In this Brave New pandemic-ridden world, our approach to cleanliness is vastly different from how it was just a little over a year ago.
While I’m sure all of you were very tidy even before COVID-19 was a thing, it’s kind of a given that we all stocked up on extra disinfectants and medical-grade sanitiser now. That is all well and good, but it’s worth noting that if you filled a cupboard with all manner of disinfectants – those babies will not last forever. They most certainly expire.
What does that mean?
Well, as Brian Sansoni, senior vice president of communications, outreach & membership at the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) told Real Simple:
“Like many products purchased at the grocery store, cleaning products can degrade over time.”
Irrespective of the preservatives in the ingredients list, the products will begin to break down over time, he shared. In a nutshell, this means that “it might affect how well the enzymes work or change the pH, resulting in a less effective product,” Sansoni said.
Most likely, this will simply leave you with a less effective product.
How long do cleaning products last?
You will probably be hard-pressed to find a ‘best before’ date on your disinfectants or hand sanitisers so instead, as Apartment Therapy writes, it’s best to check the manufacture date of the products. From there, assume you have about a year before the disinfectant is no longer working at its best.
You should be able to find the manufacture date on the packaging of most products, or base it closely to the date you purchased the item – if possible.
Does this apply to hand sanitiser, too?
Yep. Hand sanitiser also expires. Apartment Therapy writes that because sanitiser is made up of alcohol, the contents will begin to evaporate as soon as they come into contact with air. Seeing as the alcohol content is what makes sanitiser effective, it’s pretty important that you’re using one that has not been compromised over time, as it may not be killing off bacteria like you’d expect it to.
What to do with expired cleaning products
Hopefully, you’re able to finish out your products rather than toss them out. (It’s also a great idea to look into an eco-friendly service that will refill your cleaning containers for you.) But in the case you need to dispose of cleaning products, here’s what you should be doing.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to have your products picked up through a Household Chemical CleanOut event. Alternatively, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment lists that you can arrange to have products taken to some waste collection stations for a fee.
Planet Ark recommends that you contact your local council for advice regarding removal, and stresses that you must not toss chemical water into your regular rubbish or recycling.