Yes, Bleach Expires—Here’s What You Need to Know

Food items aren't the only things that have expiration dates...

Bleach is a staple in just about everybody’s arsenal of house cleaning products. Common household laundry bleach contains sodium hypochlorite as its active ingredient, the source of its fabric-brightening power, and its ability to disinfect surfaces from light switches to doorknobs.

When does bleach expire?

To figure out when a product expires, it’s good to know out when the product was made. According to the Clorox website, the production code on the neck of the bottle allows you to figure out how old the bottle of bleach actually is. But how would you be able to decipher this code? Clorox breaks it down by using the example code A81421321CA3. Moving from left to right, the plant number is “A8,” the last two numbers of the year it was made is “14,” and the day of the year the bottle was made is “213.” That translates to a bleach bottle being made on the 213th day of the year, or August 1st, 2014.

According to The Scripps Research Institute, bleach can last about six months. After that, “bleach starts to degrade. Even in its original bottle, bleach becomes 20 per cent less effective as each year goes by.” It’s important to know how to correctly store your bottle of bleach. According to the Clorox website, a bottle of Clorox Regular Bleach “should be stored between 10°C and 21°C, and away from direct sunlight,” and that pertains to bottles that are both sealed and opened. Clorox states that a bottle of beach that has been correctly stored has a shelf life for about one year. They recommend replacing after one year since sodium hypochlorite begins to break down.

How can you tell if a bottle of bleach has expired?

Not sure whether your bottle of bleach is still good at six months or even a year? Thankfully, Clorox has broken that down as well. If you can detect any bleach smell at all, then that means there’s still some active bleach left in the bottle. However, you want to use a bit more than you normally would during laundry and cleaning because it would be weaker.

How to dispose of expired bleach

If you’re looking to get rid of bleach, Clorox recommends to simply flush it down the toilet because “any small amount of sodium hypochlorite active that may remain will finish breaking down as it travels through your home’s pipes and out to the sewer.”

Next, find out 12 things you should never pour down the drain.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest