September 5, 2014

5 Expiration Dates You Probably Don’t Check

Woman Looking in Refrigerator

Expired food is pretty easy – you know to throw away the milk if it gets chunky, or the meat if it starts to smell funny. But what about other products that don’t have telltale signs? Here are five common household items that you may not realize have expiration dates:

Cleaning Products

Some products list expiration dates on the bottles, others don’t. While cleaning products may not necessarily “go bad”, they definitely start to lose efficacy over time. In general, most products will last at least one year if stored correctly (in a cool, dark place), but check out the manufacturer’s suggestion for specific shelf lives. Seventh Generation cleaning products don’t list a specific expiration date, but we do recommend an average shelf life of two years.

Fire Extinguishers

Remember that red thing hanging out in your closet? Oh yeah! Not very useful to keep around if it doesn’t work. Check out your extinguisher’s label for an expiration date – they can last anywhere from 5 to 15 years. Also be sure to check out the pressure gauge every month. If the needle falls in the green range, you’re good to go. If it falls anywhere else, it probably needs to be serviced or replaced.

Smoke Detectors

We may not realize that smoke detectors are working around the clock to keep us safe in our homes – it is constantly and consistently assessing the air around it. Understandably, most smoke alarms have a standard shelf life of 8-10 years. Past that, your detector will either be less sensitive to smoke, or won’t work at all! Most newer smoke detectors have the manufacturing date printed inside. If yours doesn’t, write on the date of purchase!


The main problem with makeup is the exposure to bacteria over timhe. Expired cosmetics might not make you sick like expired milk, but they can cause skin irritations or just won’t work as well. All cosmetics are different so you’ll have to do your research, but the most important one to keep your eye on is eye makeup, where the spread of bacteria happens most often.


Believe it or not, toothbrushes don’t last forever. You should replace yours every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles become flattened or worn out.