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10 Household Items That Become Dangerous After They Expire

10 Household Items That Become Dangerous After They Expire
4 min. read

Image: l i g h t p o e t / Shutterstock.com

Some things lay hidden around the home for many years before you unearth them. Things like old cans of food, cleaning products, and even medicine may all look fine, but it’s important to check whether they’ve expired before you consider using them. Many household items can be dangerous if used after they’ve expired. With that in mind, you should always check the expiration date of the following 10 items.

Canned Food

Although cans seem to last for ever, if they’re not stored properly, they can have harmful effects on your health. Botulism is quite rare in this day and age, yet you should still pay attention to the ‘best before’ dates. Also, bear in mind that acidic foods, like tomatoes, have a shorter lifespan than canned peas, for example. Always keep your cans stored in a cool, dry place, and throw out any cans that are rusty, or that have started to bulge.

Cleaning Products

All cleaning products degrade over time, and are less effective as a result. You may be tempted to think that bleach lasts for years because it kills fungi and bacteria, but the plastic container it’s kept in will affect its formula. This also applies to dishwashing and laundry detergents, or window and furniture cleaners. Because we rely on their ability to kill germs, make sure to check how effective your cleaning products are after they’ve been opened.

Mouthwash and Rubbing Alcohol

Like cleaning products, mouthwash, rubbing alcohol and even hand sanitizers become less effective over time. The alcohol in them can evaporate and disappear, reducing their antiseptic properties as a result. Although this can take up to three years, it’s still wise to keep track of their ‘best before’ date.

Cooking Oil

Cooking oil is another household item you should pay close attention to, simply because it is ingested. Usually, vegetable oil is good for up to six months after it’s been opened. After that, it can cause gastrointestinal distress, such as nausea and abdominal pains, and become a breeding ground for bacteria.


Soap, shampoo, deodorant, shower gel or conditioner all have expiration dates that you should pay close attention to. In the best case scenario, they will not be as effective if you use them after they’ve expired. However, there’s a very good chance that they could irritate your skin. Pay close attention to toiletries that are used on your face, especially around your eyes, as they can result in skin rashes, and even infections. Also, remember to replace your toothbrush once every three months.

Disposable Razors

As the name implies, disposable razors should be discarded after a maximum of 10 shaves. Not only do the blades on the razor become dull and less effective, but they can also cause ‘razor burn’ as you go over the same area repeatedly. This can result in rashes, skin irritation, ingrown hairs, and you’re also more likely to cut yourself while using it.


Not only are expired cosmetics harmful for your skin, but the tools used to apply them can become breeding grounds for bacteria. Ideally, you should clean your makeup brushes and sponges periodically, or even replace them if necessary, to avoid outbreaks and irritations. Take extra care with mascara in particular, as the brush can become host to bacteria that cause severe eye irritation or, in the case of Staphylococcus aureus, even blindness.


All medicine becomes less effective after it’s expired, but in some cases, using them after their ‘best before’ dates can have harmful effects on your health. Insulin and liquid antibiotics, for example, can become toxic. If you’re in doubt about whether you should take out of date medication, always consult with your doctor beforehand.

Cables and Extension Cords

Electrical cables and extension cords don’t have an expiration date, but they can become dangerous if subjected to too much wear and tear. This applies especially to cables that are frequently stepped on, or are squeezed between doors. Over time, they can become frayed, or the plastic cover can tear, which increases the chances of them becoming fire hazards. If you have any damaged cables in your home, consider replacing them as soon as possible.


Whether they’re kitchen sponges or loofah sponges, both of them need to be replaced regularly to avoid them becoming rife with germs and bacteria. Sponges are more susceptible to bacteria thriving in them simply because they’re used in wet and warm environments, which these microscopic creatures love. This can be particularly harmful in the kitchen, where you can risk being exposed to salmonella or E. coli if you keep using old sponges. Depending on how much you use them, replace your kitchen sponge once a month or every two weeks, and your loofah once every 3-4 weeks.

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