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77 Surprising Expiration Dates

A handy keep-or-toss guide to 77 foods, beauty products, and household goods.

by Maya Kukes and Lisa Smith
0403shelf-life-ketchup-soda

Keate

Certain items in your house practically scream “toss me” when their prime has passed. That mysterious extra white layer on the Cheddar? A sure sign it needs to be put out of its misery. Chunky milk? Down the drain it goes.

 

But what about that jar of olives or Maraschino cherries that has resided in your refrigerator since before the birth of your kindergartner? Or the innumerable nonedibles lurking deep within your cabinets and closets: stockpiled shampoo and toothpaste, seldom-used silver polish? How do you know when their primes have passed?

 

With help from experts and product manufacturers, Real Simple has compiled a guide to expiration dates. These dates are offered as a rough guideline. The shelf lives of most products depend upon how you treat them. Edibles, unless otherwise indicated, should be stored in a cool, dry place. (With any food, of course, use common sense.) Household cleaners also do best in a dry place with a stable temperature. After the dates shown, beauty and cleaning products are probably still safe but may be less effective.

 

Food

 

 

Beer

Unopened: 4 months.

 

Brown sugar

Indefinite shelf life, stored in a moistureproof container in a cool, dry place.

 

Chocolate (Hershey bar)

1 year from production date

 

Coffee, canned ground

Unopened: 2 years

Opened: 1 month refrigerated

 

Coffee, gourmet

Beans: 3 weeks in paper bag, longer in vacuum-seal bag (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Ground: 1 week in sealed container

 

Coffee, instant

Unopened: Up to 2 years

Opened: Up to 1 month

 

Diet soda (and soft drinks in plastic bottles)

Unopened: 3 months from “best by” date.

Opened: Doesn't spoil, but taste is affected.

 

Dried pasta

12 months

 

Frozen dinners

Unopened: 12 to 18 months

 

Frozen vegetables

Unopened: 18 to 24 months

Opened: 1 month

 

Honey

Indefinite shelf life

 

Juice, bottled (apple or cranberry)

Unopened: 8 months from production date

Opened: 7 to 10 days

 

Ketchup

Unopened: 1 year (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Opened or used: 4 to 6 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

 

Maple syrup, real or imitation

1 year

 

Maraschino cherries

Unopened: 3 to 4 years

Opened: 2 weeks at room temperature; 6 months refrigerated

 

Marshmallows

Unopened: 40 weeks

Opened: 3 months

 

Mayonnaise

Unopened: Indefinitely

Opened: 2 to 3 months from “purchase by” date (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

 

Mustard

2 years (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

 

 

 

Olives, jarred (green with pimento)

Unopened: 3 years

Opened: 3 months

 

Olive oil

2 years from manufacture date (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

 

Peanuts

Unopened: 1 to 2 years unless frozen or refrigerated

Opened: 1 to 2 weeks in airtight container

 

Peanut butter, natural

9 months

 

Peanut butter, processed (Jif)

Unopened: 2 years

Opened: 6 months; refrigerate after 3 months

 

Pickles

Unopened: 18 months

Opened: No conclusive data. Discard if slippery or excessively soft.

 

Protein bars (PowerBars)

Unopened: 10 to 12 months. Check “best by” date on the package.

 

Rice, white

2 years from date on box or date of purchase

 

Salad dressing, bottled

Unopened: 12 months after “best by” date

Opened: 9 months refrigerated

 

Soda, regular

Unopened: In cans or glass bottles, 9 months from “best by” date

Opened: Doesn’t spoil, but taste is affected

 

Steak sauce

33 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

 

Tabasco

5 years, stored in a cool, dry place

 

Tea bags (Lipton)

Use within 2 years of opening the package

 

Tuna, canned

Unopened: 1 year from purchase date

Opened: 3 to 4 days, not stored in can

 

Soy sauce, bottled

Unopened: 2 years

Opened: 3 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

 

Vinegar

42 months

 

Wine (red, white)

Unopened: 3 years from vintage date; 20 to 100 years for fine wines

Opened: 1 week refrigerated and corked

 

Worcestershire sauce

Unopened: 5 to 10 years (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Opened: 2 years

 

Household Products

 

 

Air freshener, aerosol

2 years

 

Antifreeze, premixed

1 to 5 years

 

Antifreeze, concentrate

Indefinite

 

Batteries, alkaline

7 years

 

Batteries, lithium

10 years

 

Bleach

3 to 6 months

 

Dish detergent, liquid or powdered

1 year

 

Fire extinguisher, rechargeable

Service or replace every 6 years

 

Fire extinguisher, nonrechargeable

12 years

 

Laundry detergent, liquid or powdered

Unopened: 9 months to 1 year

Opened: 6 months

 

Metal polish (silver, copper, brass)

At least 3 years

 

Miracle Gro, liquid

Opened: 3 to 8 years

 

Miracle Gro, liquid, water-soluble

Indefinite

 

Motor oil

Unopened: 2 to 5 years

Opened: 3 months

 

Mr. Clean

2 years

 

Paint

Unopened: Up to 10 years

Opened: 2 to 5 years

 

Spray paint

2 to 3 years

 

Windex

2 years

 

Wood polish (Pledge)

2 years

 

 

Beauty Products

 

 

All dates are from the manufacture date, which is either displayed on the packaging or can be obtained by calling the manufacturer's customer-service number.

 

Bar soap

18 months to 3 years

 

Bath gel, body wash

3 years

 

Bath oil

1 year

 

Body bleaches and depilatories

Unopened: 2 years

Used: 6 months

 

Body lotion

3 years

 

Conditioner

2 to 3 years

 

Deodorant

Unopened: 2 years

Used: 1 to 2 years

For antiperspirants, see expiration date

 

Eye cream

Unopened: 3 years

Used: 1 year

 

Face lotion

With SPF, see expiration date. All others, at least 3 years

 

Foundation, oil-based

2 years

 

Foundation, water-based

3 years

 

Hair gel

2 to 3 years

 

Hair spray

2 to 3 years

 

Lip balm

Unopened: 5 years

Used: 1 to 5 years

 

Lipstick

2 years

 

Mascara

Unopened: 2 years

Used: 3 to 4 months

 

Mouthwash

Three years from manufacture date

 

Nail polish

1 year

 

Nail-polish remover

Lasts indefinitely

 

Perfume

1 to 2 years

 

Rubbing alcohol

At least 3 years

 

Shampoo

2 to 3 years

 

Shaving cream

2 years or more

 

Tooth-whitening strips

13 months

 

Wash’n Dri moist wipes

Unopened: 2 years

Opened: Good until dried out

 

 

 

 

 

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