Does Petroleum Jelly Expire? Truth About Vaseline’s Shelf Life

Petroleum jelly, commonly known by the brand name Vaseline, is a staple in medicine cabinets and homes across the world.

The soft, smooth jelly has countless uses ranging from moisturizing skin to lubricating parts on vehicles.

With its immense popularity and versatile applications, many people wonder – does petroleum jelly expire?

What is Petroleum Jelly?

does vaseline expire

Petroleum jelly is a mix of mineral oils and waxes that results in a colorless and odorless jelly-like substance. It is derived from the residue left over from the crude oil refining process.

The oils and waxes provide a smooth texture and help retain moisture, making petroleum jelly an effective moisturizer and protectant.

Petroleum jelly was first discovered in 1859 by chemist Robert Chesebrough. He observed that oil rig workers would use the residue that built up on oil rigs to heal cuts and burns.

After researching the material further, Chesebrough was able to extract the jellied substance and manufacture the first petroleum jelly product under the brand name Vaseline.

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Does Petroleum Jelly Expire?

The ingredients that make up petroleum jelly are very stable, meaning they maintain their chemical structure without interaction from external elements.

As a result, petroleum jelly has an almost indefinite shelf life and expiration is not a major cause for concern.

As long as petroleum jelly is sealed properly and stored away from direct sunlight and heat, the product should not expire or degrade in quality.

Petroleum jelly contains no water, which eliminates the risk of bacteria growth over time.

The long molecular chains that give petroleum jelly its stability also prevent the jelly from supporting microbial life. Without the risk of contamination, petroleum jelly resists spoilage.

Most manufacturers recommend storing unopened petroleum jelly for up to 2 years from the production date.

However, several studies have shown petroleum jelly maintains effectiveness for medicinal purposes for much longer without posing safety risks.

One U.S. study found a container of Vaseline stored for over 50 years retained all its original properties.

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Does Petroleum Jelly Expire Once Opened?

does petroleum jelly expire

The shelf life of petroleum jelly is impacted slightly once opened, but the product still remains stable.

As long as you store the product properly by keeping dirt, debris, and water out, opened petroleum jelly can still last around 2 years.

It is best to use clean hands when applying from the tub to prevent introducing new bacteria. Do not add water or mix other products into your petroleum jelly container.

Make sure to close the lid securely after each use. Keep petroleum jelly in a cool, dark place and avoid extreme temperature changes.

With proper storage methods, opened petroleum jelly lasts nearly as long as an unopened container.

If you notice any changes in texture, smell or appearance before hitting the 2-year mark, it is best to discard your petroleum jelly.

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Can You Use Expired Petroleum Jelly?

While petroleum jelly itself does not truly expire, many people wonder if it is still safe to use after many years sitting on a shelf.

As long as the product was stored properly and the jelly retains its normal appearance, expired petroleum jelly is still considered safe for external use.

It is always best practice to check for signs of contamination or degradation before applying any beauty or medical product to your body.

Make sure expired petroleum jelly has no foul odor, change in color, or shift in texture. Test a small dab on healthy skin first before full application.

While petroleum jelly has an indefinite shelf life, some users may wish to replace extremely aged containers for maximum effectiveness.

The jelly may start to separate after 5+ years of storage leading to a change in performance.

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When Should You Avoid Using Petroleum Jelly?

Despite the safety associated with petroleum jelly’s stable shelf life, there are some instances where you should avoid use of the product:

  • If you notice any changes to the jelly in texture, smell or appearance. Dispose of petroleum jelly if you see signs of contamination.
  • If you are allergic or sensitive to petroleum products. Discontinue use if any irritation develops.
  • Before surgery, as petroleum jelly can increase risk of infection by providing a medium for bacterial growth.
  • Around mucous membranes and eyes, as petroleum jelly can clog pores in sensitive areas.
  • On open wounds or burns, as petroleum jelly can seal in heat and bacteria leading to infection. Only apply to closed wounds unless directly recommended by your doctor.

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What Happens If You Use Expired Petroleum Jelly?

vaseline petroleum jelly

Using expired petroleum jelly that was stored properly is very unlikely to cause any negative side effects or skin irritation.

Since petroleum jelly is biologically inert, bacteria cannot grow within the product itself.

Outdated petroleum jelly may start to lose some effectiveness in terms of moisture retention and protective abilities.

Performance may decline slightly over time but not to levels that impact safety with normal topical use.

Those with sensitive skin may wish to test a small amount of aged petroleum jelly first. Discontinue use if signs of skin redness, itching or irritation occur.

As long as the product maintains its normal dense, waxy texture, expired petroleum jelly remains generally safe for minor external uses.

FAQs Related to “Does Petroleum Jelly Expire?”

Does petroleum jelly (Vaseline) expire?

No, petroleum jelly does not expire. Due to its chemical structure and lack of water content, petroleum jelly does not support bacterial growth which leads to spoilage. As long as it is properly stored, petroleum jelly has an indefinite shelf life.

Does white petroleum jelly expire?

No. Like original petroleum jelly, white petroleum jelly has a very stable chemical structure that prevents it from expiring or spoiling. The main difference is the processing method to achieve its light color. It has the same long-lasting properties as regular petroleum jelly.

Does Apollo petroleum jelly expire?

No. Apollo brand petroleum jelly, like all petroleum jellies, does not have an expiration date. Due to its purified structure and lack of protein, petroleum jelly does not provide an environment for bacteria or microbes to grow. All brands, including Apollo, can resist spoilage indefinitely as long as stored properly.

Can bacteria grow in petroleum jelly?

No, bacteria and microorganisms cannot grow within pure petroleum jelly. The long hydrocarbons chains of petroleum jelly are biologically inert, meaning they cannot support microbial life. Without water activity or organic matter, bacteria have no medium multiply in petroleum jelly.

What happens if you use expired Vaseline?

Since petroleum jelly does not have an expiration date, using an older container of Vaseline will likely have no negative effects. As long as it was stored properly and has retained its normal appearance, texture and odor, Vaseline does not expire in terms of safety or effectiveness. Old Vaseline may start to lose some moisture retention but remains safe for minor external uses.


“Does Petroleum Jelly Expire?” Thanks to the stability of its chemical structure, petroleum jelly avoids many of the concerns surrounding product expiration.

With proper storage methods, both opened and unopened petroleum jelly can resist contamination and retain effectiveness for upwards of 2 years or longer.

While extremely outdated petroleum jelly may start to lose some performance, the jelly largely avoids safety issues due to its resistance to growing bacteria.

By being aware of proper usage and checking for signs of degradation, most households can continue to rely on petroleum jelly as a versatile staple even after the expiration date has long passed.

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Hi, I'm Naznin! I really love making skin happy. I learned cool stuff about skincare and want to share it with you! Together, let's explore how to take care of our skin and feel awesome. Join me on this fun journey where we can be our beautiful selves!