazdani says it’s still really important to replace your toothbrush with a new one because germs and bacteria build up on its bristles regardless, making you way more susceptible to colds and infections. Yazdani also notes that electric toothbrushes can be a great option.
According to Sean Tomalty, DMD, a cosmetic dentist at Tomalty Dental Care, toothpaste is a household item that most people don’t realize that it can actually go bad.
“After time, toothpaste will become ineffective and the ingredients will begin to separate and crystalize,” Tomalty explains. In general, this can happen after around two years.
Yes, expired toothpaste doesn’t pose an immediate danger, but it simply won’t work as intended after two years have passed. “You’ll expose yourself to oral conditions and ailments which could become larger health concerns,” says Tomalty. He also suggest looking for toothpastes that contain fluoride.
3. Eye drops
“Eye drops are generally formulated with a preservative that keeps the product sterile for 28 days after breaking the seal,” says Erin Nance, MD. The preservatives Nance mentioned are intended to prevent bacteria from growing in eye drop bottles, which extends their shelf life. However, they still need to be tossed 4 weeks after opening.
“If you use expired eye drops which don’t have active preservatives, and the tip of the eye drop bottle becomes contaminated [when] it touches a part of your eye, this can cause a bacterial infection if those drops continue to be used,” says Nance.
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It’s a widely believed myth that spices can last a lifetime, but that’s just not true. “They can last for multiple years, typically in the three- to four-year range, but after that, they lose their potency and can cause some digestive problems,” says Jocelyn Nadua, RPN, care coordinator at C-Care Health Services.
Expired condiments won’t kill you and your loved ones, but it’s quite common to end up with an upset stomach for a few hours after consumption.
“Typically a small amount won’t cause any harm, but if you overload your dish with them, your stomach may ache for a bit,” says Nadua. She recommends checking the expiration date on your spices if you haven’t before.
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5. Vegetable oil
Vegetable oil can go bad and become rancid way more quickly than you thought in the first place, as reported by The Dallas Morning News. University of Massachusetts professor Eric Decker told the outlet that when these items go rancid, they develop potentially toxic compounds that have been linked to heart disease, cancer, and neurological disorders.
In general, vegetable oil remains fresh for 6 months after opening or up to 1 year unopened. Pay close attention to the “sell by” and “use by” dates on this type of products.
Also, you should place vegetable oils in a cool, dark cabinet rather than next to your stove.
6. Canned foods
“Many people feel canned items can last ‘forever.’ Not so!” says Lisa Lewis, MD, a pediatrician in Fort Worth, Texas. “Never used canned foods after the expiration date.”
Yes, it’s possible to consume canned goods after the expiration date without experiencing unwanted and annoying symptoms such as stomach pain or diarrhea, especially if the item has been stored in a cool, dry, clean environment.
However, Lewis cautions that “if canned food is spoiled, the user may get symptoms of food poisoning, such as abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.”
7. Boxed wine
As we all know, fine wine tastes better with age, but we can’t say the same when referring to boxed or packaged wine. In fact, boxed wine has an expiration date and is typically 6 to 8 months after the date of purchase and 6 to 8 weeks after opening.
The vast majority of expired boxed wine doesn’t pose a threat because the boxes are made from polyethylene, which is one of the safest plastics.
However, some boxes contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical compound that has been linked to heart disease and fertility issues. So, you definitely don’t want to drink wine if Bisphenol A has potentially seeped into it.
8. Contact lens cases
Mark Bowers, OD, an optometrist at Blountville Family Eyecare, says contact lens cases should be replaced at least every 3 months that means 4 times a year—and the solution that is found in your case should be completely changed every time you use your lenses.
“Bacteria can form an invisible film lining on the lenses, which is called a biofilm. This biofilm protects the bacteria from the solution, thus increasing your risk of infection,” Bowers explains. And that bacteria can easily spread to your lens case during storage.
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9. Facial cream
Alain Michon, MD, medical director at Ottawa Skin Clinic, notes that any facial cream or serum typically has a shelf life of 6 to 12 months once it has been opened. “After that, applying the product directly on your skin can be quite dangerous,” Michon says.
You should be aware that applying an expired facial cream can cause acne breakouts, infections, or other bad skin reactions. “When you have a skincare product, use it consistently until you have no more, so that you don’t use it later when the product has lost its effectiveness or can be harmful,” he advises.
“We use loofahs to exfoliate our skin, but if we don’t allow them to dry out, the dirt and dead skin cells on our bodies get stuck in the weave of the material,” says Daniel Atkinson, a UK-based general practitioner and clinical lead at Treated.com.
A significant study in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology showed that loofahs can spread bacteria that’s capable of causing infection and people who have weak immune systems are especially susceptible.
The Cleveland Clinic suggests cleaning loofahs weekly and replacing natural ones every three to four weeks. If you have a plastic loofahs, you can use it for up to two months at the most. However, if you see any mold on it, it’s definitely the time to replace it immediately. Here’s an excellent option.