17 common household items you never realised had an expiration date

Everyone knows to check the expiration dates on their favourite foods, but what about on helmets or child car seats?

In a recent AskReddit thread, Reddit users shared the most common household products that go bad that no one usually thinks to check. 

Chances are, many of these things are sitting around your home long past their “best by” date.

Keep reading to see what you should probably throw out and replace.

1. Rubbing alcohol wipes

“I’ve opened up so many of those little squares only to find them dry as a regular tissue.” – 67_impala

“Little-known fact: Everything is permeable to the right substances. It’s called diffusion. The foil around the napkin can’t keep the water and isopropyl alcohol in the package because it seeps through the foil.” – XGC75

2. Child car seats

“The plastics and foam deteriorate over time and no longer protect the child. I’ve seen people keep them for years in their garage. They’re actually stamped with a date.” – PopeBud

These seats will typically stay ok for six to 10 years, but should be replaced if they have been in any accidents as that could reduce the effectiveness.

3. Fire extinguishers

Fire extinguisherShutterstockYou never want your fire extinguisher to go bad.

“Some time in between 5-15 years for them to be replaced. You should try to have them serviced annually. You should check the gauge monthly.” – thatguyfromnewyork

4. Sunscreen

Sunscreen on the face of a girl at the beachJoe Raedle/Getty ImagesSunscreen is really only good for a season.

“Every single time I have used the previous year’s sunscreen on my children they have completely broken out in a horrible rash. Like, you-need-to-be-seen-TODAY type rash. It was the second time this happened that the pediatrician told me he sees this every year, and to get new sunscreen. This is why I also don’t casually borrow sunscreen from family members at our beach to use. I can’t guarantee it’s new, and it’s not worth the doctor visit.” – JuneFreakinCleaver

5. Receipts

Receiptsben_osteenCopying your receipts is a good idea.

“Once had a good guy employee of Auto Zone recommend making a photocopy of the receipt for a new car battery. He said he knew the ink fades much faster than the replacement warranty would last.” – mishellular

If you’ll need the receipt anytime in the next year, it’s worth making or scanning a copy for safe keeping.

6. Makeup 

“Makeup products trap a lot of bacteria when you dip something back into its casing or just from being exposed to the air while someone is applying it. It can cause a lot of breakouts, or even inflame your eye, since the majority of everyday makeup is used on your eyes. The harsh reality is that most makeup products should be thrown out at least every 6 months.” – MymlanOhlin

Most makeup products should be replaced between three and six months — see a full run down here.

7. Books and paper

“Books/paper. People tend to forget that paper is a biodegradable product, and moisture or sunlight will wreak havoc on them. Never keep books in an area adjoining a bathroom (the moisture from showers can damage the pages and cause mould). Likewise, if possible, try to keep books away from rooms with windows. Sunlight (even indirect) will speed decay.

“If you have historically important documents or books, the best thing to do is keep them in a climate controlled room that has no windows – with the door shut, and if at all possible, use a small dehumidifier.” – Sloopieone

8. Bleach

“The sodium hypochlorite in liquid bleach literally turns into salt water over time.” – beatdrop128

Replace your bleach every 12 months or so, or more often if it’s losing its effectiveness.

9. Gas

Pour gas into car empty tankPaula Bronstein/GettyUse fuel stabilizers to keep gasoline fresh for longer.

“We had a training on it back when I was a firefighter (going over our two and four stroke engines). In about 90 days the gasoline and ethanol will separate, kind of like the oil based dressings in the store. Then after about 6 months (maybe a year) the gasoline expires. That’s why it’s important to use fuel stabilizers if you’re putting a motorcycle or lawn mower away for the winter, or a snowblower away for the summer, or if a car is in storage.” – TheVoiceOfRiesen

10. Flour

“Someone else has already mentioned flour, which should be kept in a sealed airtight container to avoid getting weevils, but some flours (other than wheat) need to be refrigerated. Primarily corn meal and almond flour, as the oils in them can go rancid. And some oils (like walnut oil) need to be kept in the fridge for the same reason. If you have specialty flour and oil, the packaging will tell you how to store it, but this is something that many people don’t know to look for.” – NovemberWednesday

11. HVAC filter

“Your heating/cooling unit in the garage has an air filter to clean your air before bringing it into the house. You should change it every year, but most people don’t even know it exists. It’s really easy though — go to the unit, there should be a latched door on it, open it up, and you can see the filter. Then, go to the store and buy the same size, put the new one in, chuck the old one out. Only costs like ten bucks.” – chrisboshisaraptor

12. Fire and carbon monoxide alarms/detectors

Carbon monoxide detectorShutterstock.comIt’s best to replace these every 10 years or so.

“Not just the batteries. Older smoke/fire/CO detectors don’t work nearly as well as newer ones. You don’t need the super expensive ones, but I wouldn’t buy the cheapest ones either.” – Edward_Scout

All smoke alarms should be replaced after 10 years, according to the National Fire Protection Assocation.

13. Helmets

“Most manufacturers recommend you replace one every 3-5 years; or after a serious trauma” – ChikkaChiChi

14. Power Strips

“They go bad after about 7 years and are one of the most likely household items to cause an electrical fire.” – MXXIV

15. Batteries

When left in storage for long periods of time can corrode, start to leak acid and ruin expensive electronics. I had an Original Gameboy in mint condition ruined by old batteries.” – BipolarBears87

Don’t simply throw these in the trash — after your batteries have corroded or have gone bad, it’s best to take them to a household hazardous waste site.

16. Perfume

“The essential oils denature and the scent changes. This is the reason behind the ‘old lady perfume’ smell. They keep bottles for years and don’t notice the gradual change. About 2-3 years is the practical max. If you haven’t finished the bottle by then, toss it.” – Metalhed69 

17. Rubber bands

“Rubber bands go brittle after around 1o-15 years.” – Supersnazz 

NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.