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Do Diapers Expire? 5 Diaper Brands Spill the Tea

Do Diapers Expire? 5 Diaper Brands Spill the Tea

Sometimes, the most random questions pop into my head, and the other day I found myself wondering… do diapers expire? Like, really – can diapers go bad?

We currently have diapers in our attic from when our kids sized up. Like many other families, we saved them to use with the 2nd (sometimes 3rd) kid, and I’ve never thought anything of it. 

Well, apparently, that’s very wrong! Whether you have diapers saved from previous children, or you’re wondering if you can regift an unused box (or donate to charity), I got some answers for you.

Here’s what you need to know about diaper expiration dates from five diaper companies, and the answer is actually pretty interesting.

Do Diapers Expire 5 Diaper Brands Spill the Tea pinterest

So… do diapers expire?

I had a feeling there was no way diapers expire, but I also had to do my research.

So, I reached out to five diaper brands – Coterie, Healthybaby, Pampers, Luvs, and Huggies. And the consensus from all five diaper brands is that no, diapers don’t expire!

However, four of the five brands (excluding Healthybaby) say the shelf life of their diapers is 24 months, or two years. After two years, the diaper brands I talked to said they can’t guarantee peak performance. In other words, the leak-free claims may not hold up so well after two years of sitting around (more on that in a sec).

healthybaby diapers with my little guy

Healthybaby said their diapers have no expiration date, but they can absorb moisture from the air, so they recommend using them within three years.

However, rest assured that diapers past their shelf life or “best by” date are still perfectly safe to use and won’t harm your baby. 

Related: How to Get Rid of a Diaper Rash In 24 Hours (It’s Magic!)

Do diapers expire once opened?

It doesn’t make a difference if the diaper is still in the packaging or if it’s in the open air – the diaper does not expire; it merely has a shelf life of two years.

The only consideration of diapers that are opened is dust settling on them. If you have an opened pack of diapers that you couldn’t go through, consider storing the extras in a large ziploc bag, though Coterie says even that isn’t necessary.

Related: Diaper Raffle Baby Showers: Free Printables + Ideas

What happens if you use old diapers?

The worst that can happen if you use an old diaper is it may not absorb very well, and the adhesive may not stick as well when securing the sides. But using an old diaper is perfectly safe and will not harm your baby!


Related: 20 Things To Put In A Diaper Caddy

Why do diapers get less effective over time?

If you’re like me and want to know why exactly diapers are less effective after two years, the answer lies in the diaper “ingredients.”

According to Diaper Answers, diapers are made up of “cellulose, polypropylene, polyethylene and a super absorbent polymer, as well as minor amounts of tapes, elastics and adhesive materials.” Other diaper brands also mention containing wood pulp, which helps with absorption.

When you look at each of these ingredients, you can see why the “shelf life” might be listed on the diaper packaging:

  • Cellulose can start degrading at about the 15-year mark
  • Polypropylene can start degrading when exposed to UV rays
  • Adhesives and tapes definitely deteriorate and can stop being sticky, especially when exposed to the cold (the stickiness hardens) and warm temperatures (the stickiness slips and isn’t as effective)
  • Wood pulp can last hundreds of years if it’s stored in a cool, dry place
  • The super absorbent molecules (typically polyacrylate granules) have a 12-month shelf life, but if it’s exposed to humidity, they can absorb moisture and start lumping together, rendering them ineffective

It seems to me that the absorbent part of the diaper is what is most likely to fail if stored too long, especially in a hot humid place.

Related: Pull-Ups vs Diapers: Differences + When to Switch

Why are my unused diapers crunchy and hard?!

If you have any old diapers and they feel crunchy or hard when you squeeze them, it’s because the absorbent core absorbed moisture, likely humidity, and the granules are bunching together.

When that happens, the diaper will not absorb properly, so it’s best to just toss it.

How to extend the shelf life of your diapers

If you want your diapers to last as long as possible, it might not be a good idea to store them in the attic. Apparently, I need to take notes, because that’s exactly what I did between my first and second child.

Cool, dry spaces

Coterie says diapers should be stored “in a cool, dry space.” They recommend a drawer or closet. Pampers agreed with this and said it’s best to avoid extreme temperatures.

Coterie’s diapers come with six-packs, and the packs themselves can be stored or opened so that the diapers are stored individually. They said it just depends on what works best in your space.

diapers on a shelf

“Diapers will last for several years if stored in proper conditions, but you’ll likely use them quickly enough that it’s rare they’ll sit for years,” Coterie told us.

Avoid humidity

Another important factor is to avoid humidity

Pampers said extreme humidity can “affect the absorbent getting material (AGM), causing the diaper or pant to be less absorbent.”

That’s because the super-absorbent polymer will absorb moisture and start lumping together. This makes the absorbent quality of the diaper ineffective.

So in our case, we probably shouldn’t be storing our swim diapers on the patio in the middle of the Florida summer.

Gosh, I really need to take notes here!

How to determine the manufacture date of your diapers

Luvs and Pampers shared with me how to find out when a particular box of diapers was manufactured. The production code is on the left side of a diaper. 

There are four numbers to look for:

  1. The first number is the last number of the year the diaper was made (0 would be 2020)
  2. The next three numbers are the number of the day of that year (100 would mean April 10th)

As an example, 0100 would mean that diaper was made on the 100th day of 2020.

Related Reading: How Long Does It Take for a Diaper to Decompose?

How old are diapers when you buy them?

According to diaper brands, we need to use up diapers within two years before they start to decline in performance. So how old are our diapers when we buy them?

I decided to check some of the diapers we have in our home. 

In the photo examples below, you can see the first four numbers are: 2335. That means this diaper was made on December 1st, 2022. 

We ordered these diapers on January 5, 2023, which means the diapers we have were fresh off the production line!

We order our diapers from Amazon using the Subscribe & Save feature, which allows us to get a discount on these pricey recurring items. If you buy diapers from the store, there’s really no telling how long those diapers have been sitting there.

Potentially, diapers could sit on the shelf for months upon months. But honestly? I doubt any diapers are going to sit there for two years, and you know we’re going through diapers in a matter of weeks after we purchase them.

Do charities want diapers past their shelf life?

I reached out to a local diaper bank and asked if they would accept diapers that are more than two years old. Their answer? Absolutely!

Diapers may not be at their peak performance after two years, but they’re still perfectly fine to donate. 

You can find diaper banks near you on the National Diaper Bank Network website.


While diapers don’t expire, make sure to store any extras in a cool, dry space. 

Keeping humidity and heat away is the best way to ensure those diapers are still effective when you’re ready to use them or gift them in the future.

Happy diapering!