As a mom, you know that baby wipes are the ultimate superhero of parenting – they can clean up anything from spit-up to diaper blowouts in seconds flat! But as much as we love our trusty wipes, it’s natural to wonder if they have a shelf life. So, lets get down to the bottom of the issue: do baby wipes expire? Because we all know as moms we have enough things to worry about.
The answer is NO. Some brands will put an expiration date or best if used date as a guide for use. It helps you know how long you can expect the product to perform as designed by the manufacturer if left unopened. In general most baby wipes aren’t effective after 2-3 years. But wipes do not expire.
There are definitely some things you should consider before you break open that 4 year old wet wipe package and rub it on your baby’s skin.
- What is a baby wipe shelf life?
- When should I throw out my old wipes?
- How can I prevent wipes from going bad?
- How can I alternatively used old wet wipes?
Table of Contents
First Off, Do Wet Wipes Go Bad?
The truth is that after 2-3 years all wet wipes are going to lose effectiveness. Most manufactures will put an expiration date on their packaging, but this is really just a best if used by date. This tells you that the product may not work as it was designed to do if you use it after that time frame.
There are several factors that go into play when it comes to baby wipes shelf life. Like I stated above baby wipes generally last a few years or the date on the packaging if unopened and stored properly in a cool dry place away from sunlight. However, how we use the wipes and store them can drastically affect their quality.
How long do Unopened Packs of Baby Wipes Last?
The main ingredient for disposable wipes is generally water. If you leave your wipes for example in your hot car the water in the wipes will evaporate and lose their moisture and effect the distribution of other ingredients.
This is also the case when products are stored and transported from where they were manufactured all the way to the shelf in your local convenience store. You may not have a lot of control in how your product reaches you, but you do have control after it is purchased. So try to avoid leaving your new box of wipes in your trunk for too long.
The same is true when using a wipe warmer. The heat can increase the evaporation rate of the water in the product and can dry out your wipes much more quickly. The wet ingredients are essential to the products effectiveness. Try wiping up a blowout with a dry wipe. It’s jut not going to work.
How Long Do Baby Wipes Last After the Pack is Open?
Once your wipes are opened the shelf life typically ranges between 4 weeks to 30 months depending on the manufacturer. It is best to close the package tightly after use to prevent loss of moisture. Many major brands will last up to 30 months after opening. However, brands using less preservatives such as Water Wipes recommend using after one month of opening.
If Wipes Don’t Have an Expiry Date Why Don’t They Last?
So if baby wipes don’t expire than why don’t they last. It comes down to how they are made. Baby wipes are generally about 90% water and 10% moisturizing oils, preservatives, detergents, or cleaning agents. Due to the high water content in baby wipes one of the biggest concern when it comes to effectiveness is due to dried out wipes.
That is why most manufacturers recommend that you use your opened wipes within a certain time frame. If the manufacturer uses natural preservatives the shelf life is typically shorter than using chemical preservatives.
Baby Wipes Dry Out
So how can you prevent dried out wipes and help wipes remain fresh?
- Avoid storing your baby wipes in warm conditions or in direct sunlight
- Try to purchase products with flip top lids that can be closed tightly after use
- Don’t open multiple packages of baby wipes at the same time
How Can I Remoisturize My Dried Out Wipes?
The best way to save dried out wipes is to add some distilled water into the packaging or container. Make sure that the packaging is an airtight container to prevent the wipes from drying out again.
Rehydrating wipes in a great way to save money by preserving the product and decreasing waste.
Homemade Baby Wipes Solution to Rehydrate Baby Wipes
This homemade recipe can rehydrate your wipes if you are also concerned about the effectiveness of your wipes. Water is a great way to rehydrated but this is another great solution that can also add a moistening feature for your baby’s skin along with a cleansing agent.
- 1 1/2 cups of distilled or filtered water
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 2 tbsp. non toxic baby shampoo or baby wash
Baby Wipes Can Accumulate Bacteria and Mold
Another reason why baby wipes expire earlier than the expiration date can be due to bacteria or mold accumulation. When you open your old baby wipes if you notice they smell bad or even have a mildewy smell check the wipes more thoroughly. It is not uncommon for wipes to develop mold or bacteria due to it’s high moisture content.
This can be harmful to your baby’s health so please dispose of your wipes if you are concerned for mold accumulation or bacteria growth.
