Last Updated on October 1, 2021 by Sarah
Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Looking for the best biodegradable baby wipes?
For many parents, baby wipes have long been a genius invention. From grubby bottoms to sudden spillages, it’s hard to deny how useful they are. But it’s also hard to overlook the growing number of ‘fatbergs‘ cropping up in sewers.
Fatbergs (a rather off putting blend of the words ‘fat’ and ‘iceberg’) are congealed masses of fat, baby wipes, diapers & other gunk, which accumulate in sewers, sometimes even blocking them completely. According to this BBC article, mounds of baby wipes are even reshaping some waterways.
Used baby wipes also find their way into the ocean, where, along with other plastic pollution, they cause long-term problems to marine life.
And whilst some baby wipes may be labelled as ‘flushable’, this doesn’t mean they dissolve or break down like toilet tissue does. Especially as many contain plastic, which breaks down into smaller particles, polluting the environment and entering wildlife and human food chains. So whatever the label says, it’s always best to dispose of baby wipes in the bin.
Another problem with many baby wipes is the chemical content. According to this Which Report, which inspected the ingredients list on 14 popular brands of baby wipes, most of them contained chemicals, some of which are potential allergens. A baby’s skin is very sensitive, as well as absorbent, so limiting artificial chemicals, fragrances and cleansing agents can help prevent irritation or drying out of baby’s skin.
Why Use Non Toxic & Biodegradable Baby Wipes?
Many everyday, big brand, baby wipes contains a host of chemicals.
Whilst some chemical ingredients, such as preservatives, are there to inhibit bacteria or mould growth, other ingredients, such as artificial fragrances (often labelled as ‘perfum’), are not even necessary.
It can get really confusing for parents (especially tired new mums!) to know what to buy sometimes, so as a general guide, the less ingredients in your baby wipes the better.
Here are a list of non-toxic baby wipes that contain safer, natural ingredients:
The Best Non-Toxic Baby Wipes
1 – Jackson Reece Baby Wipes
Jackson Reece baby wipes are my favourite all round natural baby wipes. Made in the UK (but readily available on Amazon US), 99% of the ingredients are derived from renewable vegetable or plant extracts.
The natural version is completely fragrance free and the herbal version uses essential oils, rather than artificial fragrances (which often contain parabens.)
The wipes have won lots of baby awards and only real gripe parents have with the wipes is they’re sometimes a bit tricky to get out the box.
Biodegradable? Yes. Made from certified Biodegradeable and compostable cloth made from 100% organic, chlorine free, wood pulp (i.e. no plastic is used at all).VIEW JACKSON REECE BABY WIPES
2 – Water Wipes
WaterWipes claim to be ‘The World’s Purest Baby Wipes’ and this is most likely true, since their wipes contain just 2 ingredients – 99.9% water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract (contains 0.002% benzalkonium chloride). Grapefruit seed extract is added as a natural skin conditioner and anti-microbial agent.
WaterWipes are a hit with parents and with so few ingredients, a good choice for babies prone to nappy rash. Keep in mind though, these non-toxic baby wipes don’t contain any preservatives, so use them within a month of opening or they could go mouldy.
WaterWipes also don’t use chemicals to ‘bind’ the liquid to the wipes, so if they go a little dry, reseal the pack, turn it upside down and massage the pack to re-distribute the water.
Biodegradable? No. The material in WaterWipes is made from 20% Viscose and 80% Polyester. According to the WaterWipes website, this means only 20% of the wipe material is biodegradable.
3 – Bum Boosa Wipes
Instead of the more commonly used synthetic or word pulp materials, Bum Boosa use renewable bamboo in their baby wipes. The wipes are naturally scented with a mild blend of Sweet Orange and Lavender.
The ingredients list does include Polysorbate 20, though, which there is little research on and currently considered a potential (although low) hazard.
Biodegradable? Doesn’t clearly specify. Just says the material is bio-based, which the USDA defines as products whose main ingredients are from renewable plant, animal, marine, or forestry materials.
4 – CannyMum Bamboo Wipes
If you live in the UK (like me!), CannyMum Bamboo Wipes get a big thumbs up from British mums.
The difference with these non-toxic wipes is that they come as a dry roll of 200 bamboo sheets (a bit like a toilet roll!) You can either use the wipes dry or add water to turn them into wet wipes. The dry sheets can also double as nappy liners.
The wipes are dye-free, fragrance-free and chlorine-free, plus made from 100% sustainably sourced bamboo.
