Does Bar Soap Expire?

February 14, 2022 3 min read

a smiling woman holding a stack of soap bars

Whether you’re concerned about the plastic crisis or your family’s health (or both), you’ve probably heard that switching to soap bars is a great option for avoiding toxic chemicals and unnecessary plastic waste. Soap bars are made with simpler, good-for-skin ingredients and, unlike liquid soaps, they don’t need to be packaged in a plastic bottle. However, your growing collection of face soap bars and body soap bars may make you start to wonder: Does bar soap expire? If so, how can you tell?

Below, find out everything you need to know about bar soap expiration dates, including how to tell if your favorite bar has gone bad.

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a person holding a stack of soap bars between their hands

Does Bar Soap Expire?

The short answer is yes, bar soaps can expire. Like most cosmetic products, soap bars have a recommended shelf life even if they don’t have an expiration date emblazoned on their packaging. Most bar soaps have a shelf life of two to three years, but this can vary based on the ingredients used to make the soap. Natural bar soaps, for example, tend to have a slightly shorter shelf life due to their fresh ingredients and lack of artificial preservatives.

The good news is that your old soap bar may still be usable. Bar soap doesn’t go bad in the sense that milk and cheese go bad. If left undisturbed, a properly cured soap bar will usually remain effective for months after its expiration date. However, keep in mind that it may not smell as good. Both natural and synthetic fragrances in bar soap will eventually evaporate, resulting in a loss of scent.

How to Tell If Your Bar Soap Is Expired

Here are a few telltale signs that your soap bar has reached its expiration date:

  • Fading color
  • Loss of scent
  • Stale or acrid smell
  • Orange spots

Fading color, orange spots and loss of scent usually aren’t a major cause for concern (you can try cutting the orange spots off if they really bother you), but if your soap bar smells pungent or has a slick, slimy surface, you’ll want to toss it. These are clear signs that the soap bar has gone bad, and the last thing you want is to transfer that sliminess and pungent odor onto your skin.

Likewise, if your bar soap shows signs of mold, you should play it safe and throw it away immediately. According to Healthline, mold produces tiny spores that, when breathed in, can lead to skin rashes and other unpleasant symptoms.

How to Make Bar Soap Last Longer

So, there was a recent bar soap sale, and you made sure to stock up on your favorite scent. Or maybe you discovered a bunch of unused bar soaps in your bathroom drawer and want to make sure you use them all before they go bad. In any case, here are a few easy ways you can prolong their shelf-life and avoid letting your precious soap bars go to waste:

  • Keep your soap bars out of direct sunlight. In addition to preventing your soap bars from melting, storing them out of direct sunlight will keep their scent from evaporating prematurely. 
  • Avoid storing soap bars in the bathroom. When not being used, soap bars should always be stored in cool, dry areas — making the high humidity levels of your bathroom not ideal. Instead, consider storing your soap bars in your dresser drawers. Beyond prolonging their shelf life, storing them in dresser drawers will also make your clothes smell amazing!
  • Use a soap dish. Once you start using your soap bars, make sure you’re storing them on a silicone soap dish with good drainage (or a wooden soap dish, if you prefer the look of natural wood). This will extend their lifespan and keep them from turning into a mush mess in your shower.

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a bar of soap on a soap dish

Expired Soap Bars: To Use or Not to Use?

So, should you use expired soap bars? Ultimately, that’s your call to make. As a general rule of thumb, expired soap is usually still good to use as long as there are no obvious signs of rancidity (i.e., mold or sliminess) and it produces a frothy white mass of bubbles when being used. 

That said, if you’d rather not take the chance, you can always throw them away and replenish your stash with fresh soap bars from The Earthling Co. Our nourishing soap bars are jam-packed with botanical ingredients and come package-free, making them a great choice for your body and the Earth!

 


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