Household cleaning products seem to last forever, making many people wonder – does a carpet cleaning solution expire?
Most people never dispose of cleaning products – they run out of them. However, any cleaning product has an expiration date.
If you don’t use as much product as the average person, your carpet cleaner might last past its expiration date. The cleaner can also go bad faster if the storage conditions are incorrect.
The product’s shelf life depends on many factors, including its composition, storage conditions, and whether it’s liquid or powder-based.
You should know the signs a carpet cleaner has expired and learn about the consequences of using such products. The good news is that an old cleaner likely won’t ruin your carpet, but it won’t be effective either.
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Essential liquid carpet cleaner ingredients include water, peroxide or another disinfectant, and fragrance. Mild carpet cleaners might only contain a few ingredients, but some products might also contain alcohol, bleach, enzymes, hydroxy acetic acid, and other add-ons.
Consequently, the shelf life of carpet shampoos varies depending on the ingredients. Liquid carpet cleaners with bleach have the shortest shelf life because the chemical begins to break down six months after opening.
Oxidizers are another chemical type that shortens a carpet cleaner’s shelf life. Oxidizers are chemicals that release oxygen when they come in contact with another substance. Carpet cleaner manufacturers use oxidizers as disinfectants or mild alternatives to bleach.
Carpet cleaners that don’t contain bleach or oxidizers might last longer, for several years. Still, liquid carpet cleaners tend to have a shorter shelf life than powder-based cleaners because of the moisture.
Powered-based carpet cleaners typically contain the same ingredients as liquid cleaners but in dry form. Consequently, powder-based carpet cleaners can last longer than liquid ones because there is no moisture.
Even if a powder-based carpet cleaner contains bleach or oxidizers, it can last for years with correct storage. However, once such a product comes in contact with water, it begins deteriorating quickly and loses effectiveness.
DIY and Natural Cleaners
Natural and DIY carpet cleaning liquids have a shorter shelf life than commercially produced chemical cleaning solutions because of natural ingredients.
Many DIY carpet cleaner recipes contain white vinegar and salt that act as preservatives. Salt and white vinegar never expire, so you can expect such a cleaner to last for ages.
However, DIY carpet cleaners often contain regular water, essential oils, and citrus juice. Water inevitably speeds up the deterioration of the product.
Citrus juice can stay fresh for three to six months on average in a closed container, and essential oils for one to eight years. Unfortunately, predicting the shelf life of homemade cleaners is tricky because you must consider ingredient proportions.
Furthermore, the cleaner’s shelf life depends on how sanitary the environment you prepare it is and how well you seal the storage container. Determining the expiration date is much easier with commercially produced natural cleaners because it’s written on the bottle.
The good news is that you can make just the right amount of cleaner for one use. This way, you won’t have to worry about the expiration date.
You can also prepare a vinegar and salt mix in advance and add water whenever you need to clean your carpet.
How Long Does a Carpet Cleaner Last?
The best way to determine how long a carpet cleaner lasts is by checking the bottle for an expiration date. However, it might be impossible if you’ve poured the cleaner into a different bottle or the sticker is gone.
Liquid carpet cleaners without bleach last between six and 12 months on average. Products containing bleach or oxidizers have a shelf life of four to six months after opening, but some might last up to a year.
Powder-based carpet cleaner shelf life is significantly longer. With correct storage, you can expect a powder-based carpet cleaner to last one to two years. However, if any moisture has gotten into the box, discard the product within six months.
Commercially produced natural cleaners with essential oils and citrus juices typically have a long shelf life, even though they don’t contain harsh chemicals. Such products are manufactured following strict quality standards, and the packages are toughly sealed.
You can expect a natural carpet cleaner to last a year on average if you store it correctly. Since determining the shelf life of a DIY carpet cleaner is tricky, don’t risk it.
Make enough liquid for one cleaning session at a time so you don’t need to worry about leftovers. Remember that your carpet cleaning machine also has a limited lifespan.
Although the appliance doesn’t “expire,” it requires regular maintenance. Professionals recommend conducting maintenance every three years to prolong the appliance’s life.
How To Tell The Product is Expired
Products don’t always expire on the indicated date – sometimes, they go bad sooner or later than expected. You can use the expiration date as a reference, but you should still know the signs a carpet cleaner has expired.
I wouldn’t recommend trying to determine whether a carpet cleaner is still ok by its smell like you would do with food because inhaling chemical fumes might be dangerous.
However, you can look at the product’s color. If the shade has changed, the cleaner might have gone bad.
If you’re still unsure whether the product is still ok to use, try the cleaner on a small patch of your carpet. Pour two caps of the cleaning liquid into a 16-ounce water bucket. Apply the solution onto the patch and scrub it.
If your carpet doesn’t look any cleaner after you’ve washed it with the solution, the product might have expired. If you see a difference although the cleaner is past its expiry date, it might still be ok to use.
Note that a lack of visual difference might also result from the cleaning appliance, so you should regularly conduct professional maintenance and replace actively used parts.
Although a broken package isn’t yet a guarantee the product has already gone bad, I don’t recommend using a carpet cleaner with a poorly closed lid or holes in its cardboard box.
If the package doesn’t close properly or has cracks, moisture and bacteria might get in and will inevitably lead to faster deterioration.
How To Store a Carpet Cleaner Correctly
Learn how to store a carpet cleaner correctly to prolong its shelf life. Possibly, you will even be able to use the product several months after its official expiry date.
The first rule you should remember is to store the carpet cleaning solution and other household cleaning products in a cool, dry place.
Moisture and warmth won’t facilitate bacteria growth in the cleaning solution but will speed down active ingredient breakdown. Similarly, direct sunlight drastically reduces product potency. For this reason, most cleaners come in dark, opaque bottles.
Furthermore, liquid carpet cleaners often contain mold inhibitors. Warmth and sunlight make inhibitors lose their effectiveness, leading to mold growth inside the bottle.
If your carpet cleaner is in a transparent bottle, remember to keep it in the shadow or somewhere behind doors. Always seal the container properly to prevent chemicals from evaporating and changing the product’s composition.
If your carpet cleaner contains bleach, store it at approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit – it’s the perfect temperature that will maintain the product’s effectiveness for a long.
On a side note, always keep household cleaning products out of pets’ and kids’ reach. Preferably, find a place high in your bathroom cabinet to ensure no one will mistake the bottle for something edible, especially if it’s not in the original package and smells pleasant.
What Happens If You Use The Product After Its Expiry?
Do cleaning products expire? Yes, all household cleaning products have an expiry date. But what happens if you use a carpet cleaner past its expiry date? Will it ruin your carpet or cause poisoning because of toxic fumes?
Fortunately, the consequences of using an old carpet cleaner aren’t that dramatic. A carpet cleaning solution that’s past the expiry date loses potency and becomes less effective at cleaning; usually, that’s it.
You might waste time scrubbing and vacuuming your carpet and see no difference whatsoever. In rare cases, certain chemicals might become toxic when they deteriorate, but there should be a warning on the package.
Toxic fumes are especially dangerous to pets and kids because they are more sensitive and sit closer to the floor. If your carpet cleaner is past the expiry date, learn how to dispose of household cleaning products correctly.
You can mix most liquid carpet cleaners with water and pour them down the drain. However, some carpet cleaners are insoluble. In that case, check the product packaging for the manufacturer’s instructions on disposal.
Don’t simply throw the product in the trash. If you see no instructions, call your local waste disposal facility for a consultation.
Some chemicals should never be combined even if you dispose of them – for example, ammonia and bleach mix causes extremely harmful fumes.
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