Does Vaseline Expire – Is it Safe to Use Expired Petroleum Jelly?

Does Vaseline Expire – Is it Safe to Use Expired Petroleum Jelly?
August 20, 2021 Ellis James
Though you likely have many uses for your jar of Vaseline — everything from moisturizing your skin to removing your makeup — petroleum jelly is one of those products that sometimes seems to last forever. If your tub of Vaseline has passed the printed expiration date, can you keep using it? Does Vaseline expire, or is it still fine to continue using it if you have some left? Let’s explore these questions and more to help you figure out whether you should pick up a new jar of Vaseline or keep using what you already have!

Vaseline 1 Blueseal Pure Petroleum Jelly Original 100ml

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Does Vaseline expire?

The answer is yes, but it’s also not so simple.

While you may see a printed expiration date on your jar of Vaseline, the petroleum jelly may still be good far beyond that date.

Vaseline is made from hydrocarbons.  The mix of different hydrocarbons that make up Vaseline will eventually degrade, but the length of time it will take them to do so is quite long.  In fact, Vaseline can often last for five or more years and still be completely fine, when properly stored.

In some cases, your jar of Vaseline may not even have an expiration date printed on it.  This is because petroleum jelly is technically a cosmetic product.  The law does not require expiration dates to be printed on cosmetic problems.  Sometimes, though, there may be an expiration date on your Vaseline.  This is there as a safety measure by the manufacturer and is the date to which they will ‘guarantee’ that the Vaseline will still be good.

Due to the make up of Vaseline, it doesn’t go bad or pose a health risk.  It isn’t a pharmacological product, and there are no chemicals or drugs in it that could have a negative impact on your health if expired.


How long can you keep Vaseline?

Generally speaking, you can keep Vaseline around for a really long time.  As we shared above, it isn’t made with any drugs or chemicals that can degrade or cause harm to you by becoming expired.  Vaseline is made by hydrocarbons that are very slow to break down.

In many cases, a jar of Vaseline will last for up to 10 years when stored properly.  So, even if the printed expiration date on your jar of Vaseline has come and gone, you may still be able to safely use the petroleum jelly.

As the hydrocarbons degrade, the Vaseline will become less effective.  Though, since this degrading process takes so long, Vaseline remains good for quite some time.

How long after opening should you keep Vaseline?

Even opened Vaseline can be kept for a long time, potentially up to 10 years, but certainly for at least five years.  However, if you want your Vaseline to last this long, you need to store it properly.

Vaseline should be stored in a cool and dark place.  It should not be left in the sunlight or near any sources of heat.  If you have a jar of Vaseline in your home now, or the next time you pick one up, keep it stored under the sink, in the medicine cabinet, in the hallway closet, or in another dark area at room temperature.

Using a spoon, cotton swabs, or other tools to remove Vaseline from the jar is another way to help ensure the petroleum jelly stays good for an extended period of time.  Using your fingers can add bacteria to the jar.  This can allow bacteria to enter the jar.  If bacteria enters the jar, the Vaseline can become contaminated.  This, clearly, can make it less safe for you or others in the home to use.

How long without opening can you keep Vaseline?

An unopened jar of Vaseline may last even longer than an open one.  You won’t need to worry about transferring bacteria into the jar and contaminating the Vaseline if it hasn’t even been opened yet.

However, it will still be important to properly store the Vaseline.  Remember, Vaseline should be kept in a cool, dark, and dry place.  A medicine cabinet, hallway closet, or underneath a bathroom sink are all good places to keep it.  Avoid leaving Vaseline out on the counter of the bathroom, especially if there is a window in the room that would expose it to sunlight.

Unopened Vaseline may last for up to 10 years.


How do you know if Vaseline is expired?

For many products, you can simply check the expiration date to see if the item is expired.  With Vaseline, this is not the case.

Since Vaseline often doesn’t even have a printed expiration date or the date that is printed is just the guarantee from a manufacturer, it may seem a bit difficult to determine when Vaseline is expired and unsafe to use anymore.

