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Does Laundry Detergent Expire?

We’re very aware about checking for expiry dates on items like foods and medicines, but should we be checking our laundry detergents and other household cleaning products too? Do they even have shelf-life or expiry dates for that matter?


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Does Laundry Detergent Expire

If that laundry detergent has been sitting in your store cupboard for a while and you’re not sure if it’s still good enough to use, here’s all you need to know about how long different laundry detergents last and what to do with expired products.

Do Laundry Detergents Expire?

There are a variety of different kinds of laundry detergents on the market, namely powders, liquids and capsules. Each is created differently, but of course, are all formulated to give you effective cleaning and stain removal power. Overall, these kinds of laundry detergents do not necessarily expire as such, but it is thought that they can lose some of their effectiveness or cleaning power if they are being used beyond their recommended sell-by dates.

Here is a little bit more on each type of product and the laundry detergent shelf life pertaining to all:

Liquid Detergent

Liquid laundry detergents can be store-bought or even handmade. For store-bought products, like OMO Auto Washing Liquid formula packs the stain removal power into a liquid form. It is thought that exposure to heat, or other temperature extremes like cold, could cause the liquid to separate and this could cause the ingredients in the liquid to break down and lose their effectiveness. Keep your laundry liquid in a cool, dry space and once you’ve opened your liquid detergent, it is recommended that you use it within six months for best results.

If you’ve mixed your own homemade laundry liquid that does not contain any kind of preservative, be careful of harmful bacteria, mould and mildew that can grow. These could all be harmful to you if ingested in any way and could also ruin or stain your clothing badly.

Washing Powder

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Washing powders are found in powder form as both hand-washing laundry detergents and machine-washing detergents. Powders don’t expire and will only lose their effectiveness if mixed with water. They can remain in their packaging, unopened for up to a year in your cupboard and still be safely used. If they turn hard, clumped or cakey, it might mean the ingredients have broken down, however, and it might be wise to discard it.

If you do open up a laundry powder, just make sure you keep it in an air-tight container in your store cupboard away from water or moisture before the laundry soap expires.


Laundry capsules also do not have an expiry date as such, but because they are covered in a film that is designed to dissolve, if they are exposed to water or moisture, they could dissolve and become ineffective before you even use them. Again, keep capsules like this in an air-tight container in a cupboard that is free from moisture.

What is the shelf-life of other household detergents?

Are you wondering about the shelf-life of other detergents in your home like bleach, fabric softener and dishwashing liquid? Here’s more on whether these ingredients expire or not;

  • Bleach – bleach, especially chlorine beach, is a chemical that can be volatile or aged or kept under the incorrect conditions. You should not keep a chlorine bleach bottle in your cupboard for longer than six months as it may become both ineffective and volatile.

  • Fabric softener – as with liquid auto laundry washing detergents, fabric softeners can be safely kept for months after opening and whilst unopened too. However, you should just check for lumpiness or separating of the ingredients in products that have been in your cupboard for a long time.

  • Dishwashing Liquid – again, no expiry date on this product but as with liquid detergents, they can lose their efficacy if kept in the wrong conditions or allowed to separate.

What to do if your laundry detergent has expired?

Before you chuck the bottle and its contents in the dustbin, read more about how you can get the best use out of expired detergent without simply having to throw it away;

  • Use the liquid detergent to clean areas like your bathroom, toilet, bath and shower. It will work well to give these surfaces a good clean and leave them smelling great too. Just make sure you rinse the areas after washing.

  • Mix a solution of expired liquid laundry detergent and water into a spray bottle, and use it as a carpet or rug cleaner. Or use it as a spot cleaner for cushions, curtains or blankets.

  • If it’s possible, always make sure to recycle the packaging and bottles of your laundry detergents.

Tips for storing laundry detergents well

If the liquid detergent appears lumpy or has a strong smell, rather opt not to use it.

Keep your laundry detergents in a dry, dark cupboard

Do not let them be exposed to too much sunlight, heat or water

Keep away from children or vulnerable people

The general rule of thumb for most laundry products is that once the packaging or bottle has been opened, you should use the product within six months. And, if it’s unopened, it’s best to use it within nine months to a year of it sitting in your cupboard.


Does expired laundry detergent work?

Expired laundry detergent is thought to eventually lose its effectiveness over time, so it might not give you the same cleaning power as it should.

What is the shelf life of detergent?

Detergents don’t generally have shelf life’s per se, but they do have recommended use-by dates.

Where can I find the best laundry detergent?

For a range of great laundry detergents that are tough on stains, try the OMO range of hand washing powder, auto powder detergent, auto liquid detergents and capsules now.

Does laundry detergent expire?

Not necessarily no, but it can lose its effectiveness over time.

How should you store laundry detergent?

You should always keep your laundry detergents in air-tight containers in a dark, dry cupboard.

Originally published