Expiration Date Cheat Sheet


Expiration dates cheat sheet

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.

Expiration date cheat sheet

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
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
Bleach** 3 months
Laundry detergent** 6 months
Laundry detergent** 9 months
Washing up liquid** 12 months
Baking soda** Indefinitely
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
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
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

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Jennifer G. is a Social Media Associate at Enova International, Inc., and is interested in finding new and creative ways to be financially savvy.