Does Laundry Detergent Expire? (All You Need to Know)

Laundry detergent is one of those items that you’re going to use pretty frequently. But what if you find an old jug sitting down in your basement? Is it safe to use?

Laundry detergent has a pretty long shelf-life, but it does expire. Once you open the cap, laundry detergent will expire in roughly 6-12 months. Most laundry detergents are safe to use for a short time after their expiration date, but they will lose their effectiveness.

If you’re wondering if your laundry detergent has expired and if it’s still safe to use, then you’re in the right place! Read on to learn everything you need to know about expired laundry detergent in this detailed guide.

Does Liquid Laundry Detergent Expire?

Liquid laundry detergent will expire. Once you open the cap, your detergent only has 6-12 months before it’ll expire. This doesn’t mean that you have to throw it out right away, but if you choose to use expired detergent, it may not work as well.

Liquid laundry detergent can become clumpy past its expiration date. The ingredients in the detergent will separate and won’t work as well to clean and disinfect your clothes. Give your detergent bottle a vigorous shake to recombine the ingredients before adding it to your washing machine.

Do Laundry Pods Expire?

Gain flings! Laundry Detergent Soap Pacs, High Efficiency (HE), Original Scent, 96 Count

Due to their packaging, laundry pods have a slightly longer shelf-life than other detergents. Your laundry pods are good to use for 15 months, and then they expire.

You can still use laundry pods for a short time after they’ve expired, but it’s not recommended by manufacturers. This is because they can’t guarantee that the laundry pods will still work effectively once they’re past their expiration date.

Does Powder Laundry Detergent Expire?

Tide Powder Laundry Detergent, Mountain Spring, 68 loads, 95 oz

Powdered laundry detergent will also expire after some time. It’s recommended to store your powdered laundry detergent in a dry, cool area to maximize its shelf-life.

After about 12 months, your powder laundry detergent will expire. However, if your powdered detergent is exposed to moisture, it’s likely to expire more quickly. Make sure you’re storing in an area that isn’t humid and where it can’t come into contact with anything wet or damp.

Does Fabric Softener Expire?

Fabric softener is a great way to keep your laundry from getting stiff and help boost that fresh scent you want your clean laundry to have. All of those benefits will be weakened if you accidentally use an expired fabric softener.

Fabric softener expires 6-10 months after you open it. Unopened containers have a pretty long shelf-life and will still be good for up to 2-3 years.

Do Dryer Sheets Expire?

dryer sheets on dryer machine

The good news is that dryer sheets will never go bad or expire. You can use these static cling eliminators decades after you buy them.

The bad news is that dryer sheets can become unusable in certain conditions. Pre-moistened dryer sheets can dry out or develop mildew. If this happens to your dryer sheets be sure to throw them away.

Does Unopened Laundry Detergent Expire?

Most laundry detergents will come with a best buy date on the bottle. Generally, if you don’t use your laundry detergent before this date, it’s best to throw it away.

However, if you can’t find a best buy date on your laundry detergent container, then you should assume it needs to be used within 12-18 months. If you can’t remember when you bought the detergent, then check the liquid for any clumps or separation. Finding any sort of disruption to the way the liquid typically presents means ‌it’s expired and shouldn’t be used.

What Happens if You Use Expired Laundry Detergent?

Unlike other cleaning products, it’s usually safe to use laundry detergent past its expiration date. For the most part, you’ll see a decrease in the detergent’s effectiveness and fresh scent, but it shouldn’t harm your clothes or washing machine.

The exception is when liquid laundry detergents are so far past their expiration date that they’ve begun to break down and separate. When this happens, the detergent can become clumpy and coagulated. If you have a front-loading washer where you need to use a detergent dispenser, then you shouldn’t be putting expired detergent into it. The clumps can get stuck and clog up your machine, which will lead to an expensive fix.

Does Laundry Detergent Go Bad in Heat?

