Does Baby Shampoo or Baby Wash Expire? Find out incl. Popular product’s Expiration

baby in a bathtub

It’s only natural to want to check if your baby’s products are still good to use. So you obviously wonder: does the baby shampoo or baby wash I bought expire? Food products are required to have expiry dates stamped on their packaging. But you may be surprised to find most shampoos and conditioners, including your baby’s, have no expiry date. Hmm. 

Baby shampoo or wash can last for a long time when you’re only using the minutest amount to wash your baby’s hair. If you’re anything like me, I often look at my toddler’s half-empty shampoo bottle and wonder if it’s a good idea to still use it six months after opening it. 

I began thinking about the topic of expiration dates and how they apply to products such as baby wash and shampoo. My research came up with some interesting answers so read on.

Does Baby Shampoo Expire?

All chemical-based products do expire and this includes your baby’s shampoo. Manufacturers of baby shampoos are not legally required to put an expiry date on the bottle but some do indicate a use-by date as a guideline. Manufacturers may recommend a period-after-opening date on the bottle and in most cases, it’s advised to discard any shampoo older than 18 months. Unopened shampoo bottles should be tossed after three years.

How Long Does Baby Shampoo Last?

While manufacturers of baby shampoo recommend replacing older products within a year of opening, most agree you can keep using the product for up to three years. This does depend on how you store the shampoo and it should ideally be kept at room temperature

To give you peace of mind, look for the period-after-opening (PAO) symbol on your baby’s shampoo bottle. It’s a graphic image similar to a bottle with an open lid and some numbers with an “M” stamped on it. You’ll find this symbol used on most cosmetic products as well and it shows how long you can use the product once opened. 

The number of months is indicated such as 12M, 24M, or 36M. This gives a clear guideline as to how long you should keep shampoo after it has been opened. However, if your baby shampoo product doesn’t include this symbol then apply the general rule of thumb and discard it after 18 months. 

Does Baby Wash Expire? 

Baby wash and soaps are also chemical-based products so they’ll eventually expire. Once again, manufacturers aren’t required by law to stipulate an expiry date on baby wash packaging. However, they do need to be responsible for the shelf life and safety of their product. With baby wash products, it’s recommended to use within a year of opening or within three years when not opened especially if you’re using a baby wash and shampoo all-in-one combination. 

How Long Does Baby Wash Last?

Baby wash includes a number of ingredients such as preservatives to ensure it has a longer shelf life. If you’re using one of these products, you can expect your baby wash to be good to use for up to a year and or even 18 months. 

Look out for the following details on the bottle to use as a guideline:

  • Manufacture date: This is not always included but if it is you’ll find it on the side, bottom, or back of the bottle. Once opened, use the shampoo within a year of this date. 
  • Expiry date: While not legally required, some manufacturers may voluntarily include this date on the bottle.
  • Period-after-opening date: Similar to shampoo bottles, this symbol may be included on your baby wash’s bottle. 

Always check out the ingredients and see if preservatives are listed. If you’re using a natural or organic product, you can expect it to have a shorter shelf life as they don’t include parabens. It’s recommended to toss any natural baby products a year after the manufacture date. 

How Do You Know if Baby Shampoo or Wash Has Expired? Signs to Look out For

A conundrum many parents face is the numerous bottles of baby shampoo or wash given to them during their baby shower! Deciding whether the baby shampoo and wash has expired can be a difficult one if no expiry, manufacture, or period-after-opening date is included on the packaging. 

While you know it’s probably best to replace all baby wash and shampoo products a year after receiving them, it seems heart-breaking to toss the whole lot into the bin. Even more so, when the bottles haven’t been opened. 

So, how do you tell if the product is still safe to use on your baby months after being opened or two years later when the bottle hasn’t been opened? Fortunately, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for giving you a clear indication if the product has gone beyond its shelf life. 

Look out for the following signs which will tell you your baby’s wash or shampoo has gone off:

  • There’s a separation of the ingredients and distinct layers form in the liquid.
  • A change in consistency such as runny, watery, or even thicker than its original form.
  • The smell is no longer a pleasant fragrance but instead becomes offensive or smells “off”.
  • The liquid takes on a clearer or even cloudier appearance.
  • There’s a change in color

Try and take note of the product’s appearance and consistency when you first use it and look out for any of these changes after a few months of usage. Any obvious changes are an indication of a deterioration in the quality of the shampoo or wash. 

Do Some Popular Baby Shampoo or Wash Expire?

One of the most popular baby product manufacturers surely must be Johnson’s Baby! It’s been around since 1893 and nearly every parent turns to them for “safe and pure” baby products. But, does this mean their products only last for a short time, or do they expire at all? Yes, no matter how popular a baby product is, e.g. baby oil, it’s going to expire

Does Johnson’s Baby Shampoo Expire? 

Johnson’s advises you to use their products within a year of opening the bottle. If your baby shampoo is stored at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, you can keep the product for as long as three years unopened.

Johnson’s products all contain preservatives. This is to prevent their products from having an extremely short shelf life and expiring within weeks of being opened. These ingredients ensure there’s no build-up of harmful bacteria, fungi, and mold once the product is opened. However, this doesn’t mean this popular baby shampoo lasts forever.

