Do you use Costco baby wipes and want to know whether they are a safe choice for your baby? In this expert baby wipes ingredient review, you will learn about three kinds of Kirkland Signature baby wipes. Namely, we will look into fragrance free, scented, and flushable Kirkland baby wipes ingredients. Plus, you will have many of your questions answered, including whether alcohol is a problem in baby wipes. To quickly choose the optimal wipes for your infant, check out my Baby Wipes Rating List e-book, presenting more than 50 wipes with ratings from the safest to the least safe.
In this post:
- Consumer Power Works!
- Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes Ingredients
- Is phenoxyethanol safe for babies’ skin?
- Do you need to worry about sodium benzoate in body products?
- Wouldn’t it be better to avoid preservatives altogether?
- Should you use fragrance-free baby wipes?
- Other Ingredients in Costco Baby Wipes
- A Word on Tocopheryl Acetate and Xanthan Gum
- Do Kirkland baby wipes have alcohol?
- What are Costco baby wipes made of?
- Are Kirkland baby wipes biodegradable?
- Are Kirkland flushable wipes actually flushable?
- Who makes Costco baby wipes?
- What kind of baby wipes are best for newborns?
- Summary of the Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes Post
Consumer Power Works!
Years ago, when I started researching baby wipes, the only thing I thought important was to look for alcohol-free wipes. Since then, label reading has become my full-time occupation and calling, and my knowledge has expanded thanks to extensive research. (Stay with me to find out whether alcohol as an ingredient is a problem in baby wipes.)
Thus, you can profit from my exploration of diapers, non-toxic crib mattress, safest baby sunscreen, and other healthy baby products. Additionally, my free blog posts will help you find the safest laundry detergent, an effective water filter system, and safe cookware, to name a few.
In 2013, I wrote a blog post about Kirkland Signature baby wipes. At that time, the list of ingredients contained some red flags – even formaldehyde! The blog post attracted over 1,000 readers daily!
As a result of consumer power, these Costco baby wipes were reformulated to remove the formaldehyde-releasing preservative in 2014. Neither is there potentially skin-irritating propylene glycol any longer. (By the way, I have seen many changes in product formulations thanks to consumer power. So, keep asking questions of manufacturers and influencing the market!)
While I am happy about these major improvements, Kirkland baby wipes are not at the top of my best baby wipes rating list, just yet. Let’s find out why!
Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes Ingredients
For your convenience, I have put together a table with the fragrance free, scented, and flushable Costco baby wipes ingredients based on the screenshots below:
|Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes Fragrance Free||Water, coco glucoside, xanthan gum, glyceryl oleate, phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate, tetrasodium glutamate diacetate, citric acid, sodium citrate.|
|Kirkland Signature Scented Baby Wipes||Water, coco glucoside, tetrasodium glutamate diacetate, sodium citrate, citric acid, xanthan gum, glyceryl oleate, phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate, fragrance.|
|Kirkland Signature Flushable Wipes||Water, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, tocopheryl acetate, disodium cocoamphodiacetate, citric acid, disodium phosphate, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate.|
According to the screenshots, the ingredients of the fragrance free and scented Kirkland Signature baby wipes are identical, except for the added fragrance in the scented ones. And all three kinds, including the flushable wipes, share the same preservation system – phenoxyethanol and sodium benzoate. Let us talk about these preservatives first.
Is phenoxyethanol safe for babies’ skin?
To begin, in my annually updated Baby Wipes Rating list e-book, phenoxyethanol has a rating of 4. (I use the scale of 0-10 with 0 as the safest and 10 as the most toxic.)
As a broad-spectrum preservative, phenoxyethanol prevents both mold and bacteria growth in baby wipes that contain water. On the one hand, as I have written in my post on Phenoxyethanol in Skin Care, phenoxyethanol is not carcinogenic and is not an endocrine disruptor. Hence, I believe it is a big improvement over formaldehyde-releasing preservatives Costco baby wipes used to have.
On the other hand, there is something else to consider about phenoxyethanol before buying Kirkland Signature baby wipes.
Besides, the European Chemicals Agency warns that ethylene oxide is mutagenic, toxic to reproduction, and under assessment as endocrine disrupting. And phenol may cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure and is suspected to be mutagenic, i.e., causing genetic defects (source).
