Most baby products have a use-by date, so what’s the story with diapers? When do diapers expire, if ever?
Were you gifted hundreds of diapers for your baby shower?
Or perhaps you got a little too excited in the Costco diaper aisle?
If so, you might be wondering, “Do diapers expire?”
Even if your closet isn’t overflowing with diapers, the truth is, babies grow fast.
Although newborns can go through eight or more diapers a day, they could still grow out of a size before you’ve used up the package.
So, can you save these diapers for a sibling who’s still a few years away?
Do baby diapers expire?
Let’s take a closer look.
In this article: 📝
- How long do diapers last before they expire?
- Disposable diapers vs reusable cotton diapers
- How to store diapers and extend their life
- How do you know if diapers are expired?
How long do diapers last before they expire?
Disposable diapers are the favored choice for 95% of US mothers.
They’re convenient and easy to use.
And, although they may become a little less effective at preventing leaks after a few years, disposable diapers don’t actually expire.
Diapers are essentially made of paper and a few different kinds of plastic.
Humidity and high temperatures can cause parts of them to deteriorate faster.
When that happens, diapers get leaky, and there’s a bigger risk of poop explosions.
The good news is, if you store diapers properly, they can last for three years or even longer.
Disposable diapers vs reusable cotton diapers
Disposable diapers don’t have an expiration date per se, but nothing lasts forever.
Not even reusable cotton diapers.
Reusable cloth diapers come in a variety of materials, but cotton and bamboo are the most common.
You can expect reusable diapers to last for 200 to 300 uses.
You can usually hand them down to at least one more child, or sell them to another family.
Disposable diapers, on the other hand, are made of plastic and paper fibers.
Diaper manufacturers recommend using diapers within two to three years after purchase. That’s when they’ll do their job best.
Deciding which diapers are best, disposable or reusable, is totally up to you.
Let’s take a look at what disposable diapers are made of, to help understand which parts are at risk of breaking down with time.
The inner layer that rests against your baby’s skin is made of soft plastic.
This keeps your baby relatively dry.
The inner core has pulp fluff made from wood, wheat, or other organic materials, and polymer crystals that absorb and help to evenly distribute moisture.
The outer layer of diapers is made from waterproof material, usually some type of plastic.
Eco-friendly diapers use a plant-based or bio-plastic compound.
Plastic tabs to fasten the sides are velcro or adhesive, and elasticated leg cuffs help stop leaks.
These parts of diapers are likely to deteriorate the fastest.
How to store diapers and extend their life
If you store diapers properly, they might last much longer than the recommended two to three years.
The best way to extend the life of disposable diapers is to keep them in their sealed original packaging.
If you’ve already opened them, vacuum sealing should help them keep better.
Direct sunlight, high temperatures, and humidity all work to degrade the materials in disposable diapers.
Store them in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
When stored like this, the manufacturer’s recommendations on when diapers expire can safely be ignored.
There’s a good chance that even the elastics and adhesives will last much longer than three years.
There’s no need to wonder “When do diapers expire?”
If you keep them airtight, dry, and out of light, they’ll likely last for multiple years.
How do you know if diapers are expired?
The truth is, if kept well, baby diapers can last far longer than the recommended three years.
Sure, they may get a little yellow with age.
The cute pictures may even fade a little.
But baby diapers don’t actually expire, and they won’t become harmful to use either.
So yes, mama, you can save your old diapers!
And go crazy in that Costco diaper aisle, if you want to.
After all, there’s nothing worse than doing a diaper change in the middle of the night and realizing you’re all out of diapers.
If you’re curious about what other baby essentials you’ll need, check out our list here.
And if you have any other questions, don’t forget to chat with the other mamas and mamas-to-be in the Peanut community.