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How do I choose safe baby wipes? Are baby wipes antibacterial? What baby wipes are alcohol free? Is it okay to use baby wipes on pets? Which baby wipes contain plastic? These are just some of the questions we will address in this comprehensive manual to finding non-toxic baby wipes. The more information you have on the subject, the easier it will be for you to find the best baby wipes. Surely, it may take some time, but it is totally worth it – and you can do it! Or you can use the results of our research and pick the best out of all of the safe baby wipes based on their ingredients, cloth material, and manufacturing location. To do this, turn to our unprecedented Baby Wipes Rating List E-Book expressing our opinions on the safety of over 60 baby wipes.
In this post:
- How do we measure product safety?
- How do I choose baby wipes?
- Are baby wipes antibacterial?
- What baby wipes are alcohol free?
- Is it okay to flush baby wipes?
- What baby wipes are made in the USA?
- Is it OK to use baby wipes on baby’s face?
- Are baby wipes safe for cats?
- Which baby wipes contain plastic?
- Are baby wipes biodegradable?
- What preservative-free baby wipes can I use for my newborn child who has sensitive skin?
How do we measure product safety?
To remain unbiased, I Read Labels For You developed a 5-Step Signature Research Method:
- Surveying the product industry
- Studying manufacturing processes
- Researching ingredients
- Contacting manufacturers
- Trying products.
Specifically for our Baby Wipes Rating List, we have developed a rating methodology to assess the wipes’ safety based on their individual ingredients. How do we determine the safety of individual ingredients? By studying multiple regulatory, medical, and reputable scientific sources listed on our website.
Then, each ingredient is assigned a value between 0 and 10 reflecting its degree of safety. Namely, the higher the value, the more toxic the ingredient, in our opinion. Thus, certified organic oils and extracts get the lowest value of 0, and benzalkonium chloride gets the highest value of 10.
Further, we calculate the final rating of the baby wipes. Specifically, we add the values of their ingredients, including the cloth material, and multiply the sum by the highest value of a non-cloth ingredient. In our opinion, the safest baby wipes have the lowest final rating. Therefore, relatively non-toxic wipes are in the first half of our rating list, with lower final rating values.
For example, Hello Bello wipes list nine ingredients with values between 0 and 3. Their cloth material is viscose, rated 5. First, we added the values of the nine ingredients and the cloth. Then, we multiplied the sum by the highest value of a non-cloth ingredient (in this case “3”). As a result, we got a final rating of 48 for Hello Bello wipes.
How do I choose baby wipes?
In our opinion, the first step to choosing the best baby wipes is reading their ingredients. Indeed, being “baby” wipes does not automatically make them non-toxic baby wipes. This is the very reason we have created our Baby Wipes Rating List. Specifically, we compare over 60 baby wipes and rate them for safety based on their individual ingredients.
For instance, the wipes with the highest final rating of 610 are the least safe baby wipes, in our opinion. Conversely, the wipes with the lowest final rating of 12 are the safest baby wipes, in our opinion, among those we investigated in 2022.
As a quick tip, look at the list of ingredients of the baby wipes in question and look for “fragrance.” If the wipes have fragrance among their ingredients, put them back on the shelf and move on. In our blog post about natural fragrance we carefully explain why we consider fragrance a “no-no” ingredient, especially in baby products.
In unscented baby wipes, or fragrance-free wipes to be precise, look for PEGs, polysorbates, or words with “-eth” (e.g., laureth). See them? Put the wipes back on the shelf – they are not safe for your baby.
There are other ingredients to avoid when choosing non-toxic baby wipes for your child. With our Baby Wipes Rating List, you do not need to browse multiple websites and compare baby wipes ingredients. Just open our file and select the best wipes for your baby out of the safe baby wipes on the list.
Are baby wipes antibacterial?
No, they are not, and you do not want them to be. First, the ingredients used for disinfecting are not safe for your baby because they are associated with endocrine disruption, cancer, respiratory distress, and allergic contact dermatitis.
