Does Dishwasher Detergent Expire? All You Need to Know

There some household cleaning products that we assume won’t expire, giving us the option of buying in bulk. Dishwasher detergent is one of these products that would seem to have an eternal shelf-life. It’s just soap, after all, right?

Dishwasher detergent does “expire” in the sense that important cleaning properties eventually lose their strength, it can take anywhere from 6-15 months for these detergents to expire. Dishwasher detergent is formulated with specific enzymes and chemicals that soften the water, break down grease, and eliminate harmful bacteria. These key ingredients oxidize over time, leaving the detergent less effective at cleaning and sanitizing your dishes.

This unfortunate fact can come as a bit of a surprise, especially since most of these products don’t have an expiration date on the label. However, knowing how and why dishwasher detergent goes bad is pretty crucial when it comes to maximizing its shelf-life and ensuring that your dishes come out bacteria-free and sparkly clean.

Do Dishwasher Pods Expire?

Dishwasher Pods are actually more susceptible to expiration. This is because outside humidity and the chemicals in the detergent break down the dissolvable plastic pouches that the detergent is contained it. If the pouch breaks open, the quality of detergent quickly diminishes, and any gel inside seeps out and makes a sticky mess.

Read here Cascade vs Finish dishwasher detergent comparison!

Does Powdered Dishwasher Detergent Expire?

Even the powdered stuff loses its ability to do its job over time. Storing it in an airtight container will keep it powdery and prevent the enzymes from deteriorating so quickly. But once you start opening and closing the container on a regular basis, the air exposure will start to have an effect.

What Happens When Dishwasher Detergent Expires?

If you have a bottle of regular dishwashing liquid that’s quite old and seems to have separated or have a dried-up, gelatinous surface, try giving it a good shake to reconstitute its homogenous form, then it should be good to go.

For other varieties (powdered, tablets, pods), if the quality has gone bad, then it’s best to dispose of it, as clumping can occur and damage your machine or leave residues on your dishes.

To dispose of expired dishwasher detergent, it’s perfectly safe to dump the liquid and powder varieties down the drain with running water. The pods, however, are best for the trash.

Can You Use Expired Dishwasher Detergent?

You can certainly use expired dishwasher detergent, especially if it hasn’t clumped-up too badly or poses a risk to your dishwasher. However, keep in mind that dishwasher detergent doesn’t just wash away bits and pieces of food, it also combats harmful bacteria that can remain on your dishes and make you sick. So, use it at your own risk!

How Should You Store Dishwasher Detergent?

The liquid stuff is the easiest to store. Minimizing air exposure is the only problem because the air will oxidize the enzymes and chemicals at a faster rate. So simply keep the liquid in the bottle with the lid on tight, and it’ll do just fine.

Powdered detergent will clump up easily if exposed to even the slightest bit of humidity. And the boxes they come in tend to reseal poorly, so it’s a good idea to transfer the powder to a better container. As for pods, the plastic pouches are meant to dissolve in water, so, of course, any humidity they’re exposed to will bust open those pouches before making it into the machine. So keep these high and dry too.

Dishwasher Detergent Expiry FAQs

When do Finish Tablets Expire? – Finish tablets are known to last up to 12 months in good condition. However, after about 6 months, they begin to lose their scent and effectiveness.

When do Cascade Pods Expire? – Cascade pods are said to have a 15-month shelf life. The key is keeping them very well-stored.

Does Palmolive dish detergent last longer? – Palmolive dish detergent, if in liquid form, stays good as long as many of the other leading brands.

Final Thoughts

It’s a bummer that we can’t just stock-up on tons and tons of dishwasher detergent and not have to worry about putting it on the grocery list for a good long while. But the reality is, it’s really best not to. You might up with a bucket-full of sticky detergent pods, and you’ll definitely be using less-effective detergent in the end.

As with many household products, we find that we can bend the rules a bit when it comes to expiration. But the important thing to remember is the safety factor of using dishwasher detergent. Even if the “expired” detergent seems to be working just fine, you still run the risk of exposing yourself to unseen and harmful bacteria. For this reason, we highly suggest following the suggested expiration dates.

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