Woman with a first aid kit at home; woman checking her first aid cabinet; Father using a plaster on his child

Purchasing a stocked first aid kit is only the first step to ensuring your workplace, vehicle and home are prepared in the case of an accident or injury. Any items that are depleted need to be replaced as soon as possible so your kit is ready for use again in an emergency.

Additionally, some items in your first aid kit will expire. Any items in your kit that have passed their date of expiry should be discarded and replaced as soon as possible – their effectiveness deteriorates over time, eventually making them unfit for use.

Best practice is to keep a note of the expiry dates of all your first aid items that can expire and set a reminder to replace them at that time.

Do plasters expire?

Yes, plasters can expire. Over time, the adhesive will weaken and lose its stickiness. The packaging can also degrade over time, meaning that sterility can’t be guaranteed.

Do bandages expire?

Yes, bandages can expire, as their sterility cannot be guaranteed after a certain date.

Do wound dressings expire?

Yes, sterile wound dressings can expire. A dressing past its expiry date could be contaminated due to its packaging becoming compromised over time.

Do antiseptic wipes expire?

Yes, antiseptic wipes can dry out over time and lose their effectiveness. Also, old antiseptic wipes aren’t guaranteed to be sterile.

Do first aid gloves expire?

Yes, out of date gloves can lose sterility and become ineffective at protecting you from cross-contamination.

How to find expiry dates on first aid supplies

How to identify expiry dates on first aid products

Your product label will contain important information about your product, including its expiry date. Look for the year and month next to a small egg timer symbol – this tells you when you need to replace the item.

Can't find an expiry date?

Not every item in your first aid kit will have an expiry date. Sterile items should have one, but if they don’t, it’s best to check the shelf life with the manufacturer. If it’s a non-sterile item with no expiry date, it’s up to your personal judgement to determine whether the product is suitable for use.

What can you do with out of date first aid supplies?

If your first aid kit contains supplies that are damaged or past their expiry date, your safest option is to simply discard them. While this may seem wasteful for unused supplies, it’s important to put safety first in matters of first aid.

The importance of a well-stocked, up to date first aid kit

It’s important to remember that when a first aid kit goes unused for a long time, some contents may lose their effectiveness. You should check the contents of your first aid kits on a regular basis and record expiry dates in a diary. Ensure that any depleted first aid stock is replenished as soon as possible so your kits are always ready for use in an emergency. 

Essential first aid kit contents

Find out more about what basic contents to put in your home first aid kit, learn the legal requirements for school first aid kits, and make sure you’re aware of what first aid kits you need for your workplace.

New first aid kits

Our high-quality HSE and British Standard First Aid Kits and British Standard Kit Refills make it easy to keep your kits up to date.

Read our other blogs for more information on first aid or contact us for further advice and information on our products.

About the author:

Jo Stokes is a writer, marketer and trained first aider at First Aid Online.
Find out more about Jo.