Biodegradable? Yes. Product details claim they are 100% biodegradable.
5 – Seventh Generation
Seventh Generation are a UK company who produce a range of plant based cleaning products.
Their baby wipes are certainly a lot better than some, but the ingredients aren’t quite as natural as other wipes featured here. They feature tocopheryl acetate, a synthetic skin softener and potential irritant, as well as cocamidopropyl pg-dimonium chloride phosphate, which is partly derived from petroleum.
Biodegradable? No. Contains wood pulp but also polyethylene and polypropylene.
Best Non-Toxic Baby Wipes FAQS
Want to know a bit more about conventional baby wipes and what might be in them?
Here are some commonly asked questions that should hopefully make things a little clearer.
Are There Preservatives In Baby Wipes?
Generally, yes. Preservatives in baby wipes are there for a reason though – to prevent mould and bacterial growth. However, some preservatives are more likely to cause allergic reactions than others and this includes one of the most commonly used preservatives, phenoxyethanol.
Although phenoxyethanol is used in regulated concentrations, exposure has been linked to excema and even respiratory problems, so it’s one you might want to consider limiting exposure to, especially in sensitive babies.
Other preservatives you may see in ingredients include benzyl alcohol (also associated with allergies) and methylisothiazolinone (MI).
What Other Chemicals May Be In Baby Wipes?
According to this Which Report, other potentially irritant chemicals to look out for in baby wipes include:
- Artificial fragrances (or parfums), which may contain phthalates
- Propylene glycol
- Tocopherol acetate
Hidden ingredients of baby wipes may also include dioxane, formaldehyde, chlorine, or BPAs (Bisphenol A). You can check out many of these ingredients at safeconsmetics.org.
Are Hypoallergenic Baby Wipes Better?
Probably not. I fell for this one before I did proper research, but, according to Dr Orton, in the Which Report, terms such as ‘hypoallergenic’ don’t conform to any official external testing procedures and are often little more than marketing terms.
Fragrance Or Fragrance Free?
Fragrances in baby wipes are there simply to mask smells. They’re not strictly necessary. Many fragrance chemicals are also suspected irritants..
Another problem with artificial fragrances is that they’re often labelled in product ingredients simply as ‘parfum’. This is a generic term for a mixture of scent chemicals, many of which do not, by law, need to be disclosed.
So when a product contains ‘parfum’ it’s often impossible to know exactly what this means.
Are Baby Wipes Safe For Newborns?
Most baby wipes are labelled as suitable from birth. A newborn’s skin is very sensitive at this stage though, so some people prefer to simply use cotton wool and water. Personally, I used cotton wool and a little warm water in a bowl, but I also had a stash of non-toxic baby wipes on hand for trips out or when things just got super messy!
Can I Flush Baby Wipes Down The Toilet?
Most baby wipes (even non-toxic ones) aren’t biodegradable and it’s not environmentally sound to flush them down the toilet (even if the packet says they are ‘flushable’.) Not only can baby wipe get stuck in pipework, they are also increasingly clogging up sewer systems and ending up in the sea or on beaches.
Is It Safe To Use Baby Wipes Containing Alcohol?
Some baby wipes contain alcohol in forms such as phenyoxyethanol or benzyl alcohol.
Alcohol compounds are commonly used in many everyday products, so it’s nothing new. However, since a baby’s skin is so sensitive, they’re likely best avoided, especially if you have a baby who is susceptible to skin irritations/conditions.
I Don’t Want To Use Baby Wipes? What Should I Do?
Baby wipes are a modern invention and there’s no hiding the fact they’re pretty useful to have on hand! But if you want to avoid them completely (or just use them for emergencies or when out and about), there’s absolutely nothing wrong (or more natural) than good old warm water and a bit of cotton wool.
If you’re not keen on using cotton wool because it may have been bleached, try investing in somereusable baby wipes
Alternatively, why not make your own DIY all natural baby wipes? Here’s a great tutorial from Do It On A Dime:
Non-Toxic Baby Wipes – A Final Word
Many big brand baby wipes contain chemicals and preservatives that are known or potential allergens or irritants.
Whilst this won’t necessarily affect every baby, a newborn’s skin is very sensitive, so it makes sense to use as few unnatural ingredients on a baby’s skin as possible.
When shopping for baby wipes, look for non-toxic options that contain natural ingredients. As a general rule, the less ingredients the better.
My top choice for non-toxic baby wipes are the Jackson Reece baby wipes, but if you want a baby wipe that contains little more than just water, the WaterWipes come in a close second.