As a father of three children, I’ve seen my fair share of baby wipes. Also as a father of three, I can’t afford to waste money and that includes throwing things away because they have expired and are no longer safe or practical to use. The other day I started wondering whether or not baby wipes can expire and that got me digging to find the answer!
So do baby wipes expire? Most baby wipe brands do not have an official expiration date or even a recommended use-by date on the package. Among the ones that offer a date, 2-3 years from the date of manufacture is the average date of expiration. Unlike food, which spoils after a certain date, the biggest concern with baby wipes is that they will dry out and lose effectiveness or begin to develop mold over time. Storing the wipes unopened in a cool environment will help them last longer.
Keep reading to learn more about what makes baby wipes go bad in the first place along with the policy from many popular brands.
Why would a baby wipe expire?
Like I mentioned before, baby wipes don’t really ‘expire’ so much as that over time they can start to dry out, lose effectiveness, or develop mold. This is completely natural and there isn’t much you could do to eliminate these problems altogether.
So, instead of asking ‘Do baby wipes expire?’ you should probably be asking ‘Does it really matter?‘
To avoid having issues with product complaints and generally save their butts from any sort of legal entanglement from wipes that are past their prime, manufacturers are usually going to have some kind of policy on baby wipe expiration or at least a use-by date.
Let’s look at each of these issues and see what’s going on with them:
- Wipes dry out – Even in a ‘sealed’ package of wipes, water can still evaporate and find its way out through tiny gaps and tears over time, drying out the wipes. If you think this is impossible, try leaving a package of wipes in your trunk for a few months during the summer and see whether or not they are still as moist as the day you bought them. My guess is they will be totally dry! Once the water starts heating up, it expands into water vapor and puts extra pressure on the inside of the package, creating more tiny gaps in the process. Considering the fact that a lot of baby wipes these days are 99% or more water, this is the biggest potential threat.
- Losing effectiveness – Depending on the ingredients included in the baby wipe solution, the formulation can lose its effectiveness over time due to evaporation (chemicals can evaporate too!) or interaction with the air. This issue can be especially true with baby wipes that are meant to condition or moisturize because natural oils can settle out of the solution or accumulate in the bottom portion of the stack of wipes. This issue probably ranks lowest on the list because most natural wipes are very mild and contain relatively few ingredients in the first place.
- Developing mold – Unfortunately, this is a real issue that does happen, especially in natural wipes that don’t include a lot of chemically antibacterial agents, alcohol, or other sanitizers. Usually, these wipes are made using highly filtered and sanitized water in the first place, but some bacteria are bound to stick around and, of course, contamination can happen to anything. Over time, these bacteria can gain a foothold and develop as visible mold. If this happens, it’s best to just throw them out.
Remember that even if you take excellent care of your wipe supply once you get it back to the house by avoiding hot car trunks and the like, your baby wipes have already had quite the journey to get there. They have probably been sitting in a hot warehouse, transported in a hot truck, and then sitting in the retail store for who-knows-how-long before you decided to restock.
So, don’t freak out if you open up a fresh package, even within its use-by date, and it’s not looking so good!
Are expired baby wipes still safe to use?
The good news for your wallet is that overall, baby wipes that have expired are probably still completely safe to use. Remember, these dates are really more like a ‘best by’ date in the first place and after the date is passed it’s really up to you to make a judgment call on whether or not you want to use them.
Just like brand new wipes, the biggest concern that you would have about expired baby wipes is that they have some mold accumulation that could irritate your baby’s skin or make them sick. Like I said before, it’s probably best just to discard these wipes and start over with a fresh pack. There’s no sense in taking chances there.
For old wipes that are just dried out and not looking so hot, you could still get a lot of use out of them even if they aren’t your go-to for your baby’s bottom. They can still be called into service to clean up spills or other messes around the house. In fact, a little dryness might be an added benefit here when it comes to absorbing liquid messes!
If you are looking to replace some old wipes, I urge you to check out my diaper wipe resource that includes affordable, high-quality, and biodegradable options that don’t include harsh chemicals that could irritate your baby’s skin. The environment will thank you!
Can I rehydrate baby wipes that have dried out?
Of course it depends on the situation, but in general, it is completely fine to rehydrate dried-out baby wipes to let them live another day. I’m not about to buy more baby wipes to replace the ones I have unless I absolutely have to.
The simplest way to bring old baby wipes back to life is just to add some water to the package, shake it up, and get to wiping. With this method, however, you will be adding water that hasn’t been filtered or sanitized nearly the same way as the original manufacturer so you could be introducing some foreign bacteria or contaminants into the mix, spending on the quality of your home tap. You can mostly avoid this by adding filtered water, but it’s probably best to use up the rest of the wipes within a couple of weeks just to be safe!
If you want to add something besides water, you could also throw a dab of baby shampoo or lotion into the mix to give them more cleaning or moisturizing power!
One caveat when it comes to rehydrating wipes: At least one major manufacturer recommends against adding water to dried out wipes because it would dilute their original solution and could make them less effective. Of course, they are also in the business of selling more baby wipes so use your best judgment!
Where would I find the expiration date on the package?
If you are looking for the expiration date on baby wipes in the store or ones that you already own, it is actually pretty likely that you won’t find one. As I mentioned before, most major brands don’t seem to list dates at all and instead just have a production code for their own internal use.
Among the ones that do offer dates, it’s usually printed underneath the flap on the bottom or on the edge of the packaging – basically somewhere out of the way of their marketing space. I had to seriously scan the packs of the wipes I had on hand to find the tiny print!
Just in case it saves you a little time, you can check the table below to see whether or not your manufacturer includes a date along with their stated policy (if any). This is just a list of the brands I have on hand for my own use and research and is by NO MEANS exhaustive!
|Baby wipes brand||Does it include an expiration date on the package?||What does the website say?|
|Huggies Natural Care Wipes||No - date of manufacture only||Huggies wipes have a shelf life of 2 years unopened, up to 1 year opened.|
|Pampers Aqua Pure Wipes||No - only a production code||No recommendation|
|Eco by Naty||Yes||No recommendation|
|Honest Wipes||Yes||No recommendation|
|Hello Bello||Yes||No recommendation|
|Bloom||No - date of manufacture only||No recommendation|
|Seventh Generation||No - only a production code||No recommendation|
|Burt's Bee's Chlorine-free baby wipes||No - only a production code||No recommendation|
Can baby wipes expire before I purchase them in the store? Yes, they can. Products like baby wipes can sit on store shelves for a long time and aren’t checked as often as food because of their long shelf life. If you find that you’ve purchased an expired product, hang on to your receipt and reach out to the store you bought it from or the manufacturer for a refund or replacement!
Will a wipe warmer affect the life of a baby wipe? Yes, wipe warmers can cause wipes to dry out faster due to the heating element in the unit. It is recommended that you use wipes in a warmer quickly to avoid running into this issue and keep the majority of the wipes in the original container, replacing as needed.
Do baby diapers expire? I just covered this topic on my recent blog post on expiring diapers and how to keep them fresh. There are a few difference that you’ll need to be aware of with diapers!