Expiration dates. Our lives are full of them. From last week’s milk to Sunday’s leftovers, we’re always sniffing something. But what about those past-their-best items that are less easily noticed? Here are the every-day objects you need to replace much more often than you think.
Unruly bristles are an easy-to-spot sign that your toothbrush is past it’s prime, but if you’re brushing morning and night as recommended, chances are your tootbrush is in need of an update long before it reaches this stage. Experts suggest renewing your brush at least once every one to four months – that goes for electric brushes, too.
Let’s be honest – how often do you change your razor? Once every three weeks? Three months? Or more? It has been suggested by dermatologists that a sensible approach to updating your razor blade is to change every three to six days. Yup, that’s two new blades per week. It might be expensive, but failing to do so regularly enough can lead to a build up in bacteria, an increase in small cuts, and eventually infection.
Hands up who has a drawer full of bras that haven’t seen the light of day since…well, we can’t even remember. Fortunately, experts recommend having just three bras on rotation at any given time. Bad news is, these have a much shorter lifespan than you’d probably expect. The ideal expiration date is around six months, after which the elastic begins to sag and the hook and eye clasps give a less snug fit.
Keep waking up on the wrong side of the bed? Most people wait until their mattress starts to feel uncomfortable before they begin the laborious (and expensive) process of hunting out a new one, but it should really be done every seven to ten years. The benefits of having a bed with the right support are obvious: a more peaceful sleep, less restlessness, and less chance of waking up tired and aching.
We all love our sleep, but each night oils from skin, any make-up remnants, dead skin cells and dust mites all find their way in to the crevices of our pillows (yeuck!). Replace them every year to prevent dust allergies and odour-enducing bacteria – though using pillow protectors can double their lifespan.
6. Cosmetic Brushes
Really good quality make-up brushes can last a lifetime, but when you use them for applying foundation, blush, or shadows often, they can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria (particularly when used with liquids). Opinion on how often to wash your brush ranges from once a month to as regularly as every night, but a good way to tell is when make-up residue becomes cake-y and the brush no longer feels soft. Alternatively, make-up sponges can last for a month if washed weekly.
7. Mascara and lipstick
Handbags, make-up bags and bathroom drawers all inevitabely become graveyards for half-used lipsticks and eyeliner pens. While putting any expired products such as mascara near your eyes can lead to obvious (and severe) health issues, fewer people know that out-of-date lipsticks and glosses can also have an ill-effect on lips and skin. Throw any tubes of mascara out three months after opening and glosses after around six months, while lipsticks can last for about a year.
8. Sun cream
It’s easy to keep rolling out the same half-used bottles of sun cream for your annual summer holiday, but the NHS recommends renewing them every two to three years, after which time they’re no longer working at optimum strength. Most bottles come with an expiration date anyway, but even so, make sure you are storing bottles in a cool place between trips.
9. Kitchen sponge
It only takes two or three washes for your kitchen sponge to harbour enough bacteria to make you unwell, particularly if they are left lying in wet, warm conditions. Replace your sponge two or three times a week – or even better, use less porous dishcloths which can be washed regularly rather than thrown away.
Switching up your skincare regime regularly is great for skin, but how often do we abandon bottles of moisturiser for weeks or months on end? If it’s been more than a year since you opened yours, it’s time to toss it. The smell and colour can change over time (if it’s turning yellow – it’s expired) which is a sign it’s past-its-best; plus jars that you dip your fingers in to hoard bacteria that expires your product even quicker.
11. Fire Alarms
Every one knows to change the batteries when it beeps, but how often should you renew the entire alarm? Experts recommend doing so every 10 years – but if you have recently moved in to a house where you weren’t the first tenant, it’s better to change it now just to be safe.
Yes, perfume can expire! Depending on the base notes (the main smell of the perfume) it’s suggested that most scents have a shelf life of around three to five years – though many bloggers and experts are adament it can last ten years or more if kept in the right conditions. If you want to savour your scent, store it in a cool place away from sunlight and radiators, and keep an eye (and nose) out for a change in colour and smell. If your fragrance is citrus based, or all-natural without any preservatives, it won’t last as long.