As any mom of a child in diapers knows, a long-lasting diaper product with great absorption is key to a happy baby. But, do diapers expire? Is there a time when they should be tossed away and replaced with a new batch?
The good news is that diapers do not expire, but there are some things you need to know before breaking out that box of diapers that was saved from your last child.
How Long Do Diapers Last?
Theoretically, diapers can last forever. As a paper product, they can be just as effective on day 101 after manufacturing as they are on day one. While they generally retain their shape and their performance, the large diaper manufacturers do recommend that they be used within a 2-year time frame so that consumers can experience them at their best.
We called Huggies, Pampers, and Luvs to get the information straight from their customer service representatives about the products themselves. Not only were they helpful in explaining how their products work, they were also happy to answer questions in regard to their diapers and wipes.
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Do Huggies Expire
The cheerful customer service representative at Huggies explained that there is no expiration date on the diapers. They are a paper product that should perform the exact same way no matter when they are used. As with all paper products, they did explain that there may be some yellowing of the paper itself with age. The elastic, as with all elastic products, may also lose its elasticity over time. For consumers, this may mean that the longer you wait to use the diapers, the greater there is of a risk of leakage.
Do Pampers Expire?
Although there is no expiration date for Pampers diapers, they do suggest using them within a two-year time frame. That time frame is the optimal window for all of the products components (i.e. – elastic, paper, absorption material) to work the most effectively. While using them outside of that timeframe can certainly be done, the company claims that they are at their peak performance within those two years after manufacturing.
Do Luvs Expire?
For those who prefer to use Luvs diapers, there is again, no expiration date for the products. Their diapers are tested for a two-year shelf life, so they recommend using them within that time period. That is when they are the most effective for absorbing liquids and protecting from leaks. Luvs does have a money back guarantee, but it is limited to within 45-days of purchase, so it would not apply to diapers that have been sitting on your child’s changing table for a few years.
What to Look for in Older Diapers
Although we have established that diapers do not expire, it is important to be aware of the fact that some of the components of diapers can change with age.
Since diapers are a paper product, over time, the color of the paper may change. It is not unusual to find some yellowing on the outside of the diaper after a couple of years have passed. The discoloration should not impact the diaper’s effectiveness though.
The elastic used at the waist and around the legs can also deteriorate with age. The humidity and heat of the area where the diapers are stored can also speed up the elastic’s deterioration. High humidity and heat dry out the elastic and make it much less effective.
While this does not impact the diaper’s ability to absorb, it can create quite a mess should the diaper leak from the sides or the top.
Should You Use Older Diapers?
Since diapers do not expire, it is okay to use them years later and expect them to still be able to absorb.
If you are thinking about using older diapers though, it is a good idea to check the coloring of the paper, as well as the elastic.
Should you find the elastic is loose and does not provide that secure seal around the edges, you may want to put a diaper cover (typically used for cloth diapering) on over the diaper. Just be sure to change the diapers frequently as the extra moisture from the plastic cover over the diaper could irritate your child’s skin.
The Bottom Line on Diapers
When it comes down to disposable diapers, the rule of thumb is that there is no expiration date, but they are most effective and perform the best when used within two years of their manufacture date.
Can you use diapers that are older than two years? Absolutely, but just be aware that they may be slightly discolored and that the elastic may have loosened.
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