19 Things It May be Time to Replace

It's fairly common knowledge we should replace smoke alarm batteries twice a year, preferably when Daylight Savings Time starts and stops. But replacement dates are more difficult when it comes to the variety of consumer products found around our homes. It's fairly obvious we should replace items when they break down or fall apart, but some products should be replaced sooner when they're less obviously effective. 

Here are 19 common items you should consider replacing before their expiration date.

(Don't forget to take advantage of free shipping codes for these purchases to reduce the cost of replacement.)

1. Pillows
Replace after: One to two years

Besides turning flat with use, pillows soak up hair oil and skin follicles to make a nasty pillow stew of bacteria and disgusting dust mites. Replace your standard pillows after one year. Quality pillows will last up to two years, if you cover them in hypoallergenic-treated pillow-case protectors, which are designed to keep out dust mites and other allergens. 

2. Mattresses
Replace after: Seven years

The National Sleep Foundation recommends replacing a mattress before it hits a decade. Poor quality mattresses should be replaced as soon as possible, to benefit your back and the absorption of nasty stuff. (Check for Macy's free shipping coupons to reduce the cost of replacement.)

3. Contact Lens Equipment
Replace after: Three months

If you buy contact lens solutions in bulk, chuck opened bottles after three months as germs migrate into bottles once the seal is broken. Experts also recommend reordering contact lens cases every three months.

 4. Fire Extinguishers
Recharge or replace after: Six to 10 years

Fire extinguishers need to be recharged every six years, but it's easy to forget this deadlines as extinguishers are usually hidden under the sink or in a dark corner. Some extinguishers have an indicator that shows when the contents are low. If yours doesn't, tape the deadline date onto the extinguisher as a reminder. Non-rechargeable extinguishers should be replaced after 10 years.

 5. Helmets
Replace after: Damage or wear

Bike helmets, motorcycle helmets, snowboarding helmets: Americans are using helmets more frequently but failing to replace them when damaged. Chuck the old and buy a new after crashes, when cracks appear or they no longer fit properly.

6. Vitamins
Replace after: Two years

If stored in a cool, dry place, many vitamins are good for three years. The clock may have run down, however, while the vitamins sat in a warehouse, so it's best to replace them after two years. (The Vitamin Shoppe offers an online coupon for vitamins free shipping.)

7. Computers
Replace after: Four years

Computers are the ultimate in planned obsolescence. Technology tends to move so quickly it ages out more rapidly than other major investments. In terms of cost (and irritation), it's better to replace a computer rather than installing a new processor.

8. Cosmetics
Replace after: Three months to two years

Eye and liquid makeup are the biggest offenders here as microbe growth causes eye and skin irritations and infections. Keep mascara for a maximum of three months. Keep liquids and creams (eyeliner, foundation, etc.) for no more than a year. You can safely use powders (eyeshadow and blush) for up to two years.

9. Perfume
Replace after: Two years

An old boyfriend used to send me a bottle of my favorite perfume every Christmas so half-filled bottles sat around for years. Unfortunately, I later learned exposure to light, heat and air reduced their potency and had to toss them all out.  

10. Running and Walking Shoes
Replace after: 300 to 500 miles

The foam-like material in the mid-soles of shoes stops bouncing back with use. Thus, shock-absorbing capacity diminishes with time and can lead to heel and arch pain or stress fractures. If you don't wear a pedometer to calculate usage, toss your shoes when they become uncomfortable. You can lengthen the life of running shoes by alternating between two pairs, allowing the foam mid-sole time to decompress between runs. Try a store like DSW or Famous Footwear when it's time to replace those shoes.

11. Smoke Alarms
Replace after: Seven to 10 years

Constant stress on a smoke alarm's sensors -- from cigarette smoke, pet dander, pollen, etc. -- can render smoke alarms unreliable. As a result, your smoke detector may sound an alarm for just about anything until you either ignore it or turn it off. 

12. Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Replace after: Seven to 10 years

CO2 detector technology is frequently upgraded and should be replaced every seven to 10 years. Again, you might tape an expiration date onto alarms after installation.

13. Alarm Batteries
Replace after: Six months

Replace batteries once a year if your smoke and carbon monoxide-detector alarms aren't hard-wired into the electrical system. It'll be easier to remember this expiration date if you schedule replacement at the start and end of Daylight Savings Time. 

14. Herbs and Spices
Replace after: One year

The bottle of fennel that has taken root in your spice cupboard has likely lost its favor. Whole spices, such as coriander and star anise, may last slightly longer, unless they have been exposed to the air. To identify herbs and spices past their prime, open the bag or jar and take a whiff. If there's no scent, there's no flavor.

15. Toothbrushes
Replace after: Three months

Toothbrush bristles flatten, fray and develop bacteria. Swap out your brush every three months for maximum effectiveness.

16. Air Filters
Replace after: Six months

The energy efficiency of your heating and cooling systems are greatly reduced when filters become clogged with dirt and other particles. It's easy to forget when the six months is up, so you might also replace filters in accordance with shifts in Daylight Savings Time. 

17. Water Filters
Replace after: Three months (heavy use) or six months (regular use)

In addition to regularly scheduled replacement, you also should replace your filter if the water develops an odor, tastes bad, is discolored or cloudy, or contains (yuck) floating particles. 

18. Antibacterial Creams
Replace after: One year

Wounds heal faster when an ointments chemical mix is less than one-year old. 

19. Dandruff Shampoos
Replace after: Three years

If you experience infrequent flake outbreaks, your dandruff shampoo may sit in a cupboard long past its expiration date. Toss opened bottles after their expiration date or in three years.

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1 Comment

Great list but I have my own suggestions: For items 1: If you wash your pillow regularly in hot water or keep it in an allergy cover and wash that cover frequently you can keep your pillow for years. Item 2: Memory foam mattresses (if kept in a good allergy cover that's washed regularly) can last for 10 years. Item 16: HVAC air filters should replaced every 30 days. If too much matter builds up on the filter the HVAC will have to work much harder to pull air through it. You don't need to buy the expensive $15 filters...you're better off getting the mid-grade ones for around $8 for 3 and replace them monthly. Thanks for the great article!
Posted by Monica