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Does Soap Expire? Here’s What Bulk Buyers Should Know

A person places soap in their hands before washing.
Marina Andrejchenko/Shutterstock.com

When it comes to bulk buying, items without expiration dates or those with extended ones are good bets. But sometimes, you might overbuy and worry if your purchases could go bad. Well, if you’ve got a whole bunch of hand soap saved up somewhere, you might not need to worry.

While soaps do have an expiration date, they could be good well beyond what’s listed.

On average, how long does soap last? You can keep it stashed under your sink or in your pantry for up to three years. The Food and Drug Administration regulates soap, and you will see a listed expiration, but it’s likely good beyond that. There’s an easy way to tell.

JASAI 18 Oz Clear Glass Soap Dispenser

Decant your soap, and don't worry about expirations as long as it lathers.

No matter the age, if your soap still lathers when you use it, you’ll likely still get all the germ and bacteria-fighting benefits. Hand soaps are made up of surfactants that bond, trap, and loosen oils and grease from the hands. They work the same way with bacteria and germs. As long as you’ve got that lather, they’re slipping right off your hands.

As for signs that your soap is expired, you should look for a lack of fragrance, lather, and if you’re using bar soap, any cracking or excess dryness. Also, keep in mind that handmade and organic soaps will likely expire faster due to the use of natural ingredients and a potential lack of preservatives.

If you’re planning a pantry or storage cleanout this fall and tend to bulk buy, maybe don’t toss that soap you bought last year right away.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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