how to tell soap has gone bad

Does Soap Expire? (Manufacturer’s Tips)

If you’re wonder how long soap will last before it expires, then this is the article to address that concern. We will also briefly highlight what could happen if you use expired soap.

But before all that, let us look at some of the basics of how soap works. Then we will relate this to how it expires.

How Does Soap Work? Soap works by bonding with water on the hydrophilic side while the hydrophobic tail attaches to oils, fats, dirt, and germs. The soap molecules then dislodge these germs and dirt from the skin as you rinse away with water. This happens while you’re washing clothes or greasy surfaces too.

Does Bar Soap Expire?

Yes, soap expires with most bars of soap often lasting 2-3 years from the date of manufacture. Visible cracks and dryness are two indicators that soap is starting to go bad. However, if you notice it’s still lathering, it probably hasn’t gone bad.

Most store-bought soaps have a two- to three-year shelf life.

Because essential oils and scents can go rancid or moldy, natural or handcrafted soaps may expire sooner, within a year.

does soap expire

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the production of most soaps, and all medicines must have expiration dates. That’s why both bar and liquid soap have an expiration date.

While most manufactured soaps last two years or longer, some handmade soap producers advocate utilizing their products within a year of purchase. Because the natural constituents in some soaps might go rancid or moldy, this is a good idea.

Even if your soap has passed its expiration date, it’s possible that it’s still usable.

Can You Use Expired Soap?

No, you should not use expired soap because the lipids and essential oils in expired soap have lost their efficacy, bacteria can multiply quickly and become a danger. Using an outdated bar of soap can also cause skin irritation and sensitivity.

If you don’t want to take a chance, throw out any moldy soap. Natural soaps should be used first, as they will last only for a shorter period than commercial soaps.

An older bar of soap may also aid in the transmission of disease more quickly than a newer bar. According to this post on Insider, “one out of every three healthy persons carries a skin bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus.”

This bacteria is transferred from the person’s skin to the soap, where it might cause a serious infection if it comes into contact with a wound.

What Happens If You Use Expired Soap?

Using an outdated bar of soap can cause skin irritation and sensitivity. Because the lipids and essential oils in expired soap have lost their efficacy, bacteria can multiply quickly and dangerously.

Although soap has an expiration date, it is still likely to be effective pass its expiry date.

Soaps are surfactants that lower the surface tension of water and make the molecules slick, allowing oil and grease — and the germs they carry — to connect, trap, and loosen.

According to Kevin Minbiole, an organic chemist at Villanova University, germs and viruses physically glide off your hands as you wash with soap and water for a couple of seconds.

Because of the polar and nonpolar endings in its molecular structure, soap, according to Minbiole, also helps kill germs. The polar end aids in soap dissolving in water, while the nonpolar end aids in grabbing oil from your hands and transporting it down the drain.

It’s the nonpolar end that causes bacteria and viruses to burst and die by disrupting their outsides.

Most produced soaps have a 2-3 year shelf life. However, if soap lathers up when you wash your hands, it can still be used efficiently, according to Minbiole, even if it has beyond its expiration date. He claims it doesn’t matter if the soap is liquid or bar.

“You might be absolutely OK if the expired soap still lathers up and becomes all frothy and gets hands clean eventually,” Minbiole says.

How to Know When Soap is Expired 

You can tell if soap has expired if it is cracked, dry, and fails to lather up, or lacks its original aromatic scent it had when you initially bought it, it’s probably expired.

Because of the natural ingredients, soaps scented with essential oils and colored with natural components may have a shorter shelf life than manufactured goods.

soap that has expired has cracks

Handmade, organic, or natural soaps should still work as well as store-bought soaps, but they may go bad sooner.

Once essential oils are exposed to air, they evaporate because they are “volatile.”  When the essential oils that provide those fresh scents evaporate, any soap brand will lose its scent, and some natural scented soaps advocate using them within three months of opening the package.

Overall, if a soap hasn’t gone rotten, moldy, or no longer lathers well, you should be able to use it even if its expiration date has passed provided it doesn’t have a bad smell, gotten moldy, or produce foam.

Can Mold Grow on Soap?

Yes, mold can grow on old soap. If a bar of soap has noticeable cracking, is exceptionally dry, or has mold on it, it may be deemed too old.

Once a bar of soap is removed from its packaging, factors such as air, light, germs, heat, and humidity can reduce its efficiency.

The bar of soap can still be used, although it may not be as effective as it was before it expired.

Orange stains are another clue that the soap is past its expiration date. The soap’s oil has gone rancid, resulting in the orange tint. The soap will not smell pleasant, despite the fact that it is still theoretically safe to use.

Is organic or handmade soap more likely to go bad?

Yes, organic soap is likely to go bad faster than factory-manufactured soap. Natural and homemade soaps tend to expire sooner, within 12 months, due to the possibility of rancidity or mold growth in the essential oils and scents.

Does Organic Soap Go Rancid?

Yes, organic soap can go rancid. Rancidity in most soaps is another element in their decomposition. For starters, the oils in organic soap degrade and can lead to rancidity, which is undesirable.

If you wash your hands with bad organic soap, it is rare that the rancid oils will penetrate your skin and reach the inside of your cells, where they might cause DNA damage. Even after that, the soap lather only remains on your skin for a minute or two before being rinsed away. Just make sure you don’t eat any soap that has gone bad.

What can you do with an old bar of soap?

Several soapmakers may advise you to throw away your nasty, spotted soap and replace it with fresh soap because they want you to buy more soap from them. But, I say, put it to good use!

Now, I’m going to assume that if you’re shopping for organic soap, you’re probably quite careful of what you’re putting in and on your body, which is understandable. I’m not suggesting that you use it to wash your hands!

It can be used to wash your car.

Alternatively, you might use your bath tub. However, it is unlikely that the dog will be one of them. Alternatively, you can use it to pre-treat stains on your garments.

If you’re feeling lucky, you might be able to help out with the dishes.