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

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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