10 Home Items You Didn't Know Expire

Keep an Eye on the Time
basket of colorful home cleaning products and tools

Most people are aware of the expiration dates of things in their refrigerator, but common household items have different shelf lives, too! This article will discuss ten items around the house that you might not know expire.

bed in clean room with white pillows and side table with lamp

Pillows are a breeding ground for bacteria, dust, and the various bodily excretions of the humans that use them. Even with regular changing and washing of pillow cases, their life expectancy is around two years. This may vary depending on the person, and not all pillows are made the same, either.

High quality ones may keep their shape and fend off bacteria better than cheaper made varieties. Most pillows can be put through the washing machine, and if you add some Borax or baking soda this may extend their lifespan a bit, as well. If you suffer from allergies or a sore neck, however, using the same pillow for too long may exacerbate these symptoms – making bedtime a less inviting place to be.

Hydrogen Peroxide
three brown bottles with liquid like hydrogen peroxide

Most people don’t know that hydrogen peroxide has a shelf life. Once opened, it will only be effective for six months due to exposure to air and the chemical reaction involved—essentially it becomes water!

Hydrogen peroxide will stay good for around three years if left sealed. Because of this, bottles may not display an expiry date, so try pouring some down a sink if you aren’t sure. If it fizzes, you know it’s still effective as an antiseptic for cuts and scrapes, or as a mouth rinse.

clear bottle and glass with liquid like hydrogen peroxide or bleach and white cotton balls

Bleach will also lose its efficacy around six months whether its been opened or unopened. Similar to hydrogen peroxide, it doesn't become dangerous over time, it merely loses its cleaning prowess, and becomes 20 percent less effective each year it sits around. The bottle should have a manufacturer’s date stamped on it so that you can keep track of its shelf life. Keep it stored at room temperature.

Fire Extinguishers
man checking the expiration date on a fire extinguisher

This safety device should be in every household, and perhaps more than one depending on your home’s square footage. Their expiration date is anywhere from five to 15 years, depending on the type you have.

Always check the label or tag that every canister should come with stating how long it’s good for, and whether any maintenance or charging can be done to ensure it’s operational. Frequently check the gauge to make sure it’s still working properly, and if there are any issues or if you are unsure about its capability, don’t hesitate to take it to a specialist. Often you can recharge or update an older model for a fraction of the cost of a new one.


Basic, cylindrical alkaline and lithium batteries stored at room temperature have a shelf life of around five to 10 years. Heavy duty carbon zinc ones have a shorter life span of around three to five years.

Keep a battery tester around so you can check the age of the batteries in your home. While it’s uncommon for them to leak, it’s better to be on the safe side and dispose of them at a proper facility to avoid personal injury or damage to your electronics and devices.

old paint cans on a speckled concrete floor

The life expectancy of paint depends on their storage conditions. If kept at room temperature, opened or unopened latex paint will last up to 10 years as long as the can is sealed tight. Oil-based paint generally lasts around five years longer than latex. Keeping the cans clean during and after use is also essential in maintaining the paint’s freshness.

If you open a can and see that parts have separated, it doesn’t mean the paint has gone bad, but rather just needs a good, thorough mixing. If contents do not blend back together consistently, then your paint has gone off.


It’s not uncommon for households to have old spice jars in their pantry, and while they don’t actually go bad, they do lose their essence. You may notice that some spices don’t add much flavor to your dishes, meaning they are no longer potent.

Every spice will be a little different, but dried herbs usually last one to three years, while whole and ground spices last up to four years. Keep them properly sealed in a dark, dry location at room temperature.

Mesh Sponge/ Loofah
natural sponge scrub loofas

Plastic mesh bath sponges should be replaced every two months, or they become a haven for bacteria. Always hang them up after a shower or a bath so that they can drip dry, and never leave them sitting in water.

A loofah may need to be thrown out even sooner depending on its size and quality, as bacteria also loves to breed in their nooks and crannies. It also loses its ability to sluff off dead skin after three to four weeks of use. Make sure it has time to dry out between uses as well, or it can infect any open skin like cuts or pimples.

Furnace Filters
hands changing a furnace filter

Furnace filters are very important components that ensure the air going in and out of your furnace is kept free of dirt and debris. There are different sizes and varieties of filters which will affect their expiration date.

As a general rule the thinnest ones should be replaced every three to six months, while larger ones that are six inches or thicker may be good for up to a year before they need exchanging. Some filters are reusable and, if washed properly, can be used for longer periods.

Multi-Surface Cleaners
home cleaning products with no labels next to a stack of towels

Common household agents like window and all-purpose surface cleaners have a shelf life of around two years. Most people will go through these bottles quicker than they expire, however if you tend to have a few bottles lying around in different places of the house, you may not know when they were first used, especially if there's no expiration date on them.

One way of getting around this is to use white vinegar as an all-purpose surface cleaner—it’s highly effective at cleaning and disinfecting, and never expires!

hand holding a bottle of cleaning fluid with a date on top

Keeping track of the expiry dates of household items will help you get the best use out of them. While pillows and cleaners won't do much harm if they get old, other items like fire extinguishers and old batteries can have dire consequences if not maintained or replaced. If you get in the habit of doing a checklist, you can stay on top of what home items will expire, and when.