Extreme temperatures can definitely affect your laundry detergent, but long-term exposure to heat won’t necessarily cause your detergent to go bad. It can lead the ingredients to become unstable and separate.

If this happens, then you should be able to give your laundry detergent bottle a good shake to recombine the ingredients. As long as your detergent returns to a smooth liquid state, then it’s safe to continue using.

Specific Laundry Detergents and their Expiry Information

Need to know if the specific brand of laundry detergent you’ve been hanging onto expires or is still safe to use? Read on to learn about specific laundry detergent brands and their expiry information!

Does Tide Laundry Detergent Expire? Tide Liquid Laundry Detergent Soap, High Efficiency (HE), Original Scent, 64 Loads

Just like most liquid laundry detergents, Tide brands will expire 6-12 months after you’ve opened the cap. It’s recommended to open the bottle before its best buy date, but if you can’t find a best buy date on the bottle, then it’s safe to assume that the detergent will remain good unopened for about 18 months.

Does Dreft Laundry Detergent Expire? Dreft Stage 1: Newborn Hypoallergenic Liquid Baby Laundry Detergent (HE), Natural for Baby, Newborn, or Infant, 64 Total Loads (Pack of 2)

Dreft laundry detergent is ‌great for people with sensitive skin and for babies. This detergent is similar to other brands in that its shelf-life while unopened is about 18 months.

Once you open a bottle of Dreft laundry detergent, it should be used within one year. After that, the ingredients will begin to separate and lose their effectiveness.

Does Baby Laundry Detergent Expire?

Babies have very sensitive skin, so many parents feel compelled to buy laundry detergent marketed specifically for babies. However, if you take a look at the ingredients, you’ll find they’re usually the same as regular laundry detergent.

Since the ingredients are the same, their shelf-life and expiration dates are ‌going to be the same as well. Baby laundry detergent can be safe to use for up to a year after you’ve opened it. The exception is when the consistency of the detergent has changed. If the detergent is clumpy and not a smooth liquid, then you should consider it expired and discontinue using it.

Does Woolite Laundry Detergent Expire? Woolite Delicates Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent, 50 oz, 33 Washes, Machine and Hand Wash Eligible

Woolite laundry detergent is great for brightening your clothes and removing stains, but its ingredients are largely the same as most other detergents. With no difference in ingredients, there’s no difference in their expiration timeline.

You can use your detergent past its best buy date until you see a separation of the ingredients. If shaking the bottle doesn’t bring recombine the ingredients into a smooth liquid, then you should get a new container of detergent and dispose of the old one.

Does Persil Laundry Detergent Expire? Persil Liquid Laundry Detergent, ProClean Scent, 2X Concentrated, 110 Loads, Blue, 82.5 Fl Oz, Original

When it comes to a laundry detergent that cleans your clothes, removes tough stains, and leaves them with a pleasant, fresh scent, you can’t go wrong with Persil laundry detergent. It has a long shelf-life of about 18 months when unopened.

Just like the other detergents on this list, Persil laundry detergent can become coagulated if left unopened for longer than a year or exposed to extreme temperatures. If your laundry detergent doesn’t have a smooth consistency, then you should consider it expired and move on to a new container.

Final Thoughts

While all detergents have a best buy date, it’s generally safe to use them for several months past that date. Liquid detergents will usually last for a year after being opened and will still work effectively.

However, if your laundry detergent has been sitting out for longer than a year and becomes clumpy, then it’s best to stop using that detergent. It could clog up your machine and won’t work as well to clean your clothes and leave them smelling fresh.

Powdered detergents and dryer sheets are a great choice because they can last for years as long as they aren’t exposed to moisture. Always check your powdered detergent for clumps and your dryer sheets for mildew before throwing them in with your laundry.

There’s a lot to learn about laundry detergents and their expiry information. This guide should answer your questions and help you feel confident that the detergent you’re using will be safe and effective on your clothes and linens.