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10 Things You Didn’t Realize Expire

A can with an expiration date

We know saying goodbye is hard, but there are many items that you really need to get rid of after a certain period of time. We tend to assume that some products will last forever, but the truth is, almost everything has an expiration date, including everyday items that we use without giving a second thought.

Not paying attention to their expiration dates can not only render them ineffective, but it can also pose potential dangers. Here are 10 things you didn’t realize expire and what happens when they do.


A man fills jerry cans at a gas station

Gasoline is something we use almost every day, but not everyone knows that it has an expiration date. When gasoline sits unused for too long, it can turn into a thick, sticky mess that’s tough to deal with. This gunky substance can clog up your fuel filters and make your engine hard to start.

Using expired gasoline can also cause serious damage to your engine, leaving you with expensive repairs. The good news is that it’s easy to tell when your gasoline has gone bad—just take a sniff. If it smells sour or off, then it’s time to get rid of it and start fresh with a new tank or container of gas.

GARAGE BOSS GB320 Briggs and Stratton GarageBoss Press 'N Pour 2+ Gallon Gas Can, Red

The GarageBOSS Press 'N Pour Gas Can proves that you can make a reliable, compliant fuel container that's actually easy-to use.

Car Seats

A mom buckles her child in a car seat
Artem Varnitsin/Shutterstock.com

Car seats are an essential item for parents of young children, but did you know that they expire too? Most car seats have a lifespan of about six years, after which they may no longer provide adequate protection in the event of a crash. Over time, the materials in the car seat can degrade, the foam can break down, and the plastic can become brittle, making the car seat unsafe.

Always check the manufacturer’s expiration date on your car seat and replace it when it has expired. It’s important to note that car seats can also expire even if they have never been involved in a crash or sustained any damage, so be sure to keep an eye on the expiration date and replace the car seat accordingly. Some car seats are designed to last upwards of 10 years, but you should always confirm this information before assuming.

GRACO TriRide 3 in 1

This 3-in-1 car seat grows with your child from rear-facing harness (5-40 lb) to forward-facing harness (22-65 lb) to highback booster (40-100 lb).


AA batteries

Batteries are another item that people often assume will last forever, but even if they are not being used, batteries can still lose their charge over time. When batteries expire, they can leak or even explode, posing a potential fire hazard.

To tell if a battery has expired, check the date code on the battery. If there is no date code, check for signs of corrosion or leakage. It’s also worth noting that extreme temperatures can also cause batteries to expire faster, so try to store your batteries in a cool, dry place to extend their lifespan.

Duracell Coppertop AA Batteries

Duracell Coppertop AA alkaline batteries contain Duracell's patented POWER BOOST Ingredients which deliver lasting performance in your devices.

Power Strips

Hand holding electric plug put on multiple socket

Power strips are a convenient way to plug in multiple devices, but they also have a limited lifespan. Over time, power strips can become overloaded, leading to overheating and potential fires. The surge protection in power strips can also wear out over time, leaving your devices vulnerable to power surges.

To tell if a power strip has expired, look for signs of wear and tear, such as frayed cords or loose plugs. To ensure the safety of your devices and your home, it’s important to replace your power strips every few years, especially if you notice any signs of damage.

GE 6-Outlet Power Strip, 2 Pack

Six grounded AC outlets provide power from a distance---perfect for creating a centralized electronics hub in the home, office, workshop, or garage.


Cans of paint

Paint is another item that people often keep for too long. Over time, paint can separate, making it difficult to mix and apply. The chemicals in paint can also break down after a while, leading to a foul odor and potentially harmful fumes.

To tell if your paint has expired, look for signs of separation or a foul odor. If the paint smells rancid or sour, it’s time to dispose of it. It’s best to dispose of old paint properly and invest in fresh paint for your next home project.

Rust-Oleum 1992502 Painter's Touch Latex Paint

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Fire Extinguishers

Several fire extinguishers
Pix One/Shutterstock.com

Fire extinguishers are an essential safety item for any home or business, but they also have a limited lifespan. Over time, the chemicals in fire extinguishers can settle and become ineffective, and the seals on fire extinguishers can degrade, allowing the chemicals to leak out.

To tell if a fire extinguisher has expired, look for the pressure gauge. If the gauge is in the red, it’s time to replace the fire extinguisher. You should have your fire extinguisher serviced regularly by a professional to ensure that it is in proper working condition in case of an emergency. In general, extinguishers need to be replaced every 10 years.

First Alert HOME1 Rechargeable Standard Home Fire Extinguisher

Multipurpose fire extinguisher fights wood, paper, trash, plastics, gasoline, oil, and electrical-equipment fires.

Bleach & Other Disinfectants

Someone pours bleach

Bleach and other disinfectants are an essential part of any cleaning routine, but, like many household items, they also have an expiration date. Over time, the chemicals in bleach can break down, making it less effective at killing germs and bacteria.

Expired disinfectants can become less stable and potentially dangerous, especially if mixed with other cleaning chemicals. To tell if your disinfectant has expired, look for a change in color or a foul odor. Experts recommend replacing your disinfectants every year.

Clorox Splash-Less Bleach

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Someone puts on sunscreen

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of sunscreen as a part of your daily skincare routine. But this product can only be used for so long before you need to replace the bottle.

Over time, the active ingredients in sunscreen can break down, making it less effective at protecting your skin. To tell if your sunscreen has expired, look for the expiration date on the bottle. If there is no date, check for changes in consistency or a foul odor. According to Mayo Clinic, sunscreen should be good for about three years before needing to be replaced.

Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen Lotion, Broad Spectrum, SPF 50, 12oz.

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Hydrogen Peroxide

White clear bottles of liquid
Perednja Svetlana/Shutterstock.com

Hydrogen peroxide is a common household item used for cleaning and disinfecting wounds, but it has a pretty short shelf life. Over time, hydrogen peroxide can break down, making it less effective at killing bacteria and viruses.

An unopened bottle of hydrogen peroxide lasts about three years or until the expiration date. Once opened, hydrogen peroxide can lose its effectiveness in as little as a month. It’s a good idea to have a few bottle available so you always have potent hydrogen peroxide when you need it.

Hydrogen Peroxide Antiseptic Solution

This topical Solution helps prevent infection.

Smoke Detectors

Someone uses a smoke detector
Alexander Raths/Shutterstock.com

Smoke detectors are an essential safety item in any home, but they too have an expiration date. Over time, the sensors in smoke detectors can become less sensitive, making them less effective at detecting smoke and potential fires. The batteries in smoke detectors can wear out over time, leaving your home vulnerable to fire.

To tell if your smoke detector has expired, look for the expiration date on the device. If there is no date, experts recommend replacing your smoke detector every ten years. It’s important to regularly test your smoke detector to make sure it’s working properly by pressing the test button.

Kidde Smoke Detector, 10-Year Battery

High-quality & cost-effective smoke detector with advanced detection from a trusted leader in fire safety for over 100 years.

In conclusion, it’s important to pay attention to the expiration dates of everyday items we use. Not only can expired items be ineffective, but they can also pose potential dangers. By checking expiration dates and disposing of expired items properly, you can help keep yourself and your family safe.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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