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Extend spring cleaning to common household items

woman ready to clean house

Most people would be horrified to eat something from their fridge if it expired 3 months earlier, the same can’t be said for those everyday household items without expiry dates. Unfortunately it’s much easier to forget the less obvious items that need to be replaced once in a while.


Do you know how old your mattress is? It’s true that you can turn a mattress over or get it deep cleaned every so often, but at some point you’ll need to face facts and part with a mattress that’s over 8 years old or so.

Throw it out sooner if you’ve noticed permanent dents, smells, stains or squeaks. An old mattress is not just gross -- it’s unhygienic. Toss it and you’ll rid your home of allergy-causing dust and bacteria, and give your spine the proper support it needs.

Contact Lens Solution

It looks more or less like harmless water, but expired contact lens solution can sting eyes, cause damage to the retina and even give you an infection. You have three months from when you break the seal; throw away the rest, no matter how good a deal you got on that massive bottle.


Health supplements don’t expire so much as go stale. Vitamins past their prime do nothing, so it’s a waste of time to hold onto them. As a rule of thumb, give them two years, even if the bottle doesn’t have an expiration date.


No matter how good the quality or what they’re filled with, most pillows are on a rapid decline past a year and a half. The fibers will have a chance to collect allergens and micro-organisms and warp out of shape if kept for much longer. Opt for a cheaper pillow and replace it regularly, and if you can’t bear to throw it out, re-purpose into bedding for your pets.

Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers

No, they don’t last forever. Fire extinguishers can lose pressure over time -- a nasty fact that you don’t want to discover when it’s too late. Throw away extinguishers after 10 years, or, if you bought it with a service plan, get it re-gassed and checked every few years.

Smoke alarms can also quietly become less effective after a few years when their sensors become dull. Check a smoke alarm every six months and replace the batteries once a year. Even the best smoke alarm will probably need to be replaced around the 10-year mark, however.

Eye makeup

The more moisture in any given product, the more likely it is to harbor germs over time. While dry powders, eye shadows and pencils can last almost indefinitely, things like mascara and wet liquid liners can become home to bacteria after a while. Say goodbye to any wet eye makeup that’s older than 6 months.


It’s easy not to notice when toothbrushes start looking a little worse for wear. Whether it looks like it’s old or not, throw away toothbrushes you’ve had for more than 3 or 4 months. Even if the bristles are still stiff, there are entire colonies of bacteria that will have settled in the nooks and crannies. Get a fresh one instead.

Spring cleaning is not just for your fridge or wardrobe -- other longer-lived items in your life also need replacing every once in a while. The products and appliances we tend to think of as permanent need replacing or at the least regular maintenance to make sure they’re still safe and effective.

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