Knowing the Shelf Life of Cleaning Products

Many food items now have what are called "product dates" on them.  These dates indicate that the product is "best if used by" or should be "used by" or "sold by" a certain date. In most cases, these dates are posted voluntarily by the manufacturer to help the purchaser know the time limit to purchase or use the product at its best quality.

These product dates are useful on more than just food. They can be very beneficial when used on cleaning products, as well. 

Product dates have proven to be very helpful for both manufacturers and distributors. According to Michael Wilson, vice president of marketing for AFFLINK, a sales and marketing organization for the professional cleaning and related industries, distributors should advise their clients that some cleaning solutions and other products may also have a shelf life that should be considered.

For instance, Wilson suggests the following products often have a shelf life that can impact their effectiveness:


 • Most bleach-based disinfectants have a shelf life of about one year "assuming the bleach is stored at a constant moderate temperature, about 70 degrees (F); warmer or colder than this can impact the products' effectiveness."

 • Bleach should be replaced if not used after six months

 • Most furniture polishes have a life expectancy of two years

 • Hydrogen peroxide, if unopened, should last one year; if opened it should be replaced after 60 days

• Storage time should not impact microfiber products, but their usable life depends upon care.    As long as microfiber products are not washed with fabric softeners or detergents with fabric  softeners or dried at high temperatures, they can last more than 100 washings. "However, if  they begin to darken or discolor before then, they likely should be disposed of."

 • Window cleaner should be effective for about two years

 • All-purpose cleaners begin to lose their effectiveness after two years

Cleaners with antibacterial ingredients have a shelf life of about one year

 • Most metal polishes should be replaced after two years

 • Unopened laundry detergent will start to degrade at about nine months; if opened, shelf life is only about six months

Lysol cleaning products tend to remain effective for about two years

 • Spray air fresheners, about two years

 • If the container has been opened, most floor finishes should be used within six months. If not opened, they should remain effective for up to two years; the same is usually true of other floor care products    

"In most cases, consider disposing of any cleaning solution if it has not been used for more than two years," says Wilson. "After that, chemical ingredient 'stability' issues can develop, causing the ingredients to deteriorate or