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Insider: Bug spray will expire, but it depends on the active ingredient

As the weather heats up, bugs start to come out. Our best defense against the itchy, painful bites is bug spray repellent. But some bug sprays will expire eventually. Here's what you need to know.

How long bug sprays last

‍There is no one-size-fits-all answer here, but the general consensus is that bug sprays have a shelf life of around three years. At that point, you should probably throw them out – not because they will harm you, but because they might be less effective in repelling bugs.

Whether a bug spray expires or not depends on the active ingredient, says Laurence Zwiebel PhD, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University. Most active ingredients used in bug sprays are relatively stable and last a while. However, even if the active ingredients themselves don't expire, the overall formulation may become less effective over time.

Check the back of your bug spray bottle to see what chemical it uses.

Read the full article from Ashley Laderer on Insider's website here.

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October 21, 2023

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