How Long Do Disinfecting Wipes Last?

Remember when the Covid 19 was reported first in your country? Did you also panic-buy cleaning products as most people did?

If you did, you probably still have some disinfecting wipes lying around. Are you wondering if using them now will effectively disinfect your home?

Keep reading and see why you are right to be concerned.

But first…

What is to Disinfect?

For years, we have all reached out for the good ol’ soap and water when it comes to keeping hygiene. That has always turned out ok. Well, until we had to deal with Covid 19.

In our determination to beat the CoronaVirus into submission, soap and water have not been an aggressive enough approach to match the wrath of this notorious virus. That is why we have had to reach out for disinfectants, including the ever so convenient wipes.

There are regular wipes like those used on babies, and then there are disinfecting wipes.

Regular wipes are for everyday cleaning. Disinfectant wipes, on the other hand, are used in situations where killing germs is necessary. One of your family members may have a bug, and you want to eliminate the possibility of the rest of the family catching it too. That is a perfect opportunity to grab a pack of disinfectant wipes and wipe down every high-touch surface in your home.

What’s in a Disinfecting Wipe?

Disinfectant wipes are made from raw materials that ensure high water retention and storage capacity.

Your pack of disinfecting wipes will contain towels saturated with diluted disinfectant. They may also include other chemicals such as:

  • Perfumes
  • Preservatives
  • Enzymes
  • Surfactants

Factors That Affect Effectiveness of Disinfecting Wipes

Even if you intend to disinfect, you may be merely cleaning with the wipes you just pulled out of a pack labeled “Disinfecting Wipes.”

How is that possible?

Several factors will limit the effectiveness of your carefully picked pack of disinfecting wipes, including:

  • The type of wipes and how they were made
  • Type and concentration of the disinfectant in the wipes
  • The application Method
  • Interaction between the disinfectant and the wipe material
  • Wiping Strategy; the force used in the application, amount of surface area wiped
  • Storage Time

All these factors will influence how effectively the wipes will disinfect surfaces you intend to clean. Some of them may not be in your control, but storage time is. 

How long ago your germ-killing wipes were manufactured will determine whether your wipes still qualify to be called disinfecting or have downgraded to regular wipes. 

How can you know?

By just looking. Not at the wipes, which will look the same anyway, but at the manufacturing date on the packaging.

Generally, disinfectant wipes will be effective until two years after the manufacture date, usually indicated on the label. However, if the wipes contain antibacterial, that will bring their shelf life down to about one year.

Disinfectants don’t need to indicate the expiry date. That’s because disinfectant wipes, like other disinfectants, don’t expire per se. Instead, disinfecting wipes have a shelf life.

How Do Disinfectant Wipes Expire?

The expiration date on foodstuff will usually refer to an increase in the growth of microorganisms causing changes in flavors, or basically, the presence of molds. On disinfectant wipes, the expiration date means active ingredients in the disinfectant have now started to degrade, causing the wipes to lose their effectiveness. They will be killing fewer germs or none at all.

Unlike food, it’s not easy to observe changes on disinfectant wipes when they expire. Physically the wipes may look and smell the same as any other.

Wipes will have their official manufacturing dates printed on their packaging. However, you will not see any official expiration date. It’s up to you to figure out if they are still effective or not. If they have existed beyond twelve months since their manufacture date, look out for another pack instead. You don’t want to give you and your loved ones a false sense of security and exposure to germs.

Should You Go Ahead and Use Expired Disinfecting Wipes?

Expired disinfecting wipes will not cause you harm, but they will not do what they claim to do—kill germs. So, if you still don’t want to part with your expired pack, you can use them for regular cleaning. When you need to disinfect, however, you will have to reach for a fresh batch. 

But then again, would you want to expose yourself and your loved ones to the chemical unnecessarily? Maybe not.

How to Store Your Disinfecting Wipes so that they can last long

But even before the expiry date is even due, where and how do you store your disinfectant wipes to make sure that they last long?

We seem to keep disinfectant wipes where we feel they will be most convenient for us. Unfortunately, some of those places are unsuitable and will contribute to the degradation of your disinfecting wipes. Others will cause your wipes to develop “fold molds.” Fold molds are fungus that you will eventually risk spreading around while “disinfecting” surfaces.

Convenient places where most of us store our wipes are usually in purses and cars. If you have been doing that, it’s time to drop the habit. Extreme temperatures will destroy the preservative in the wipes. When these preservatives get destroyed, the effectiveness of your disinfecting wipes is automatically compromised.

To avoid this, store your disinfecting wipes in a cool, dry place.

Final Thoughts

Disinfecting wipes are perfect for quick and convenient cleaning when you need to kill germs.

Careful though.

Your disinfecting wipes won’t stay fresh forever. How long have they been around? How well have you been storing them?

These two factors will determine how long your disinfecting wipes will last and give you value for your money.

When disinfectant wipes go wrong, they may not look or smell spoiled, but they sure won’t do their job of killing germs.

If you want your pack of germ-killing wipes to last long, always check the manufacture date before you buy them to ensure they are a recent batch, and always store them as recommended to avoid extreme temperatures. That way, you can disinfect without worrying whether the disease-causing microorganisms you intend to eliminate are getting killed.

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