In today’s economy, more shoppers than ever are interested in saving money when and where they can. Many shoppers resort to buying products in bulk as a way to save money, but truly savvy shoppers understand that bulk buying isn’t always the best idea. Sure, it may be cheaper in the long run, but if your products expire before you get a chance to use them, then what’s the point in all those savings?
We all know perishable food expires, even if unopened, but what about other products like laundry detergent? If you buy in bulk and find yourself with too much detergent on your hands, do you need to worry about it expiring? In short, yes … laundry detergent will expire. The shelf life and potency of your laundry detergent will vary depend on whether you use powdered detergent, liquid detergent, or detergent pods.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at when different types of laundry detergent expire, what to expect from expired laundry detergents, and how to store laundry detergent so it lasts.
How Long Does Laundry Detergent Last?
How long your laundry detergent lasts will depend largely on what type of detergent you use, where you store it, and whether it has been opened or not. Most detergents will come with a “Best Used By” date stamped on them, which is a great frame of reference, too.
When possible, laundry detergents should be stored in cool, dry places where the temperature is stable. Liquid detergents can be particularly sensitive to temperature and freeze if they become too cold or separate and destabilize if they become too hot.
Single-dose laundry pods like Gain Flings are encased in thin, polyvinyl film that dissolves in water, so storing these types of detergents somewhere dry is very important to keeping them fresh. Always store these types of detergents in air-tight containers to protect them from moisture and, generally speaking, use your single-dose laundry pacs within six months of buying them.
Many liquid laundry detergent containers will come with a “Best Used By” date printed on the side. While this doesn’t mean the detergent expires after this date, liquid detergents can separate and break down over time, a process accelerated by freezing cold or blistering hot temperatures. You may also experience clumping of the liquid detergent. While clumpy detergent can still be used, you should never add clumpy detergent to a dispenser tray because you may end up clogging it. You may also notice the efficacy of liquid detergent goes down once the Best Used By date has elapsed.
One of the many benefits of powder laundry detergents is that they do not expire or lose efficacy if stored properly. When stored in a cool, dry place, your powdered laundry detergent will be good until it’s gone. Powder detergents are, however, sensitive to moisture. If exposed to moisture, powder detergent can become clumpy and hard. If your detergent is clumpy and hard, you should discard it to avoid soap deposits being left inside your machine and on your clothing.
What Happens if You Use Expired Laundry Detergent?
The good news about laundry detergent is that even with an expiration date, they aren’t like food or other perishable items. Expired laundry detergents simply become less effective and fragrant over time, reducing their cleaning power. If you use expired laundry detergent, you may notice that your clothing isn’t getting as clean as it normally does.
The only thing that should give you pause about using an expired laundry detergent is the potential for clumping. Both powdered and liquid detergents can experience clumping that could be detrimental to your clean laundry. Clumped detergents can leave soap deposits on clothes or even clog up the internals of your washing machine. You should use caution if you plan to use clumpy detergents and never place them in a dispenser, instead adding them directly to the washer drum as it fills with water.
What Are Other Uses for Expired Laundry Detergent?
Expired laundry detergent can be mixed with water and used to clean a number of things besides laundry. If you’ve got some laying around and you don’t want to put it through your machine, try mixing it with some warm water and using it to:
Mop your floor
Clean a bathroom
Put in spray bottle for surface cleaning
Clean kitchen appliances
Clean oven racks
How Long Does Unopened Laundry Detergent Last?
How long unopened laundry detergent will last depends on if it’s a liquid or a powder as well as how well you store it. Liquid detergents, if unopened, typically are at their most potent for about nine months to a year after you purchase them. If opened, liquid detergents should be used within six months. Unopened powdered detergents and pods are typically good forever, provided they’re stored in air-tight conditions with no exposure to moisture at all.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you know if laundry detergent is expired?
Many detergents include a “Best Used By” date that is the best indicator of a detergent’s efficacy. Expired detergents can still be used, but you may notice that they don’t clean as well and have lost some of their fragrance. Powdered detergents don’t expire unless exposed to moisture. Liquids may experience clumping. Clumpy detergent should never be added to a dispenser to avoid clogging your machine.
What is the shelf life of Tide liquid detergent?
Unopened liquid laundry detergent typically has a shelf life of 12 to 18 months, depending on where it is stored. Laundry detergent should be stored in a temperature-stable, cool, dry environment for best results. Opened liquid laundry detergent should be used within six months for the best cleaning results.
Does laundry fabric softener expire?
Most fabric softeners expire after 2 to 3 years if stored properly and unopened. Opened fabric softener should be used in 6 to 12 months before it begins to break down. Store all your laundry cleaners and aids in a cool, dry, temperature-stable environment to keep them all fresh and working properly.
Do Gain Flings have an expiration date?
If stored in a cool, dry place, Flings have a shelf life of about 15 months. While it’s not recommended that they be used past this point, detergents past their Best Used By date typically just become less effective and lose some of their fragrance.