What is the shelf life for solvent cement, primer and cleaner?

Like many items, Oatey cements, primers and cleaners have an expiration date. These expiration dates mark how much time has passed since the product was manufactured and packaged, identifying the time period when the product will deliver the best performance. Once the product is open, there are a variety of factors that can impact the longevity of your Oatey products. However, there are steps you can take to help maintain and extend the shelf life of your cements, primers and cleaners.

Understanding what shelf life is and how it works can help you save time, money and effort in plumbing projects. By using and maintaining the freshest products, you can:

  1. Know which products are closest to expiring and should be used sooner.
  2. Reduce waste from leftover, expired products.
  3. Achieve the best performance from your products.

Defining shelf life

Shelf life is based on how long a product will remain usable while it sits unopened on a shelf. That life span starts from the moment the can is sealed in the factory.

So, if a product has a 3-year shelf-life, the 3-year countdown begins on its manufacture date. The chart below lists the shelf life of several common plumbing products.


Shelf Life (from date of manufacture)

PVC Cements, Primers, and Cleaners

3 years

ABS Cements and Cleaners

3 years

CPVC Cements

2 years


3 Factors affecting shelf life

Various factors can reduce the shelf life of these plumbing products. These include:

  1. Temperature exposure.  Cements, primers, and cleaners should be stored in a dry space with a temperature between 40 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures colder or hotter than that range will cause the product to undergo changes in its chemistry that will reduce its effectiveness
  2. Opening (and reopening) the product. A product’s shelf life is immediately shortened the moment the manufacturer’s seal is cracked, and it continues to decrease every time the container is opened, due to evaporation of solvents.
  3. Improper closure. After you’ve finished using a product, fully seal the container to prevent evaporation. Applying too much pressure to the lid with adjustable pliers, such as Channellocks, can distort the lid to the point that an airtight seal is unattainable.

How to properly open and close your cements, primers and cleaners

In addition to following safe storage guidelines (you can find these on product labels), you can extend the shelf life of cements, primers and cleaners by knowing the proper way to open and close them.

To open a new container, use a pair of adjustable pliers. Be careful not to apply too much pressure. Grasp the lid with just enough force so that it doesn’t bend or get distorted. Turn the lid in a counterclockwise direction until it can be removed.

To close the container, hand-tighten the lid and then use adjustable pliers to tighten the cap to a fully closed position. Again, do not apply too much pressure with the pliers or overtighten the lid. The goal is to achieve an airtight seal without compromising the integrity of the container.

Following these guidelines – as well as always keeping containers closed while not in use – will keep your products fresh and usable longer.

Related Resources


How to Solvent Weld with Oatey Products

Oatey Blue Lava Hot PVC Cement