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The strangest household item expiration dates you never knew about

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Pillows, bras, shoes ... who knew some of these things expire.

Ditch pillows after six months, cycle helmets in three years and scourers every WEEK -- the bizarre expiry dates you've never heard of...

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Managing director of online bedding retailer Slumber Slumber Neville Moore pointed out that cheap polyester-filled pillows need replacing as early as six months. This is because these pillows can lose supportive fluffiness fast.

Moore noted that down-filled pillows are usually "supportive for up to five years" and should be changed after that, while feather and wool pillows around eight years.

"It's easy to get used to sleeping on thin, lumpy, sub-standard pillows, but they can lead to neck and back pain - and, if not washed and cared for correctly, can fill with dirt, oil, dead skin and dust mites, which can exacerbate allergies such as asthma. A good pillow should support your head and neck and keep them aligned with your spine when you are lying down," Moore said.

To test if a pillow is already broken, fluff it up, fold it in half lengthways, and place a shoe on top of it. If the pillow stays folded, it needs to be replaced.

However, if it springs back and throws off the shoe, it's alright to continue using, because it's still full of bounce.


Clinical director of Garden Square Dental in West London, Dr. Amer Saeed said that manual and electric brushes should be changed after 30 days or once a month if bleeding gums occur. Three months after in any case.

Toothbrushes wear and tear after being used a number of times. Adding to poor brush maintenance, these cause a huge build up of bacteria, which may result in contamination of gums and possible infection, Dr. Saeed said.

Toothbrushes must be in top condition. And to do that, Dr. Saeed recommended rinsing brushes with warm water thoroughly so that residue is removed, as well as food particles. A quick "splash of mouthwash" after rinsing will "help keep bacteria at bay."


General Manager for bra manufacturer, Gossard advises women to replace bras after eight months because they start to lose support and comfort, as well as the boost and uplift the person purchased it for.

Gossard recommends women buy bras that are darker in color, because of the dyeing process. Darker bras may also offer a tighter feel and stay in shape for a longer time compared to white bras.

Handwashing with a gentle detergent was also suggested to preserve wiring, support, padding and elasticity.


"To keep bacteria to a minimum, replace your sponge scourer with a new one every week. In between, rinse thoroughly, squeeze out and leave it on a clean surface, rather than in the sink, so it has a chance to air dry," recommended Simon Blackhurst, technical manager at Minky.

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Kitchen sponges are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria such as campylobacter, which comes from poultry. Campylobacter causes paralysis.


"There is no strict rule but we recommend adults replace theirs at least every three years to compensate for general wear and tear. Children's helmets will need to be replaced more often, of course, as they grow, and any bike helmet should be replaced if it's been subject to an impact of any size - even a short drop onto concrete, as the protective outer shell will be weakened," advised Katy Jackson, Halford's Assistant Buyer for Adult Helmets.


Cleaning products usually have a shelf life of one or two years. However, household bleach is said to be an exception because of its "volatile chemical make-up," resulting in a quicker deterioration than other cleaners.

"For best results, an unopened bottle of bleach should always be used within seven months of purchase, and within three months once the bottle has been opened. Write the date of your purchase - and when you started using it - on the bottle, to keep track," said operations manager for Handy Yvonne Manomano.


Head of product merchandising for Puma Mark Miles suggests that trainers need to be changed after being used for walking or running every, at least, 500 miles. Although, it depends on the terrain a person usually walks on, including the owner's weight.

"Generally, this equates to six months of average wear. As trainers start to wear out, the inner lining in the sole will feel less flexible," he said.

Miles noted that trainers should never be put in the washing machine or dried in a dryer, as it affects the density of the supportive foam as well as shrinks the mesh and fabric.

A quick wipe and air dry is recommended.

Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are recommended to be changed after ten years, even if they are wired in with the main electricity.

The alarm may look like it is functioning well, but it's the sensors inside them that may bring problems. The sensors are affected through a buildup of grease, damp, and house dust as time goes by.

"To keep your alarm in top condition, test it weekly, replace the battery every year, and give the inside of your alarm (or the holes on it, if the casing doesn't open) a gentle Hoover every six months to remove dust and debris," advised Community Safety Manager for the London Fire Brigade Mark Hazelton.


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