If you’ve had the jar of Vaseline for 10 years or more, it is almost certainly best to spend a few dollars to invest in a new jar.  Perhaps you’ve had it for less than 10 years, then open the jar and inspect the Vaseline to determine whether it is still good.  If it looks normal, still has the right consistency, and doesn’t smell strange, the Vaseline should still be fine to use.  However, if something doesn’t seem right with the smell, consistency, or appearance of the Vaseline, err on the safe side and pick up a new jar.

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly, Original 13 oz, Pack of 3

What do you do if you can’t find the expiration date?

If you can’t find the expiration date on a jar of Vaseline, it doesn’t mean that the Vaseline is not good anymore.  Expiration dates are not always printed on petroleum jelly jars since petroleum jelly is considered a cosmetic product.

If you can’t locate an expiration date on the packaging, and you can’t remember how old the Vaseline is, open up the jar and look at the petroleum jelly inside.  If everything looks, smells, and feels normal, you should be able to use the Vaseline without any issues.


What happens when you use expired Vaseline?

Vaseline is safe to use for skin care purposes.  But, is it safe to use expired Vaseline?

If Vaseline is simply past the printed expiration date, it is most likely still fine to use.  Vaseline can keep for up to 10 years, and most printed expiration dates are only about three years or so past the production date.

If you’re not sure whether your Vaseline is still safe to use, based on a strange smell or consistency, it is best not to use it on your body.  However, you can consider some alternative uses for Vaseline that don’t involve using it on your body.  This will prevent you from wasting that leftover Vaseline.

Some possible ways to use expired Vaseline include:


Why is Vaseline dangerous after it expires?

Vaseline really isn’t dangerous after it expires, as long as it still looks, smells, and feels normal.  The hydrocarbons that make up Vaseline take a long time to break down, which means that your petroleum jelly will remain effective for quite some time.  Since Vaseline isn’t a pharmacological product and doesn’t contain chemicals or drugs that do expire, in most cases using it after the printed expiration date is fine.

However, if your jar of Vaseline is over 10 years old, using it probably isn’t a good idea.  If the petroleum jelly has become contaminated with bacteria, it would also not be a good idea to use it.  Always use spoons, cotton-swabs, or other tools to remove petroleum jelly from the jar to avoid contaminating it with bacteria from your fingers.  If you have been using your fingers to remove Vaseline from your current jar, it may be a good idea to buy a new jar and start fresh.


Does bacteria grow in Vaseline?

Vaseline doesn’t have enough nutrients to allow for bacteria to grow on their own.  However, you can introduce bacteria into a jar of Vaseline and contaminate it.  When you use your fingers, rather than a clean tool, to take some Vaseline out of the jar, you transfer bacteria to the jar.  The moisture and nutrients from your skin cells can allow bacteria to survive and grow in a jar of Vaseline.

To prevent this from happening, never use your fingers to get Vaseline out of the jar; always use a spoon or another clean tool.


Does Vaseline Expire: Using Expired Vaseline

Many see Vaseline as a wonder product!  Petroleum jelly offers so many uses from skincare to stain removal to relieving diaper rash in babies and so much more.  And, now we’ve learned that on top of all of these benefits, Vaseline can last for a long time and is often still good past its expiration date!

What is your favorite way to use Vaseline?

Learn more about petroleum jelly by reading these related posts on our blog:

Comments (4)

  1. Mari 1 year ago

    I’ve always wondered about this! I’ve had vaseline around my house for a very long time without repurchasing it often. Ever since people started doing declutters and the Mari Kon method, I got worried about expired stuff. It’s a good thing that it lasts for 5-10 years if stored and used properly! Thanks so much for the info 😀

    • Ellis James Designs 1 year ago

      Happy to help, Mari!

  2. Morgan 4 months ago

    Antique stores sometimes have old vaseline jars 50 or 100 years old for collectors, the Vaseline in the jars always looks fine. I think it lasts forever.

    • Ellis James Designs 4 months ago

      If we’re gonna be applying it to ourselves. especially in areas close to where we can ingest it, it’s best not to risk it!

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