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Do Baby Wipes Expire?

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Have you ever found an old packet of baby wipes hidden in a random place and wondered if they were still safe to use? Have you considered whether using old baby wipes could be harmful, or asked yourself do baby wipes expire? Well, the truth is that many brands of baby wipes do not expire, at least, not in the same way that food does. 

Baby wipes that have gone past their expiration date are still likely to be safe for use on your baby’s skin, however, they may not be as effective. Most manufacturers agree that an unopened packet of baby wipes will be safe to use for up to 2 – 3 years after manufacturing, whereas packets where the seal has been broken should be used within 3 – 4 weeks. 

What you should know if you plan to use old baby wipes

There’s more to using old wipes than simply asking yourself, do baby wipes expire? Baby wipes may not expire in the same way we would usually associate with perishable products – such as food going bad – but that does not mean that there aren’t other factors that you should be aware of. Many manufacturers do state that baby wipes remain safe for years when left unopened, however before choosing to use old baby wipes on your child’s skin, there are a few things you should know. 

  • Baby wipes can dry out
  • They can develop mould and harbour bacteria
  • Baby wipes can lose effectiveness over time
  • Natural baby wipes won’t last as long as other brands 

Let’s look at each of these problems individually.

Baby wipes can become dry when opened.

Typically speaking, the moisture in a packet of baby wipes is 90% water and the remaining 10% is made up of mild, skin-friendly moisturisers, preservatives, and other ingredients that help to keep your baby’s skin clean and healthy. Because water makes up such a large part of baby wipe formulas, a packet of wipes can very quickly become dry if the packet is not closed tightly. This is due to evaporation and occurs when wipes are exposed to warm conditions. 

To remedy this, try purchasing baby wipe packets that come with flip-top lids instead of sticky tabs. Baby wipe packets that incorporate a flip-top lid are more efficient at preventing the moisture from evaporating over time than the packets with adhesive sticker tabs. Other tips to prevent your baby wipes from drying out are to keep your baby wipes out of direct sunlight and store them upside down in an airtight container. 

Baby wipes can develop mould and attract bacteria. 

Many parents have asked themselves “do baby wipes expire?” after being greeted by a strong, mildewy smell upon opening a packet of wipes. This leads us to the next factor that needs to be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to use old baby wipes on your child’s skin. Baby wipes that have been sitting around for a while, especially in a warm place, can attract bacteria and mould. 

Most people will notice something is not right straight away due to a musty, mildewy smell that is very pungent. The smell is likely to be accompanied by black spots of mould growing both on the inner packet, and on the wipes themselves.  If you notice that your packet of baby wipes has mould growing in it, throw it away immediately and do not use it on your baby’s skin.

Sometimes you may notice that the edges of your wipes have started to turn yellow. This is not mould, but simply a reaction to the wipe being left in the air. This is a common occurrence on packets that feature an adhesive sticker tab because the adhesive seals often lose their effectiveness, leaving the edges of the next wipe free to react with the air. 

Baby wipes can lose effectiveness over time. 

Many manufacturers include moisturisers, oils, and fragrances in their baby wipe formulas. When packets of baby wipes are left open for a long period of time, this beneficial formula which usually helps to keep your child’s skin soft and healthy, could evaporate making them less effective. 

Another reason old baby wipes become less effective over time is because, instead of evaporating, the formula sinks down to the bottom of the packet. The wipes sitting at the bottom will be coated in baby wipe formula, whilst the wipes at the top of the packet will become dry and no longer be coated in the cleaning and moistursing liquid. 

Natural brands of baby wipes probably won’t last as long.

Natural baby wipe brands, such as WaterWipes, are not likely to last as long as other brands, even when they are unopened. This is due to the natural, no-nasties formula that these brands use. It’s likely that natural based baby wipes will not include as many preservatives or antibacterial components as other brands, which leaves the moist environment of a baby wipe packet unprotected from mould and bacteria. 

Whereas other brands suggest that the wipes should be used within 2 – 3 years of production, WaterWipes suggest that their natural wipes should be used within 15 months of production, and within 1 month once opened. The good news is that natural brands are, as a result, much more likely to print the expiration date on the underside of their packets.

How do I store baby wipes in order to keep them fresher for longer?

Perhaps instead of asking, do baby wipes expire?, we should be asking, what is the best way to store baby wipes? We’ve seen that, despite most manufacturers stating that baby wipes do not have an expiration date, they can still become less effective and even habour bacteria. The good news is that there are a few small steps that you can take in order to maxmise the shelf life of your baby wipes. 

  • Keep your baby wipes sealed in an airtight container to prevent bacteria and mould growth
  • Always ensure that you close the packet of baby wipes properly to keep them moist
  • Storing baby wipes upside down can help prevent the formula from settling at the bottom of the packet
  • Do not leave baby wipe packets in direct sunlight or in hot rooms

What can I use instead of baby wipes?

If you’re looking for ways to save money, become more eco friendly, and use a formula that’s gentle on your baby’s skin, you may wish to ditch baby wipes all together and look into this alternative. Many parents choose to use wash cloths in place of baby wipes. In order to do this, use a plastic tub and fill it with wash clothes that have been soaked in sterilised water. When a wash cloth is needed during a nappy change, it’s used in the same way a baby wipe would be and then put into a designated tub for dirty cloths. These are collected and sanitised at the end of the day, ready for use again. 

Do Baby Wipes Expire?

To answer the question, do baby wipes expire?, you need to think about the brand of baby wipe you’re using. In most cases, the answer is no, baby wipes do not expire – at least not in the traditional sense. Although it’s unlikely they will become dangerous, all brands of baby wipes are susceptible to drying out and growing mould. Natural baby wipe brands do feature an expiration date on their packaging and state that baby wipes should be used within 15 months of production, whereas other brands recommend using wipes within 2 -3 years of production.

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