Does Laundry Detergent Expire? [We Explain!]

Laundry detergent is one of those products that you use on such a regular basis that it can be tempting to buy in bulk. This saves you a trip to the grocery store and ends up costing less in the long run.

However, like when you buy bulk groceries, you need to know the shelf life of what you’re purchasing so you know you can use this quantity in time. So we need to ask ourselves; does laundry detergent expire?

All laundry detergents will eventually expire. Capsules will last up to 15 months, while liquid and powdered detergents will last between 6 months and a year.

The shelf life of all forms of laundry detergents really depends on how well you store them, so this is an important factor to keep in mind in your home, even when you are merely doing yoru regular top-up.

This article is going to find out whether laundry detergents expire and how best to store it to keep it fresher for longer.

Gomestic Fact: While doing your laundry, have you ever wondered why laundry baskets have holes? Find out why here.

Types of Laundry Detergent

The shelf life of a laundry detergent is determined by the type of detergent it is. Each of these forms has different properties to bring to the table that make them unique.


Liquid detergent is a thick, almost shampoo-like detergent that dissolves very quickly and usually incorporates fabric softener or a scent of some kind.

They usually come in a pourable plastic jug with a measuring cup built into the cap.


Powdered laundry detergent has a similar effect to liquid but is in a granular form.

This form is sold in boxes or bags that need to be cut open. This makes it quite messy and easy to overuse.

The increased surface area that a powdered form provides means that the detergent is likely to go off faster due to contact with the air.


A relatively new face on the market, laundry capsules contain one laundry load’s worth of liquid detergent in a dissolvable, translucent skin.

These come in cartons and may be individually wrapped or loose. The skin around the outside preserves the detergent within it and makes it last longer than regular liquid detergent.

Does Laundry Detergent Expire?

Laundry detergent will eventually expire. Capsules have a shelf life of 15 months, while powdered and liquid detergents can last six months to a year.

Now, speaking from personal experience, I don’t always remember when I caught my laundry detergent, so it is important to know what to look for in off-detergent.

Luckily, when detergent goes bad, it doesn’t actually mold or grow anything nasty. It will simply be less efficient, and you will need to use more than usual. I suggest just getting a new carton or bottle instead of trying to use up the old one.

Here are the signs to look out for in expired laundry detergent:

  • Clumping- If your powdered detergent has started looking wet and clumpy, it’s a sign that moisture has gotten to it, and it may no longer be good to use.
  • Less effective cleaning- If your clothes are coming out of the wash not looking any cleaner than they went in, then your detergent is not working as well as it should. First, check that you are using the right amount for your wash; if you are, then the detergent is the culprit.
  • No fresh scent- We all love that scent of freshly washed laundry; however, with old detergent, there will be none of this lovely smell.

Gomestic Tip: Have you only got a little detergent left before you need to open a new bottle? Find out whether you can mix detergents in our deep dive here.

How to Store Laundry Detergent

The best way to keep your detergent fresh and prolong its shelf life is to store it correctly. Just like food, cleaning products need to be stored in their optimum environment to keep them at their best.

The various forms of detergents may have special needs that need to be met, but all of them should be stored in a cool, dark cupboard away from moisture.

Here is how to store detergent correctly:

Liquid- Keep it in its original packaging, and always screw the cap on tight after every use.

Powdered- Open bags are a messy way to store powdered detergent, and it will make it go off faster. I like to transfer my powdered detergent to a tin or plastic container reserved specifically for this purpose.

Capsules- The most important part about storing capsules is keeping them away from heat and moisture. If they get wet or too hot, you risk the outer coating melting and releasing the detergent all over your cupboard.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does laundry detergent expire if it has not been opened?

Yes, even if it hasn’t been opened, your laundry detergent will still expire. The time it can last depends on what form and brand of detergent you are using.

First, check to see if your detergent has a best-by date. If it doesn’t, you can roughly presume that your detergent will be good for none months to a year after purchase.

What happens if you use expired laundry detergent?

If you use expired laundry detergent, it will have no adverse effect on your clothes. However, it will not clean your clothes as effectively, and they will not have that fresh laundry scent.

If you are in a pinch, you can use the detergent but increase the amount you use to compensate for the loss of efficiency.


At the end of the day, if you are going to buy large quantities of laundry detergent, I would be cautious not to buy more than you can use before it goes bad.

Laundry detergent capsules will expire after 15 months, while the powder and liquid can last between 6 months and a year, depending on how it is stored.

I hope this has helped you figure out whether your detergent has expired to keep your laundry clean and fresh.

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