Do Diapers Expire? How Long They Last & What Parents Should Know

How long do diapers last? We have the dirty details!

Published July 18, 2023
baby and diapers

Do diapers expire? It seems like a silly question, but with the absorbant beads, the added scents, and the plant-based materials, it does seem plausible that a diaper could go bad.

Thankfully, we have gotten to the bottom of this inquiry. Here's how long diapers last and what to do with extras that you may have lying around!

Do Diapers Expire?

No! Diapers do not expire. However, certain qualities of this product will degrade over time. This is why most manufacturers recommend that parents use their diapers within two years of the purchase date. This goes for both regular and eco-friendly diaper products.

What Can Happen to Old Diapers

If you keep them past the two-year mark, there are a few things that can occur:

  • Reduced Absorption: The super absorbent polymer gel beads that you find lining your child's diaper are extremely effective at drawing liquid away from their sensitive skin. However, these substances will deteriorate over time. This can lead to leaks and a higher instance of diaper rashes. When this occurs, it is best to throw them out.
  • Discoloration: As time goes by, older diapers will also tend to take on a yellow hue. Similarly, diapers that are colored or covered in designs will fade. While this does not impact their ability to soak up stinky messes, it does make them something you should probably avoid gifting to others.
  • Ineffective Wetness Indicator: Many modern diapers now feature a convenient strip that show when your child has peed. This makes the determination of whether or not they have gone potty quick and easy. Unfortunately, bromthymol blue, the color changing chemical that indicates the presence of urine, will also degrade when diapers are stored in high heat or high humidity.
  • Lower Elasticity & Adhesion: Most diapers are equipped with elastic bands around the leg inserts and the waist. This material can degrade leading to leaks. Additionally, the adhesive strip on the front of the diaper that holds the tabs in place will become less effective over time. Both of these circumstances can lead to blowouts. This is another instance where parents are better off buying new.

How to Store Diapers to Extend Their Shelf-Life

diaper storage

The best way to store diapers is to follow the manufacturer's lead! They package these essential baby items in airtight plastic and cardboard boxes that limit the product's exposure to humidity and light. How do you simulate this at home?

  • Invest in opaque containers to keep unused diapers out of natural and manufacured light.
  • Leave unopened sleeves of diapers in their original plastic packaging.
  • If diapers are opened, either place them in large Ziploc bags, letting out as much air as possible, or vacuum seal them in plastic.
Need to Know

You also want to avoid storing these items in extreme heat. Every brand recommends a different temperature threshold, so visit the company's website or read the box.

To illustrate, Kirkland Signature advises keeping their diapers below 104 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas Pampers recommends "diapers be kept in a dry storage area where the temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit or less."

This means that the attic and garage are problematic storage spots. Instead, keep your leftover diapers at room temperature - a closet, pantry, storage room, or even under a bed are all great spots. If you store diapers properly, you can have them last two years, or potentially more!

Other Uses for Leftover Diapers

For the parents who are on their last kid, or just simply don't have the space to store leftover diapers, there are a multitude of ways to use your baby's diapers without the worry of waste. These include:

  • Making a Diaper Tower as a Baby Gift: Every new parent welcomes a collection of diapers, especially when they come in an array of sizes. This makes a diaper tower an extremely thoughtful gift!
  • Donating to a Parent in Need: The National Diaper Bank Network is a great resource for finding worthy spots to give your unused diapers. Parents can also reach out to local businesses and organizations to see if anyone in their community could use this essential baby item. Some of these include:
    • Churches
    • Hospitals
    • Women's Shelters
    • Daycares
    • Homeless Shelters
  • Using Them on Incontinent Pets or Pets in Heat: As our pets age, their ability to hold their bladders becomes strained. Diapers are an easy solution. Just cut out a hole for their tail and make sure that they fit your pet's waist. Additionally, for pet parents who haven't spayed their dogs, leftover diapers can also serve as great puppy panties for when your pup goes into heat!
  • Lining Flood-Prone Doorways: If you have certain entryways that are prone to water sneaking in during heavy rainstorms, leftover diapers can be your best friend! Just open them up and place the absorbant interior along the base of your door. While they won't prevent a full-blown flood from entering your home, for small leaks, they can do the trick!
Quick Tip

If you find that you have quite the surplus of unopened diapers, you also have the option of taking them back to the store where you purchased them and getting a store credit! This is a great way to clear out the clutter and get some money back.

How Long Do Diapers Last? Ideal Storage Equals Longevity

While this product technically has an unlimited shelf life, if you store your diapers in a hot, humid, or wet spot, it is likely that they won't last for long. For parents who like to stock up on diapers when sales arise, just make sure that you have a spot inside your home to keep them stored. This can ensure that you get the longest life out of your diapers.

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Do Diapers Expire? How Long They Last & What Parents Should Know