How long does drywall "mud" last

I bought a "box" of premixed drywall joint compound last week. Is there a limited shelf life? As long as it's smooth and creamy is it still good?
I know unmixed setting type compounds only have a 90 day shelf life.
I only used part of the box so I want to protect my big investment.
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It will last a long time if kept from drying out. I gave the top of the compound a mist of water before securing the top. I have never had any go bad, but I've always used it up within 2 years.
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I use a plastic pail for mine - and as the last poster suggested put a layer of water on top of it. It seems to last indefinately that way.
I have seen the pro's mix the stuff up with a paint stirrer type device and noticed they throw out a lot of it - I'm guessing they see some fault in it. To me it looks all the same. - I don't know why they do that - maybe thats why I'm not a pro.
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The pros do that because they buy the stuff for $5 per container and charge the customer $15 per container. So, if they waste half of it, they cane make more money for the stuff. It's the same reason that bartenders keep dumping your beer when you turn your back. They know you'll buy more.
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I tend to throw out a lot too, it's inexpensive so I never return any drywall mud to the original pail. Once I've taken some out and used it there will likely be hardened chips or debris in it and I don't want to contaminate the source material. It makes quickly obtaining a smooth surface much easier to not waste time picking "stuff" out as I work.
RB
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I have a 5 gallon plastic bucket of drywall mud that has to be at least 15 years old. The top seals tightly and is still useable.
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<< Is there a limited shelf life? >>
Usually not. However, I had a 5 gallon pail of the stuff go bad when some kind of microbe attacked it after it was 2/3 used up and in storage for several months. Water came to the top and it smelled rather vile, so I donated it to the hazmat crew at spring cleanup. It's probably safe to assume that if it smells and looks OK, it will work OK. HTH
Joe
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