Toss or Keep? Life Expectancies of Common Household Items

Nothing lasts forever. But just how long can you use that mascara? When should you give in and throw away that block of cheese?
Real Simple magazine recently published a guide for consumers on how long some popular foods, beauty products and household goods will last.

(These dates are offered as a rough guideline. The shelf lives of most products depend upon how you treat them. Edibles, unless otherwise indicated, should be stored in a cool, dry place. (With any food, of course, use common sense.) Household cleaners also do best in a dry place with a stable temperature. After the dates shown, beauty and cleaning products are probably still safe but may be less effective.)

Food
Beer: Unopened: 4 months.
Brown sugar: Indefinite shelf life, stored in a moistureproof container in a cool, dry place.
Chocolate (Hershey bar): 1 year from production date.
Coffee, canned ground: Unopened: 2 years. Opened: 1 month refrigerated.
Coffee, gourmet: Beans: 3 weeks in paper bag, longer in vacuum-seal bag (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.). Ground: 1 week in sealed container.
Coffee, instant: Unopened: Up to 2 years. Opened: Up to 1 month.
Diet soda (and soft drinks in plastic bottles): Unopened: 3 months from "best by" date. Opened: Doesn't spoil, but taste is affected.
Dried pasta: 12 months.
Frozen dinners: Unopened: 12 to 18 months.
Frozen vegetables: Unopened: 18 to 24 months. Opened: 1 month.
Honey: Indefinite shelf life.
Juice, bottled (apple or cranberry): Unopened: 8 months from production date. Opened: 7 to 10 days.
Ketchup: Unopened: 1 year (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.). Opened or used: 4 to 6 months (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.).
Maple syrup, real or imitation: 1 year.
Maraschino cherries: Unopened: 3 to 4 years. Opened: 2 weeks at room temperature; 6 months refrigerated.
Marshmallows: Unopened: 40 weeks. Opened: 3 months.
Mayonnaise: Unopened: Indefinitely. Opened: 2 to 3 months from "purchase by" date (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.).
Mustard: 2 years (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)
Olives, jarred (green with pimento): Unopened: 3 years. Opened: 3 months.
Olive oil: 2 years from manufacture date (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.).
Peanuts: Unopened: 1 to 2 years unless frozen or refrigerated. Opened: 1 to 2 weeks in airtight container.
Peanut butter, natural: 9 months.
Peanut butter, processed (Jif): Unopened: 2 years. Opened: 6 months; refrigerate after 3 months.
Pickles: Unopened: 18 months. Opened: No conclusive data. Discard if slippery or excessively soft.
Protein bars (PowerBars): Unopened: 10 to 12 months. Check "best by" date on the package.
Rice, white: 2 years from date on box or date of purchase.
Salad dressing, bottled: Unopened: 12 months after "best by" date. Opened: 9 months refrigerated.
Soda, regular: Unopened: In cans or glass bottles, 9 months from "best by" date. Opened: Doesn't spoil, but taste is affected.
Steak sauce: 33 months (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.).
Tabasco: 5 years, stored in a cool, dry place.
Tea bags (Lipton): Use within 2 years of opening the package.
Tuna, canned: Unopened: 1 year from purchase date. Opened: 3 to 4 days, not stored in can.
Soy sauce, bottled: Unopened: 2 years. Opened: 3 months (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.).
Vinegar: 42 months.
Wine (red, white): Unopened: 3 years from vintage date; 20 to 100 years for fine wines. Opened: 1 week refrigerated and corked.
Worcestershire sauce: Unopened: 5 to 10 years (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.). Opened: 2 years.

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