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Kitchen Safety

Cleaning Out the Refrigerator


Shelf Life of Household Products

By J. A. Young

Ever wonder about that opened jar of pickles that has been listlessly sitting in the back of your refrigerator for the past year? It will probably not surprise most people to know that everything from grape juice to grape jelly to lemon pledge has a shelf life—even when unopened. The following article offers information about expiration dates for a wide variety of household items and typical foodstuffs.

Once opened, canned coffee grounds will last about one month in the refrigerator. Sealed, however, means you have about two years worth of shelf-life.

Dried pasta—although it seems like it could remain good indefinitely, should only be kept for about one year. Some sources, say two years, but taste may be a factor after so much elapsed time.

Ketchup is one of those foodstuffs that is always in the refrigerator, and yet, it’s always hard to remember how old it is. Unopened, you should toss from the shelf after one year or taste may be affected. Opened, you should toss it from the refrigerator after six months.

White rice in the box is good for about two years from the time you purchase it (or date on the box).

While that jar of maraschino cherries is good for more than three years when unopened, once the lid is cracked, they’re only good refrigerated for about two weeks.

Plan to toss your opened bottles of salad dressing after three months. When sealed, they should be good for a year.

Bottled fruit juice is good for up to ten days once opened. While still sealed, it may remain good for up to eight months.

Unopened jars of pickles are good for about a year and a half. Once opened, it’s best to discard once they become too soft.

Once opened mayonnaise should be discarded after three months.

Tabasco Sauce may be kept for up to five years when kept in a cool place.

Expiration dates vary widely for sealed bottles of wine. Once opened, however, it is essentially good for no more than one week corked and refrigerated.

Unopened beer is only good for about four months from date of purchase.

Shelf-life governs many other types of household products beside food. For instance, lipstick should be tossed after two years.

Perfume tends to last longer when kept out of sunlight, but it is only good for up to two years.

Shampoo has a shelf life up to three years as does body wash.

Opened mascara should be discarded after four months.

Pledge should be tossed out after two years.

Your dish detergent (if you don’t use it up first) should be kept for one year.

While it would be wonderful of items like wood polish and Windex would last forever—or at least until we could use it up, it’s simply not the case. While many consumers purchase the larger size to save money in the long run, it may be wasted pennies if you continually throw unused portions away. While this is an accurate shelf-life accounting, it’s usually best to follow manufacturer’s instructions for storing and shelf life if given.