We check expiration dates for all sorts of food and beauty products, but you’re probably not checking your bar of soap. What is the shelf life of soap? Does it ever expire?

You might not know that most soap is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yes, soap can expire, especially if it’s handmade. However, your soap is probably still effective even after the expiration date. Read on to learn more about soap expiration dates and why you should pay attention.

How to tell if your soap has expired

As the pandemic has taught us all, soaps don’t have to be antibacterial to be effective. They’re surfactants, which means that they break the surface tension of water. When you lather up and wash your hands for 20 seconds, the soap traps dirt, oils, grease and bacteria and viruses. They slide right off your hands and rinse down the sink.

Another way soaps help kill germs is by destroying the lipid structures in viruses. The COVID-19 virus is easily destroyed by basic hand washing.

Most manufactured soap has a two to three-year expiration date, but it may last longer than that. As long as the soap creates a lather, it’s working. If, however, your soap doesn’t seem to be creating a lather, it’s probably not killing germs and cleaning effectively.

When it comes to natural and handmade soaps, the expiration date is usually around a year. That’s because natural ingredients can become rancid or moldy. When you buy soap from small soap makers, only buy as much as you can use within a year. In fact, some handmade soap makers recommend using their soaps within three months of purchase.

Another indication of soap expiration are orange spots on its surface. This means that the oils in the soap have gone rancid. It might still be effective, but it’s not going to smell good.

Scent is a good indication of whether either kind of soap is still effective—especially when it comes to handmade soaps. Essential oils are volatile: they evaporate when they’re exposed to air. If your soap no longer has a scent, it’s probably past its prime. You can use it to see if it lathers, but you won’t get the same experience or efficacy.

Finally, some soaps may appear dry and cracked. This is also an indication that they’re past the expiration date, and probably should be tossed.

Natural, handmade soaps for you

When you want the benefits of high-quality, handmade soaps, be sure to visit Soaps & Scents. Our mission is to provide beautiful and delicious-smelling soaps made with natural ingredients. They’ll keep you clean without sacrificing comfort or cost.

If you have questions about our expiration dates, and how much soap we recommend purchasing at one time, reach out to us today. We’ll be happy to answer all of your questions—and match you with the perfect scents for your home, office and for gifts. Shop online or contact us through our form.