Does Baby Shampoo or Soap Expire? (Expiration Dates And Visual Cues)


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Taking care of a baby often means paying close attention to the labels and expiration dates of products you’re using and you might be wondering whether or not that baby shampoo and baby soap expire and how long they typically last.

Although baby shampoo and soap is not required to have an expiration date, most manufacturers will voluntarily add a use-by or period-after-opening date to their products. A general rule of thumb is to use baby shampoo and soap within 18 months of opening the bottle, or three years if a bottle has been left unopened.

Read on to learn about the shelf life of baby shampoo and soap, as well as some signs that could tell you it’s time to toss your old bottles!

Does Baby Shampoo Have an Expiration Date?

Taking care of a baby often means paying close attention to the labels and expiration dates of products you’re using. As parents and guardians, we want to give our children the highest quality stuff. Does this product have the right ingredients? How long do I have to use this before it goes bad? While we normally associate expiration dates with food products, it’s important to remember that baby soaps and other cosmetics have a limited window of usage as well.

The Food and Drug Administration does not require manufacturers to label their products with an expiration date. Any date that is printed on these cosmetic bottles will be voluntary. This means that you may not always be able to find an expiration date on every product you buy but most companies will list a date of some kind.

For the most effective products and enjoyable experience, it is recommended that parents replace baby shampoo products after a year of use.

How long does baby shampoo last?

Many baby shampoo bottles will have an exact expiration date printed somewhere on the container. If it does not have an exact date, you may be able to find a suggestion for the bottle’s shelf life. Many products have a ”Period After Opening” (PAO) date. This simple icon looks like a jar and will have a number like “12M” or “24M” printed on it. This relates to how long a bottle should be used after opening it—12, 24, etc. months.

Say you cannot find an expiration date. Or you cannot read the label that’s coming off or just plain illegible. Here’s a general rule of thumb for how long these products last: 

  • After you open a bottle of baby shampoo, keep it for no longer than 18 months.
  • Bottles left unopened can keep for up to three years.

How do you know if baby shampoo is expired?

If there isn’t a date or shelf life printed on your baby’s shampoo bottle, there are still other ways you can detect if it’s safe to use. It’s not hard to tell when things are “off” with your baby shampoo. Pay attention to how your products normally look, feel, and smell when you first purchase them. Then, you can be better able to notice when the product is going bad.

Here are some things to look out for when you’re deciding whether or not your old baby shampoo is okay to use:

  • As a long period of time passes, ingredients and fragrances inside cosmetic products like baby shampoo can start to separate. Watch out for obvious layers developing in your bottles.
  • Avoid using a product that has started to smell really bad because this could indicate bacterial growth inside the product. If it’s offensive to your nose when you open the lid, it’s best to just toss it. 
  • Check for a weird consistency—old shampoo can thin out or become thicker than normal. You may also notice the liquid become clearer or even cloudier than it initially was.
  • Watch out for a change in the color of the product. 
  • If the product once lathered up when applied, but no longer creates suds, it may be time to let it go. That’s a sign of the product losing its effectiveness.

Is it dangerous to use old baby shampoo?

What happens after old baby shampoo expires? Or better yet, can I still use it after it’s expired?

While expired baby shampoo may not necessarily threaten your baby’s health, it’s probably not ideal to use. The effects of expiration on a product will all depend on the ingredients within it. Some products may simply lose their effectiveness and stop working properly, while others could potentially become dangerous over time.

For example, products with chemically-enhanced ingredients may tend to last longer because of its additives and preservatives. Natural products that are free of these chemicals, however, will not have as long a shelf-life. 

Why should you avoid using old shampoo? Some of these products can acidify after sitting for too long. This can contribute to hair tangling or tearing during a wash. Old products, especially those that have already been opened and used, may also carry bacteria that you could spread onto your baby’s scalp. It’s best to just avoid the risk of infection altogether and purchase a new bottle of shampoo. 

The best way to store baby shampoo

How you store your bath products and baby shampoo will also have an impact on its shelf life. In order to help your products last longer, avoid exposing them to extreme heat or cold. These temperatures can agitate the product and speed up the aging or separation process. For the best results, store your products at room temperature. 

Does Baby Soap Have an Expiration Date?

The Food and Drug Administration only requires that the manufacturers of “drugs” label their products with an expiration date. In some cases, soap will count as a drug and thus, include an expiration date on its label. However, this isn’t the case with every manufacturer, so not every baby soap product will tell you how long it will last.

The general recommendation for the shelf life of baby soap is similar to that of baby shampoo: use up to one year after opening and up to three years when it’s left unopened.

How long does baby soap last?

Each baby bath product manufacturer will have its own recommendations for how long their products last based on the ingredients they use. Make sure to always check your products’ labels or consult their website to learn more information.

On the Johnson & Johnson website, for instance, they state that their products include preservatives because, without them, bath products may only be good for a few weeks. This manufacturer focuses on ensuring their products’ safety with a long shelf life. 

Natural products that are free of parabens, on the other hand, will have a much shorter shelf life. Products with organic ingredients like essential oils may only be good for up to a year after the manufacture date.

Like shampoos, many soap products will have an exact expiration date printed, while others will have a PAO date. If there is no expiration date on the product, you may be able to find the year it was manufactured and go from there. Follow these steps to find it:

  1. The manufacture date will be included in the lot number on the bottom, back, or side of the product.
  2. The lot number may look like this: LOT 0916L, where the “16” refers to the manufacture date of 2016.
  3. You can keep the product within three years of the manufacture date (so, 2019) or a year after you’ve opened it.

How do you know if baby soap is expired?

The best way to find out if your baby soap is expired is by looking for an expiration date on the container. You may find this on the label of the bottle or container, but, as mentioned earlier, it is not required for manufacturers to include this. You can also look for the shelf life or PAO icon, which tells you how many months a product can sit on a shelf before it’s time to throw it away.

If you cannot find an expiration date for your baby soap, you can always watch out for the following signs of your soap going bad:

  • Fragrance fading away and/ or turning into a strange or nasty smell
  • Change in color, consistency, or transparency of the soap liquid
  • Separation of ingredients like fragrances or oils
  • Change in the product’s effectiveness, like no longer being able to create soap suds
  • Signs of the soap drying out, like cracking against the insides of the container

When in doubt, it may just be a good idea to go ahead and replace questionable old baby soap.

Is it dangerous to use old baby soap?

After you open a bath product like baby soap, it will become exposed to air, light, and bacteria that can eventually begin to break the product down. And while opening a container can cause it to age faster, a sealed container also has its own aging process. Even when left sealed, these products can be impacted by the humidity and heat surrounding it. 

Like shampoo, old baby soap may lose its effectiveness after sitting on the shelf for years. However, because babies have sensitive skin, you’ll want to be careful about using products that may have aged and lost their effectiveness. Certain ingredients when left to age could irritate your infant’s skin. 

For the best recommendation, talk to your baby’s doctor about using certain bath products and soaps. He or she may also be able to recommend the best ingredients based on your infant’s specific skincare needs. 

The best way to store baby soap

Storing baby soap safely is the same as storing baby shampoo. Store your baby soap at room temperature, making sure to keep it away from extreme heat or cold. And although baby products are safe for your little one, you still may not want them handling it without your supervision. That’s why so many brands also recommend keeping your bath products and cosmetics out of reach of your children.

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Josh

I'm the dad in charge of Natural Baby life. With 10 years of parenting experience across three children, I am constantly learning how to raise children more naturally. I'm passionate about doing whatever it takes to raise a happy and healthy baby! Find out more about me here.

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