Shopping in bulk or buying laundry detergent when it’s on sale is a great way to save money, but you need to make sure you can use it before it expires.
This article will discuss whether detergent has an expiration date and where you can find it. We’ll also tell you if laundry detergent can withstand extreme temperatures and what happens if you use expired detergent.
Can Laundry Detergent Expire?
If you’ve never considered it before, it may surprise you that some laundry detergents do expire. Liquid detergent, laundry pods, and fabric softener can expire and should be used within 6 months of opening them. Powder laundry detergent does not expire, but should be stored in a dry place so it remains effective.
How Long Does Laundry Detergent Last?
The shelf-life of laundry detergent varies from product to product. Some detergents, like bleach, are more volatile than others and must be watched closely to make sure they’re still good to use.
On the other hand, most powdered laundry detergents can last for years, making them an excellent choice when stocking up.
1. Liquid Laundry Detergent
Liquid laundry detergent often has an expiration date stamped on the side of the bottle. While it doesn’t necessarily go bad after this date, the manufacturer no longer guarantees how well it will work. In other words, it won’t ruin your clothes, but it might not get them as clean as it should.
If you have a few different types of detergent open at once, make sure you use them all in a timely manner. A good rule of thumb is to use all the detergent within six months of opening the bottle.
The best way to tell if your detergent is still useable after its expiration date is to shake the container to determine if it has solidified. If there is still some liquid in the bottle, you can strain out the clumps and use it at your discretion.
2. Homemade Detergents
Homemade detergents are more likely to harden than their store-bought counterparts because they don’t have any anti-caking ingredients.
It could also grow mold or mildew because it doesn’t have any ingredients to stop the growth of bacteria. To get the most out of your homemade laundry detergent, make it in small batches and store it in a cool, dry cabinet.
3. Powdered Laundry Detergent
Powdered laundry detergents never expire. These detergents lose their effectiveness only if they are exposed to moisture. If you plan to buy powdered laundry detergent in bulk, you should buy it in large containers.
After you open the container, transfer the detergent into smaller, sealed containers for storage to keep out any humidity and avoid clumping.
If your powdered laundry detergent has clumps, you can pour it through a mesh sieve to remove them. You shouldn’t use clumped detergent in your washload because it won’t break down and could damage your clothes.
4. Laundry Pods
Single-dose laundry detergent, or laundry pods, are encapsulated in quick-dissolving polyvinyl film (they work differently from dishwasher pods). This film breaks down when exposed to water, so reaching into the container with wet hands will significantly decrease its shelf life.
If your laundry pods get wet, it will cause the outer film to break down and make them stick together. If this happens, you shouldn’t try to pull them apart. It is almost impossible to get them apart, and they could burst and spurt detergent into your eyes.
To extend their life, always store your laundry pods in an air-tight container to prevent moisture from breaking down the film. Try to use them within six months of opening the package.
Other Laundry Items That Expire
Liquid bleach starts to lose stability as soon as you open the bottle. Over time, the bleach compounds will break down and become water-like, so try to use it within six months of opening it.
If you use powdered bleach, don’t mix it with water until you’re ready to use it. If you don’t use the entire solution in eight hours, discard your leftovers; they’re no longer effective past this point.
Much like liquid laundry detergent, the ingredients in fabric softener can separate over time, so you’ll need to shake it and check for clumps if you’ve had a bottle open for a few months.
These products are generally fine for up to six months after opening them. Beyond that time frame, the solution may lose effectiveness.
If you buy dryer sheets, you don’t have to worry about them going bad, but the pre-moistened sheets can grow mildew or dry out if left open for too long. You’ll need to throw out any sheets with mildew, but you can spray dried-out sheets with water to re-activate the solution.
Where Is The Expiration Date Located on Bleach?
According to the home experts at Bob Vila, bleach doesn’t have an expiration date on the bottle, but it does have a manufactured date. There are two lines of code on a bottle of bleach, and the manufactured date is in the first line of code. The example given by the folks at Bob Vila is as follows:
If the line of code is A92010007, it means that the bottle was manufactured at the A9 plant. The 20 refers to the year, so it was made in 2020. 100 refers to the day of the year, so in this example, the bottle would have been made in April. The 07 just stands for the manufacturing shift.
Bleach is best used within six months of the manufacturer date, so using simple math, you can determine if your bottle of bleach is still good (if it’s not then make sure you dispose of it safely).
Although some laundry detergents expire, they don’t become toxic, so theoretically, you can still use them. You only have to worry about whether or not they will still clean your clothing effectively.
Yes, laundry detergent can go bad if it’s left in extreme heat. The high temperature can cause the ingredients to activate, rendering the solution useless when you try to use it to clean your clothing.
Yes, some laundry detergents can go bad if left in extreme cold. The low temperatures can cause liquid laundry detergent, including the liquid portion of laundry pods, to freeze. The ingredients may clump together when they have thawed out again, making the solution less effective.
Yes, Tide Pods can expire. As with any other liquid laundry detergent, you should use your Tide Pods within six months of opening the container.
When you shop in bulk, make sure you only buy as much laundry detergent as you can use before it expires. To make the most of your laundry detergent, remember:
- Use any liquid detergent bottles, laundry pods, and fabric softener within six months of opening them.
- Bleach products begin to lose effectiveness after six months of their manufacture date.
- Powdered laundry detergent has no expiration date. It will remain effective as long as you keep it dry.