Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Can I Throw It Out Now? When to Toss; When to Save

On the one hand, my frugal self wants to get every drop out tubes, containers and appliances in my cabinets, frig and purse. But on the other hand, is it really safe to hold on to stuff for too long? What kind of deadlines are we talking about?

I found some answers about expiration dates from a variety of sources. Here's a quick sketch of what I've found from Woman's World magazine.

  • Smoke Alarms: Buy new batteries every year (or when your alarm starts that annoying "low-battery" hum). Purchase a new smoke detector every 10 years.
  • Spices: Dried and ground spices (ginger, cinnamon, chili) don't spoil, but will lose flavor after 24 to 36 months.
  • Toothbrush: Replace every three months.
  • Disposable razors: Good for two or three shaves.
  • Makeup: Mascara should be replaced every three months to avoid eye infections from bacteria. Lipstick twice a year (hmmmm. Is that really true? I've kept favorite shades around longer). Foundation: replace opened containers every eight months. That's the word from Woman's World.

But I found these guidelines in an ABC news article :

"When to Throw out Cosmetics

Eye makeup: after three months

Facial cleanser: after six months

Makeup foundation: after one year

Lipstick: after two years

Powder: after two years

Lip pencils: after several years"

When to Throw out Household Items* (From ABC news)

Fire Extinguishers: Replace your extinguisher every 12 years because over time it loses its pressure and becomes ineffective.
Smoke Detectors: Throw them out every 10 years because over time the electronics don't work as well. They can lose their accuracy and sensitivity, and fail to alert you in an emergency.
Paint: Get rid of your paint every two years to three years — and even sooner if it's been exposed to freezing temperatures.
Mattress: Buy a new one after 10 years because mattresses are impossible to clean. A 10-year-old mattress can have 10 million dust mites. An old mattress actually feels heavier because it is full of dust mites and their droppings.
Pillow: Throw it out after three years, but wash or dry clean twice a year. In the average used pillow, a British study found 1 million fungus spores, including species normally found in bread mold and shower walls.
Disposable Batteries: Toss these after seven years, even if you don't use them.
Rechargeable Batteries:
Throw these out after three years to five years. Because these contain harmful
chemicals, dispose of them properly at a hazardous waste center.

*Batteries, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers should be taken to hazardous waste disposal centers.

Here's the link to the complete ABC article about disposable guidelines and other resources:

When to toss out food.

And an excellent guide about the shelf life of food from the University of Nebraska.


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Clever Dude said...

I'm sorry, but if I had to replace my fusion razor cartridge every 3 days, I would be broke in a month! I use it for 3-4 WEEKS, not days!

I change it when I don't think it's giving me a good shave anymore, not when someone says I should.

James said...

I have endless conversations with my wife about this. She's in favor of holding onto lots of nick-nacks, because they were gift from family or because they might be useful at some time in the future.

These are good reasons, but for my part, I think its important to keep clutter to a minimum.



Fabulously Broke in the City said...

*shivers at the talk of dust mites*

It's a good thing I'm moving. I'm purging items like you wouldn't believe!!

I am guilty of keeping my eye pencils on longer than I should... and my mascara is due for an overhaul. But I definitely throw out items when I see them discolour, or smell funny. Other than that, I assume they're all right...