As a first-time mom, I was quite clueless when a friend presented me with packs of old unused diapers. The nagging questions were: Are they safe for use? Do diapers expire?
I was rather confused about whether to use them or not. Until I set forth to find answers to this particular query myself.
In this article we shall see if the diapers really have an expiry date, and if not, does that mean they can last forever? But first, let’s see what are diapers actually made of.
What Are Diapers Made Of?
Disposable diapers are primarily a mix of paper (wood) and plastic layers. Let’s break down its parts for better understanding:
- ︎An inner layer that is perched between the baby’s skin and the absorbent layer. It is usually made from plastic fiber.
- Then comes the middle absorbent layer where the core function happens. It consists of fluff pulp and absorbent gel or polymer, also known as a super absorbent polymer (SAP). The pulp comes from wood, wheat, or other natural materials. While polymer is made of chemical crystals. Fluff distributes the liquid evenly throughout the diaper while absorbent polymer does the absorption. It has the capacity to absorb liquid about 30 times its weight.
- The outermost layer is thin, soft and waterproof. It is also made from plastic. Eco-friendly diapers use plant-based plastic.
- Leg cuffs that wrap around the legs softly but securely, are elastic to prevent leaks. An adhesive tape to firmly secure the diaper in place.
Do Diapers Have an Expiration Date?
It is generally conceded that diapers DO NOT expire. Diapers are essentially a product of plastic and paper, two materials that hardly ever go bad. Huggies and pampers, two of the diaper-making Giants claim as such and it is likewise proven too. So theoretically, they can last forever. But in a practical realm, their efficiency can get affected with age. The longer they are around, the more likely they are to wear down.
In order to avail their best performance, manufacturers advise to use their diapers within a time frame of 2-3 years. After that, the effectiveness and quality of diapers might not remain the same as advertised by these brands.
When To Toss Away Diapers?
There is no set-in-stone rule as to when to toss away the aged diapers. The makers recommend to use them within an optimal window of two to three years. However, they might function as good as new even after having crossed their prime time of 3 years. You just have to try them out to know for sure.
However, If they fall short of fulfilling their primary purpose of preventing the leaks, holding themselves firmly in place and protecting the baby’s skin, it might be wise to replace them with new ones. The performance of old diapers also depends upon the brand they come from, conditions under which they were stored and their respective ages.
Here are a few variables that you might want to consider when using old diapers.
Old diapers might not retain their color and freshness. With the passage of time, they develop yellowish hues due to exposure to heat and air. But this does not impact their effectiveness in any way. It might make them look a little unsightly but that’s that.
Where discoloration is a mere aesthetic hitch, absorbency is a more potent factor to keep in mind. The absorbent gel in diapers can absorb moisture and heat from air and become less absorbent with time. Hence with such diapers, you will need more frequent changes. If you detect leaks and wet surfaces quite often, your baby might become irritable and develop a rash. In such a scenario, you should just get rid of old diapers.
Elasticity and Adhesiveness:
Elastic adhesives in the cuffs might lose some of their elasticity to due prolonged exposure to heat. In a similar manner, adhesive tape that secures the diaper firmly in place may become oxidized and lose its stickiness. This can lead up to messy leaks around the legs. Even worse, the diaper might just come right off of the bottom. To prevent a possible poop explosion, it is best to do away with such a pack.
Some manufacturers add fragrance to their diapers to overcome the unpleasant smell of poop and pee. Old diapers might not carry the same scent. But like with colour, loss of fragrance is just a petty concern. Infact most parents want their diapers to be fragrant-free. However, if you suspect any foul smell coming off of them, you might just want to discard them.
Is It Safe To Use Old Diapers?
It is absolutely safe to use old diapers. There are no scenarios of ‘chemicals breaking down and going rogue’ around here. Less absorption, loose elastic cuffs and discoloration barely signal for any alarm bells.
How Best To Preserve Diapers:
The best course of action to preserve their freshness is to let diapers stay in their original packing. Store them in a cool, dry and dark place such as a cupboard. Exposure to heat, light and moisture can significantly alter their condition. Washrooms, with high humidity, are not a good place to store diapers.
As for loose diapers that are not in their original packing, seal them in shopping bags with either a tape or a vacuum sealer. Vacuum sealing also has the additional benefit of saving space!
What Can You Do With Unused Diapers:
If you have old disposable diapers lying around and you don’t want to use them for your baby, consider these options:
- Donate them or give them up for charity. You will be surprised to know how many people are willing to use your unused diapers.
- Keep them for pretend play. Children love to play dress-up with their stuff toys. They will be ecstatic to change the nappies of their animals and dolls.
- Try other fun games. Your child might enjoy stacking them into piles or building houses with them. You can also use them for creating crafts with your kids.
Do eco-friendly diapers expire?
Many people shy away from chemicals and petroleum-derived plastics and hence opt for environment friendly, plant-based and hypoallergenic diapers.
Companies like Honest that produce these maintain that eco-friendly diapers do not have an expiry date. Although they might lose some of their functionality with time.
Do Pampers diapers expire?
The customer service department of Pampers claim that their diapers do not expire but they still suggest to use them within 2-3 years just to be on the safe side.
Do Huggies diapers expire?
Huggies also do not have an expiry date. Moreover, Huggies diapers have no active components and thus are less liable to degradation than most of their counterparts.
Do Luvs diapers expire?
If stored accurately, Luvs diapers can last for a very long time period as they have chemically stable ingredients.
Do Hello Bello diapers expire?
No expiration date is mentioned on Hello Bello diapers. But better use them within a couple of years to effectively keep the nasties at bay.
Leave us a comment if you have any questions regarding the shelf life of diapers and if you are still unsure about whether to use those old diapers or not.