Does Laundry Detergent Expire?

It can be tempting to stock up on laundry products, especially when they are on sale. You can save money and are less likely to run out of products when you need them. 

But what do you do when you end up buying more laundry detergent products than you can consume? Besides, does laundry detergent expire? How about other cleaning products? 

Can Laundry Detergent Go Bad?

Most laundry detergents do not include an end date on the labels. But, laundry detergents expire after a specific period. It can be confusing, but you can still use them. Laundry detergents do not become more toxic then. But their effectiveness when it comes to cleaning clothes diminishes. 

How Long Does Detergent Last?

It does not matter if they are powder, single-dose pods, or liquid formula laundry detergents. They all lose their efficacy after some time. And old containers can change their formulas. Thus, proper storage of laundry detergents plays a huge factor. The best way to keep them in top shape is to store them in an airtight container. They should also be placed in a cool, dry place, away from excessive moisture. 

So when exactly does laundry detergent expire? Here is what we found about the stability of these laundry essentials:

Type of DetergentShelf Life (Expiry)
Liquid Laundry Detergent (Sealed)They are best used before their expiry date (if there is no expiry date, they are best used 9 months to 1 year after your purchase date).
Liquid Laundry Detergent (Opened)They are best used within six months.
Powder Laundry Detergent (Sealed)They do not expire.
Powder Laundry Detergent (Opened)If they become hard or cakey, they should be discarded.
Single-Dose Laundry Detergents (Laundry Pods)They are best used within 6 months from purchase.
Homemade Laundry DetergentThey are best used within two months.

Liquid Laundry Detergent

Some liquid laundry detergents have an expiration date stamped on the bottle. But, if there are no tags, you can use an opened liquid laundry detergent within six months. Meanwhile, you can store an unopened liquid laundry detergent for up to 9 months to 1 year.

Manufacturers cannot guarantee the effectiveness of liquid formula detergents way past this time. Yet, you can use most liquid detergents after the expiry date, but they will clump on the bottle. So, you have to give the container a good shake each time you use a liquid detergent.

Do not use lumpy liquid formula laundry detergents in automatic dispensers. It is because they may cause the dispensers to clog. To use them, you can pour the liquid detergent into the empty washer drum before adding the laundry. This will make sure that they dissolve correctly during the wash.

Powder Laundry Detergent 

Most detergents in powdered form do not expire or lose effectiveness unless you expose them to moisture. Once they become hard or cakey, then it is time to throw them. If they become hard or cakey, they will not dissolve in the washer. They may also leave product deposits on your clothing. 

To prevent clumping, you may need to provide proper storage. Just transfer the powdered detergent to a small container box. Doing so prevents humidity from dispersing enough, and this will prevent lumps. If at all, buy a big box with a tight-sealed lid. This way, the shelf life of the opened powdered detergent is extended.

Single-Dose Laundry Detergent (Laundry Pods)

Single-dose laundry detergents are convenient and concentrated. Thus, you don’t need to measure them as they are already ready to use. Packet formulas contain detergent enclosed in a quick-dissolving polyvinyl film. Wet hands can turn these single-dose packs into giant lumpy masses.

Even single-dose packs can degenerate. Thus, you have to use them six months after purchase. Moreover, it’s best to keep the pods in an airtight container. Also, avoid touching a single-dose laundry detergent with wet hands to prevent melting the polyvinyl film.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

A homemade laundry detergent can develop mold and mildew growth. It’s because it doesn’t contain any bacterial inhibitors thus they have a quick expiration date. They can also quickly become cakey as these items do not have anti-caking ingredients. You should store homemade laundry detergent products in a climate-controlled area. Doing so will prevent the growth of mold and mildew. 

To ensure better efficiency and to cut wastage, it’s best to make small batches. You can prepare homemade laundry detergents that are good for two months’ use. If you like to make larger batches, you can share them with family and friends instead.

What Happens If You Use Expired Laundry Detergent?

You can use most laundry detergents even if they are past their end dates. But an expired detergent can become an ineffective cleaning solution. Moreover, detergents lose their clean scent once its shelf life has lapsed.

There is also the risk that expired detergents would clog the automatic dispenser. If there are no other detergents available, you can give the container a good shake. Then you can pour them into the empty drum before you add the laundry.

Do Other Laundry Products Expire?

  • Chlorine Bleach. You need to check your chlorine bleach as it can be unstable. It happens when you expose bleach to light and air. Chlorine bleach begins to be ineffective after it has been opened for six months. 
  • Oxygen Bleach. Powdered oxygen bleaches are more stable than liquid ones. These cleaning products activate once they come in contact with water. When mixed with water, they begin to lose their effectiveness after eight hours. Liquid oxygen bleach becomes ineffective once opened for a few weeks. After some time, they revert to plain water. 
  • Fabric Softeners. This laundry product needs a good shake before usage. However, it’s best to throw them away when you observe that the lumps don’t break even after a vigorous shake. A lumpy fabric softener can clog your dispenser. Moreover, your clothes may have a fabric softener residue from using a clumpy product. 

In Conclusion

Laundry detergent does expire. But, unlike food and other food products, you can still use them way past their best before dates. The best way to keep them in their top shape is to store them in a cool, dry place. They will also benefit when transferred to an airtight container. If this post helped you, please bookmark this page. Don’t forget to follow us on our social media accounts for more home cleaning tips and advice.

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About Margaret Croom

Peggy is a contributor and editor at Tidy Diary. She is a proud mother of three children who inspired her to level up her tidying skills. She enjoys her me time by lounging in her favorite nook with a lovely cup of tea. She also keeps a handy diary.