Whether you’re on a hiking trip or at the beach, a bug spray can be a lifesaver. But does bug spray expire? Well, the efficacy decreases over time. Since most products don’t have an expiry date, you should use them within 18 to 36 months.
What happens with expired bug spray?
When the spray passes the expiry date, it may not be useful as a self-defense weapon. Depending on the brand, you may not spray when the aerosol start leaking out.
There’s also a chance that expired spray will do more harm than good. And based on the product’s ingredients, you could experience skin irritation or rashes. To be on the safe side, you should use a product that has stood the test of time like DEET.
DEET-based bug sprays don’t expire. In fact, for more than three decades there’s no scientific evidence that shows that this product is unsafe for human. This explains why more than 30% of US citizens use products with DEET as an active ingredient for skin protection.
Another remarkable skin product is Picaridin. It contains synthetic ingredients and has been in the market since the early 1980s. Picaridin is odorless and does not expire. According to the manufacturer, this product is good for children and adults alike. But to be on the safe side, you may want to avoid using Picaridin-based bug sprays on children under 3 years. Keep in mind that the FDA does not require companies that use DEET ingredients to state the expiry date.
Is IR3535-based bug spray safe after the expiry date?
This bug spray targets body lice, mosquito, biting flies, and deer ticks. After several toxicity tests, the product has proved to be safe even when ingested. Just like most insect repellents, the IR3535 has a shelf life of 18-36 months. When it reaches the expiry date, it may irritate the eyes or damage your clothes.
How to tell if you bug spray is expired
1. Read the expiry date
As far as expiry information is concerned, you should read the label to get accurate information. If the date is not printed somewhere on the box, you should expect the bug spray to last for three years. Many brands include a customer service number so you should feel free to contact the manufacturer.
You can also type the keyword online to find information about the product. Once you get the right information, write the date with a permanent marker.
2. Inspect the odor of the spray
Just spray the product on a piece of paper and smell it. If the smell is strong, then it will be effective in eliminating unwanted bugs. However, if the smell is rancid or sour you may want to get a new one. As you perform the test, hold the can away from the face.
3. Test the texture
If the spray smells normal, rub a small amount on your hands. Does it feel thin or watery? This shows that it has expired and should be disposed of immediately.
A bug spray with altered texture may cause skin irritation. Make sure you perform this test every three months to ensure the bug spray is in good working condition.
How can you make your bug spray last longer?
To keep the spray at peak performance, you should follow the storage guidelines. Most manufacturers recommend that you keep your products in a cool dry place. When you store in extreme temperatures or very cold areas, the chemical components may change.
At temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius, the spray may leak due to over pressurization. Avoid placing the bug spray on windows ledges where it’s exposed to large amounts of heat. To maintain the efficacy of the product, you should store it in cabinets and closets. Of course, the spray should be stored away from children.
How to dispose of expired bug sprays
If the repellent is in a non-refillable container, spray against concrete until its empty. After that, place the container in the regular trash. You can also recycle the empty bottle.
The other disposal method is to place the container in a plastic garbage bag and lock it tightly. If you’re not sure of the best disposal method, contact the local waste disposal agency.
Most bug sprays are effective for up to three years. If you use DEET-based repellents, the container will remain usable for you up to 36 months.
How long the product lasts will depend on how often you use it. For the other brands, most manufacturers recommend that you dispose of the product after three years. But regardless of the expiry date, you should avoid using bug spray if it causes skin irritation or rashes.