Second, some babies (and adults) may have a skin reaction to phenoxyethanol, even to amounts as low as 1%. That is why it is on the list of allergens maintained by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.
Do you need to worry about sodium benzoate in body products?
As for sodium benzoate, in my Baby Wipes Rating list e-book, it is rated 3 out of 10 (with 10 as the most toxic).
In comparison to phenoxyethanol, I believe sodium benzoate is safer. Personally, I use products with this preservative and recommend them to you. But then again, we are talking about gentle baby bottoms that wear diapers and get wiped all day long. That is why it is important to be aware of what the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel says about sodium benzoate before purchasing these Costco baby wipes.
Specifically, according to the CIR panel report, there is a risk of an allergic reaction if sodium benzoate is used in concentrations over 5%.
We do not know the concentration of phenoxyethanol and sodium benzoate in Kirkland Signature baby wipes. Therefore, it is a good idea to discontinue using them if your baby gets a rash or skin irritation.
Also, please read my blog post to find out if sodium benzoate and citric acid are okay when used together.
Want to know how these baby wipes compare with others?
Wouldn’t it be better to avoid preservatives altogether?
Well, the short answer is no because preservatives are a must in products containing water. Specifically, preservatives are necessary to prevent bacteria and mold contamination that can cause infections and sicknesses. So, it is a good thing that Costco baby wipes contain preservatives because they are all water-based.
To illustrate, the American Journal of Infection Control reported an outbreak of an infection in a neonatal intensive care unit, related to a contaminated hand lotion.
Next, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology described cases of a fungal infection caused by a compromised skin lotion in patients.
Also, the Journal of Hospital Infection reported numerous infections among 14 babies, including urinary tract infection, meningitis, septicemia, and conjunctivitis. All the infections were traced to a contaminated baby shampoo.
Do you see now why I refuse to promote products that have no preservation systems? Even though imperfect, phenoxyethanol and sodium benzoate in Kirkland Signature baby wipes are better than no preservatives at all!
For instance, self-acclaimed “world’s purest” WaterWipes baby wipes used to claim there were no preservatives among their baby wipes ingredients. In 2014, I wrote a critical review on them, and several years later my suspicions appeared to be right. Namely, the brand revealed using benzalkonium chloride as a preservative. (Read the full story about benzalkonium chloride in WaterWipes baby wipes here.)
Should you use fragrance-free baby wipes?
As a reminder, Costco baby wipes list fragrance as an ingredient only in the scented version of Kirkland baby wipes. In my Baby Wipes Rating List, I give fragrance a rating of 8 out of 10 (10 – most toxic). Why so high?
For starters, the US has no regulation requiring that companies disclose the ingredients of the fragrance mixes they use. Neither do companies choose to disclose them because they refer to their fragrance ingredients as “proprietary information.”
In the meantime, the International Fragrance Association Transparency List includes more than 3000 fragrance ingredients. To clarify, while some ingredients serve to cover odor or malodor, others support the functionality and durability of a fragrance compound.
Unfortunately, phthalates, e.g., diethyl phthalate, are common fragrance ingredients. For your information, the European Chemicals Agency states that diethyl phthalate is “under assessment as endocrine disrupting” (source).
You might think that the amounts used in wipes are tiny, but they do add up. And babies are especially vulnerable because their detox systems are not fully developed yet.
Additionally, fragrance mixes may cause allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress, and potential harms to the reproductive system. (Learn more in my post Is Natural Fragrance Safe?.)
That said, let’s discuss the rest of the ingredients in Kirkland Signature baby wipes, including those in their flushable wipes.
Other Ingredients in Costco Baby Wipes
|Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice||– heals the skin |
– I wish it were organic (to avoid pesticide contamination).
– rated 1 in my Baby Wipes Rating List (BWRL) (on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 as the most toxic)
|Citric Acid||– adjusts acidity to make the wipes more compatible with a baby’s skin |
– In bigger quantities, it can irritate the skin, but I do not think that applies here.
