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Does fly spray expire? Many manufacturers encourage consumers to discard insect repellents that are upwards of three years old. They further indicate that if a container shows a lot of that it may affect the efficacy of the product, e.g. if an aerosol is rusted, dented, in bad shape or if a tube is missing its top, etc.

As far as an actual expiration date authorities don’t usually require manufacturers to print expiration dates on their products.  Some manufacturers do anyway, but it is not required.  And whether your particular brand is one that has an expiration date or not it is going to depend on the brand, the type of ingredients and as to if it’s a natural product or not.

Depending on a product’s ingredients they can begin to separate over time and become settled and thus lose their effect.  There’s a chance that really old repellents could actually do more harm than good.  It could see the person to break out in a rash or cause severe skin irritation.

The effectiveness of the product is also going to be based on whether it has been stored according to the guidelines on the packaging.  If it’s not stored in the proper environment, with the proper temperatures and the suggested light exposure, it’s going to affect the repellent in a negative way.

Bug spray is really important for people these days. An insect repellent, by definition, is a substance that is applied to the skin and or our clothing or even other surfaces to keep bugs away. Insects don’t like it, stay away and keep you, pets, or an area bug free. It’s as important a thing to apply as sunscreen because bites can be incredibly serious when you consider the diseases that you’re being exposed to.  The repellent is not only protecting you from being bitten, but it’s also protecting the general public’s health by stopping any kind of transmission of the types of viruses that these insects can carry.

INSECT SPRAY: Expiration Dates

  • DEET does not expire.  It is a chemical that has been around for over sixty-years and is the gold standard of spray ingredients.  It is easily the most effective insect repellent, but it is also the most controversial as people feel it has health risks when applied to the skin. It is just strong, has a chemical smell to it, and does its job in a serious way – this is perhaps why it gets a bad rap. Over 20 years of clinical studies have found no reliable evidence that DEET is unsafe.
  • Picaridin does not expire.  It is another effective ingredient, close second and growing when compared to DEET.  It doesn’t produce a smell or feel “chemical-like” to people.  It doesn’t seem as harsh, but it does almost as good of a job as DEET.
  • IR3535 has a shelf life of approximately eighteen to thirty-six months.  It is a type of lotion or skin-care product.  It is also very effective and not in anyway harmful or “stinky”. 

Then we have a few other ingredients that are popular with no expiration dates listed.

  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Para-menthone-diol (PMD)
  • 2 Underanone

These are all active ingredients in insect repellents that have been deemed by some Environmental Protection Agencies as safe and effective for use, all are usually regulated.  Natural bug repellents are not being regulated by the EPA and should not be used.  They should not be considered to be an effective means to repel insects.

WARNING:  Regardless of the expiration date, if a bug spray causes you to have any kind of rash or any other irritation, discontinue immediately.  Do not spray any repellents into your face, but if you do get it into your eyes or mouth, flush thoroughly and seek medical attention if necessary.

​How To Tell If Fly Spray Has Expired?

A contact number will usually be provided on any repellent and by calling the manufacturer they can put your mind at ease as far as expiration information is concerned.  Also, again, if the container has been damaged or exposed to improper storage, the contents will most likely not be as effective and it may be best to buy a new product.  There are still a few other steps you can take if none of these gives any indication as to whether the spray is good or not.

  • Spray some of the repellent onto a piece of paper.  If the smell is good and strong – like it should be – then you know it is still good for zapping unwanted bugs. If it is weak, you know it’s time to get a new repellent.
  • Test it for a short period of time outside.  Use it when you’re doing a small outside job and see how effective it is at keeping you bite free.

​How to Make Insect Repellent Last Longer?

In order to keep bug spray at the peak of its effectiveness, it’s important to carefully follow storage guidelines.  You need to keep it away from extremes of temperature, as high heat and low cold will change the chemical make up of the contents making it less effective.

Also, if you really want to find out the date of the product itself in order to make it last as long as you possibly can, you need to call the manufacturer and see when it was issued.  The standard that manufacturers recommend is to discard products after three years, even though some ingredients never expire and never lose their efficacy, this is what manufacturers encourage consumers to do.  

When you think about the fact that you are trying to prevent yourself from getting deadly diseases, you should to listen to the manufacturer.  So, when they give you the date it was issued mark it on the container and then keep it for three years beyond that point.  This way you will be using it to its fullest potential.

​How Long Does a Bottle of Insect Repellent Last

A bottle of insect repellent will only last for as long as you have use for it.  If you are using it consistently on a regular, almost daily basis, you’ll go through a bottle before any expiration dates come into play.  If you never or hardly ever use it, and bought it as a ‘just in case’ kind of thing, it will last for three years at which point manufacturers recommend you discard it.  

Again, this is solely based on your use of the product.  It completely depends on how often you’re applying it.  Do note that it is best not to overdo it, because even if you bathe yourself in a repellent, it won’t amplify its effects.  You will just end up wet, perhaps sticky, and for no improvement.


How Do You Apply Insect Repellent?

There are certain things you should bear in mind to effectively and safely apply repellent.

  • Always make sure to spray it in a well-ventilated space, preferably outside, so you are inhaling as little of the chemicals as possible. Keep the aerosol a safe distance from you, a good 50cm (1 foot) away, when spraying.
  • Start with the less harsh brands and cover up if you’re going outside – unless there’s a reason to be in different clothing.  If you’re not going on a hiking trip or doing something for an extensive period of time, it’s not necessary to use the hardcore brands.
  • Don’t spray your face.  Spray your hands and then rub your face, being careful not to get the liquid into your eyes or your mouth.
  • Coat over your hair too – bugs love hair.
  • Don’t forget to spray your clothing.
  • When you are done for the day and come back home, wash your clothes and shower immediately to get the chemicals off.
  • Stay away from the two-in-one sunscreen and repellent.  They are not effective.  Apply sunscreen first and then put the bug spray on.

​Can I Use Insect Repellent on My Children

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying any repellent on children.  All, including DEET, are safe for kids within certain age groups with small babies being the exception in most instances.  Where kids are concerned always call the manufacturer.  Don’t even go by what the label says.  Call and hear it directly from the manufacturer, as you don’t ever want to make any kind of assumptions where they are concerned.

So before you go, remember: Don’t go outside without first applying sunscreen then an insect repellent.  Your health will thank you.