Do Laundry Detergents Expire?

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With the opportunities that stores, especially the so-called “big box” stores, provide to save money on quantities for items such as laundry detergents, the question quickly becomes, “Do laundry detergents expire?” After all, buying a large quantity at one time does save money, but if it goes bad or loses its effectiveness, what’s the use of saving money on it?

Well, for those enquiring minds who want to know, laundry detergents don’t spoil or “go bad” in the classical sense of the term. They can, however, lose their effectiveness. And as far as maintaining their form, that’s a different matter entirely.

Laundry detergents come in three general forms, liquid, powder, and individual use packets. Their differences are excellent when they are chosen for how we like to wash clothes, but the way they react over time is much different. And while almost all detergents have a “best when used by” date, that time frame should be used as a ballpark figure and not a hard and fast rule to get rid of it. Any detergent product should not be used if it appears in a form different than when purchased, but as a rule of thumb, don’t use them after nine months to a year after the use date.

Powdered Detergents. Powdered detergents tend to break down significantly over time. This is especially true when they are exposed to moisture. Moisture causes powdered detergents to clump and get lumpy.

If this happens to your detergent, but it is still within the use date, just give the container a good shake to break up the lumps. Once powdered detergents get old they tend to leave deposits on your clothes. And unless you plan to start some kind of fashion trend, best to throw out these products.

Liquid Detergents. Liquid detergents have a long shelf life unless they are exposed to extremes of temperatures. When this happens, they get lumpy and should not be used.

Single Use Products. For convenience, single use products are great. There’s no measuring or mess, and the polyvinyl film is made to dissolve quickly once wet, but therein presents a problem. Just as is the case with other laundry products, the use by date should be watched, but if the polyvinyl films get wet, they will stick together and become practically useless. If this happens, it’s best to throw them out.

Bleaches. Bleaches, no matter whether they are liquid or powder, should be thrown out within six months after their use by date.

The Laundry Center always uses the freshest and safest laundry detergents to make sure your clothes come out smelling fresh and looking clean.