Can A First Aid Kit Expire?

Many people don’t realize that first aid kits can expire and that it’s always essential to keep up to date with the supplies inside them.

While some components will last for longer periods of time, other items need to be replaced as they can’t be used after their expiration date.

In this article, we’ll teach you why first aid kits expire and why you should always check your supplies to ensure everything is in-date.

Why Do First Aid Kits Expire?

First aid kits expire as they have certain items within them that become unusable over time.

These expiration dates will help inform anyone who uses them on what can and cannot be used after a certain time.

Some items cannot be used after a certain amount of time, may become unsafe to use in an emergency, and may do more harm to the patient.

You must know what items are still usable in your first aid kit, or you may not be able to react to an emergency situation to the best of your capabilities.

What Items Are Affected By Expiration Dates?

Many items in first aid kits are affected by the expiration dates on the package.

You may endanger someone if you don’t replace these items before they expire.

Among the items you will need to replace are bandages, medicine, cleaning supplies, sterile wipes, and gloves.

This section will detail why you shouldn’t use these items after they expire.


A first aid kit has different types of bandages, including ones with adhesive properties.

If you leave bandages in a first aid kit for too long without using them, they will lose their sterility.

Likewise, adhesive bandages will no longer retain their adhesiveness and become useless in an emergency situation. 

We recommend changing the bandages in your first aid kit to ensure they remain sterile over time and so they retain their adhesiveness.

That way, you can ensure that there is no risk of infecting anyone who has a bloody wound that needs to heal. 


All medicines have expiration dates for a reason. While some medicines will lose their potency, others may be too dangerous for anyone to ingest.

If you give someone expired medicine, it may harm them.

That’s why you should always check the date on your medicine’s labels to ensure that they will still be effective when you next need them. 

Cleaning Supplies

Many first aid kits include cleaning supplies, even with expiration dates.

It’s essential that you look after your cleaning supplies so you can clean the surface area around someone’s injuries.

However, after their expiration date, they will lose their sterile properties and may not remove any nearby bacteria. 

Sterile Wipes

You need sterile wipes to clean your patient’s wounds, but they will expire if you don’t replace them.

If you don’t replace your sterile wipes and leave them for too long, they can lose their sterility and offer no protection for your patient’s injuries. 


No matter the type of glove, they can degrade over time. You need to wear gloves to ensure that neither you nor your patient transfer pathogens to each other.

This is a health risk to both you and your patient, so always check on the state of your gloves before using your first aid kit.

How To Take Care Of Your First Aid Kit

When you have a first aid kit, you should ensure it’s in an area where anyone can immediately access it.

Everyone needs to know where it is located, regardless of whether it is at work or at home. It’s also essential that you keep them in a dry area so that it doesn’t become contaminated.

We recommend monitoring the supplies inside your first aid kit to ensure that you know when each item expires.

On average, a first aid kit can last between three and five years. You should know when items are in short supply, and ensure that everything is accounted for.

How Do You Dispose Of Out-Of-Date Medical Supplies?

If your first aid kit has expired supplies, you should dispose of them safely and securely.

You shouldn’t use these items after the use-by date but shouldn’t place them in any trash can. Instead, you should consider what you can do with them.

Some expired, unopened supplies may be eligible to donate to groups and charities that help poorer countries.

Can A First Aid Kit Expire? (1)

You can donate some supplies as some believe that the first aid kit will last longer than the expiration date indicates.

Sometimes, a faulty first aid supply may become helpful in last-resort situations.

Depending on the supplier, you may be able to return medicine to the company directly for free.

They can then dispose of the items properly without harming the environment. However, some items will need to go into the trash.

If you have any opened adhesives, you may need to throw these into the trash as you can’t use expired workplace first-aid supplies.

How To Safely Dispose Of Expired Medicine

If you have unused or expired medicine, we recommend disposing it by bringing it back to the company directly.

You should not throw medicine into the trash. However, this may not be a solution for everyone.

You can check with your local pharmacy to see if they know of a way to get rid of expired medications you cannot use anymore.

However, you may be able to flush some medicines down the toilet.

The FDA has a flush list to help you identify which medicines you can flush down the toilet. However, some items will not appear on the list.

Some medicine may be safe to throw into the trash. However, you will have to remove any information that might reveal anything about your prescription. 

You can’t throw all medicine into the trash as then they will come under clinical waste.

It’s essential that you don’t throw all medicine into the landfill, as it may lead to environmental issues and can be dangerous for anyone who works there. 

Final Thoughts

All companies must keep an inventory of their supplies in their first aid kit, even at home.

If you have an expired first aid kit at home, we recommend donating it to a charity, as they can often use them in poorer or wartorn countries to help give aid.

However, if you can’t donate it, we recommend safely and securely disposing of the medication inside your first aid kit safely and securely.

While first aid kits don’t expire quickly, it’s better to know what items you have available when an emergency arises. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The International Standard For First Aid Kits?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has a set standard for first aid kits.
They must be green, with a white cross, and easily recognizable to anyone requiring first aid.

What Is The Average Shelf Life Of A First Aid Kit?

Most first aid kits have a shelf life of three to five years after they have been manufactured.

Why Do First Aid Kits Expire?

If your first aid kit expires, the items inside it may not work as they’re intended to. They may also lose their sterility, rendering them unusable in emergencies.