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Do spill kits expire?

Spill kits aren’t quite like milk, but their components do expire. So how do you know if they have, indeed, “expired” when you haven’t even used it for years?

While spill kits themselves don’t have an expiry date, the absorbents in them do — and that’s because they have a shelf life of around five years. While this is a conservative figure, there are a few factors that can affect that, mainly to do with storage.

If you've had a spill kit for 20 years, and stored it according to instructions, you may think it’s fine. But then again, spill kits are a bit like insurance: you really want to make sure it’s all apples, because when you need it, you need it. So rather than thinking “yeah, that’s all cool bananas”, it’s worth checking.

How do you check a spill kit for “expiry”?

To check if the absorbents in a spill kit can no longer do their job, take them out and have a good look. Are there any signs of white powder or flakes? This indicates that the polypropylene (what the absorbents are made of) is degrading. That’s not good, so you need to dispose of them.

Then check any mats, socks and pillows by giving them a gentle little shake. If they tear or fall apart, then ditto, they’re not saving any spills, ever again, and it’s time to say goodbye.

How long do spill kits last?

As above, the absorbents in a spill kit have a shelf life of about five years. If you’ve stored the kit indoors, away from temperature extremes and not in direct sunlight, then they can typically last longer than the five years. Conversely, if you’ve done the opposite, then you’ve instantly signed up your spill kit for a short life span.

Either way, it’s highly worthwhile to check your spill kits regularly. For any spill kits in vehicles, it’s probably a great idea to give these a quick check monthly.

If you regularly use absorbents in other applications throughout your plant, then it can be a good idea to rotate them from any spill kits that are exposed to temperature extremes or UV light. This can help stop them from degrading.

Another good thought is to include inspecting spill kits into general inventory checks and audits.

If you need a new spill kit, then it’s couple of clicks away: check out our PIG Chemical Neutralising Spill Kits for hazchems, PIG Oil Spill Kits for oil and fuel-only spills, and PIG Universal Spill Kits for general purpose spills.

Have a question about spill kits? Call 1800 HOT HOG (468 464), or email us for help.