How Long Does Body Wash Last?

Going through your bathroom cabinets and finding a forgotten bottle of body wash can be a pleasant surprise. However, you might wonder if it’s still safe to use after sitting there for such a long time. So, how long does body wash last? 

Body wash can last up to three years from its manufacture date if it is unopened and kept in a cool place. Once the body wash is opened, most manufacturers recommend using the product within 12 months. However, it might be okay to use after the expiration date if it doesn’t cause skin irritation. 

The rest of this article will further discuss how long body wash lasts and the changes you can expect as it gets further from its expiration date. Keep reading for more information. 

How Long Does Body Wash Last?

Various items on the market are marked with different indicators of their product lives. The expiration date, sell-by date, and best-by date allude to this. However, for cosmetics such as body wash, there are other ways to measure and delineate a product’s life.

Generally, manufacturers give their body wash products a three-year shelf life. Some specifically indicate an expiry date on the bottle’s label. In contrast, others use a period-after-opening symbol to count how long the product is good for from when its seal is broken.

To better understand the different ways of measuring how long a body wash product lasts, let’s go into more detail on these allotted dates and periods:

  • General shelf life: Body wash products are typically designated a three-year shelf life by their manufacturers, while some are given one to two years. This shelf life indicates that the product will maintain its quality, provided it is kept in proper storage conditions for those one to three years. After this period, the product will likely undergo some changes and deteriorate until it is unsafe for use. 
  • Expiration date: Some manufacturers prefer to be more specific and print out an exact expiration date to announce when their product should begin to decline. While some consumers may find this more convenient, the factors determining this date are the same as those outlining a general shelf life. 
  • Period-after-opening: Other manufacturers do not indicate a shelf life or expiration date. Instead, their products come with a period-after-opening symbol that is essentially a countdown. This graphic symbol of an open cosmetic jar and a number followed by the letter M on the jar indicates how many months a product is suitable for from the time it is opened. 

Whether your bottle has a general shelf life, an expiration date, or a period-after-opening countdown, it is generally safe to continue using a body wash that has exceeded these dates. However, it may not be as soapy or effective enough due to the breakdown of certain chemicals or natural substances in the body wash. 

Furthermore, if you have sensitive skin, an expired body wash might irritate it, causing itching or dryness. Therefore, I suggest not using it once it has passed the expiry date. 

Does Body Wash Expire? 

Body wash does expire. Although you can use it after the expiration date, the body wash might not lather well and can cause skin irritation. To find the expiration date of body wash, there should be a shelf life, expiration date, or period-after-opening symbol on the package to guide you. 

Once expired, the body wash can be expected to undergo some “acceptable” changes over time until it becomes entirely unfit for continued use. 

Even without an expiration date or shelf life, you can tell whether your body wash has exceeded its intended lifespan. Here are the telltale signs to look out for: 

  • Separation: The separation of your body wash’s liquid and lipid components clearly indicates that the product is past its expiration or period-after-opening date. This may be observed visually in a translucent bottle or when squeezing some of the product onto your hand. You’ll notice the change in consistency with the liquid separating from the lipid portion. 
  • Changes in color: The color of your body wash is one more thing that can be affected after expiration. An expired product will take on a different color, usually yellow or brown. You should consider a new purchase if your body wash changes color. 
  • Changes in scent: The fragrance of your body wash will continually diminish as it goes beyond its expiration date. The scent will no longer be as strong in the first few months. As more time passes, the product may smell a little off until it becomes unmistakably rancid. 
  • Weak lather: Skincare gurus will tell you to go with a body wash that doesn’t lather too much, as this will dry out your skin. However, the weak lather produced by expired body wash is a different story. Aside from being an indicator of expiry, the weak lather makes for less effective cleansing. You will need more body wash to create enough lather for a decent scrubbing. 

Expired body wash is generally considered safe for use for several months to a year after the indicated expiration date or the allotted period after opening specified by the manufacturer. However, once you notice significant changes in the factors discussed above, it’s safer to purchase a new body wash. 

Also, if you’re out of body wash or soap, you’ll be interested to know that you can use conditioner as a body wash! Read my other article to learn more about the benefits of using conditioner as a body wash substitute

How Long Does a Bottle of Body Wash Last?

When planning a holiday, a 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottle of body wash will last about two weeks long. The Transportation Security Administration limits passengers’ liquids and gels to 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottles. A body wash of this size should last up to 50 washes. 

If your body wash does not come in travel-sized variants, you can buy TSA-approved refillable toiletries bottles and fill them with your body wash so you can conveniently pack them for your trip. 


Body washes are among the cosmetic products with a longer life and can go well beyond their expiration or period-after-opening dates. This is particularly useful when you have an overlooked bottle of body wash in your bathroom cabinet and would hate for it to go to waste. 

However, while you can safely use an expired body wash product, you must be aware of any changes in the color, fragrance, and how it feels on your skin. If the body wash causes skin irritation, you are better off buying a new bottle.

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