You Can Ignore the Expiration Date on These Popular Household Items

A variety of household items in a pantry
A variety of household items in a pantry |

Shopping for standard household items is typically a mind-numbing pursuit. It’s a time to daydream about dropping everything, leaving it all behind, and starting a new life in a tiny house on a Wyoming prairie. It makes you envy American hiker Christopher McCandless. The routine, the boring task of purchasing table salt, or laundry detergent makes you feel far from your ancestral roots. You wonder what happened to your childhood dreams — and contemplate when you’ll reach your own personal expiration date.
Or perhaps you simply go shopping when you need to. You buy your household items and products, and you go home and put them away. It’s not that big of a deal. It is, at worst, time-consuming. Not exactly an existential crisis.
But there are tactics you can use to save yourself some time and money. For many people, grocery and household shopping isn’t fun. And staring at nutrition labels and expiration dates week after week is enough to make you want to scream. So then, what can you do?
Two main things: Buy in bulk and buy indefinitely. Specifically, buy a good amount of the things that you need and that will last nearly forever, especially when they’re on sale. Many household products have “sell by” dates, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have expiration dates. A new brief from Quid Corner, a United Kingdom-based financial resource site, can help you figure out which products fit into that category.
“Expiration dates come on almost everything — from butter and eggs, to your lipstick and pillows. Some grocery items are not always entirely accurate, and certain household items should be recycled earlier than expected. The truth? The lifespan of the things we buy isn’t always as straightforward as you may think,” the brief says.
An included graphic shows the life span of many household products. They range from relatively short-lived items to several that should live “indefinitely” on your shelf. That is, you shouldn’t worry about them spoiling or going bad too soon. These are the products we’ll focus on.
From the Quid Corner Expiration Date Cheat Sheet, here are the nine items that will last “indefinitely.” Simply put, they don’t really have an expiration date. So go ahead, buy them in bulk.

1. Sugar

Different types of sugar
Different types of sugar |

Sugar comes in a variety of shapes and forms, but it should last you for a very long time (unless you’re a full-time baker!). That is, of course, assuming that you store it and take care of your stock properly. If it somehow becomes contaminated by another source or attracts insects, for example, you’ll have to toss it. Some types of sugar may change with time (brown sugar will harden), but otherwise, your sugar should last for the long haul.

2. Soy sauce

Soy sauce being poured into a bowl
Soy sauce |

Soy sauce is a dietary staple for many. It’s pretty cheap and can be used to liven up all sorts of dishes. And it doesn’t really have an expiration date. Soy sauce is designed to last a long time, and even if you have an open bottle, if you store it properly, it should be perfectly fine for years. So go ahead, get that industrial-sized barrel of Kikkoman — and splurge on some sushi to go along with it!

3. Honey

A small bowl of honey
A small bowl of honey |

They say that honey lasts forever. And they are basically right. Honey is essentially just sugar, sourced from nectar and processed by bees. You can dig into the science of why honey refuses to quit, or you can just get your shopping done with the confidence that your honey stock won’t go bad.

4. Rice

A hearty bowl of brown rice
Brown rice is one item you can stock up on while shopping |

You’ve probably noticed that you can buy rice in large bags that weigh approximately a ton — or so it would seem when you’re trying to wrestle them into a cart. Here’s a fun fact: White rice can last as long as 30 years. If you buy enough, you should be able to withstand several presidential administrations with one purchase. Other types don’t last quite as long, however.

5. Baking soda

Measuring spoons with baking soda
Measuring spoons with baking soda |

Some people never use baking soda, others use it all the time. It’s one of the more versatile household items that you can find. But while baking soda will last for a very long time, it will, eventually, expire. You should, however, work your way through a container long before that happens.

6. Motor oil

Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy motor oil doesn't have an expiration date
In case you didn’t know, Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy motor oil doesn’t have an expiration date | Mobil 1

Let’s make our way out of the kitchen and into the garage with this next item. Motor oil doesn’t have an expiration date, so feel free to stock up on it during your next Costco trip. Manufacturers will recommend that you don’t let it sit for longer than two years, though. Just make sure no deposits form and that no contaminants get into the container during that time.

7. Dried coffee

Folgers coffee, the best part of waking up, is seen on a grocery store shelf
Folgers coffee, the best part of waking up, is seen on a grocery store shelf | Chris Hondros/Getty Images

You’ll want to make sure you have energy post-apocalypse, so fill up your panic room or underground bunker with dried coffee. Your coffee shouldn’t expire, assuming you store it correctly and take care of it.

8. Vinegar

A bottle of artisan, handmade vinegar
A bottle of artisan, handmade vinegar |

Shopping for vinegar shouldn’t be a hassle, and it usually isn’t. Unless you wind up in a situation in which you need it and don’t have it. Well, buy a lot, and don’t worry about running out. It won’t go bad, according to research from the Vinegar Institute (yes, there’s actually such a thing).

9. Cornstarch

Corn on the cob
The sexiest shot of corn on the cob you’ll ever see | Perepelytsia

You might not use cornstarch very often, and since it doesn’t have an expiration date, you can keep a single container for decades. Like with your other household products, though, you need to store it correctly to ensure its shelf life.
Check out Quid Corner’s full report.