I’ve heard so many hacks about storing everyday (inedible) items in the fridge or freezer to make them last longer. But are they true hacks or wives’ tales? I decided to investigate:
Growing up, my parents always kept our batteries in the fridge. Dad claimed it made them last longer. As an adult, I’ve never kept batteries in the fridge. Occasionally, I’d pull one out of a drawer to find that it had leaked. Would I have been better off keeping it cold? Not necessarily!
The article says, in part:
In order to understand why, it’s helpful to have some insight into how a battery works. To keep things simple, we’ll limit ourselves to common AA and AAA batteries – not smartphone or laptop batteries.
To get technical for just one moment, batteries release energy because of a chemical reaction between two or more compounds stored inside. Electrons flow out of the one terminal, through whatever device they’re powering, and back into the other terminal.
But even when they’re not plugged in, those electrons can sneak invisibly out of the battery, draining their capacity through a process called self-discharge.
So, should you? The answer from battery makers is a uniform and unequivocal.
“That’s a long-held myth, and the answer is no,” says Tom Van Voy of Panasonic Energy Corp. of America.
All the major brands recommend a clean, dry, room-temperature environment.
When stored properly, the discharge rate of a single-use alkaline battery, the most common type in the U.S., is negligible – only about 3% per year. Single-use lithium batteries lose even less.
If you’ve been storing batteries in the refrigerator like me, don’t kick yourself too hard. As it turns out, there’s good explanation for why the myth exists.
Have you ever pulled a rubber band out of a drawer to put it on something, and the moment you stretch it out – SNAP! You had a cracked, decaying rubber band that buckled under tension. Years ago, I heard that storing rubber bands in the fridge makes them last longer. Apparently this one is true!
The natural rubber that is used to make rubber bands crystallizes over time, giving us what is commonly called “dry rot”, where the bands are “dry”, crumbly and no longer elastic. This process shows an unusual temperature dependency – it occurs fastest at room temperature.
Putting the rubber bands in a cooler condition slows down that conversion as there is less energy inside the rubber to help it align itself for crystallization.
What’s the verdict from Plan It Perfect on storing rubber bands? Just keep a bundle of them in a drawer, and don’t over-purchase them. They’re so cheap (I would use the term “a dime a dozen,” but they might even be cheaper than that!) you can just toss the ones that bust open. Then, loosen the purse strings and buy another bundle when you need them. Or if your mail carrier tends to bundle your mail together like ours does, just keep the ones you acquire in the mailbox and you’re all set!
Yeah, you read that correctly. I recently heard that you should store your jeans in the freezer to make them last longer. Most of us wash our jeans, but you actually might not need to. Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh claims he’s been wearing the same jeans for 10 years, and he never washes them. So, if you don’t launder them, what are you supposed to do? Some people think freezing them is the solution. I’m not sure what this is supposed to accomplish, but it’s a thing people do! Legend has it, it could kill any odor-causing bacteria. Experts say it might actually just make the bacteria go dormant, allowing them to creep back up when the jeans thaw. (Gross!) Their alternate solution is to hang your jeans in fresh air to eliminate odor and bacteria, and to launder them every 4-6 weeks, depending on frequency of wash. As it turns out, wearing the jeans causes just as much fading and material breakdown as laundering would. So, in my opinion, just wash the darn jeans!