– rated 1 in my BWRL
|Coco Glucoside||– one of the safest surfactants |
– on some rare occasions may cause a reaction though (learn more about Glucosides here)
– rated 2 in my BWRL
|Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate||– a surfactant |
– rated 1 in my BWRL
|Disodium EDTA||– chelating agent |
– rated 1 in my BWRL
|Disodium Phosphate||– adjusts acidity |
– rated 1 in my BWRL
|Glyceryl Oleate||– emulsifier |
– rated 2 in my BWRL
|Sodium Citrate||– adjusts acidity |
– rated 1 in my BWRL
|Tencel®||– the wipes fabric (100% wood pulp) |
– rated 5 in my BWRL
|Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate||– chelating agent |
– rated 3 in my BWRL based in the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel report
|Tocopheryl Acetate||– vitamin E (heals the skin) |
– rated 3 in my BWRL (learn more below)
|Water||– requires preservatives|
|Xanthan Gum||– viscosity agent (makes the liquid thicker) |
– rated 1 in my BWRL (learn more below)
A Word on Tocopheryl Acetate and Xanthan Gum
Out of the three kinds of Costco baby wipes, the fragrance free and the scented Kirkland Signature baby wipes contain xanthan gum but no tocopheryl acetate. And vice versa, Kirkland Signature flushable wipes contain tocopheryl acetate but no xanthan gum.
Regarding xanthan gum, I agree with holistic health coaches that as a food additive, it is not the best choice. Thus, this 2022 study suggests that xanthan gum may alter the gut microbiome.
Nevertheless, I believe that in topical application, xanthan gum does not affect the gut microbiome because it is not ingested. Instead, it makes the baby wipes safer. Namely, it minimizes a wipe’s friction against the skin and reduces the risk of irritation.
As for tocopheryl acetate, it can be contaminated with hydroquinone due to manufacturing practices if a company does not source this ingredient of good quality. (Learn more in my blog post Hidden Ingredients in Cosmetics.) However, in my Baby Wipes Rating List, I rate the wipes based on the ingredients presented on the websites, not the manufacturing practices or contaminants.
Do Kirkland baby wipes have alcohol?
No, Costco baby wipes have no alcohol among their ingredients. Neither do any of the baby wipes (more than 50) included in my Baby Wipes Rating List.
Although “alcohol-free baby wipes” is a popular search phrase, it is a myth because all baby wipes are alcohol free. It is like looking for a BPA-free glass container: there is no BPA (plastic) in glass in the first place!
True, there exist ingredients that contain the word “alcohol” in their names, such as cetearyl alcohol, behenyl alcohol, and benzyl alcohol. Yet, due to a different chemical structure, they are not alcohols in the common sense of the word.
Perhaps, the main fear of alcohol as an ingredient comes from the apprehension that it may be drying. Indeed, such alcohols as ethanol and rubbing alcohol can be very drying and cause itchiness, flaking, and skin peeling.
Conversely, cetearyl alcohol and behenyl alcohol are fatty alcohols that have a waxy texture and function as emulsifiers. Specifically, they help soften the skin and improve the texture and consistency of the formulation.
As for benzyl alcohol, it is an aromatic alcohol used in cosmetic formulations as a natural preservative. Thus, the European Chemicals Agency deems it safe for dermal applications. I rate benzyl alcohol 3 in my Baby Wipes Rating List. (Learn more about benzyl alcohol in my blog post about Evolvh Sulfate-Free Color-Safe Shampoo.)
Bottom line, Kirkland Signature baby wipes have neither alcohol, nor any of the ingredients with the word “alcohol” in them.
What are Costco baby wipes made of?
The fragrance free and the scented Kirkland Signature baby wipes are made of Tencel, aka lyocell, a type of rayon. Supposedly, Tencel does not require bleaching because it is produced pure white.
Further, Tencel is made of wood pulp that turns into yarn through the process of spinning and chemical treatment. While the production of viscose (aka rayon) involves intense chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide, Tencel (lyocell) uses the NMMO process. Reportedly, the N-Methylmorpholine N-Oxide (NMMO) technology is “fully ecological and environmentally friendly, with no effluents or gases emitted to the atmosphere.” (source)
In my Baby Wipes Rating List, I give Tencel as a plant-based material a rating of 5 out of 10. Alternatively, cotton is rated 1, and polypropylene (aka plastic of recycle code 5) is rated 10.
