Non-Food Items with Shelf Lives

Best-by dates and best if used-by dates, although still not required, are pretty common on most all food items by now. But, what about non-perishables that lose much of their benefits over time for one reason or another. Do they expire?

Here’s a list of a few things that you may, or may not, have wondered about. For instance, child safety seats – they actually have printed expiration dates on them! Who knew car seats expired? We actually didn’t, until we dug a little deeper into this research.

things with shelf life

Non-Food Items with Shelf Lives

Item Shelf Life Reason to Replace Storage Tips
Toothbrushes 2 -3 Months When the color fades from the bristles or the shape expands from original. Don’t store a toothbrush in a closed container – always allow them to dry between uses.
Film and single use cameras Up to 2 years Once developed, the picture colors will look more and more washed out as the film ages. Consider the memories involved and the price of developing when finding old film. A cool, dark place.
Non-stick Pans About 3-6 years Coatings wear down over time. Hard anodized non-stick pans will last longer than other materials. Scratches allow for the release of chemicals. Try to avoid stacking no-stick pans as some pan bottoms can scratch non-stick surfaces. Use a little oil with these pans, even though it’s not needed. Wash them by hand instead of the dishwasher. Use low to medium heat for cooking (never high heat). Always use silicone utensils that will not scratch and can withstand the heat of the pan without melting into food. Keep pans clean and dry between use.
Cutting Boards from 6 months to forever, depending on the material Scratches can harbor food, and thus bacteria can grow in those scratches. Wood should be scrubbed and then re-sealed with food safe mineral oils, plastics can go in the dishwasher. Keep a cutting board sanitized.
Sponges 2 – 4 Weeks Keep it clean and then always allow them to dry between uses. Squeeze as much water out as possible. A sponge on its side will dry faster than face down, as the more air the better for this one.
Pillows 2 Years Dust mites, their droppings and human skin begin to take up to 1/3 of the total weight of the pillow at this point… Gross! Place new pillows into waterproof pillow protectors before placing into pillow cases.
Mattresses 10 – 15 Years Like pillows, mattresses materials compress over time while dust mites gather. Use a waterproof mattress pad, even if there are no toddlers are in the house. This will protect the mattress from absorbing sweat and dead skin on a daily basis, even if there is never an accident.
Paint Unopened about 10 years, opened about 2 years Liquids dry up over time, the more they can be kept air tight the better. Keep leftover paint tightly sealed at room temperature. If a pause is needed while painting, simply wrap the bristles in plastic wrap and stick the brush in the freezer. When ready to begin again, simply let it thaw and then unwrap & continue! A tip for easy paint tray clean-up is to line the roller tray with plastic wrap before using.
Child Safety Seats Expiration date printed Most car seats now have an expiration date stamped on the label. It is usually located on the side or base of the seat. If not, there should be a date of manufacture – the expiration date is generally six years after that date (there are a few exceptions that are good for longer). Safety standards change, plastic begins to crack with age, safety belts stretch, etc. [1]
Razors 5 weeks If blades are quality (not one time use or cheap ones that rust) and kept clean and sanitary, then shelf life depends upon the number of uses. So basically, replace them when they stop performing well. Never share razor blades, they scrape dead skin and any infections that they may run across. Rinse razors with hot water after every use and keep them upright and dry between uses. Alcohol works well to sterilize the blades between uses, rinse again with hot water after the alcohol.
Drivers License Depends upon age Periodic testing may be required – depends on age, state and/or country. Check and abide by the expiration date.

Additional Information

To find out more about the shelf life of individual make-up products, see our make-up post.

To learn more on extending the shelf life of sponges, see our how to clean a sponge post.

If wondering about the shelf life of aspirin products, see our aspirin post.

For more on the expiration of drivers licenses, see our drivers license post.

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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