Condoms are one of the most accessible and easiest ways to help lower the risk for pregnancy and STIs. You may already know how to use a condom, but knowing how to properly store condoms can help make sure they’re safe to use right up to their expiry date!
Do condoms expire? How can you tell?
Condoms are perishable. That means that after a certain amount of time, they’re no longer safe to use. Using an expired condom won’t hurt you, but it won’t prevent pregnancy or STIs the way a non-expired condom will! How long condoms stay good for can depend on what they’re made of, if they’re lubricated or not, and how they’re packaged and stored.
In Canada, condom manufacturers must put a valid expiry date on all condom packaging. To tell when a condom expires, you can read this expiry date! You can find it stamped on individual condom wrappers, and on the box if you buy condoms by the box.
After the expiry date, condoms may get dry, sticky, and brittle. This means they’re likely to break when used. They’re also usually less comfortable than non-expired condoms.
Is a condom still safe to use if the wrapper is damaged? If it’s leaking?
Condoms aren’t safe to use when the wrapper has been damaged. That means if the wrapper is torn, punctured, or leaking before you open it, the condom inside is not safe to use.
Other warning signs that a condom might be damaged or expired include:
- The condom or package looks discoloured
- The condom or package is sticky, stiff, or feels dried out
- You can’t feel any air when you gently squeeze the condom wrapper
- The condom or packaging smells bad
Can I store condoms in my wallet? In the fridge? In the glove compartment of my car?
It’s not recommended to store condoms in your wallet. That’s because wallets can squish or damage the condom wrapper. Something with more room, like a cloth purse, is usually a safer choice! If you know you’re going to use it very soon, you can carry a condom in your pant or jacket pockets. But it’s not recommended to use a condom that’s been in your pocket for more than a couple of hours.
It’s also not recommended to store condoms anywhere they might get very hot or very cold, or where they might get wet. Temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius can dry condoms out and make them more likely to break. So can extreme cold, and high levels of humidity. In general, it’s not recommended to store condoms:
- In the glovebox of your car
- On a windowsill
- In your wallet
- In the back pocket of your jeans
- In the fridge
- In your bathroom
- Alongside sharp objects like your keys
Okay, so where CAN I store condoms?
You can store condoms in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight. It can help to have a designated spot for them, like in a box in your bedside table! You can also store them:
- In your locker at school
- Under your bed
- In a desk or dresser drawer
- In a compartment in your backpack that doesn’t have any sharp objects in it
- With someone you trust
Some companies make condom carrying cases so you can safely store condoms on the go. DIY alternatives include storing condoms in a small tin (like an Altoids tin), or making a carrying case yourself out of fabric, leather, or even duct tape!
As long as you’re storing them somewhere cool, dry, out of direct sunlight, and where they won’t get too banged up or poked with sharp objects, your condoms should be safe to use until their given expiry date.