Every few weeks, I decide whether it’s time to pitch out certain household items. While many things we use around the home including most food items have expiration dates, are they really a valid indicator that the item in question is obsolete?
A recent post at grandparents.com responds to that concern with a list of the top 10 household items you should replace. So if you are wondering if it’s time to pitch or hold onto certain things around the house, consider these particular items:
Sponges – Filled with bacteria and mold, they’re the top source of germs in your home, according to WebMD. To prevent your sponges and scrubbers from becoming encrusted with microscopic filth, swap them out every month or as soon as they begin to stink. Preserve them on a daily basis by throwing them in the dishwasher – the heat will kill germs and keep your family healthier.
Herbs & Spices – Old bottles of dried herbs and spices won’t hurt you, says nutrition expert Janet Brill, there are no health concerns, they simply lose their potency. Seasoning purveyor McCormick these guidelines for shelf life:
Ground spices: 3 to 4 years
Whole spices: 4 years
Leafy herbs: 1 to 3 years
Bottled seasoning blends: 1 to 2 years
Faded color and loss of aroma are two other ways to identify old herbs and spices.
OTC Meds – Follow the “spring cleaning” rule, says Marjorie Phillips, Pharmacy Coordinator for Georgia Regents Medical Center and member of the FDA Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee. Once a year, around the same time, throw out all expired prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
Expiration dates guarantee that, with proper storage in a cool, dry place, the drug will retain 90 percent of its original potency until that date, she says. Afterward, the medication may have degraded enough to lose potency or, even worse, contain harmful degradation-related byproducts.
Tetracycline is one drug whose byproducts can cause injury if it’s been sitting around for too long, but Phillips recommends checking with a pharmacist about individual meds. Medication doesn’t magically stop working on the expiration date; it’s just safest to follow that guideline according to Phillips.