How Long Does Perfume Last?

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We’ve all seen it. That bottle in granny’s bathroom cabinet that seems to have lasted for a thousand years. It is covered in dust, the liquid is not quite viscous yet, and it is definitely a brand of perfume that no longer exists.

How Long Does Perfume Last

Yet, that doesn’t stop grandma from dutifully taking it out and giving herself a loving spritz from it. If this has been a common occurrence in your house growing up, then you may be asking the same question that you did when you first saw this happen: How long does perfume last?

It’s not a food or an object that noticeably degrades over time. At the same time, there are not really any indications or warnings on perfume, yet at some point it must go bad, right? In this article, we seek to find this out.

Does Perfume Go Bad?

Perfume does go bad eventually, but it does last longer than most other scented items, as oils in a contained bottle do not easily oxidize.

However, the flowers and plant material used to create many perfumes are perishable and will eventually go bad. Floral fragrances are especially vulnerable to degradation over time.

When in contact with moisture in the air, flowers and plants will degrade and change faster than other products. This means that the perfume used to create a fragrance item will degrade when exposed to the air at a faster rate than scented oils.

This is because the air is full of moisture, and moisture causes a fair amount of degradation when exposed to other substances.

Other substances that can cause perfumes to degrade quicker are fruits, like citrus smells, and likewise, it is because the things they are from are known to degrade at a rapid rate – this time due to oxidation.

Perfumes will also be more rapid to degrade if there are less of them. A full bottle of perfume has less exposure to the air than a bottle with only a little in it.

As such, the degradation is much more rapid as more perfume is exposed than would be with a full bottle.

How Long Does It Last?

Well, this is actually a tricky question, because the answer we have been provided with is somewhat vague. This is due to a couple of factors which would need to be considered. The first is the fact that each perfume is made up of a different chemical composition.

Should your perfume be made up of a chemical composition susceptible to degradation, then it won’t last too long, but should it be from a chemical composition that is resistant to degradation, then it could last a very long time.

The other factor is how you store your perfume. Should you store it in direct sunlight, in a warm place, with the lid off, then expect that perfume to go bad within days. But if you store it properly, then it could last years.

Generally, the amount of time a manufacturer will give the shelf life of a perfume bottle is between 1 and 10 years. This range is for unopened bottles and is not that helpful, as it is a huge range of years.

The average shelf life of an opened perfume bottle is around 3 to 5 years, so unless you have a very niche perfume, this is a more reasonable guideline to follow.

If you store your perfume properly, though, there is no reason it should not last for many years to come.

How To Tell If Your Perfume Has Expired?

No matter how soon you buy the perfume, it is always worth doing a little test to see whether it has gone bad or not. Otherwise, you could end up with a rash or smelling deeply unpleasant, which no one wants.

There are a couple of ways to tell whether your perfume has gone bad, but there are three things to look out for before applying it:

  • Looks: This is probably the most obvious of the three ways to tell whether your perfume has gone bad. If your perfume is darker than it once was or has changed color, even a little, then it has probably gone bad. Alcohol is a key ingredient in perfume, and it evaporates over time. This leaves a higher concentration of oils in the perfume, which will make it darker in color and less transparent.
  • Smell: Never spray your perfume on yourself, if you think it may have gone bad. Instead, give it a spray away from yourself and smell. If it smells bad or smells a little more oily or sour than before, then it has gone bad or is about to go bad. Lots of ingredients in perfume expire, and some of those are oils and fats. When they begin to degrade, they change the smell of the perfume, making it unpleasant.
  • Expiry date: Most perfumes nowadays will have an expiry date, even if it is just a vague one. If you cannot tell whether your perfume is bad or not, then have a look at the bottle and see whether you can find an expiration date. The expiration dates on perfumes are simply guidelines, and you should use your own judgment to decide whether the perfume is bad. However, if you can’t decide, and it is past the expiration date, it may be best to just throw away the bottle.

As you can see, there are a couple of ways to check whether a perfume is past the expiration date or not. Still, it is up to your judgment, and you should make your own decisions on whether or not you can get any more spritz’ out of that bottle of perfume.


Perfume does go bad eventually, but it can last for between 1 and 10 years before it does. For most perfumes, this number range goes down to 3 to 5 years, but the important thing to consider is whether your perfume appears bad or not.

Since these ranges are large and vague, you should use your own judgment before throwing away a bottle of perfume.