13 Household Items You Didn't Know Could Go Bad, According To Reddit, Because Your Bike Helmet Won't Last Forever

It's easy to tell when a carton of milk has gone off; even if you can't smell it, one taste is all it takes to determine whether or not it has soured. But how do you tell when, say, your smoke detector has gone bad? According to Reddit, that's just one of many common household items you didn't know could go bad — and we'd all do well to brush up on our knowledge of them.

In what might just be the most useful AskReddit thread I've ever read — from a practical standpoint, at least — Redditor bestimitation4 asked other users of the content-sharing community, “What household items 'go bad' that we don't think of?” Because there really are an awful lot of things we keep around that don't necessarily have an expiration date, but which still lose their efficacy over time. You probably already know that makeup doesn't last forever — but as bestimitation4 put it, there are a ton of other “things that may be hanging out, forgotten in a drawer or cabinet somewhere" that also won't survive until the end of time, either. Like non-perishable food, for example. You don't want weevils in your flour, right?

Here, for example, are 13 of them. Some of them are mild annoyances; others are kind of freaky; and still others might actually save your life. For reals. Head on over to AskReddit for more.

1. Fire Extinguishers

Seriously, you guys. Fire extinguishers should be checked monthly and maintenanced yearly; they should also be replaced periodically, although how long your extinguisher will last usually depends on the manufacturer. Apartment Therapy's guide to knowing when you should replace your fire extinguisher is a good place to start, but go read up more extensively on the subject if you can — having a well-working fire extinguisher could literally save your life.

2. Rice

“Non-perishable” is perhaps not as accurate a term as we all would like to think. But hey, at least there's something resembling a solution to this one: Apparently if your rice develops a nasty case of bugs, you can spread it out on a cookie sheet, set it in the sun, kill the bugs, pick them out, and be left with perfectly good rice. Better still, stick a bay leaf or two in your rice (and your flour, and any other dry good you can think of) before the bugs arrive and you'll stave off the problem before it starts. Don't forget to pack them in sealed containers!

3. Bleach

Bleach doesn't last nearly as long as you probably think it does — it can turn into salt water in as little as three months. If you're keeping it for disinfectant purposes, you'll want to replenish your supply pretty regularly.

4. Car Seats

There are some things you can definitely buy used or recycle from child to child… but car seats are not one of them. According to Parenting.com, most car seats last between five to nine years after they were manufactured (which, by the way, doesn't necessarily match up with when it was first purchased); it'll vary from seat to seat, though, so that's just a guideline. The expiration date should be either printed on the car seat's shell or molded into the seat itself.

5. Paper

That's why “old book smell” exists: It's the scent of decay. That point about documents is especially worth noting — while it's true that a lot of us keep electronic versions of important docs these days, you'll still want to make sure you're storing, say, your original birth certificate in a spot that won't cause it to fall apart with age.

6. Gas

Aaaaaand here's what that one looks like in action:


7. Socks

How else do you explain the fact that, by the end of every pair of socks' life, you will, without fail, have lost just one of them? (OK, I'm kidding — but still: Where do those missing socks go? Are they truly sacrificed to the God of Launderette?)

8. Smoke Detectors

And CO2 detectors. The good news is that sometimes they'll tell you when they're dead — my CO2 detector in my last apartment started freaking out for no apparent reason once, even after I changed the batteries; it turned out the whole thing just needed to be swapped out for a new model. But, like many of the other items on this list, you still need to stay on top of that stuff yourself. Nothing is too silly if your life actually depends on it.

9. Bike Helmets

Here's a handy guide to when to replace your bike helmet. Spoiler: If it's been in even one crash, it needs to be replaced. The foam protecting your noggin is only good once.

10. Potatoes

The article is from the Daily Mail, so take it with a grain of salt — but good gravy, that is horrifying. Let's work on keeping our food waste down, shall we?

11. Everything in Your Spice Cabinet

We've probably all encountered an ancient, mummified rubber band in our grandparents' basement at some point, so that one isn't exactly a surprise. Spices, though? That's worth paying attention to. Another Redditor explained why this is the case:

Again: "Non-perishable" doesn't mean "immortal."

12. Tires

See: Rubber bands, car seats.

13. Power Strips

BRB, replacing every single power strip I own.

Images: mattgalligan/Flickr; evilqueened/Tumblr; Giphy (2)