When you’re loading your dishwasher every day, setting the dishes, and popping in one of those “single-load” dishwasher pods, do you ever wonder how long this pod’s been sitting in your kitchen? Do dishwasher pods expire? Is it time to throw the whole package away? I mean, it’s all detergent anyway right.
Most dishwasher pods have a “best before” date. However, unlike edible objects, using the pod at any point after that date wouldn’t be harmful. You might just expect a decline in the cleaning power or scent.
Do Dishwasher Pods Expire
It’s fair to be concerned about the shelf-life of day-to-day products, especially anything kitchen-related. After all, you want to keep contamination at bay. So, it would make sense to have strict standards for storing groceries and even maintaining kitchen appliances but would the same be applied to something as simple as dishwasher pods?
So, it wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable to use an old dishwasher pod (if you really need to) as long as you keep an eye for a few signs of deterioration.
How Long Can You Store Dishwasher Pods
While dishwasher pods might not have an outright expiration date, in most cases, you’ll find a “best-before” date on the package. This date is basically just a guarantee from the manufacturer that their product will retain a high standard of efficacy up to that time and in most cases, it’s good for up to 2 years from the manufacturing date.
The shelf-life is chosen for one of two reasons:
- The pod starts losing its potency or stability and it’ll start deteriorating beyond this date.
- The manufacturing company hasn’t tested the pods’ stability this far along.
So, yes you can use an expired dishwasher pod, but it probably won’t be as effective. But before we get into any more details, let’s take a look at the structure of a dishwasher pod and how it does its magic.
What’s in a Pod, Anyway
Dishwasher pods are also called a “single-load” unit and they’re very similar to laundry pods. Structurally, it’s a ball of detergent called surfactant (maybe along with scent-inducing chemicals) coated with a fine layer of polyvinyl.
Once you pop one of those pods in your dishwasher and the cycle starts, the pod gets exposed to water which eats away at the polyvinyl coating, releasing the detergent. Keeping the coat intact for longer periods can help increase the shelf-life of the pod.
How to Spot a Dishwasher Pod That’s “Gone Bad
One quick way to decide if a dishwasher pod is still good for use is a thorough physical check! Remember that the storage conditions will affect the pod’s structural integrity, so, keep an eye for those signs:
Exposure to Moisture
Remember that little polyvinyl film that gave the pods an extreme advantage? Well, it can easily dissolve in water. So, if you store your dishwasher pods in a place with moisture or even keep moving them around with wet hands, expect to see a decline in their effectiveness later since you’re dissolving away the protective layer. You’ll know this is the case if the surface of the pod feels flaky or sticky.
Rotting is when microbial organisms form colonies in a product. This will rarely happen since the detergent isn’t an ideal medium for bacterial or fungal growth. If this does happen, it’s definitely a sign that you need to throw the whole box away. You might even want to re-evaluate the storage conditions that you’re keeping your cleaning products in.
One other minor physical change that might happen to old dishwasher pods is losing their scent. This might not be a serious concern for most people but it’s just an indicator that your pods are not as fresh as they used to be.
How to Store Dishwasher Pods
Once you know how different factors can affect your pods’ stability, it’s easier to provide the ideal storage conditions. As a general rule, keep your pods in a cool, dry place. Never handle a dishwasher pod with wet hands and always close the packaging after picking up a pod.
Ready for a quick DIY project to create pod storage to keep the humidity away? Repurpose some mason jars to create storage containers for your detergent.
Pods vs Liquid Soap: What’s the Difference and Which is Better
Liquid dishwashing soap is much more common than the pods and you’ll probably be able to use it for more than just your dishwasher. It’s also a very basic household item and you’ll get a variety of options to choose from. Dishwashing pods, on the other hand, are more expensive than the liquid soap alternatives and yet, pods are turning out to be more trendy.
Why? Well, the thing with these pods is that they’re so convenient to use, just pop one into your dishwasher and be done with it. No measuring is needed and definitely, no more soap spills on your kitchen floor. Making the pods an ideal option if you’d rather spend a little bit more to avoid the hassle.
Do I Have to Worry About Detergent Pods Clogging My Drain
Many people hear that dishwasher pods or even laundry pods can clog your drain when the polyvinyl coat gets unwrapped. This, actually, turns out to be a myth. Regardless of how old or new the pod is, it won’t clog your drains.
If you do have issues with your dishwasher, you might need to give the machine a thorough clean-out. Here’s how Affresh recommends doing it.
To sum up the whole squabble of “do dishwasher pods expire” remember that they can go bad with extremely unsuitable conditions. However, unless the pod has endured a lot of wear and tear, the worst that you can expect is a decline in its function (cleaning strength or scent freshness).
So, if you have a pack that’s been sitting in your kitchen for longer than you can recall and you’re wondering whether or not you should be using it, it might be a good idea to take a look at the physical condition of the pods. If you can see any obvious cracks, flacking, leakage, or rot spots, it’s time to toss the package out and get a new one.