Laundry Tips

Does Laundry Detergent Expire?

March 24, 2020

Does Laundry Detergent Expire

We all clean our entire life, but have you ever thought of the critical ingredient to the process: laundry detergents? Does it have an expiry date? Or do cleaning products go bad? Besides, if you are a firm believer in shopping ahead, then you can stock laundry detergent supplies in your home than you can use at the specified time. So, will that detergent expire? Well, it does, but the timing depends on the type of detergent.

So, does laundry detergent expire?

According to Dr. Mark A. Benveuto, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Detroit Mercy and Dr. Scott Leckledge, a co-founder and CEO of Tiptek, most laundry detergents come with a shelf life.1

Detergents expire after a specified period, but their toxicity does not increase; instead, their effectiveness reduces. They also add that some laundry detergents never expire, such as white vinegar and baking soda. Let’s look at different types of detergents.

i. Liquid Formula Laundry Detergents

Mary Marlowe Leverette focuses on the liquid laundry detergents.

She observes that most liquid detergents are best for use before their expiry date. After the “best before” period elapses, the manufacturer cannot guarantee that the product will start breaking down or the ingredients will separate. You may still use the product after the expiry date, but they’ll clump on the bottle. Therefore, you have to shake the bottle well each time before using the detergent.

If a liquid detergent becomes hard or cakey, then discard it. This usually happens with home-made soaps as they do not contain anti-caking ingredients and will, therefore, cake easily. When preparing these detergents, make small batches that can be used quickly and store them in an airtight container.

Another general rule for liquid formula detergents is that they’re suitable for nine months after the date of the first use. Dr. Scott Lockledge summarizes that it’s difficult to generalize all the soaps, but the liquid ones degrade faster than solid detergents.

ii. Powdered Formula Laundry Detergents

Powdered formula laundry detergents never lose their effectiveness unless you expose them to moisture. If you notice clumps while opening the detergent packaging, then rub it through a sieve and transfer to a new container. The powder does not dissolve completely in the washer and leaves behind soapy deposits on your clothing.

If it is hard or contains a lot of clumps, then return it to the manufacturer. It is shared with smaller boxes as they have a large surface area to volume ratio. A larger surface area absorbs more humidity while a small one prevents them from dispersing enough to prevent clumping. If at all, it’s better to purchase a bigger box and transferring it to a tight-sealing lid and ensure the expiry date is favorable.3

iii. Single-Dose Laundry Detergents

These detergents are encased to a polyvinyl film that is made to be quick-dissolving. Unfortunately, they are fast-dissolving such that wet hands can turn them into giant lumpy masses. Always keep these detergents in water and airtight lid and keep it closed. Oh, and don’t forget, never touch the container with wet hands.

Always store powder and liquid detergent in a cool, dry place. It remains viable for 6 months to 1 year after opening the cap.

Problems arising from the use of expired laundry detergents

Unlike food, most laundry detergents can be used past their expiry date.

  • Inefficiency
    Expired laundry detergents become less effective and lose their clean scent. The only exception is clumpy, clabbered liquids.
  • Clogging
    When you pour an expired laundry detergent to an automatic dispenser, then it’ll likely clog the machine. Therefore, you’ll have to spend more seeking the services of technicians to remove the clogs. But if you’re determined to use them, shake the bottle well and add the detergent to the machine while it is filling.
  • Degeneration
    Products with oxygen bleach (hydrogen peroxide) or the enzyme-based will lose their pricey and unique cleaning action after one and a half years.

Proper storage to maintain your detergents

The key to keeping your laundry detergents last more is appropriate storage. Keep the products in airtight containers in a cold and dark place. Also, close the lids between loads. If there is any drastic temperature change in the room, then it’ll affect the liquid laundry products seriously. Never allow them to get hot and freeze or the other way, or they’ll separate into small pieces.

If your laundry detergents have expired, then that’s not the end. You can reuse them, provided you follow our instructions. They may lose some effectiveness and scent, though, but that should not discourage you. But, always make an effort to buy the detergents that you’ll utilize before their expiry date.


Does laundry detergent expire? Knowledge of different laundry varieties is necessary. Moreover, letting the experts do the laundry for you is even a better option. Want to have a worry-free laundry experience? Drop off your laundry at The Great American Laundry, and we’ll wash, dry, and fold it for you!

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