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Diapers are expensive. Because of this, most of us parents are hesitant to throw out our unused diapers. I’m a perfect example of this–my son was potty trained right before my baby was born, but we still have his unused toddler size diapers in our tiny apartment, taking up space, for our baby who probably won’t need them for a year or so. I don’t know if this is a testament to how expensive diapers are or how desperately poor we are (we’re both students, it’s fine), but the point is, we don’t want to get rid of our diapers if at all possible. But, we also don’t want to put our kids in diapers that are not safe. So, this begs the question: do diapers expire? And are old diapers safe to use?
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Do baby diapers expire?
After scouring the internet for the answer to this question, I’ve found that no one really knows for sure. At least no one on the internet. There are plenty of blogs who talk about reaching out to specific diaper companies and asking them if their diapers expire, but the companies don’t list this information on their websites. So, I did the same thing as these other bloggers and reached out to the companies. And the consensus? According to associates from Pampers, Huggies, and Luvs, their diapers do not expire. They may get slightly less efficient at their job over time, but they will still be safe to use. Because of this, it is commonly recommended that disposable diapers be used within 2 years.
Do Pampers diapers expire?
I know I already answered this question, but I want to provide some specific information on each brand of diaper. When I contacted the Pampers associate, she gave me quite a bit of information. First, they do not expire, but they have a shelf life of 2 years. She said that “shelf life is the time period during which a product is expected to comply with the approved stability specifications (varies by region) when stored properly. This does not mean it will only last for that amount of time, but that we know it will work as intended for that period of time.”
Additionally, she mentioned many storage tips. She said:
- Avoid extreme temperatures. Store in a cool, dry place.
- Extreme heat (over 100° F/37°C) can contribute to problems with the glues used in making the diapers (e.g., leg gathers, tape adhesive).
- Extreme humidity can affect the absorbent gelling material (AGM), causing the diaper or pant to be less absorbent.
- If exposed to heat, humidity, sunlight, or even fluorescent lighting, the surface color may change and the perfume may disappear, leaving the odors of the raw material and glue.
- If exposed to extremely cold temperatures for an extended period of time the may no longer meet our high standards for quality and should be thrown away.
- If more than 1.5 years old, the product may change surface color. However, it is still safe to use and the performance should not deteriorate.
Do Huggies diapers expire?
According to Diaper News, “Huggies diapers do not have any active ingredients that expire, but the performance may diminish slightly after 3 years from the date they manufactured it which is the VAL or EXP date shown on the package.” So Huggies might have a slightly longer shelf life than other diapers.
Do Luvs diapers expire?
Luvs diapers do not expire. They also are made by the same company as Pampers, according to Diaper News. In addition, Diaper News explains that the diaper is made “from chemically stable materials, and they would not degrade significantly if you store them properly.” So Luvs also will last longer if stored properly.
So the main theme is that none of these brands of diapers expire, but they all lose some efficiency over time. Let’s get into some of the specifics on why this is.
Why old diapers don’t work as well
Experts on diapers have mentioned that specific parts of the diaper might wear down over time. According to Diaper News, as diapers get old, the cloth may become more yellow, the adhesive strips may become less sticky, and they might not absorb as much liquid. This is because the longer they are exposed to air, the moisture in the air will slowly seep in, thus reducing the amount of liquid the diaper is capable of absorbing.
Additionally, Diaper News mentions that how quickly diapers wear down depends on the diaper and how it is composed. For instance, disposable diapers last longer than diapers with an elastic waistband, as the elastic may become discolored.
In order to avoid some of this, Healthline recommends storing diapers in a plastic box and away from sunlight, so that they are less exposed to sunlight and air. Similarly, Pampers recommends storing diapers “in an area protected from extreme heat and humidity and away from products with fragrances.” They also recommend that “diapers be kept in a dry storage area where the temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit or less.”
So now you may be wondering which diapers last the longest. Here’s what I found regarding some of the top diaper brands.
It is not entirely possible to know exactly which brand of diapers will last the longest, but we can get some cues from how absorbent they are. If they are more absorbent, then it’s likely then its likely their absorbency would hold up better over time. Product Playoffs, a website that tests products for efficiency, tested Pampers for their absorbency. Their results? The Pampers Baby-Dry Brand was most absorbent as far as daytime use goes. If you are looking for a diaper mostly for daytime use that will continue to work well over time, this brand may be for you.
Product Playoffs also tested Huggies diapers for absorbency. Their results showed that Huggies OverNites was the most absorbent overnight diaper. So based on these results, you may want to opt for Pampers during the day and Huggies at night, especially if you are using older diapers.
Product Playoffs didn’t test Luvs diapers, so I turned to the Luvs website for some more information on absorbency. They recommend making sure that you are using the right size diaper in order to improve absorbency, as well as using a size up for overnight diapering. This can be helpful if you are using old Luvs diapers and are worried that they may be less absorbent.
Many parents wonder if diapers expire, and the answer is no. They are also likely not going to harm your baby in any way if they are a bit old. They might not look as pretty, but they will be covered up anyway. And if they are slightly less efficient, I’m sure your baby will neither notice nor care. The main takeaway from this is that old diapers’ efficiency may slightly decrease over time, but you really don’t need to worry that you’re putting your baby in harm’s way. Now relax and know that those diapers on your top shelf will still be fine in a year or so.