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Baby wipes are an essential item for parents from day one. We all use them for nappy changes, messy snack times, a spill in the car, and so much more. No matter whether you are on the go or at home, baby wipes are incredibly useful to have nearby.
But they do dry out, and it can be frustrating, especially if you are down to your last pack and you have a messy baby to deal with. This article discusses why this happens, what you can do to prevent this and what you can do with any dried out wipes you might have.
How do you keep baby wipes from drying out?
The most obvious thing you can do is to take care when closing the wipe’s original packet. Make sure that the tab is lined up correctly and that you double-check the seal each time you finish using them.
How do you store wet wipes?
It is smart to store your wipes in a cool, dry place so that they are protected from overheating. Organise your supply to make sure you use the oldest wipes first. This prevents older packets getting lost in the cupboard and drying out with age.
There are several options you can use to store your disposable wipes outside of their original packaging though. These gadgets claim that they will stop baby wipes from drying out.
Baby wipe case – Pros and cons
The first option is a baby wipe case. These handy plastic cases can be refilled with wipes directly from the packet and are designed to carry while you are out and about. They typically have a tight clasp that is designed to keep air out to ensure your wipes stay dry and clean. The most frequent complaint about these cases is that they are usually much smaller than the contents of the average pack of baby wipes. This means the cases need to be refilled often and you are still left with the extra wipes left in the packet to store.
Baby wipe dispenser – Pros and cons
A baby wipe dispenser makes it easy to pull out one wipe at a time (rather than a whole handful) and have air-tight lids to keep wipes dry. While these are both excellent features, most of the dispensers are too bulky to carry with you outside of the house. This means they are not well-suited for your changing bag. The upside to the larger size of dispensers is that they can usually fit a whole packet of baby wipes inside at once.
Resealable plastic bag
Alternatively, for a low cost option, you can store your baby wipes in a resealable plastic bag. Just make it sure the wipes are properly sealed and no air can get into the bag, or that will slowly dry out the wipes.
OXO Tot Perfect Wipes Dispenser
Why do baby wipes dry out?
There are three main reasons why baby wipes may expire and become redundant; drying out, becoming mouldy or just becoming less effective.
This is the most common reason for baby wipes becoming unusable. If you do open a pack, ensure you seal it properly afterwards. Sometimes the adhesive tab that covers the opening can move or come off, and sometimes we just don’t quite place the tab back on properly. Baby wipes contain a lot of water so they can dry out if they’re left in a warm environment. They can even dry out if the pack remains unopened, especially if they’re exposed to a reasonable amount of heat.
The advantage of natural baby wipes is that they don’t contain any chemicals or preservatives, which is better for a newborn’s skin. However, unfortunately this makes these wipes more susceptible to mould, which can grow inside opened or unopened packs over time. If you see any spots or patches on your baby wipes, just chuck them in the bin. Regular baby wipes are usually a lot more resistant to mould because of the chemicals used in them.
They just don’t work as well
Like many products, if you don’t use them for a long time, they can become less effective. The chemicals inside a pack of baby wipes can settle towards the bottom of the pack, so the wipes near the top don’t clean as well as they should. This is quite rare though, and it will take a long time for this to happen.
Do baby wipes dry out if unopened?
Unopened packets of wipes can stay moist from 2 – 3 years according to the most popular manufacturers, as long as they are stored in a cool,dry spot. An opened, carefully resealed packet of wipes will generally stay moist for 2-3 months.
An individual wipe that has been taken out of the packet will stay wet for a maximum of 2-3 hours. This may change depending on the temperature and humidity.
Where to check the expiration date
It will vary by manufacturer, but if you look at this pack of Pampers baby wipes, it’s underneath. If you look at the image closely, you’ll see the expiry date is around 2 and a half years after they were produced. Surely most people will use them during this time!
Natural Wipes vs Baby Wipes – Which last longer?
Having established that regular baby wipes can last for a couple of years if they’re unopened and stored correctly, what about natural wipes? They usually only have a couple of ingredients; water and some fruit extract. Do they last longer?
According to Water Wipes, a product which only contains 99.9% water and a drop of grapefruit extract, they recommend opening the pack within 15 months of the production date. Therefore, they seem to have a similar shelf life to regular wipes.
However, they can dry out easier even if they’re unopened, as the water can slowly move down towards the bottom of the pack over time. Water Wipes recommend storing their wipes upside down so the top wipes are always moist when you open up the pack.
Are there baby wipes that won’t dry out?
Many companies claim their wet baby wipes won’t dry out so it can be worth trying different brands and styles to find your favourite kind. Here are two alternatives to a standard wet wipe that do not dry out.
Reusable Wet Wipes
Reusable wipes are an eco-friendly alternative to disposable baby wipes that do not necessarily need to be kept wet. They can be stored dry and only made wet as you need them with a splash of good, old fashioned tap water or with a blast of a specialist spray. The wipes can also be pre-moistened and stored in a carry case for journeys further afield. Then you can pop them in the washing machine, freshen them up and start again!
Not surprisingly since the clue is in the name, dry wipes are dry and therefore do not need to stay wet to do their job. Dry wipes are often recommended for babies with ultra-sensitive skin or allergies. The idea is that you use a specialist cleaning spray to moisten the wipe in the moment before you use it. Unlike reusable wipes they are designed to be thrown away after one use.
What else can baby wipes be used for?
They are useful in so many places. Here are just some of the most popular uses for baby wipes other than for babies:
- In the car. Baby wipes are great to have on hand for any spills or stains you run into while on the road.
- To clean your hands. No matter how old you are, we can all make use of a wipe from time to time to tidy up, especially when there isn’t a sink nearby.
- To wipe off excess nail polish. After you have painted your nails use a wet wipe to wipe any polish off your skin that might have spilled over from the nail.
- Children’s toys. It can be tricky to clean toys properly. A wet wipe can get into the nooks and crannies to make sure toys are really clean.
Here are some other uses for baby wipes.
Can you use expired baby wipes?
Providing they look ok, and haven’t become mouldy, you can use baby wipes long after their expiry date. In fact it’s best to think of the expiry date as a ‘best by’ rather than a ‘use by’. That being said, they might not work as well if you’ve really had them a long time. So why bother with an expiry date in the first place?
Well, like most things in this day and age, it’s just for the manufacturer to protect themselves. Consumers will likely complain in droves if they open a pack (even several years after buying them) and the wipes have dried out or become mouldy.
Can you rewet dried wipes?
Yes. Add a few drops of water into the bottom of the baby wipe package with the wipes inside, seal it up well and store them at room temperature. Check on them after 24 hours. If they are not wet enough yet, add a couple more drops and repeat the process until the wipes are ready. You can also try this trick using an air-tight wipe container to hold the wipes instead of the packaging.
What are some other uses for dried out baby wipes?
Perhaps, you have a packet of dried out wipes at home and you don’t want to rewet them. It may be a good idea to repurpose them instead. Here are some ways to use those dried out wipes:
- Use a dried out wipe to clean your bathroom. Spray a wipe with your regular cleaning spray and clean away.
- Use them instead of tissues for a runny nose.
- Use them as disposable flannel for travel or at home to wash your face.
- Swap them for cotton wool to remove eye makeup or nail polish.
Graham is a father of two who founded Dadometer to share his parenting journey with other moms and dads.