While the cost of everything is soaring with inflation, new parents are faced with the dilemma of whether they should use old diapers or not. To throw out or not, that is the real question. While numerous myths surround this topic, parents desperate to save every penny can get some help with these pointers from me.
Don’t hesitate to use an old diaper. As they have indefinite shelf life, they aren’t harmful to your baby. However, with time, discoloration, lack of elasticity, and decreased absorption occur, which can make its use a hassle for you. So how can you really store and make use of old diapers? And do diapers expire? Here’s all that you need to know!
Storing diapers? It might have sounded crazy a few years ago, but today, with better technology and rising costs of baby care items, you may need to take desperate measures. Diapers are in abundance in every baby household. There is no survival without diapers, whether they be Pampers, Luvs, or Huggies. But the costs? They are sky high regardless of brand. New parents are now concerned about how to manage their finances in the best way possible, and storing diapers is the start.
Baby diapers are composed of materials that remain reliable over a long period of time. This is because they contain materials like plastic, polyacrylate, and other synthetic materials. In addition to this, they are a baby item that is made with safety as a high priority. This means the use of high-quality material that isn’t easy to break. Therefore, you can store them for an indefinite period of time.
But storing diapers shouldn’t be done casually. They do not expire, but they do become ineffective. If you don’t want to lose the money you invested in these diapers, you have to take measures to increase their lifespan instead of making them ineffective. Ensure an environment that will allow them to last if you intend to store them for the next two years or more.
What Are Diapers Made Of?
Disposable diapers are made of synthetic materials that are composed through chemical processes. They mainly contain:
Diaper packaging is not the only thing made of plastic. Diapers themselves are also made of plastic fibers that keep the diapers disposable.
Like baby wipes, diapers contain cotton so that the baby’s skin is not directly in contact with chemicals or harsh internal materials. The covering keeps the baby’s skin calm.
Polyacrylate is a special chemical substance that absorbs fluids and is the main absorbent material in diapers. It is present in the super absorbent polymer layer.
Different types of diapers have different types of materials. For example, biodegradable diapers have materials that easily decompose and aren’t a threat to the environment. They are low on harmful plastic content. The materials used in a diaper also vary from brand to brand.
Layers of Disposable Diapers
Baby diapers are multi-layered products. Each layer has a significant job in keeping your baby dry and comfortable.
- Innermost Layer
The layers start with the absorbent innermost layer. This layer has direct contact with your baby’s skin; therefore, it is made up of polyester or a soft material like cotton. Being absorbent, it helps to avoid leakages, but for the sake of the baby’s skin, the material is breathable.
Then comes the core of the diaper. Old diapers or new diapers, each one has a central core that contains the superabsorbent polymer to absorb the fluids. This chemical is the reason diapers work, as it impressively absorbs fluids 30 times its weight. When diapers expire, this is the main thing that breaks down. It not only absorbs the fluids but also spreads the fluid in the core so that it doesn’t remain in one place.
Next up is the cover. As the name shows, it functions to cover the core and keeps the fluids from seeping out. This happens because of its waterproof composition that keeps any leakages from happening. The outer layer of the cover is made of polyethylene which is thin and breathable and doesn’t add weight to the diaper.
Last but not least is the fastening tape that secures the diaper to the baby and keeps it in place. It is also of stretchy material so that the waistband fits the baby properly. Moreover, it is elastic and keeps the baby comfortable.
How Long Can You Store Diapers?
Diapers do not expire like medicines. They do not become harmful to use for the baby. However, they work most efficiently when used within12 to 18 months of purchase. They will lose color at this point, but they will work just fine. Now it also varies from brand to brand how long you can store diapers. Most diaper manufacturers prescribe using them within two years of purchase. After that time, the absorbency of the unused diapers is compromised.
Effects of Expired Diapers
Expired diapers do not have any harmful effects on the baby. There may be problems with their efficiency that show they have gone bad. Some of the visible effects of expired diapers are:
The absorbent core of your baby’s diaper is compromised, resulting in consistent leakage. This makes your life difficult as leakage is difficult to handle. An explosive diaper is not only a matter of embarrassment but also makes it hard to clean up.
The most difficult part of this situation is for the baby’s skin. The baby’s delicate skin can develop a rash, and that will result in an episode of your baby getting uncomfortable, crying, and you having a traumatic mom experience. But this is rare, too.
Some diaper manufacturers use fragrance to give them a little something extra. When the diapers have expired, you will definitely experience an unpleasant smell coming from them.
Do Diapers Go Bad In Heat
Diapers reach an expiration date due to a couple of reasons. This is because they are synthetic, and a lot of chemicals become ineffective after some time. Due to this, heat and moisture are the major reasons behind diapers going bad. Usually, when diapers expire, it is because of higher temperatures. The heat reacts with the compounds and materials present in the diaper, decomposing it before a diaper is stored at an optimum temperature.