For example, benzalkonium chloride is one of the disinfecting chemicals. In one study, when scientists disinfected mice cages with it, the fertility in both sexes of mice was decreased. Additionally, benzalkonium chloride is linked to allergic reaction and irritation (source). Therefore, we rated benzalkonium chloride at 10 even when manufacturers use it as a preservative in very small amounts. When it comes to babies, we want to be extra careful.
Second, functional and holistic medicine practitioners warn against creating sterile environment. They suggest that our bodies need to be exposed to a diversity of bacteria. Reportedly, they strengthen the immune system and decrease the risk of autoimmune conditions. (Indeed, a very clean environment I grew up in could have been a contributing factor in the autoimmune conditions I developed later in life.) Thus, instead of antibiotics, my functional medicine doctor prescribed probiotics for a urinary tract infection so that the good bacteria could overpower the bad ones.
Based on these, we believe that the fact that baby wipes are not antibacterial is a good thing. Again, your non-toxic baby wipes should not be disinfecting.
What baby wipes are alcohol free?
Perhaps, the main fear of alcohol as a safe baby wipes 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.
For our Baby Wipes Rating List, we looked into over 60 baby wipes, and all of them are alcohol-free. While some wipes do have ingredients with the word “alcohol” in their names, they are not alcohols in the common sense of the word. These ingredients include:
- Cetearyl alcohol
- Behenyl alcohol
- Benzyl alcohol, and
- Phenethyl alcohol.
To clarify, 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 and Phenethyl alcohol, they are aromatic alcohols used in cosmetic formulations as natural preservatives.
Is it okay to flush baby wipes?
Personally, we advocate against flushing even non-toxic baby wipes down the drain. And, of course, consider flushing only those baby wipes that are marked “flushable” on the packaging. We encourage you to always consult the manufacturer’s instructions first.
However, even when your safe baby wipes are marketed as “flushable,” it does not mean they will work for your septic system. Indeed, there are certain things to consider before flushing the wipes, such as:
- the age and construction of your plumbing system
- the water pressure, and
- the overall sewage maintenance.
If you decide to flush, stick to one wipe at a time.
What baby wipes are made in the USA?
For starters, the manufacturing location is another useful piece of information included in our Baby Wipes Rating List. While it does not affect the product’s final rating, it will help you make an informed decision. Indeed, some people want to avoid products made in China, and others prefer to buy products manufactured locally.
So, out of over 60 baby wipes on the list, 28 are reportedly made in the USA. The safest baby wipes out of those made in the USA are rated 30. And the least safe out of those made in the USA are Huggies® Nourish and Care Wipes, rated 336. To reiterate, the lower the final rating, the safer the non-toxic baby wipes, in our opinion. For comparison, Hello Bello wipes are rated 48 but are made in China, not the USA. Again, the manufacturing location does not affect the final rating of a product in our Baby Wipes Rating List. It is provided for your convenience only.
Is it OK to use baby wipes on baby’s face?
We strongly suggest avoiding using even relatively non-toxic baby wipes on your baby’s face. Please bear in mind that, in absolute terms, no baby wipes are universally safe for every baby. Baby’s skin is so sensitive that it may react to seemingly innocent ingredients of plant-based origin.
Besides, all wet wipes use preservatives, and to have them near your baby’s mouth is not a good idea. In other words, use your safe baby wipes in a way that excludes potential situations for ingestion.
In fact, in 2008, the FDA warned consumers not to use Mommy’s Bliss Nipple cream because of phenoxyethanol and chlorphenesin. Allegedly, these ingredients may have contributed to the distress of the infants who ingested the product. The symptoms included shallow breathing, decrease in appetite, difficulty in waking the child, limp extremities, a weakening of the infants’ grip strength, a change in skin color, vomiting and diarrhea.
Bottom line, using baby wipes for bums is a necessity; for face – not so much. To wipe your baby’s face, it is better to use a soft cotton cloth and water.
Are baby wipes safe for cats?
Similarly, can baby wipes be used on dogs?
