Keep or discard? When to toss out common household items

How do you know when common items found around the household like kitchen sponges, toothbrushes or cookware have outlived their use-by date? Find out!

Unlike packaged foods that come with an expiry date printed on them so we know when to get rid of them, many common household items tend to get used way longer than they ought to. Using them longer than their shelf life may cause growth of harmful bacteria that can be detrimental to the health of you and your family.

Here’s a list of items found commonly around the house, with tips on how long you should use them and when it’s time to discard:

keep or discard - kitchen spongekeep or discard - kitchen sponge1. Kitchen sponges:

Kitchen sponges can be a breeding ground for bacteria, as they tend to be moist most of the time. Keep them clean by squeezing them thoroughly after using and storing them in a dry spot, not on top of the soap.

You can also disinfect them by soaking them thoroughly with water and then microwaving them for a minute. Remember to make sure there are no traces of metal in the sponge before you do that.

When to discard: As soon as you see the sponge fraying and peeling, it’s time to discard it and get a new one.

2. Unused condoms:

Actually, condoms do come with an expiry date printed on the box. But if you’ve been carrying one around for a long time in your wallet or purse, the constant heat and friction can damage it, leaving you open to pregnancy and STI risks.

When to discard: If the condom wrapper looks damaged, discard and use another one.

Also read: Sex is a need, with a condom indeed

Keep or discard?Keep or discard?

3. Lipsticks:

How many of you still have that bright red lipstick you bought years ago but never got around to wearing? It’s time you dug into your make up kit and inspected it to see if it’s still worth holding on to.

When to discard: Lipsticks and lip glosses should typically be discarded between 12 to 24 months of purchase. Another clear sign you need get rid of it is when the lipstick starts smelling.

Also read: Make up hygiene


Due to constant exposure to moisture, toothbrushes are also a hotbed for bacterial growth. Also, old toothbrushes with damaged bristles will not do their job as effectively as they should.

When to discard: You must change your toothbrush every 3-4 months. If you noticed frayed bristles before that time, change it even earlier.

5. Unopened juice boxes:

Juice boxes always have an expiration date on them that you must read before buying.

When to discard: Never drink from a juice box after it’s expiration date. Another sign to look out for is a puffy or swollen box which signals that its contents have gone bad.

6. Non-stick cookware:

While non-stick cookware is a great solution for cooking with lesser oil, it comes with its share of controversy. For best use, it is advised that you use a wooden spoon of spatula while cooking and clean the pan or dish with soft, nylon dish scrubbers.

When to discard: Discard the cookware as soon as the non-stick coating starts coming off or it begins to look damaged in any way.

7. Unopened chocolate:

For those who can resist chocolate for more than five minutes, it’s good to know how to store chocolate and when it may have gone bad.

For a warm country like ours, its best to keep your chocolate in the fridge or any other cool, dry spot. Sometimes, white spots may occur on the chocolate. This does not mean the chocolate has gone bad, but is simply a consequence of exposure to heat or moisture.

When to discard: Most unopened chocolates have a shelf-life of 18 to 24 months. Dark chocolate keeps longer and can be consumed up to 5 years after manufacture. Milk chocolate should be thrown out if its older than 18 months.

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