While no expiry date is included on their packaging, Johnson’s manufacture date can be used as a guideline. This can be found by the lot number on the side, back, or bottom of the bottle. A LOT number will look something like this:

  • LOT 0816L: The fourth digit is the year so in this case, the LOT number tells you the product was made in 2016. 
Johnson's Head-To-Toe Gentle Tear-Free Baby & Newborn Wash & Shampoo, Sulfate-, Paraben- Phthalate- & Dye-Free, Hypoallergenic Wash for Sensitive Skin & Hair, 3 x 16.9 fl. Oz (Amazon Exclusive)

When you use Johnson’s Head-to-Toe Gentle Tear-Free Baby & Newborn Wash & Shampoo, look out for the LOT number to give you an indication of how long it’s safe to use this product. Also, take note of the gentle fragrance and consistency so you can look out for any deterioration should there be any changes. 

Does Aveeno Baby Wash and Shampoo Expire? 

The manufacturers of Aveeno products will tell you that not all their products expire. However, if the product does expire, the manufacturer does include the expiry date. This can be found on the back, shoulder, or bottom of the bottle or if it’s a tube packaging, on the crimp. So, check out your Aveeno baby’s wash and shampoo bottle and see if you can find an expiration date. If there isn’t one then apply the general rule of thumb – discard within a year of opening or use within three years if not opened. 

Aveeno Baby Daily Moisture Gentle Body Wash & Shampoo with Oat Extract, 2-in-1 Baby Bath Wash & Hair Shampoo, Tear- & Paraben-Free for Hair & Sensitive Skin, Lightly Scented, 18 fl. oz

Does Cetaphil Baby Wash Expire? 

A product made in Germany, Cetaphil Baby Wash & Shampoo is used for babies with sensitive skins. Germany being a European Union country, Germany is required to stipulate the PAO on all cosmetic products. This includes baby wash and shampoo products. When you buy Cetadil Baby Wash you’ll clearly see the PAO symbol on the back of the bottle, towards the bottom of the label. It indicates 18M which means use the baby wash within 18 months of opening it. 

Having a PAO gives you peace of mind you’re using the product within its safe shelf life. So, Cetaphill may not include an expiry date but they do include the PAO date for a guideline as to how long to use their products once opened. 

Cetaphil Baby Wash & Shampoo with Organic Calendula,Tear Free, Paraben, Colorant and Mineral Oil Free, 13.5 Fl. Oz (Packaging May Vary)

Does Dove Baby Wash Expire? 

Another popular baby wash product is the Baby Dove Sensitive Skin Care Wash. This Unilever product is excellent for both babies and adults who suffer from eczema. Manufacturers of Dove products stipulate an expiration date for antiperspirant deodorants and anti-dandruff shampoos. 

For all their other products, Dove recommends using within three years of the manufacturing date for best results. It’s essential to store the baby wash at room temperature. Look for a batch code or LOT number which is normally on the bottom of the bottle to find the manufacturing date.

Baby Dove Sensitive Skin Care Baby Wash For Bath Time, Moisture Fragrance Free and Hypoallergenic, Washes Away Bacteria 20 oz

Can I Use Expired Baby Shampoo or Wash?

While you could use expired baby shampoo or wash, its performance becomes less effective. When the bottle is opened, the ingredients are immediately exposed to elements that start to change the wash and shampoo composition. This will eventually cause the product to break down. 

When the ingredients start to break down, they also begin to lose their effectiveness as a non-irritant to your baby’s skin. So, the older the baby shampoo or wash, the more likely it’ll start to irritate your baby’s sensitive skin. It would be wiser to avoid using expired baby wash and shampoo on your baby. 

Can I Use Baby Shampoo as Body Wash?

Baby shampoo and body wash are made using different formulations. This means shampoo is formulated specifically to clean and moisturize hair while body wash is designed to clean the skin. However, baby shampoo is often made with gentle ingredients to prevent no tears should the suds run into the eyes. So, as an adult, you could use baby shampoo as a body wash or even for cleaning your face.

Baby manufacturers are producing an all-in-one product to make bathing your baby easier with baby wash and shampoo in one bottle. This formulation allows you to wash your baby’s hair while cleansing their skin. 

Final Thoughts

While it’s not a legal requirement to stipulate expiry dates for baby wash and shampoo, these products do expire. For the safety of your baby, it’s recommended to use opened products within a year and unopened baby wash and shampoo within three years. 

When in doubt, look out for obvious signs of deterioration in the product such as a bad smell, color changes, separation of the ingredients, or change in consistency. I prefer to check if the product has a manufacturing date or period-after-opening date. By having a date, I can determine how old the product is before using it on my daughter. 

Interestingly, many adults prefer to use baby shampoo or conditioner, and therefore as a parent, you might want to give it a try. 🙂

If you’ve read this article until here, you might be interested in learning about other expiry topics, e.g. if baby bottles and nipples expire, whether baby wipes expire or if diapers expire.

Last update on 2024-05-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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