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When to Replace It

Lots of Things We Use Don’t Have Wear Dates


I don’t know about you, but sometimes my clients (and myself actually) get stuck between keeping something a little longer or knowing that it’s past its prime, shall we say. I did a little research and found some cool things that I, for one, was happy to know. Not sure how old something is? Try writing the purchase date on it when you buy it with a permanent market, and then you know when to toss it. Each time I replace my ink cartridge in my printer, I put the date on it, then I know if it’s lasting a decent amount of time or if something is wrong with it. I do this on many items as I don’t always recall when I opened it or purchased it.

Juli Shulem

Below is information that may help you clear some things out at your place.

Cosmetics — Handy information on the varying amounts of time for each kind of cosmetic is available at WikiHow. Bottom line, after two years, everything should be replaced. Mascara is the one item that shouldn’t be used past three months. If you are someone who buys a lot of makeup products, make it a habit to finish something before getting another one. If you have multiples of a foundation, for example, when you are down to the last bit of your last one, then get another. If you use up those items you have and toss the ones you really don’t use or like any longer, you will enjoy the remainder much more and actually use things up before they expire.

Perfume — Perfume doesn’t actually have an expiration date, I learned over at eBay.com, but it can ‘turn’ over time. Some scents linger for decades, and others will simply change over time but still remain lovely to use. Basically, if you open it up and it smells bad to you, then chances are you’re not going to want to put it on your body, so dispose of it. Color changes don’t determine if a perfume or cologne has spoiled — I have many that have changed color and are still wonderful. The higher concentration of actual perfume oil, the longer it will last.

Toothbrushes — According to the American Dental Association, you shouldn’t keep a toothbrush much past three to four months. If you have been sick or if the bristles are frayed, that brush isn’t benefiting you much any longer. I like keeping two, alternating them so each can dry completely between uses. I keep a completely different one packed for travel, too.

Pillows — According to overstock.com, if you perform the fold test on your pillow and see that it is lump-free, you should be good for 18-24 months with it. However, if it’s no longer comfortable, you hold it folded in half for 30 seconds and it stays that way, well, then it’s time to trot on over to the nearest bedding store and get yourself a new pillow.

Bedsheets — Well, like clothing, if you wash them and they are in good shape, you can get many, many years out of them. I often work with clients who have cabinets and cabinets full of sheet sets, many not used. If you have two good sets per bed, that’s plenty for most people, and you don’t have to rent a storage unit to store your linens. When a set is better off used as drop cloths, replace it. Having an alternate set is great so you don’t have to instantly wash and remake the bed all the time. But, to each his own.

Smoke alarms — Apparently, having a smoke detector longer than 10 years is not advised. Of course, if yours isn’t working, replace it immediately, but you should be thinking of replacing the unit itself after about 10 years.

Computers — I was recently told by a computer tech guy that my computer is past its prime, but I refuse to let it go just yet. Since technology changes so fast and machines are just that, our computer won’t last forever. When it’s costing more to keep yours alive then buying a new one, it’s time to start seeking a replacement … kind of like cars. Some last longer if they are really well cared for and do what you want them to do, and others … well, they need to go. If you cannot get yours working the way you need it to, and you’ve been told that’s as good as it’s going to get, replace it.

Spices — When they fade from their nice green color, or when red spices turn more brownish, they are probably ready to toss. If you can’t smell the aroma right away, then they are probably past their prime. I find that if they are stuck to the sides of the container or a metal container is rusty at all — the spice needs to just go.

Well, now you know — and the beginning of the year is a good time to get rid of the old and bring in the new, right?

Do you have questions for this column? Email questions to Coach Juli, PCC, ADHD Productivity Coach at jshulem@gmail.com and put “question for column” in the subject line, and they will be answered right here — your name is not used. My column is published every other week. Please enjoy the back issues as well should you have missed something that might inspire you.

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