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.
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