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Does Disinfectant Go Bad? | Using Old Sanitizing Products

The shelf life of disinfectant products usually arises when someone has a large supply or finds a bottle of the stuff that has been sitting around for a long time. I recently had some that were several years old and did some research to find out if it could still be used. This is what I learned.

Disinfectants do not go bad. However, the active ingredients can weaken over time, lose effectiveness, and not provide the desired cleaning ability. The exact shelf life will vary based on the active ingredients, but properly stored bleach-based disinfectants have full potency for about a year.

However, just because disinfectants aren’t quite as strong as they were before, it doesn’t mean that they are useless. The simple answer is that while all disinfectants expire, they will probably do a good enough job for several years. Let’s dive further into the details.

Cleaning Product with Sponge and Latex Glove

What is the Shelf Life of Disinfectants?

The shelf life of a general disinfectant will vary depending on its active ingredients. Most disinfectants that are bleach-based will have an effective shelf life of probably 5 years or longer, provided that they are stored at a constant non-extreme temperature.

Storing them warmer or colder than this significantly can affect their ability to provide the same cleaning power. Specifically, exposure to sunlight over time may degrade the product at an accelerated rate.

Bottom Line: Unless they were left in an intermittently hot area for several years, like a garage or outdoor shed, you should not worry about a disinfectant not being useful for most everyday cleaning tasks. Chemicals likely tend to degrade much more slowly than manufacturers claim.

I mean, it makes sense that companies would want to underestimate the shelf lives of their products. The more quickly it expires, the faster you will buy more. This makes them more money.

Do Clorox Disinfecting Wipes Expire?

According to the company Clorox, the shelf life of most of their wipes is about a year from the date of manufacture. Taking a look at the expiration date listed on the bottle will give you a good idea of how long they will remain fully viable.

How Long Does Lysol Disinfectant Spray Last?

Lysol spray works best on counters, trash cans, and some of the dirtier elevated “non-floor” spots in your house. But does it last a long time?

Lysol disinfectant spray has a shelf life of about 2 years from the date of manufacture. You can find this date on the bottom of the canister. The spray can still be used after it expires, but it won’t provide the same effectiveness as before.

What Happens If You Use Expired Disinfectant?

The good news is that using an expired disinfectant product is generally not dangerous. At least no more hazardous than if recently bottled. If stored appropriately, old disinfectant should be stable and not cause harm.

Of course, as we already discussed, the disadvantage of using an expired product is that it will not be as effective. Additionally, the plastic containers they’re stored in could also leech into the product and affect the formulas over time.

So, if you want to ensure that you’re using a product that’s 100% as effective as advertised, it’s best to avoid expired products or anything a year or older.

How to Correctly Dispose of Expired Disinfectant

This is a common question as some chemicals need to be disposed of in a certain way. The most obvious answer is just to use up the product. However, if it’s past the expiration date and you prefer to get rid of it, then there aren’t really stringent guidelines to follow.

As per SDA guidelines, household disinfectants or cleaning products are “designed for public use are designed to go down the drain as a part of their normal usage. They are then treated by the same systems that treat other waste from the home.” If your cleaning materials are standard ones purchased at a grocery store or similar, then you can dispose of them this way.

You may need to take additional steps only if you’ve purchased a cleaning material that is not standard but this uncommon.

How Should Disinfectant Be Stored?

Various Homemade Bottles of Disinfectant or Other Cleaners

Disinfectant materials should be stored in a cool and dry place. Keep them away from direct sunlight and heat as these may degrade the disinfectant quickly, especially ones that contain bleach. Make sure to keep the containers closed after each use.

Of course, always follow the label’s directions as some products may have more specific storage instructions.

Safety Tip: If children and pets are present in your household, it’s best to keep disinfectants locked away from them as they are toxic. Store on a shelf that cannot be reached by children or accessed easily by pets. It may even be a good idea to lock them up, especially if you have inquiring young children.

What Are Longer-Lasting Cleaners?

Although it’s always best to check the expiration date on products before purchasing and using, some cleaning products have a long life.

  • Lysol and disinfectant wipes can last about two years.
  • Castile soap has a shelf life of three years.
  • Most laundry detergents won’t ever go bad but may not clean as well after a few years.
  • Powder detergents tend to last longer than liquid detergents if kept free from moisture, so use this option if you want to stock up.

Final Thoughts

Personally, I do not toss out any kind of cleaning product. Unless the bottle has a hole in it, I’m getting my money’s worth. By the way, if your disinfectant cleaning doesn’t seem to be doing the job, make sure you use fresh warm water. Having spent hundreds of hours mopping floors through the years, the quality of the water is ultra-important. Never reuse mop water.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss 11 Effective Substitutes for Soap in the Shower (Or Bath).