Does Packing Tape Go Bad? [And How Long Does It Last]

You may want to use packing tape to seal your boxes before shipping, but wondering if it will go bad and how long it can last. Fortunately, we have done the necessary research for you, and here's what we found.

A packing tape, despite having a long shelf life can go bad because the adhesive formulas used in its production are not designed to last forever. Some packing tapes can last up to 10 years before losing their sticking power. Packing tape is single-sided and is mainly used for sealing boxes.

Some factors can affect the lifespan of your packing tape. Keep reading to discover the possible factors and also how you can make your packing tape stick better.

Close up of a guy's hands holding packing machine and sealing cardboard boxes with duct tape - Does Packing Tape Go Bad [And How Long Does It Last]

How Long Does Packing Tape Last?

A packing tape can last up to 10 years after which it may lose its adhesive properties and sticking power. All packing tapes are made with adhesive formulas enough to make the tape survive all temperatures. 

The precise shelf life depends on temperature and the adhesive used. Just like other items, tapes will deteriorate and lose their sticking powers over time.

Since packing tape is made of polypropylene, it can last for years if not exposed to sunlight or heat. When a packing tape loses its stickiness, it peels off the surface it was applied. The longevity of a packing tape depends on the quality of the material it’s made out of and how it’s stored.

Man using a tape gun to pack a cardboard box in a factory - the mans hands and tape gun are visible

Does Packing Tape Turn Yellow Over Time?

Packing tape would turn yellow over time. They are is designed like cellophane and would change to yellow after a couple of years, leaving behind dust that was once an adhesive. Packing tape changes quickly because of the acid it contains, unlike book tape, for example.

Book Tape Vs. Packing Tape

You may be wondering the difference between a book tape and a packing tape. Are they not the same tape? No, they're not! The book tape is made of an anti-yellowing material that is low on acid and is designed to help repair books.

It is used to bind two or more paper documents or to repair hardcover books that got detached from the spine. Book tape is smoother, thicker, and provides a long-lasting repair. 

Packing tape made from polyester is a pressure-sensitive tape used for sealing boxes for shipments. It is sometimes sold as a shipping tape but they are not the same. Shipping tapes are thinner and lighter and are designed to tape up boxes that are not too heavy.

How Much Weight Can A Packing Tape Hold?

When it comes to moving packages from one place to another, choosing the right tape would be the best decision because damage during shipment, packing, or storage can lead to frustration and loss of time and money. It can even cause physical harm if the box contains glassware.

So, if you are packing boxes for long-term storage, you need a tape that is strong and reliable which is why you should go for a packing tape. This type of tape can secure a box weighing up to 80 pounds.

It might be difficult to know a strong packing tape but the type of adhesive and material the tape is made of contributes to its strength. Other tapes are also strong but aren't powerful enough to be used as a packing tape.

Can Packing Tape Stick To Itself?

Packing tape can stick to itself, this is why they are usually rolled up. Packing tape is made of a sticky material called polypropylene (PP). It's very easy to remove tapes from smooth surfaces because they give less surface area to which the tape sticks on.

Woman sealing cardboard box with packing tape

Why Is My Packing Tape Not Sticking?

After getting your package ready for shipment, you rely on the packing tape for the final seal-off to keep it safe and secure. But sometimes, you may discover that the tape does not stick. When this happens, your package could be at risk of getting damaged.

When your tape stops sticking, different questions pop up in your head. Did the box get compressed? Was the tape not used in the right way? Any of these could be the reason why your tape fails to stick properly. Here are other possible reasons why your tape isn't sticking:


Packing tapes are designed with different kinds of materials and adhesives for various purposes. Different adhesives are used to produce sticky tape for different environments. 

Using a tape that isn't suited for the temperature where the tape is used can cause the adhesive to lose its effectiveness, which means it can't hold or secure your boxes.

This usually happens when a tape made for general use is used in a cold environment as this will freeze its adhesive. Once this happens, the ability of the tape to stick as an adhesive material will be affected. 

The Type of Tape

Another major reason why your tape is not working effectively is the type of tape you are using. Tapes are made from different materials and adhesives.

A thinner tape like the shipping tape will not have the strength to hold a seal. Ensuring the right tape is used for the right job will make the tape work better, preventing the cost of product damage.

Overfilling Or Underfilling The Box

Overfilling and underfilling your box can also affect the tape's ability to stick properly. When a carton is overfilled, the packing tape will be under pressure which makes the box likely to open during shipment. 

When a carton is underfilled, it lessens the ability to put resistance during the taping process. Always ensure that the appropriate box size is used

How Can I Make My Packing Tape Stick Better?

Close up of a guy's hands holding packing machine and sealing cardboard boxes with duct tape

If your packing tape isn't sticking to your items as well as you would want it to, here are things you can do to help the tape stick better.

Store Your Packing Tape Properly

Tapes are sensitive, so it is better to store them properly in an environment with ambient temperature and areas free from water and moisture.

Clean The Surface The Tape Is Stored and Used On

Storing your tape properly isn't the only thing that will make your tape stick better. Also, ensure that the surface it is being used on is clean. The most affected tape in this kind of situation is the permanent tape. Before using it, ensure the surface is thoroughly cleaned. 

You can do this with alcohol. This will make the tape stick for a longer time.

Reduce Exposure To Sun

Shot of an unidentifiable young man closing a cardboard box with tape at home

Tapes, in general, should be kept away from the sun to make them stick for a long time. The reason for this is that the sun heats up the tape, making it go through another chemical process which will have a serious effect.

To Wrap Up

A packing tape is essential especially if you want to ship a package. It has the ability to hold and seal your box for a long period of time. However, if its stickiness is lost, it may not seal your package properly.

There are different types of tapes meant for different purposes. If you need tape that will seal your package for a longer time, it is better to go for a packing tape.

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