77 Expiration Dates For Household Goods, Food And Beauty Products

How long does ketchup last? Olives? Dry pasta? Real Simple has contacted manufacturers and experts and put together a list of suggested expiration dates for 77 different types of food, household goods and beauty products. Some interesting ones:

    Dried pasta: 12 months

    Honey: Indefinite shelf life

    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.)

    Mustard: 2 years (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume.)

    Pickles: Unopened: 18 months
    Opened: No conclusive data. Discard if slippery or excessively soft.

    Lipstick: 2 years

    Mascara:Unopened: 2 years
    Used: 3 to 4 months

Honey is forever, forever, forever… —MEGHANN MARCO

Surprising Expiration Dates [Real Simple]
(Photo: nate steiner)


Edit Your Comment

  1. timmus says:

    RealSimple.com sure seems to like popup ads.

  2. Peekoos says:

    I had to throw out some honey this weekend because it had turned dark brown and there was a strange substance that had collected at the bottom of the little ‘bear’ it came in. Hmm, wonder if it was Chinese honey….

  3. Scazza says:

    Ive seen honey go bad. It becomes whitish and has crystal strings in it… I believe it was after a good year in my friends cupboard…

  4. Framling says:

    A friend of mine who took a class on honeybees once told me that archeologists have found jars of honey in Egyptian tombs that was still good.

  5. markwm says:

    Actually, honey will crystallize after a period of time, which is what Scazza and Peekoos have noticed. However, if you place it in a pan of warm water, the crystals will dissolve and the honey will be as good as ever.

  6. Scazza says:

    @markwm: Oh, I heard something about that before, but it failed to cross my mind. Thanks mate for the info…

  7. markwm says:

    @Scazza: Not a problem. Just one of the fun facts you get growing up in a rural family that doesn’t throw anything away until every bit of usefulness has been milked from it.

  8. Darren W. says:

    Honey is too dense for bacteria to growth, so it stays safe forever. (how else would the bees keep it safe for them to use?) As markwm said, it will crystallize, but that’s easily corrected.

  9. TinaB says:

    I always heard the rumor that honey is the only thing in the cupboard that doesn’t go bad. Ever. Myth confirmed!

  10. Uriel says:

    Honey actually doesn’t go bad…ever. It crystallizes after a period of time drying out. To change it back into liquid, heat it up. They found honey in the pyramids of egypt, it was thousands of years old. They heated it, the crystals reformed into honey, and it was perfectly edible. If you were dealing with some sort of “pseudo-honey”, like something the chinese did to it to make more of it, or put poison in it, or something similar to the problems we’re facing today with the FDC and importing food from China, well then it’s perfectly understandable why it may not reform into honey properly after being heated.

  11. bluegus32 says:

    Pickles: Unopened: 18 months
    Opened: No conclusive data. Discard if slippery or excessively soft.

    Aren’t pickles always slippery? How weird.

  12. Beerad says:

    @bluegus32: I’m guessing that the “slippery when wet but still crunchy” kind of slippery is okay, and it’s the “slimy and mushy” kind of slippery that you want to watch out for.

  13. quantum-shaman says:

    What’s the shelf life for Chinese chicken?

  14. mrestko says:

    The reason that honey stays good for a long time is because it has a very low water activity. Until recently, people thought that there could never be an outbreak of food poisoning via peanut butter for the same reason. Turns out we were wrong.

    I bet there’s a clever microbe out there that can out-wit the honey. :-P

  15. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    According to these idiots, unopened motor oil should be discarded after a couple of years.
    What total garbage!
    Oil is good for decades, maybe longer.
    What changes are the additives required for newer engines.
    While it’s possible that some of the additives in the oil may separate from the oil or evaporate, it will still lubricate the engine, especially if you just add one quart of old oil to four quarts of new oil.

  16. kerry says:

    If your honey turned black, something was growing in it. Perhaps there was moisture and air bubbles suspended in it, but generally speaking honey just crystallizes, it doesn’t turn black. My guess is you had some botulism spores in the honey to begin with (very common, it’s why you shouldn’t feed honey to babies) and some alteration of the honey caused them to grow.
    I should probably toss all of the mascara I’ve owned, I don’t think I’ve used the stuff in several years. Does it count if the product is unopened?

