What to do with old perfume

Old Perfume or Cologne

Do you have a collection of old, unwanted perfume bottles gathering dust on your vanity or in your drawers? Maybe you’ve received a few perfumes as gifts, but they just weren’t quite your style, or you’ve held onto a beloved scent even after it’s gone past its expiration date. Regardless of the reason, it can be challenging to know what to do with these perfumes once they’re no longer in use. Let’s explore some ways to use or dispose of old perfumes so that you can declutter your space and reduce waste while being mindful of the environment!

Check the Expiration Date

Before you start using or disposing of old perfume, it’s important to check its expiration date. Like any cosmetic product, perfume has a shelf life and can lose its potency over time. Using expired perfume can cause skin irritation or an unpleasant smell, so it’s best to check the date before using it. To find the expiration date, look for a small symbol on the perfume bottle that resembles an open jar. This symbol is called the “Period After Opening” (PAO) symbol and indicates how many months the perfume can be safely used after opening. You can also check the bottom of the bottle for a printed expiration date. If your perfume has expired, it’s best to dispose of it properly.

Perfume can go bad overtime due to exposure to air, light, and heat. Here are a few signs that your perfume may have gone bad:

  1. Change in color: If your perfume has changed color or has become cloudy, it may have gone bad. Perfume should be clear and consistent in color.
  2. Change in scent: If your perfume smells different than it used to, it may have gone bad. The scent may become dull, sour, or musty over time.
  3. Skin irritation: If your perfume causes skin irritation or a rash, it may have gone bad. This can happen when the ingredients in the perfume break down and become unstable.
  4. Weak fragrance: If your perfume doesn’t last as long or the scent isn’t as strong as it used to be, it may have gone bad. Perfume should maintain its potency for at least a year or two, but it can start to lose its fragrance after that.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to dispose of the perfume properly and not use it on your skin.

Ways to Use Old Perfume

If your unwanted perfume is still within its expiration date and you’re looking for good ways to repurpose it, try this out:

  1. Room or linen spray: Mix a few drops of perfume with water in a spray bottle and use it to freshen up the air in a room or to lightly scent your linens. You can also apply  perfume to cotton balls and place them in a small dish or sachet to freshen up drawers, closets, or other small spaces.
  2. Potpourri refresher: Spray some perfume on dry potpourri to refresh its scent and give it new life.
  3. DIY beauty products: Try using your old perfume as a natural fragrance for DIY bath products like body scrubs or bath salts.
  4. Fragrance for DIY candles: Add a few drops of perfume to melted candle wax to make a custom scent for your homemade candles.

Keep in mind that a little goes a long way when it comes to using perfume in these ways. Start with a small amount and adjust the intensity to your liking.

Ways to Dispose of Old Perfume

If your old perfume is expired or you’re simply looking to declutter, there are several responsible ways to throw them out:

  1. Recycle: Check with your local recycling program to see if they accept perfume bottles. If they do, remove the cap and spray nozzle, rinse out the bottle, and place it in your recycling bin.
  2. Hazardous waste facility: If your local recycling program doesn’t accept perfume bottles, contact your local hazardous waste facility to find out how to safely dispose of them. They will have the resources to dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way.
  3. Donate: Consider donating unopened or gently used perfume to a women’s shelter or charity. They often accept unused personal care items to distribute to those in need.

Remember that perfume contains alcohol and other potentially hazardous chemicals, so it’s important to dispose of it properly. Don’t pour it down the drain or just throw it in the trash, as this can harm the environment. Choose one of these responsible disposal methods instead.


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