Baby Wipes Lose Effectiveness
Over time the additional ingredients that are meant to moisturize and protect your baby’s delicate skin can start to settle at the bottom of the pack of wipes. Natural baby wipe brands typically avoid a lot of extra ingredients so it is unlikely to occur in their brands. However, natural wipes often don’t contain a lot of preservatives and are prone to degeneration of the product more quickly.
How Long Do Natural Baby Wipes Last?
Natural baby wipes are products that avoid harsh chemicals, chemical preservatives, and artificial fragrances that could be potentially irritating or harmful to your child’s skin. This can lead to uncomfortable diaper rash. Most brands that make natural wipes have very limited ingredients in their product.
It really depends on if they have preservatives within the product to increase their lifespan. Read the product label carefully to determine how long you can safely use the product after opening or go to the product’s website to learn more.
Be aware that not all “natural” or “green” products are really as safe as they may claim. It is important to read the labels of your products before using the product on your baby.
What Ingredients to Avoid in Baby Wipes
There are definitely some ingredients that you should stay far away from when purchasing product you will put on your child’s skin. Stay far away from the following ingredients:
- “Fragrance” or “parfum,” since these is almost always a place where manufacturers will hide harmful ingredients. You will often find phtalates, parabens, and many other harmful ingredients in fragrance formulations. These ingredients are endocrine disruptors leading to a host of developmental and reproductive issues.
- Phenoxyethanol, a suspected carcinogen and is used as a preservative to extend the life of many natural products.
- PEG ingredients, which are petroleum-based compounds can often be linked to many heavy metals and other toxic substances. It is best to avoid them at all cost.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate,
What is an Alternative to Disposable Wipes?
Many moms who are more environmentally conscious choose to use cloth wipes or wash cloths as an alternative to disposable wipes. It is a great choice for babies with sensitive skin, more cost effective, and much better for environment.
It will definitely require more laundry as you will be washing lots of wipes daily. There are pros and cons to using cloth wipes compared to disposable wipes. This choice will not be for everyone, but can be a great alternative for many families.
Is it Safe to Use Baby Wipes Beyond the Expiration Date?
It can be very safe to use baby wipes beyond the expiration date, but in some cases if mold or bacteria have accumulated I would not advise using the product on your child’s skin.
Using wipes that are totally dry, not effective, or have grown mold or bacteria can lead to skin irritation or illness. So if you notice any black spots on the inside of the pack of wipes or on the wipes themselves, throw them out. If you notice a bad smell when opening the wipes it is also a good idea to throw out the wipes.
Is it Smart to Stock Pile Baby Wipes?
It may not be the smartest idea to stock pile baby wipes if you have just one child. You will likely not go through them fast enough unless you use them for multiple purposes. If you only use baby wipes for diaper changes it might be best to limit purchasing baby wipes in large quantities.
If you have multiple children or use baby wipes for multiple reasons it may be a good idea to stock up when your favorite wipes are on sale. That will decrease your last minute runs to the store when you are almost out of wipes and hopefully save you some money in the long run.
How Do I Make my Baby Wipes Last Longer?
If you want to make your baby wipes life span longer and limit the risk of drying out, grow bacteria, or loose effectiveness follow these tips:
- Do not open a pack until you are ready to use it. Opened packages are prone to drying out, mold growth, and bacterial exposure.
- Only open one pack of wipes at a time.
- Keep them in a dark, cool location out of direct sunlight (ie. closet, diaper bag, etc).
- Close lid immediately after use to limit exposure to prevent loss of moisture.
- Use clean dry hands when opening and using package.
- If packaging is damaged in any way place remaining wipes in a sealed airtight container.
What Can I Do with Old Wipes?
There are other uses for old wipes if you open a pack of wipes after the recommended use by date you can use them around your home for other purposes:
- Use them as a toilet paper alternative
- Dusting the surfaces of your home
- cleaning surfaces of your home
- cleaning out the fridge
- cleaning dirty shoes
- cleaning surfaces in your car
- wiping down your yoga mat
- wiping off dirty pet feet
- cleaning your computer keyboard
- and many more!
So the question is no longer do baby wipes expire, but what is the expiration date given by the manufacturer. The expiration date is more of a guide to help you know when the quality of the product goes down. Obviously you should use the tips provided to determine if you should still use these products on your baby’s skin after the date given. It really comes down to a personal choice and how you store and use your wipes. Follow the tips above to preserve the life of your baby wipes.
Jess is a registered nurse with over 6+ years of critical care experience for patients young and old and is the mother of two small children. After having her own children she felt inspired to provide mothers with real actionable guidance and education to make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy and postpartum experience.