  17. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    Don’t they know that food is pumped so full of toxic preservatives nowadays that it lasts forever?

  18. Meghann, have you been cleaning out your fridge today? Is that what prompted this post? ;)

    Then again, the items listed sound more like something you would find in a bachelor’s fridge. Condiments and nothing else.

  19. TVarmy says:

    @TinaB: So long as you keep it dry, granulated sugar never goes bad, either. It might get clumpy, but that’s why I keep it in a Tupperware, and you can always break it up with a spoon.

  20. Hoss says:

    Once pasta has been dried, is it ever going to be in a worse condition?

  21. TVarmy says:

    @kerry: More on the botulism spores: I’ve heard about Scientologist mothers’ babies having poor health from being fed “barley milk” (Which is a mix of honey and barley water, which L. Ron Hubbard said was preferable to breastmilk and formula.). Aside from the malnutrition, I wonder if any of those kids got botulism? I don’t want to make this be an anti-Scientology meme thread, I just am concerned about this one aspect of the faith.

  22. TVarmy says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik: I bet it’s a lot like how sealed jam has an expiration date of 2 years, but it would really never go bad so long as the seal was on. I think they just want to cover themselves if something odd or unexpected happened to a vehicle if a jug of oil were opened up after sitting around for 50 years or something.

  23. bluegus32 says:

    See, I’ve told my wife over and over again that those expiration dates are just so that food manufacturers can cover their own behinds. Or they’re just guesstimates. She’s always throwing away perfectly good food just because it’s “expired.”

    That’s it! I’m fetching the milk from the trash as soon as I get home. Expired March 18, my fanny!

  24. Meg Marco says:
  25. formergr says:

    And the manufacturers have a vested interest in telling you their product has a shorter shelf life than it actually does. If you throw it away, you’ll buy some more and that = more $ for them.

  26. SOhp101 says:

    I actually agree with almost all expiration dates on most food products. In my experience food usually tastes ‘fresh’ like it did when you first opened it up to that date.

    Most of those dates are right, but they all generally correspond with the expiration dates already listed on most products.

  27. Anonymously says:

    You should have linked to this oldie but goodie: Mellified Man.

  28. acceptablerisk says:

    I just pulled a jar of relish (opened who knows when)from the back of the fridge last week that was seriously over seven years past its “best by” date. It didn’t smell bad, but I wasn’t going to take my chances in using it. I considered putting it back just to see how long it would take go completely bad, but thought better of it and tossed it out.

    I’ve also got a jar of hot mustard that’s well over a year old but I still use it occasionally. Doesn’t seem to have gone bad yet.

  29. ironchef says:

    The Periodic Table of Condiments
    A clever way to see the true half life of a condiment

    Inspired by the ubiquitous Ben Day.

  30. ElizabethD says:

    Jeez… I am an enthusiastic user of “vintage” lipsticks… I buy up my favorite shades before they’re discontinued, and stockpile them. Same with powder blush. Nothing bad has ever happened and the lipstick looks fine. I guess there are some things I’m just better off NOT knowing.

  31. ElizabethD says:


    Love it!!

    Re: butter. I store the one-pound boxes of butter sticks in the freezer until I’m ready to use one; then I let it defrost slowly (never microwave) before using. Stays fresh a really lonnnnng time.

  32. welsey says:

    My family used to save every ketchup, soy sauce, mustard or any other condiment that came in a little packet from a restaurant in one of the drawers in the fridge. Eventually it got to be a massive five year old collection, and no one wanted to use any of it cause no one could tell what was from two days ago and what was years old.

    I think it all got thrown away, but now I know we probably would have been fine with all of it.

  33. @markwm: Beat me to it. :)

    @TVarmy: They also sell these little ceramic “bears” (why in the shape of bears I do not know) which you put dry into white sugar to soak up any free moisture, and damp into brown sugar (in an airtight container!) to keep the brown sugar moist.

  34. kerry says:

    I’ve seen those ketchup packets go south. They turn brown and taste really bad, even though they won’t cause you any harm. better to toss them if you don’t know how old they are.

  35. asherchang says:

    Liptsick goes bad? What, does it rot? Turn to mush? Dry up?

  36. @quantum-shaman: well, if you have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin’, it’s probably no longer good. (sorry, i know it’s been 14 months since this was posted, but i couldn’t resist.)