Do baby wipes expire?

When it comes to cleaning up your baby’s butt, you can start out with the best of intentions. I am definitely going to choose reusable cloths and tepid water on this precious little peach. Who wouldn’t? Surely, once you have cleaned up the mess, you just rinse them off and toss them in the hamper, right? (The wipe that is, not the baby). Couldn’t be easier.

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Reality soon sets in. The baby is sad, I smell poop. I’m at home alone, but it is simple enough. Carry the baby into the kitchen, run the faucet until the water is warm enough. Grab a bowl with the non-child holding hand, fill the bowl. Head to the change table.

Grab a reusable wipe (I’ve been super organized and put a stack by the change table – little pat on the back for me), damp it with the tepid water. Wipe (front to back of course), pat dry, new diaper. Pop, pop, pop the poppers on their adorable little outfit, and we are good to go. Simple. Right?

Now, I bundle up the diaper, into the pail it goes. But I am left with this gross square of fabric covered in poop. So, I’m carrying the baby into the washroom, baby in one hand, poopy cloth in the other. How am I going to clean this cloth and hold the baby? 

I am not going to. I can’t toss it in the hamper, it needs a rinse, if I don’t rinse it, everything in the hamper is going to be covered in said poop. So, I toss it… literally wherever, I don’t care anymore, the baby is hungry, the baby is screaming like I didn’t just feed them 30 minutes ago, I have more important things to get to. I have to settle the baby before I can deal with the poop. 

Of course, I forget. It festers. And festers. And fasters. I happen upon it that evening when I’m cleaning my teeth, or the next day when I’m doing laundry. Crusted poop. Ick. Yet another bodily substance I have to deal with that is not my own.

This is the situation when we are at home. Now imagine the same scenario, but we are out for mimosas with my new mommy friends. Or, heaven forbid, catching up with work colleagues meeting the baby for the first time over coffee! That poopy cloth is going where?

Can’t toss it in the trash, it’s reusable, wash it in the coffee house sink? Oh dear, the looks I would get for that error. Into my purse? Nope, nope, nope. So, what is the solution? Where are these reusable baby wipes going to go when they are covered in doody? 

As the mother of a newborn I have enough gross stuff in my life. Crusty poop on my cell, my floors and my hands, is not something I should also have to deal with. So, it is with the best of intentions that I say: “screw this”. Donate unused reusable wipes to a local mommy and me and head to Costco. 

There are so many different brands on the shelf. What is the difference? I honestly see very few differences in the brands I’ve tried out. Some are sturdier and some absolutely stink. It is a personal choice. You know the brand you like. For me, they are all basically the same. Except for fragranced wipes, they are the devil’s work.

Who is using perfume on their baby’s perfect little tooshie? Why would you do that? Consider the best scent in the world, that of a newborn.

It is so delicious it brings me to tears just thinking of it. Being within 15 feet of the scent of a newborn makes me ovulate. But I digress. Wipes is wipes, is wipes. All (non-fragranced) are born equal. (Fragranced can do one).

This is Costco, the home of bulk buys, so hay, I may as well get enough to last until the baby is 3 or 4, right? Start building the baby wipe storage garage now. Momma loves a bargain. I arrive home with roughly ten thousand packs of baby wipes and my partner ponders.

Firstly, “where are we planning on storing all of these baby wipes?” And, secondly, possibly more importantly, “do baby wipes expire?”. This is not something that had ever occurred to me until that very moment. Do baby wipes expire?

So, what is the deal with baby wipes? Do baby wipes expire?

First up, some brands do feature an expiration date on the pack. But, sometimes that isn’t an expiration date at all, it’s a sell by date. Meaning that the retailer is not aloud to sell the product after that date. This is not the same as an expiration date. 

Some brands have a Budweiser style born on date, and recommend that they are good to use for two years from that date. 

Some just have a lot number. This is so if a batch is defective for whatever reason the lot number can be easily identified and re-called. 

So, here’s the tea, unopened packages of baby wipes generally last around 30 months. That is regardless of the brand. Wipes are wipes. 

After 30 months they are not actually expired in the scheme of things. But hold up, if they don’t expire, why do manufacturers add an expiry date? Simple – they have to. It’s their insurance policy. We can’t complain about dried out or, heaven forbid, moldy (ick) wipes if they have passed their expiry date. It really is as simple as that.

The only thing stopping you from using baby wipes on your baby is if they have dried out. If they have dried out, they are still perfectly fine, but let’s face it, their clean up ability is going to be shot to hell.

Wipes are for wiping, not for smearing poop all over the place. Do yourself a favour and repurpose those dried out bad boys. See my favourite hacks for repurposing dried out baby wipes further down below.

Why do baby wipes dry out?

The majority of baby wipes are made from 99% water. News flash, water dries. Storing your sealed baby wipes in a cool, dry place will keep them moist for longer, prolonging their life. Be wary of keeping them in either very high or very low temperatures, that is how you get mold.

Storing your baby wipes upside down can help to prolong their life as well. This prevents them from ‘settling’. Settling is where the detergents, moisturizers and preservatives in the solution which makes up that other 1% settle on the boom of the pack.

Storing them upside down means that any settling that may occur still won’t dry out the top wipes. Once you open the pack and the liquid soaks back down it will have to moisten all of the other wipes as it goes – thank you gravity.  

Once opened you have got a few weeks until they dry out. Therefore, you are fine to keep a few opened packs around the house for emergencies.

Personally, I keep a pack in every room, you never know when you need to stop sticky fingers from ruining your best dress. Just kidding, as if I ever get the chance to wear my best dress anymore, as if I can even fit into my best dress anymore – #allof thecakeinmyface!

Remember, they can even dry out if the package remains sealed – sneaky, I know. Just leave a pack in a hot car for a week and you will see.

What can I do with expired baby wipes?

If they are past their best according to the dates on the packaging, as long as they are still moist, then they are still fine. Go ahead, wipe that tooshie. 

If they are no longer moist, add a little distilled water and away you go.

If you are someone who just doesn’t feel comfortable rejuvenating your baby wipes or using, so called, “expired” baby wipes, luckily there are plenty of other uses for dried out or “expired” baby wipes.

Here are some hacks for using your dried out or expired wipes:

  • Pour a little distilled water into the pack to reinfuse. It might not last for ages, but it is fine if you just need to rejuvenate the last few.
  • Wipe up snotty noses – perfect for allergies or colds.
  • Move them to the washroom and use them at bath time to replace your washcloth.
  • Trim them into squares, soke in nail varnish remover and you’ve got yourself a beauty hack.
  • Soke them in cleanser to make your own make up remover – another beauty hack, boom.
  • Spray one with Windex, clean up those windows, dry with a microfiber cloth. Windows are done.
  • Let the baby clean the windows with a dried out baby wipe. They feel involved helping momma with the cleaning and yet, no chemicals to hurt those little fingers.
  • Spray on your disinfectant, wipe around the washroom, dry off with that all important microfiber, you’ve got yourself a cleaning cloth.
  • Soke them in mop solution and use attach one to your mop.

There are so many uses!

In summary, go ahead, buy in bulk (as long as you’ve got yourself that baby wipe storage garage set up). Just avoid those nasty fragranced wipes, ick. Your baby wipe haul is not going to expire on you any time soon. Good work frugal momma, you got this!

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