When am I going to have to replace this?

Nothing lasts forever. Even rocks wear away with time. Rocks!

As a consumer, that means you’re constantly replacing your stuff. Some things you use up. Some things break down. And other things still look like they ought to work, but actually really kinda don’t.

So today we’re going to take a look at the items in your house and figure out how long they last, so you can see what big and small possessions are going to need to be replaced soon.

Big ticket items

Mattress: 5-10 years (sometimes longer under certain circumstances)
Outside of going to the mattress store and jumping on a bunch of showroom models, replacing your bed is a pain. But the quality of your mattress (and your night’s sleep) begins to noticeably degrade after five or so years. And we’re not going to even talk about the things living inside your bed. (Note: get a mattress protector.)

Television: 16 years
Televisions today are pretty amazing. For a quality plasma TV, the degradation from full brightness to half brightness takes about 54 years (that’s watching five hours a day…you really shouldn’t be watching more than five hours of TV in a day…unless you’re sick…in which, get better soon!). It’s 16 years for a low end LCD. Either way, odds are very good you’ll either upgrade your TV or throw a remote control through it before it actually wears out.

Refrigerator: 15-20 years
You’re probably good on this one for a while.

Washer and dryer: 10 years (plus)
Like most appliances, amount of use is a big factor. A big, messy family is going to run through a washer and dryer much faster than a bachelor with no one to impress.

Computers: 5 years
This goes for laptops and desktops. And again, what you do with it will have an impact on how long it remains functional. With normal maintenance, a computer purchased today should give you five good years of Googling yourself.

Other furniture: ????
There’s too much variance here to make an educated guess, but the rules of thumb are usually:

  • If it came in 40 pieces and you put it together yourself, it’s not going to last long.
  • If you need to bribe more than one other friend to help you move it, it’s probably going to outlive you.


Fire extinguisher/smoke alarm: 10 years
Replace your fire-prevention gear at least every ten years. That’s a pretty important one.

Beauty products

Soap: 3 years
Soap goes bad? Everything goes bad eventually. Hopefully you use your bars of soap and bottles of body wash often enough that they don’t make it to three years, but if, for whatever reason, you’ve got some soap that’s been around longer than three years it’s time to chuck it and move on.

Shampoo and conditioner: 2 years
Again, hopefully it doesn’t come to this, but if your shampoo is two years old it’s time to move on. This is your hair we’re talking about it. There’s luster, shine, and bounce at stake.

Toothbrush: 3 months
A worn down toothbrush just doesn’t get the job done. Replace your toothbrush (or brush head, in case of an electric) every three months. Your teeth and gums will thank you.

Toothpaste: 2 years
The ADA actually requires tubes of toothpaste to carry an expiration date, so you can just go by that date.

Lipstick: 2-3 years
You probably won't even like that shade in two years anyway. Also, apparently it starts to smell pretty funky when it spoils. I did not know that. Non-pro tip: you can extend the life of your lipstick by keeping it in the refrigerator. Most make-up actually should be tossed after three years or so.

Cleaning supplies

Laundry detergent: 6 months
This one’s a little surprising. Laundry detergent doesn’t spoil exactly, but the contents separate over time, reducing effectiveness and overall springtime freshness. So be careful when buying in bulk and be sure to store detergent someplace with a consistent temperature – the product degrades faster in extremely high or low temperatures.

Bleach: 2 years

Dishwasher detergent: 1 year

Window cleaner: 2 years
As with laundry detergent, most cleaning supplies don’t really spoil, but they do stop working as well as they should. The question then shouldn’t be “Is this too old?” but “Is this getting the job done?”

Good health

Athletic shoes: 500 miles

Vitamins: 2 years
The average pair of running shoes is rated for about 500 miles of hard stress. Of course, if you tend to take it easy in your running shoes, they’ll probably last you a bit longer. But then again, why are you wearing running shoes? Meanwhile, if you bought vitamins two years ago and still haven’t managed the part where you start taking them every day, you can still take them, they just won’t be as effective.

When it comes to potentially expired goods, your main concerns should be safety and effectiveness. Unsafe products should always be properly disposed of, while it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to use products that have become less effective.

Another consideration to take from this: your budget. If you’ve got items that are pushing the upper limits of usefulness, you might want to start planning for a replacement.

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.