Keep, Use, or Toss? Managing Your Chemical Inventory

by Lawton Brothers | Mar 07, 2023


In early 2020, the global pandemic prompted many people to buy in bulk to amass inventory, assuming the worst. Stocking up on cleaning supplies was a way to satiate the fear of future price hikes or supply chain issues. Over the next two years, however, lockdowns and work-from-home increases dramatically reduced the demand for cleaning. Even with supply chain challenges slowing down the rate of purchase, many facility managers had a backlog of unused cleaning inventory. 

While the pandemic was indeed a new crisis that many had not faced prior, excess inventory is a common problem that has plagued businesses since the industrial revolution. During the pandemic, facilities had no choice but to purchase overpriced products, pay elevated shipping costs, and subsequently cover the cost of storing those purchased goods. Even now, there are many facilities that are still working to get rid of their unwanted cleaning supplies. 

The easiest way to avoid completely absorbing the cost of excess chemicals is to use them before they expire. Many all-purpose cleaners will remain shelf-stable for years, if unopened and properly stored. Other chemicals, like peroxide-based concentrates or oxidizers, may only last a year or two. While there aren’t any clear rules about labeling cleaning products with expiration dates, a good number of manufacturers voluntarily include the information on their bottles or website. The exception to this is disinfectants, which are required to remain stable for one year past the manufacture date and are also required to have the printed date on the container. Hand sanitizer, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, expires when the alcohol content dips below 60% (usually about three years, but this date is approximated by the manufacturer). Since it is now 2023, most hand sanitizer and other cleaning chemicals purchased at the start of the pandemic are already no longer viable. As soon as a chemical reaches its expiration date, it must be properly disposed of. 

Using a product that has expired can have serious consequences. It can begin emitting VOCs or become less effective at killing bacteria. If any of your cleaning products don’t have a label or safety data sheet (SDS), they should immediately be isolated and identified, prior to proper disposal. Without a label, it is impossible to accurately use the product, which can lead to health risks that are harder to treat without the proper information. 

Chemical Questions?

Got questions about what chemicals you should be using in your cleaning routine? Lawton Brothers has an array of products to help your business shine. Walk us through your cleaning routine and let us pick out the perfect chemicals and processes for you. Give us a call today at: 800.432.0813.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter
ISSA Member
Green Seal