On Wednesday, editors from ConsumerSearch attended a Whirlpool and Maytag media event. We met with Tremitchell Wright, Technical Lead Fabric and Substrate Scientist for Whirlpool Corporation, who provided a cool demonstration on the latest innovations in laundry detergent. He also gave us an interesting tidbit we’d like to pass along to our readers. Did you ever wonder if laundry detergent has a shelf life? Well, the answer is yes. According to Wright, liquid laundry detergent is good up until two years from the date of manufacture.
If you’re using a liquid laundry detergent that’s past its prime, there’s no need to panic, however. Wright says “expired” laundry detergents won’t stop working altogether, but they will lose their effectiveness. This happens because ingredients gradually break down and separate over time. According to Wright, an uneven distribution of ingredients will likely result in a less-than-thorough washing.
Does the same rule apply to chlorine bleach or powdered detergent? We turn to Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com’s guide to laundry, to get some answers. Levertette says “Liquid chlorine bleach has a limited shelf life. If more than six months old, it may have no effect on stains and should be replaced.” She actually recommends a shorter shelf life for liquid detergents: nine months to one year for an unopened container; an opened container should be used within six months. Leverette says the same timeframe applies to powdered detergents (providing they haven’t been exposed to moisture). If a powdered detergent gets “dry or cakey,” she advises consumers to throw it out “because it probably won’t dissolve correctly in the wash, leaving soap deposits on your clothing.”
Most manufacturers don’t list a “best used by” date on their detergents, so it may require some guesswork on your part. If you have an old bottle of detergent lying around, it might be best to toss it.
Want to see which laundry detergents get the best reviews? Check out our recently updated comprehensive analysis.