Given that animals lick themselves all the time, we would suggest not using even relatively non-toxic baby wipes on pets. As a pet owner, you want to exclude any potential situations for ingestion of the wipes’ ingredients by your pets. Indeed, your pet’s anatomy, especially of smaller breeds, may trigger unwanted allergic reactions and negative responses.
Additionally, some relatively safe baby wipes use essential oils for scent. When it comes to pets, one should be particularly careful with essential oils.
While some essential oils can be used for dogs, their use is almost null for cats due to their sensitive metabolic system. Plus, reportedly, feline liver and kidneys do not break down certain substances due to lack of enzymes.
Moreover, do not use tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) on any animals as it may cause poisoning and other serious health concerns (source).
If you really need to wipe your pet, it is best to use a soft cotton cloth and water.
Which baby wipes contain plastic?
To begin, the information on the wipes’ cloth material, including non-toxic baby wipes, is in our Baby Wipes Rating List. Actually, the fabric affects the final rating of the product because we consider it an important factor in determining safe baby wipes.
However, not all manufacturers willingly disclose the information about their wipes’ material. Therefore, we had to contact the companies by email or phone requesting the information about their wipes’ material.
The plastic material used in some baby wipes is called polypropylene. It is an unbiodegradable type of plastic with a recycle code 5, made from crude oil, natural gas, and coal. There is research into plastic suggesting that most plastic products release endocrine disrupting chemicals. That is why we rated the wipes cloth with polypropylene between 7 and 9 (with 10 as the most toxic). Out of over 60 wipes on our Baby Wipes Rating List, 12 are made with cloth that has polypropylene in its composition.
Alternatively, organic cotton is the lowest rated material (with a rating of 0) on our list. It means we consider it the safest material for non-toxic baby wipes. So far, there are just two kinds of safe baby wipes made with organic cotton on the list. To compare, viscose used for Hello Bello is rated 5.
Are baby wipes biodegradable?
For starters, it is important to establish the difference between the terms “biodegradable” and “compostable.”
According to the Association for Organics Recycling, the processes of biodegrading and composting happen thanks to certain microorganisms. Eventually, most materials biodegrade given time, which makes the term “biodegradable” somewhat confusing. Specifically, we don’t know exactly what happens to the “biodegradable” material when it becomes waste.
Conversely, the term “compostable” is more concrete because it specifies the timeframe and the right temperature for biodegradation. During composting, the biological processes yield C02, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass with no visible contaminants or toxic substances.
Hence, rather than finding out if your non-toxic baby wipes are biodegradable, it makes more sense to find out if they are compostable. We encourage you to contact the manufacturer to have this question answered. It is our interest in product manufacturing that brings changes to the market and more safe baby wipes!
What preservative-free baby wipes can I use for my newborn child who has sensitive skin?
First of all, if you see preservative-free baby wipes, put them back on the shelf. These are definitely not your non-toxic baby wipes because all wet wipes must have preservatives.
While some preservatives are associated with irritation, allergy, hormone disruption, and such, they perform a very important function. Namely, they help prevent bacteria and mold contamination that can cause serious infections and ailments. Since babies’ immune systems are still developing, this warning especially applies to them. Therefore, safe baby wipes MUST have preservatives.
To be able to help your newborn child who has sensitive skin, it is important to remember that:
- All babies are different – what may cause a reaction in some babies will not necessarily cause a reaction in your newborn child.
- Not all preservatives trigger allergic reactions – nowadays, manufacturers use milder preservatives for baby products.
- Preservatives are not the only ingredients that can cause reactions – seemingly harmless ingredients of plant-based origin can do that, too.
To prevent any potential reaction of your newborn child to baby wipes, you may consider using a soft cotton cloth and water.
If, however, you must use disposable wet baby wipes, read their ingredients first to choose those that will work best for your baby. Our Baby Wipes Rating List can help you with that. Specifically, you will see the ingredients of over 60 baby wipes assessed for safety conveniently compiled in one file. Just look through them and eliminate those that have ingredients to which your baby is sensitive.
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