Do lube and condoms really go off?

Do lube and condoms really go off?

They certainly do! All types of lubricants, enhancers and condoms will degrade and lose effectiveness over time but how quickly they will go off depends not just on their expiry date but also on how they are stored. Expired lubes and condoms can not only be ineffective and less pleasant to use, they can potentially affect your health.


It’s not advisable to use any condoms after the expiry date has passed as over time they degrade, becoming more vulnerable to splitting or puncturing. How long a shelf life a condom has depends on the materials it’s made of; Latex and polyurethane condoms have the longest shelf life and condoms containing ingredients such as spermicide tend to have a shorter shelf life.

The expiry date of a condom is usually printed on the box as well as the foil packaging so we recommend checking the date before use. So you don’t get caught unprepared, we recommend periodically checking your condom stash to see if you need to replenish it with fresh ones.

How you store your condoms can also greatly affect how long they last. Exposure to excess heat above room temperature and high humidity will cause them to break down faster so finding somewhere cool, dry and away from sharpest options is the best way to prolong their shelf life.

If you’re not sure if a condom is safe to use, we recommend opening one up and checking to see if it feels brittle, dry or extra chalky. Any of these things are a good indication that it has degraded and may be ineffective.

Lubricants and Enhancers

While most lubricants contain some form of preservative to prolong their shelf life, over time the chemical composition of the product may change and degrade. This could affect not just how effective and comfortable it is to use, it may result in adverse health effects. Here are some potential issues that may arise from using expired lubricants and enhancers:

  • The consistency, colour and viscosity may change over time reducing how well the product performs and how long it lasts.
  • Evaporation may reduce the water content of water based lubes leaving them unpleasantly sticky and tacky.
  • The fragrance and flavouring may change making the product taste and smell unpleasant.
  • When the chemical composition has undergone major changes due to age and/or improper storage, it can render the lubricant unsafe to use. You may risk experiencing symptoms from mild skin irritation to rashes to an allergic reaction.
  • Properties such as the pH of the product may change and can cause in a disruption of your bacterial flora, leaving you susceptible to bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection.

Knowing when your lube or enhancer has become unsafe to use is further complicated by the fact that not all lubricants and enhancers come with an expiry date. As a general rule, lubricants and enhancers have a shelf life of between 1 and 3 years from the date of manufacture.

Regardless of whether or not your lube or enhancer has an expiry date on the packaging, we recommend using it for up to 12 months after you open it and then discarding it. At any stage, if you notice a change in the texture, consistency, colour, scent or flavour of your lube or enhancer, this may be an indication that it may not be pleasant or effective to use and it could even have the potential to cause you harm.

Much like with condoms, how you store your lubricants and enhancers can affect how long they will last before going off. High temperatures and prolonged exposure to air, humidity and bright light can negatively affect these types of products so we recommend storing your lubes and enhancers in a cool, dry place with the bottles or tubes securely sealed.