As for the flushable Costco baby wipes, the packaging says they are made with “EcoFlush® Technology from 100% plant-based materials.”
To emphasize, the information about the wipe material is not that readily available on manufacturers’ websites. That is why I had to personally contact the manufacturers with the question about their wipes’ material. As a result of this communication, more and more manufacturers have begun describing their wipe material on their websites. Therefore, I encourage you to exercise your consumer power and keep asking questions of manufacturers.
Want to know how these baby wipes compare with others?
Are Kirkland baby wipes biodegradable?
To begin, there is a difference between the terms “biodegradable” and “compostable,” although both involve micro-organisms for the process to happen.
Thus, in its Guide to Compostable Products and Packaging, the Association for Organics Recycling states that generally speaking, most materials biodegrade given time. Hence, the term is confusing as it does not define time limits for the process of biodegradation. Additionally, there is a concern that the temperatures necessary to induce biodegradation may not be reached through a non-composting environment.
On the other hand, “compostable” materials biodegrade in a composting process within a specified timeframe and at the right temperature. Consequently, the biological processes during composting yield C02, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass with no visible contaminants or toxic substances.
Ultimately, the Association for Organics Recycling emphasizes that the label “biodegradable” does not convey sufficient meaning as to what happens to the material when it becomes waste.
In other words, finding out if Costco baby wipes are compostable rather than biodegradable seems to make more sense. Please, contact the manufacturer to have this question answered. The more of us ask questions, the sooner we will see changes in the market.
Are Kirkland flushable wipes actually flushable?
For starters, I have not used flushable Kirkland Signature baby wipes. So, I cannot tell you from my personal experience whether they are actually flushable. However, I encourage you to always consult the manufacturer’s instructions first.
According to the Costco website description, they are flushable because they are made with EcoFlush technology from 100% plant-based materials. Allegedly, they are safe for all well-maintained sewers and septic systems. Note that the key word here is “well maintained.”
Probably, it is a good idea to take into consideration the construction of your plumbing system, its age, the water pressure, and the overall sewage maintenance before flushing the wipes. Also, if you decide to flush, stick to one wipe at a time.
Who makes Costco baby wipes?
Understandably, this is a legitimate question because quite often product preference is tied to its manufacturing location. For this reason, I included the country of manufacture in my Baby Wipes Rating List. Although the place of manufacture does not affect the wipes’ safety rating, it will help you make an informed decision.
As for Kirkland Signature baby wipes, they are made in the USA.
What kind of baby wipes are best for newborns?
In an ideal world, it would be best to not use any disposable baby wipes.
Indeed, even the best-rated infant wipes may contain ingredients that can potentially irritate the baby’s gentle skin. For instance, even chamomile and coconut oil can cause irritation in sensitive people, not to mention babies whose skin gets rubbed all the time.
Personally, instead of disposable wet baby wipes, I used water and a soft cloth on my son. Specifically, I washed his bum in the sink under running water with an olive oil natural soap. And when he peed only, I wiped him with cloth wipes and water. (Check out these soft and convenient Wild & Pure Dry wipes.)
However, I realize that going disposable wipe-free is very challenging and, in some cases, impossible. That is why I created my Baby Wipes Rating List e-book – to help you choose the safest baby wipes.
Summary of the Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes Post
To sum up, in this expert baby wipes ingredient review, you have learned about three kinds of Costco baby wipes. Specifically, we have investigated the fragrance free, scented, and flushable Kirkland baby wipes ingredients.
In short, the ingredients have improved significantly, as now there are no formaldehyde-releasing preservatives and potentially allergenic propylene glycol. The milder preservatives used in Costco baby wipes now are phenoxyethanol and sodium benzoate. Nevertheless, they both can irritate a baby’s gentle skin. Therefore, if your baby experiences discomfort, stop using these baby wipes.
Additionally, you have had many of your questions answered, including whether you should be concerned about alcohol in baby wipes. As it happens, there is no reason for any concern because alcohol is not even an ingredient in baby wipes.
Lastly, when possible, avoid using disposable wet infant wipes altogether and use a cotton cloth and plain soap instead. Alternatively, take advantage of my Baby Wipes Rating List to quickly choose the optimal disposable wipes for your infant.