On the damage-radar of heat are the plastic fiber, adhesives, and elastic materials that are a major part of the diaper composition. These materials work at a certain temperature. Under the pressure of too much heat, they will simply melt and make the diaper useless. Glues are specifically part of fasteners that are necessary for securing the diaper to the baby. If the glue is damaged, fastening the diaper won’t be possible.
The diaper won’t stick and therefore becomes useless. You can try to dab the fastener with water to make the adhesive gluey again, but in most cases, it won’t work. It is also inconvenient, and the moisture can damage other parts of the diaper instead.
Fortunately, brands today offer pull-up diapers with elastic waistbands. They are convenient for putting on the baby as well as for removing, as there is no fastening hassle. However, the elastic can be damaged by heat. The elastic will become loose, and the diaper will fall off the baby whenever he moves.
At all costs, keep your stored diapers away from heat.
Changes in Diapers over Time
Diapers have a long life compared to other baby products if they are stored the right way. However, once a diaper crosses the 18-month mark, signs of old age and damage begin to show. Some of the main signs of expired diapers are:
Diapers are made up of elastic material so that they fit the baby. Over time, this elasticity becomes lessened as the elastic molecules of the diapers break down, making it lose. The main cause of the loss of elasticity is moisture.
If the storage space for the diapers is not airtight and moisture free, you can expect unused diapers to expire. Moisture breaks down the elasticity and glue and also makes the diapers expire by showing faded colors.
You might have noticed the impact of sunlight on things like paper, wood, or even clothes. If left out in the sun for too long, they lose color. The same is the case with diapers. If they are stored in a place where sunlight reaches them, you will see discoloration occur after a while.
This is because of ultraviolet sun rays, which can damage the texture and color of not only diapers but anything composed of synthetic material. Another reason behind this discoloration is oxidation. Oxidation rusts metals, but in the case of diapers, it discolors them due to their plastic composition.
Due to this composition and other chemical content, you will see the white color becoming yellow. In addition to sunlight, moisture and high temperature also fade the color of disposable diapers, telling you the expiration date has arrived.
The entire concept of diapers revolves around absorbency. As time goes by, the diapers become less and less absorbent. No absorbency completely negates the use of a diaper, as absorbing fluids is their only purpose. When the volume of fluid increases, the diaper starts to leak, making a mess for you.
This makes using an old diaper a hassle, as the leakage can damage not only the baby’s clothes but also anything the baby was sitting on, such as carpet, furniture, bedding, and the list goes on.
Various brands have different absorbances according to the chemicals used in them.
What Is The Best Way To Store Diapers?
It only seems logical that with rising prices of diapers, you store the unused ones from your first child. Keep the diapers in a cool, dry place away from the prying sunlight, which can reduce their lifespan. Keeping diapers in an airtight container is also useful, as it keeps the diapers sealed and away from any decomposing particles. They keep moisture and sunlight at bay. You can also use a vacuum sealer in place of a container.
The safety of the baby remains a huge concern. The diaper producers ensure the materials used will become ineffective with time instead of becoming dangerous, like expired medicines.
You can store disposable diapers by making sure all the measurements on the storing list are ticked off. If you are not careful, you will end up with a heap of unopened diapers that expire without use. Here are a few tips you can keep in mind to stay ahead of the game:
Maintain a Constant Temperature
You can never leave a diaper out in extreme temperatures and expect it not to go bad. Opt for a place that is both moisture-free and cool. I know you might be thinking of refrigerating the diapers with an airtight seal, but look for an alternative.
You do not need refrigerator cooling, but at least keep it below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s your safe side. Too much heat can ruin the glues and elasticity, so let’s just avoid that. Temperatures that are too cold can also damage the quality of the diaper, so you need to be very careful in this regard.
Protect From Moisture
Humidity and moisture can decompose the materials inside a diaper. The molecules and polymers present inside a diaper that work for absorbing fluids become completely broken down, making the diaper ineffective in terms of absorption.
This is because absorbent gelling material used inside the diaper is extremely sensitive to moisture. Any contact with moisture for a long period of time will definitely hurt its efficiency.
Keep Away From Light
Any type of light, including sunlight and fluorescent lighting, is harmful to stored diapers. Try to store diapers in a dark place to avoid contact with light rays. They can decompose materials and also fade the color of the diapers.
If you use these tips, there is no reason why you can’t store a diaper for up to 18 months. However, after that, you will see decreased efficiency and also discoloration occurring in the diaper.
Other than this, beware of the expiration dates of your diaper brands, as every brand has its own diaper life. Pampers diapers expire at a different time than Luvs diapers, so keeping the dates in check is your responsibility.
You don’t have to worry about your baby’s safety if you are using expired diapers. Expired diapers lack efficiency but aren’t harmful to the baby. You can easily store diapers for up to 18 months or two years, depending upon the brand you are using.
Try to keep the stored diapers away from light, moisture, and heat to keep their efficiency intact. Look for signs of expiration, like discoloration, loss of elasticity, and decreased absorbency. Know that old diapers expire over time, no matter how much you care for them. After a while, they will go bad.