The shelf life of bleach, hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies

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Hand Sanitizer, Disinfectant Wipes and More: What’s the Shelf Life of Cleaning Supplies?

Hand Sanitizer, Disinfectant Wipes and More: What’s the Shelf Life of Cleaning Supplies?

Make sure your cleaning supplies are effective
The shelf life of bleach, hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies

Colleen Michaels/Shutterstock

You know how long different foods last in your fridge and freezer, but did you know that common household cleaners like laundry detergent, disinfectant wipes, bleach and even dish soap also have expiration dates? To make sure you’re actually cleaning your home when you wipe down your counters and mop your floors, here’s how long all of your different cleaning supplies last.

Disinfectant spray

Disinfectant spray

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Disinfectant spray has a shelf life of two years from date of manufacture, which can typically be found on the bottom of the canister. Use this spray on reusable grocery bags, trash cans, kitchen counters and more of the dirtiest spots in your home.

Disinfectant wipes

Disinfectant wipes

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When used correctly, disinfectant wipes really do kill germs. But you also want to make sure your wipes are still good to keep your home clean. Disinfectant wipes last for one year after the manufacturing date.

Hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer

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Does hand sanitizer expire? Hand sanitizer is regulated by the FDA as an over-the-counter drug, and a bottle will last roughly three years. The FDA does not have information on the effectiveness of hand sanitizer after its expiration date. Be sure to check on the bottom or back of your hand sanitizer bottle, where you’ll see there is a date like you’ll find on medicine.

Bleach

Bleach

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If you need to deep-clean your house, you can rely on the power of bleach. But this product lasts only one year after its production date. After that amount of time, the active ingredient, sodium hypochlorite, naturally begins to break down into salt and water. To prolong the life of your bleach, keep it at room temperature, or about 70 degrees.

Multi-purpose cleaners

Multi-purpose cleaners

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You may think using multi-purpose cleaners is one of the ways you’re cleaning your home wrong, but this product really is great for getting bacteria and grime off of stainless steel, plastic, brick, tile and more. If you can find it, stock up as it lasts for one whole year.

Liquid laundry detergent

Liquid laundry detergent

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Buying everyday cleaning products like laundry detergent in bulk is one of the easiest ways to save money. If you’re buying liquid laundry detergent, it has quite a long shelf life of about 18 months.

Laundry detergent pacs

Laundry detergent pacs

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Laundry detergent pacs, like Tide Pods, will last about 15 months. These are packed with super-concentrated detergent, odor fighters and stain removers to make laundry easier. And that’s a good thing, because washing your clothes frequently is one of the easiest ways to create a healthier home.

Powdered laundry detergent

Powdered laundry detergent

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You may think a giant tub of powdered laundry detergent is one of the best ways to save money on cleaning supplies, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Powdered laundry detergent has a shelf life of just six months.

Liquid fabric softener

Liquid fabric softener

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If you’re washing your bedding as often as you should, chances are you go through a lot of fabric softener. But if you don’t use a ton of it, that’s OK too. Liquid fabric softener will last for one year.

Dryer sheets

Dryer sheets

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If you prefer to reduce static and wrinkles in your laundry by using dryer sheets, feel free to buy the family-size box — they last for two years. If you find you’re not going through dryer sheets as quickly as you’d like, you can use them as dust rags or to deodorize your shoes. And after you nail that hack, here’s how to repurpose other common household items.

Dishwashing soap

Dishwashing soap

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Liquid dishwashing soap will last for one year once opened. To preserve it for as long as possible, your dish soap should be kept at room temperature. And to keep your dishes as clean as possible, you should know the steps for hand washing your dishes.

Liquid hand soap

Liquid hand soap

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Washing your hands is more important now than ever before, so you want to make sure that your liquid hand soap is effective. As long as your hand soap is less than two years old, it will still be of optimal quality.

Bar soap

Bar soap

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If you like to properly wash your hands using bar soap, know that product also has a long shelf life. Unopened, it can last in the box for two to three years from the manufacture date. Once opened, it’s good for one year.

Liquid body wash

Liquid body wash

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If you’re working out at home and then need to take a shower but all you have is old body wash, don’t panic. When stored properly at room temperature, body wash will last for two years.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide

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Hydrogen peroxide has many uses from first aid antiseptic to getting rid of mold, but be wary of this product. After opening, it is good for only about six months. To check if it’s still OK, pour it over a sliced potato. If it bubbles, it’s still working. If not, it’s time to throw it away.

White vinegar

White vinegar

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White vinegar easily ranks among the groceries with incredibly long shelf lives. White distilled vinegar, which is a great cleaning product, will remain essentially the same for an indefinite amount of time.

Baking soda

Baking soda

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The shelf life for baking soda is three years. While it’s an essential ingredient for baking cookies and cakes, baking soda is also a deodorizer and one of the best natural cleaning solutions for your home.

Glass cleaner

Glass cleaner

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Keeping your windows bright, streak-free and crystal clean should be on the top of every home maintenance checklist. Feel free to buy a big bottle of glass cleaner, such as Windex. It has a shelf life of two years.

Drain cleaner

Drain cleaner

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If you use a drain cleaner like Drano to remove clogs from your shower or kitchen sink, know it lasts for two years. If your drain is just a little smelly, consider one of the best cleaning tips from the pros and use a mixture of lemons, rock salt and ice.

Borax

Borax

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Borax should be diluted and mixed with other products to clean carpets, dishes or other surfaces. When stored in the original, intact packaging, it can last indefinitely. Store it in a dry, covered place and keep out of the hands of children.

Vacuum filters

Vacuum filters

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Vacuum filters should be changed once every three months to prolong the life of your vacuum and to make sure it’s doing its job — sucking up dirt. Cleaning your carpet weekly helps to ensure floorings will last, which is part of home maintenance for beginners.

Tub cleaner

Tub cleaner

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CLR, a product that removes rust stains and calcium and lime deposits, can be used to clean a variety of things from tubs and toilets to coffee makers and dishwashers — two things you never thought to clean but should. This product should not be kept longer than three years, according to the manufacturer.

Furniture spray

Furniture spray

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If your kids are spending more time indoors, you know how those fingerprints can add up. Furniture spray like Pledge can remove smudges and dirt from wooden furniture and cabinets. An aerosol can of this product has a shelf life of two years.

Stain remover

Stain remover

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Anyone who has tried to potty train a puppy or has talked excitedly while drinking red wine knows that stains happen. If you're using a carpet stain remover like OxiClean, it will last indefinitely.

Air duster

Air duster

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If you use an air duster to clean off your lampshades, fan blades or computer keyboard when working from home, know this compressed air will last for 10 years.

Kitchen towels

Kitchen towels

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The USDA recommends that if you use kitchen towels for cleaning, you wash them in a hot cycle in your washing machine frequently. And while you’re tossing those in the wash, you may want to read up on how often to wash blankets, bath towels and everything else in your life.

Sponges

Sponges

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You use your kitchen sponge every day to hand-wash dishes, wipe down counters and clean your sink. So, it gets grimy pretty fast. A 2017 study suggested you throw away and replace your sponge every single week. And after that, check out how often you should replace your bath loofah, water filter and other household items.

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