Soap is a staple in every household, whether it’s for washing hands, your body, dishes or surfaces. Since we go through so much of it, it makes sense that you might buy multiple bars of soap at a time, storing it away until you need it. But how long can a bar of soap sit in your bathroom cupboard before it’s no longer effective? Can soap go bad? How can you make soap last longer once you’ve opened it?
Does soap expire?
So, can soap expire? In short, yes. Soap is a surfactant, which means it can remove dirt, oil, and bacteria from your skin. However, over time, the active ingredients in soap can degrade, making it less effective at cleaning and sanitising your skin. If you feel that your soap is not cleaning as effectively as it once did, chances are that it has started to go off.
When does soap go off?
The time it takes for a soap bar to go off varies depending on a number of factors, with its ingredients and the way the soap is stored having the biggest effects on its lifespan.
While mass-produced soap bars tend to have a fairly long shelf life, this is due to the presence of artificial preservatives and chemical ingredients designed to strengthen the soap and prevent it from breaking down after use, though artificial soap bars also eventually expire, too. You may have noticed that the packaging of many mass-produced soaps features a small picture of an open container with a number in the centre – this is an indication of the estimated soap’s shelf life after opening.
Handmade, natural soaps tend to have a shorter life-span, purely because natural ingredients generally ‘go bad’ sooner than artificial ones. This is one of the reasons that natural, handmade soaps are often smaller than the mass-produced soaps manufactured by large companies. Keeping natural soaps to a smaller size reduces waste, as the soaps are generally all used up before they begin to expire.
The above applies mostly to soaps which have been opened and used, so when does soap expire if it is left unopened? Both natural and artificially-preserved soaps can last between 2-3 years if they are left unopened, unused and are stored correctly.
How can you tell if soap has expired?
There are some tell-tale signs that you can use to judge whether or not your soap has started to expire. The main signs that your soap is beginning to expire are:
- It does not lather when wet
- Its scent has faded
- Orange spots have appeared on the surface of the soap
- It is dry and cracked
- Mould has appeared on the soap
You can accurately judge whether or not a soap needs to be thrown away by simply taking a close look at the soap and judging its smell. If you notice several of the signs above, its time to replace your soap bar.
How to make soap bars last longer
By making simple changes to the way that you store and use your soaps, you can greatly extend the life-span of your natural soap bars.
One of the main catalysts of soap expiration is prolonged moisture exposure. While plenty of us own a soap dish, soap dishes may actually lead to your natural soap bars breaking down much quicker as they prevent the bottom of the soap bar from drying properly after use.
A much better solution to soap storage is to use a soap rack rather than a soap dish. The Friendly Soap soap rack is designed to allow the soap to air dry once it has been used, reducing excess moisture exposure and preserving the soap.
For use in the shower, there’s our soap saver. This sisal hemp pouch helps to create a super smooth lather, offers gentle exfoliation when used on the skin and helps you to get the most out of your soap - you can hang your soap saver by its handy drawstring after you use it, allowing it to dry and preventing smaller pieces of soap from separating from the bar.
Finally, once your soap is thoroughly dried from its most recent use, you can store your soap in our handy soap box. This allows you to store your soap in a dry container away from air and moisture exposure, making it easier to travel with and keep clean.