If you are a parent of a baby or a toddler, chances are that you probably go through a metric ton of wipes. You have probably thought of buying baby wipes in giant bulk sizes and stopped to wonder if they would ever go bad or become unsafe to use after a while.
Most baby wipes manufacturers state that unopened packages of their wipes remain usable for 2-3 years after manufacturing and opened packs for 4 weeks. The truth is, baby wipes do not expire, at least not in the same way that food does. They will most likely still be safe to use past the expiration date printed on the pack, although they may not be as effective.
There are, however, other factors that affect how well your baby wipes work. There are also ways to make sure that your baby wipes do not lose their effectiveness before the expiration date on the pack.
Thing You Need to Know
Baby Wipes Dry Out
The moisture in a pack of wipes is 90% water with the remaining 10% made of mild detergents, moisturizers, oil, and possibly some preservative agents. The high water content of wipes means that the moisture and cleaning agents in wipes can quickly evaporate if the pack is not closed tightly enough.
To avoid this, try to purchase packages that come with flip-top lids that snap shut to help keep moisture from evaporating out, as opposed to packages that close with sticker tabs that may lose their adhesiveness over time. Keeping the container tightly shut and away from heat and sunlight should also help extend your baby wipes’ shelf life.
If your baby wipes do dry out, you can easily re-hydrate them by adding some distilled water and waiting for it to soak through the whole pack. You can also soak dried-out wipes in a homemade baby wipes solution to make them more effective.
Baby Wipes Can Accumulate Bacteria and Mold
Moist environments make great breeding grounds for bacteria, mold, and mildew. Your pack of baby wipes is no exception. Wipes made without alcohol and preservatives are even more susceptible to contamination due to their lack of preservatives and antiseptics.
If your baby wipes have black or grey specks, feel unusually slimy, or have an odd smell, throw out the pack. Even the slightest bit of bacteria or mold can cause irritation and even infection on a baby’s delicate skin.
Baby Wipes Loose Effectiveness
Baby wipes contain mild detergents, moisturizers, and some preservatives that may over time settle to the bottom of the pack. The moisturizers and detergents in organic or natural wipes are also prone to degradation due to their lack of preservative agents.
Water Wipes are less likely to have settling or degradation of certain ingredients due to virtue of the wetting agents in them being almost completely water.
It is easy enough to test if your wipes are still effective. Rub them against your hands and see if they still have a soapy feel to them. Alternatively, you can check if you can feel residue on the bottom or sides of the package.
How to Make Baby Wipes Last Longer
While it may seem more convenient to open multiple packs of baby wipes at once and leave them in different rooms of the house for ease of access, it might just lead to you ending up with multiple packs of dried-up wipes.
Keep just one pack of baby wipes open at a time, and separate them into multiple air-tight containers if need be. This will prevent half-used packs of baby wipes from drying out and being left forgotten.
Heat will also cause moisture to evaporate faster and some components to degrade. Avoid leaving packs of wipes in hot cars and warm rooms. If you use a wipes warmer, try not to put the entire pack in the warmer at once, or invest in a warmer that comes with a moistening feature.
Finally, you can stretch out a pack of wipes longer by using soap and water instead of wipes whenever possible. Water and a mild soap are usually most effective for cleaning stubborn messes, not to mention cost less.
How Long Do Unopened Packs of Baby Wipes Last?
Most manufacturers will tell you that baby wipes are best used within 2-3 years of the manufacturing date, after which they lose their effectiveness. Even unopened, wipes will eventually lose their moisture content along with their cleansing properties.
Storing your wipes in a cool, dry place away from heat and sunlight will help prolong their useful life. Opened packs of wipes should be sealed immediately after each use to prevent evaporation and contamination.
Is It Safe to Use Baby Wipes Beyond the Expiration Date?
Generally speaking, if a pack of baby wipes still looks, feels, and smells normal, it is safe to use them beyond their expiration or best before date. But if you have doubts about using a certain pack of wipes on your baby’s skin, it is best just to play it safe and use another pack which you are sure is safe for your baby.
If the cleansers and moisturizers in wipes have settled or if the pack has dried-out, you can very easily rehydrate them with a homemade baby wipes solution.
Homemade Baby Wipes Solution to Rehydrate Baby Wipes
Feel free to adjust the quantities in this recipe depending on how many wipes you have. The quantities below are good for a baby wipes pack of around 80-90 sheets.
Take note that wipes soaked in the homemade solution must be used within a month. Leftover solution can also be stored in an airtight container kept in the refrigerator for a month.
1 Cup Distilled or Boiled Water
1 Tbsp Liquid Baby Soap
1 Tbsp Vitamin E Oil or Baby Oil for moisturizing purposes
2-3 drops Chamomile Oil to soothe skin and treat diaper rash (optional)
2-3 drops Lavender Oil for its calming and aromatherapeutic properties (optional)
- Thoroughly combine baby soap and oil, then add water to the soap-oil mixture. Shake or stir until properly combined.
- Pour mixture into baby wipes container. Your rehydrated baby wipes are ready to use once the mixture thoroughly saturates the pack.
Ways to Use Expired Baby Wipes
If you have a pack of wipes you would rather not use on your baby, do not throw them away! As long as there are no signs of mold or bacteria, you can still repurpose them. Wipes are versatile cleaning tools, meant to be used on more than just your baby’s bottom.
As Make-Up Wipes
Baby wipes are made to be extra gentle on a baby’s skin, so you can be sure that they are safe to use on your skin. Baby wipes are cheaper than typical make-up remover wipes and can be just as effective. If you have a pack of dried out wipes, you can easily them into makeup remover wipes with some distilled water and face-safe oil, such as coconut oil or vitamin E oil.
To Clean Up Household Messes
Wipes can be used in the same way as paper towels are, to clean up spills and wipe dirty kitchen counters. Wipes are also great at picking up dirt. Use them to dust the furniture and wipe down mirrors and windows. As a bonus, wipes are much more durable and absorbent than regular paper towels are.
You can also rehydrate dried-out wipes with your regular household cleaner and use them that way. You can even rehydrate wipes in a disinfectant solution and use them to wipe down your groceries before bringing them in. Just make sure that baby wipes rehydrated this way they are kept out of reach of children and pets.
To Sum It Up
Most baby wipes have a shelf-life of 2-3 years while sealed, and up to 4 weeks once opened. Baby wipes are useable past their expiration or best by date as long as there is no presence of mold, mildew, or bacteria on them. If there are any signs of contamination, throw the pack out and switch it out for a new one.
Packs of wipes that you no longer plan on using on your baby can be used for other purposes. Repurposed baby wipes can make good additions to your beauty regimen or be used as cleaning supplies around your house.