Do First Aid Kits Expire? - First Aid Plus

Do First Aid Kits Expire?

First aid kits are essential tools that should be available for people at home, in a car and at the workplace. They provide the necessary materials and supplies to handle minor injuries and emergencies until professional medical help arrives. The accidental fall with a scraped knee, the cut from a kitchen knife and other basic injuries that happen in daily life can be helped with a first aid kit.  

However, just like any other medical supplies, first aid kit supplies also have an expiration date. Let’s look at what expires in first aid kits, so you can be sure to replace these items regularly.

Little kid riding a bike in a park

When Do You Need a First Aid Kit?

The best practice is to keep a first aid kit readily available in case of an accident, an unexpected injury or illness. It's also important to replenish the contents of the first aid kit as they run out and make sure the kit’s contents haven’t expired. 


It is recommended to have a first aid kit at home for minor injuries, such as cuts, scrapes and burns. You definitely want to make sure the expired bandages have been thrown out. It’s also helpful to have basic medications for common ailments, such as headaches, colds, and fever.


Many workplaces are required by law to have a first aid kit on hand in case of injuries or accidents. This is especially important for jobs that involve hazardous materials or heavy machinery.


It's important to pack a first aid kit when traveling to remote or wilderness areas. Some injuries and illnesses that may occur while engaging in outdoor activities include sprains, cuts, blisters, and insect bites. A well-equipped kit can help prevent these minor incidents from becoming major problems.

Sports and recreation 

Participating in sports or recreational activities such as biking, skiing, or swimming can lead to minor injuries such as cuts, scrapes, bruises, and sprains. That's why having a first aid kit on hand can be incredibly useful for treating these injuries and preventing them from becoming more severe. With the right supplies, such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, and ice packs, you can quickly and easily attend to minor injuries and get back to enjoying your favorite activities.


First aid kits can be essential in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency by providing basic medical supplies and equipment for immediate treatment of injuries. In such situations, emergency services and medical facilities may be inaccessible or overwhelmed, making it crucial to have a well-stocked first aid kit on hand. The kit can help to stabilize and treat injuries, such as cuts, burns, fractures, and bleeding, before professional medical assistance arrives.

First aid supplies and first aid kit

What Items Expire in a First Aid Kit?

It’s a good rule to regularly look at the items in your first aid kit and check the expiration dates. 

Adhesive Bandages 

Adhesive bandages are one of the most common items in a first aid kit. The self-adhesive strips on adhesive bandages can lose their effectiveness over time, making them less likely to stick and cover wounds effectively. Adhesive bandages typically have an expiration date of two to three years. Make sure they remain sealed to extend their best before date.

Antiseptic Wipes & Creams 

Antiseptic wipes and creams are useful in an emergency and help fight infections by killing germs and bacteria. However, these products have an expiration date of around two to three years. After this time, they may not be as effective in killing germs and bacteria.

Eye drops

Eye drops are an essential item in a first aid kit, especially if you work in an environment that exposes your eyes to dust, smoke, or other irritants. However, eye drops have an expiration date of around one to two years.

Sterile Gauze & Alcohol Wipes

Sterile dressings and gauze are used to cover wounds and stop bleeding. Gauze has an expiration date of around three years. After this time, the gauze may lose its sterility and may not be effective in preventing infection. Expired tape that is used on sterile and non sterile gauze will lose its stickiness. Expired supplies, such as alcohol wipes, go dry when they expire and lose their effectiveness.  

Ointments & Creams

Most first aid kits contain ointments and creams to treat minor skin irritations and burns. However, these products have an expiration date of around two to three years. After this time, the effectiveness of the active ingredients may diminish.


Medications, such as pain relievers, antihistamines and antacids are often included in first aid kits. Check their product labels to verify expiration dates. Many of these kinds of items may stop working when they expire. 

First Aid Plus & Your Care 

First aid kits are important resources for addressing minor injuries and emergencies. However, it is important to keep in mind that the contents of these kits can expire over time, which can diminish their effectiveness. Regularly checking and replacing items with expired dates is essential to ensure that a first aid kit remains fully functional and ready to use when needed. By keeping a well-stocked and up-to-date first aid kit, you can be better prepared to handle unexpected situations and keep yourself and those around you safe.

To be even more prepared for any situation, consider taking first aid courses, so you can learn how to help others in need.