household cleaners, cleaner bottles

If you were to open the cabinet under the kitchen sink in most homes, you would probably find a whole host cleaning supplies.  If you dig deep into the far reaches of the cabinet, odds are good that you would pull out some supplies that have not seen daylight in years.  In many cases, the homeowner would not even know how old or how long they have had those hidden items.  This same scenario will likely hold true for the items under the workbench or pushed to the back of the shelves in the garage/basement.  In these locations, you would find paint and supplies, wood stain, motor oil, antifreeze, or other household cleaning supplies.  Again, items that are covered in dust and have probably not been touched by human hands for many years.

So the time has come to clean your carpets and you reach into the cleaning supply cabinet, pull out the bottle of carpet cleaner, and dust it off.  Then you realize that you bought this cleaner over three years ago and wonder if cleaning supplies expire.  Or you decide that you want to repaint the powder room the same green color that you painted your child’s bedroom five years ago.  Again you wonder if paint expires or if you should just buy a new can for the project.

Here are the answers to some questions regarding expiration dates and how to store materials to maximize shelf life.

Household cleaners. Dish detergents will last about 1 year; Windex, wood polish, and Mr. Clean will last about 2 years; and laundry detergents will last up to 1 year.  You can maximize the shelf life of household cleaners by storing these items in a dry place with a stable temperature.

Paint. Paint expiration varies by the brand and quality of paint as well as the

Cans of paint

method of storage.  In general, unopened cans of paint will last up to 10 years whereas opened cans of paint will last 2 and 5 years.  Spray paint cans will last 2 to 3 years.  In order to lengthen the life of your paints, store in a location above 50 degrees and do not allow the paint to freeze and thaw.

Motor Oil. If you stored your vehicle for several years with the motor oil in it and kept free from contaminants, it would be fine to start it up.  Oil stored in a good container would last as long as the container.  As a rule-of-thumb, unopened motor oil will last 2 to 5 years and opened motor oil will last 3 months.  Another automotive product, premixed antifreeze, will last 1 to 5 years but if you purchase  concentrated antifreeze the shelf life is indefinite.

Go to Expiration Dates or Still Tasty to review an extensive list of expiration dates and shelf life’s for household materials, food items, and make up.

If the household materials are too old for use, proper care must be taken to dispose of many of these items as some can not just be put out with the weekly trash.   Some communities hold hazardous household materials disposal events while other communities have waste collection and recycling centers for these materials.  Earth 911 is a great resource for locating area recycling centers.

Share your stories of finding aged-cleaners in the dark places under the kitchen sink by commenting below.

About Alejandra

About Alejandra

Since 2008, organizing expert & certified life coach, Alejandra Costello has taught thousands of students in 132 countries how to get organized through her video-based training programs. Her YouTube videos have been viewed 100+ million times. Named 1 of the 5 most organized people in America by HGTV and “The Decluttering Queen” by Good Morning America, Alejandra’s expertise has been featured in The New York Times,, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Parents Magazine, and CBS. 


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