Um, yeah. As soon as I experienced the convenience of the disposable wipe, wringing out poopy rags was a thing of the past.
Ingredients to Avoid
If you are like me and have a hard time depriving yourself of the convenience of disposable baby wipes, your best bet is to avoid anything scented, since “fragrance” or “parfum” almost always means pthlalates (known endocrine disruptors). Additionally, many conventional wipes contain parabens, and some also contain phenoxyethanol, a suspected carcinogen.
Alternatives to Disposable Wipes
Recently, several new brands of biodegradable wipes have popped up—and they are remarkably effective, earth friendly (ideally, they should be flushed or composted), and safe. Most aren’t reviewed by Skin Deep, but I’ve researched the ingredients and explain any concerns below.
A few companies produce natural liquid solutions (some with accompanying cloths), to use in place of baby wipes, but I don’t see why you wouldn’t just use water and a washcloth if you were going this route. Should you want to purchase one such eco-friendly solution, safe options include those made by Natural Family Botanicals.
As for ready-made baby wipes, read on.
The Good Stuff
I have used Seventh Generation’s baby wipes, but I don’t like that they contain sodium hydroxymethylglycinate (no, I didn’t just have a seizure while typing–that is actually how it’s spelled). This ingredient has not been assessed for safety, although it scores just a 2 out of 10 on Skin Deep. I also am not crazy about how these wipes smell. These wipes are widely available, including on Amazon, where you can get them for about 5¢ a wipe if you buy in bulk.
Earth’s Best baby wipes are comprised of essentially the same ingredients as Seventh Generation’s wipes, and in addition they contain alkyl polyglycoside, a substance that has not been tested for safety as far as I can tell (I couldn’t find any studies.) Many people prefer these over the Seventh Generation wipes because they are sudsier. They are available everywhere, including Amazon, where you’ll pay about 5¢ a wipe if you buy in bulk.
Biodegradable Baby Wipes
Jackson Reece Herbal and Biodegradable Wipes are made from wood pulp (a renewable resource), and have a nice short list of ingredients. These come in scented (essential oils) or unscented varieties, and while they are a slightly pricier option at about 9¢ per wipe when bought in bulk, the wipes are big and thick, so I find that I go through fewer of them than other brands. Jackson Reece wipes are made in the UK and hard to find here, so we are thrilled to now offer them in The Good Stuff Store!
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Bum Boosa Baby Wipes are made of bamboo (another renewable resource), and are biodegradable. They are also soft and smell nice (scented with only essential oils). They contain polysorbate 20, but this emulsifier scores only a 1 on Skin Deep. Citric acid is perhaps more concerning, but since it’s only present in trace amounts and evidence of its toxicity is lacking, I don’t think it’s a big concern. You can buy these wipes in bulk on the Bum Boosa website or Amazon, and you’ll pay around 12¢ a wipe, making them the most expensive of the Good Stuff.
Elements Naturals Baby Wipes are available at Diapers.com as well as Whole Foods, which is convenient (although they are not available on Amazon). They are made from a product called Ingeo™, which, according to the Elements Naturals website, is “the world’s first man-made fiber from annually renewable resources.” Of course, we have to assume that Ingeo itself (a biopolymer or “natural plastic”) is safe, and the scientific consensus seems to be that it is–although studies are lacking. Of more concern is the phenoxyethanol in these wipes. I like the scentlessness of these wipes, but found that they were sort of hard to get out of the box (they don’t seem to feed out of the slot as well as other brands). You’ll pay around 8¢ a wipe.
The Bad Stuff
Unsurprisingly, Huggies baby wipes are some of the worst. Even their unscented wipes contain a number of questionable ingredients–including numerous parabens and DMDM hydantoin, a known human immune system toxicant–so don’t be fooled by the natural-sounding varieties (Cucumber and Green Tea, for example).
Pampers is another brand that just doesn’t make any safe wipes, despite their numerous varieties; while a few score only moderate hazard on Skin Deep, the majority are ranked high hazard, thanks to parabens, fragrance, and benzyl alcohol.