Do baby wipes expire? Well, yes, they do, but we talked to four prominent baby wipe brands, and their answers were quite different.
After you open them, some wipes are good for 30 days, while others can last a full year.
One brand even said their wipes “never expire,” but there’s a bit of tea there… grab your mugs. ☕
Let’s explore those answers and go over some tips to keep your wipes fresh for as long as possible.
What to Know About Disposable Baby Wipes
Wet wipes have been around since the late 70s, and disposable baby wipes hit the mass market in the early 80s.
They quickly became a staple in every parent’s arsenal – hygienic, convenient, and moisturizing for babies’ sensitive skin.
Most disposable baby wipes are made primarily of water and soft, non-woven fabrics. They may also contain mild cleansing agents, moisturizers, preservatives, and occasionally fragrances.
Baby wipes have come a long way since the 80s.
Today, there are a ton of options for parents to choose from, ranging from unscented, more natural wipes to scented wipes with added moisturizers.
Convenience = Shelf-Life
The convenience of disposable wipes comes with a shelf-life.
And since using expired wipes can lead to skin irritation or an allergic reaction for your little one, it’s important to pay attention to that date.
There are also environmental factors to consider. Wipes went from being used for diaper changes to cleaning up meal messes, house messes, and just about everything in between.
The sheer volume of wipes being used globally on a daily basis can’t be good for our landfills.
Why Do Baby Wipes Expire?
Baby wipes are made of mostly water.
In fact, Coterie, Hello Bello, Water Wipes, Pampers Aqua Pure, and Huggies Pure Water are all 99%+ water.
Over time, the moist environment of baby wipes can make them an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and fungal growth. Yikes! Not something I want anywhere near my baby’s bottom.
They can also lose their effectiveness after a while. The ingredients in the wipes may affect the texture of the wipe and cause it to fall apart.
To make them more shelf-stable, manufacturers add preservatives to their baby wipes.
Some brands use better, more natural preservatives than others.
But a lot of moms, myself included, are hesitant when they see a ton of questionable ingredients on the package of wipes.
We’re using this on our newborns, after all!
What Is the Shelf Life of a Baby Wipe?
The shelf life of baby wipes actually varies quite a bit across the major brands that we spoke to – it’s not a cut-and-dry answer.
Coterie stamps each individual pack of baby wipes with an expiration date to ensure they maintain their quality and effectiveness.
They say that, in general, their wipes last up to a year once opened and up to two years past the manufacturing date if sealed and stored properly.
Huggies wipes will last about a year if unopened, two years max, and they mark their box of wipes with a clear expiration date. I did not find any expiration dates on the individual packs of wipes.
Pampers actually claims on their website that their Aqua Pure wipes don’t expire, but they recommend using them within 30 days of opening a new pack to prevent them from drying out.
Also, when I reached out to them, they said their wipes have a 30-month shelf life from their manufacturing date – which seems pretty much like an expiration date to me.
Hello Bello wipes have a maximum shelf life of three years if unopened or unused, and they also indicate the exact expiry date on the outside of the pack.
Signs of Expired Baby Wipes
Here are a few things that will tell you if your baby wipes are past their prime.
If you notice any of these signs, it might be time to toss out those old baby wipes and grab a fresh pack:
- Dryness: If you end up with a pack of dried wipes, it could be a sign that they have expired.
- Browning: I’ve had wipes turn brown and crispy on me. Discoloration can be a sign that the active ingredients are breaking down in the wipes.
- Strange smell: Fragrance-free wipes don’t always have the most desirable smell in general, but if your baby wipes have an unusual smell or odor, it could be a sign of bacteria growth or mold accumulation.
- Irritation: If your baby develops redness, skin allergies or diaper rash after using the wipes, it could mean that they are no longer cleaning effectively, or worse, have bacteria or mold growth.
- Texture changes: If the wipes are tearing or breaking easily, it could be a sign that the ingredients have broken down and the wipes have deteriorated over time.
Do Baby Wipes Expire if Unopened?
Buying baby wipes in bulk can save some serious money. And with the amount of wipes I go through per month, I definitely stock up.
I also remember getting a ton of packs of diapers and baby wipes at my baby shower.
Wondering if those unopened boxes will expire while sitting in the closet for a while is a pretty common question among new parents.
While each brand has a different shelf life, they all pretty much come to the conclusion that unopened baby wipes that are stored in a cool, dry place will last a whole lot longer (2-3 years).
Of course, it’s always a good idea to check the packaging for an expiration date, just to be sure.
If you can’t find a specific expiration date, look for the manufacturer’s recommendations for how long the wipes should be used after they’re opened.
How to Prolong Baby Wipes Shelf Life
I’m definitely guilty of adding a bit of water to a pack of dried-out wipes to try to bring them back to life.
While there are a ton of people on the internet who suggest this and even recommend adding moisturizers or baby oil, I’m skeptical about how sanitary it is.
I reached out to a Coterie representative for their opinion, and they said adding a small amount of purified or distilled water can help rejuvenate dried-out wipes, but they should be used soon after to maintain effectiveness and prevent bacterial growth.
Pampers experts warned against adding water altogether, saying it may contaminate the wipes and impact their performance.
Here are some better ideas to stretch the lifespan of your wipes so you don’t find yourself resorting to water:
- Don’t open several packs at once: I know, easier said than done. But it is better to open one pack and use it all before opening another pack so the wipes stay fresh and moist for as long as possible.
- Store wipes in a cool, dry place: If I leave packs of wipes in my hot car for a long time, they always dry up faster than the ones I keep in the closet at my house. According to the Coterie experts, even putting wipes in a wipe warmer can cause them to dry out and promote microbial growth so better to keep them cool and away from direct sunlight.
- Find a wipe with good packaging: Wipes with a flip-top lid or stored in an airtight container tend to stay moist longer than those with a sticky seal. Dyper uses that sticky seal, and they dry out within a few weeks if you don’t use them once opened.
Disposable Wipe Alternatives
I’m a big fan of the convenience that disposable baby wipes offer, and honestly, I wouldn’t consider switching to cloth wipes myself.
However, there are some environmental concerns associated with disposable wipes.
There’s also the issue with chemical preservatives needed to keep them shelf-stable and the potential of other harsh ingredients.
One study found that trace levels of toxic VOCs were found in all the diapers and wipes they tested.
So if that’s something that concerns you, the good news is there is an alternative – cloth wipes!
They’re gentle on baby’s skin and undoubtedly better for the environment. Plus, you can control exactly what goes into them.
So there you have it, mama. Do baby wipes expire? Yes, they do, but there are some things you can do to keep them fresh for as long as possible.
Keep those bums clean and happy, and toss those expired wipes!
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Jamye Molina is a mompreneur and the creative mind behind Molina Writing Co. Her writing has been featured on several parenting blogs, where she shares her first-hand experience with motherhood. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her traveling or enjoying the simple joys of life with her husband and toddler.