By Catie Watson

Like all cosmetics, perfumes have a limited shelf life. A fragrance can change over time, especially when it's not stored in optimal conditions. Sometimes a perfume that you once loved just doesn't appeal to you anymore, even though it hasn't changed. Whichever the case, it's important to dispose of perfume you no longer want in a responsible manner. Although a dab of perfume is safe to wear on your skin, it shouldn't be introduced into the wastewater system. Think twice, and don't let your perfume disposal end with a flush.

set of colorful perfume bottles in shop window
credit: IKvyatkovskaya/iStock/GettyImages
How to Dispose of Perfumes

Recycle That Scent

Instead of disposing of a perfume just because it no longer suits you, consider swapping it with a friend, selling it on eBay or donating it to a charity that operates a thrift store. Someone else might be happy to either use your discarded perfume or repurpose the bottle. Project Beauty Share is another donation option for perfume you no longer want. The Washington-based charity collects perfume, cosmetics and personal hygiene products that are mailed in and distributes them to needy women and families.

Treat it Like Hazardous Waste

Scientists consider some of the ingredients in perfume to be hazardous to the environment, so perfume that has gone bad should never be flushed down the toilet or poured down a drain. It may seem like a small amount of liquid, but the synthetic musk found in many perfumes has been discovered accumulating in the environment and causing possible health threats, especially for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. In addition, perfume may contain high concentrations of alcohol that are harmful to the environment. So, treat it like hazardous waste by taking it for disposal – along with other toxic household products – to a hazardous waste facility.

Make Perfume Last Longer

There are no hard and fast rules for when perfume will expire. One brand may undergo a change in scent after several months while another lasts for years. However, there are some things you can do to make your perfume last longer. Perfume bottles should be kept away from direct sunlight and excessive heat and humidity. The best way to preserve a fragrance is to store it in a cool, dry place like a drawer or cabinet. Also, if you find yourself always turning to the same perfume – your signature scent – then cut down on the amount of perfume you need to dispose of by getting the message across to friends and family that you don't need other types of perfume as gifts.