Update: Are WaterWipes Baby Wipes Natural and Safe?

posted in: Baby, Baby Wipes, Safe or Toxic? | 24

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Are Waterwipes Baby Wipes Safe?



Update on WaterWipes Baby Wipes


After I published the post below, I was contacted by Irish Breeze – the company that makes WaterWipes baby wipes. The company’s CEO and the person responsible for online media took time to answer all my questions, which I highly appreciate. So let me now share with you what I’ve learned and my conclusions.


Company’s Claim: the Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) used in the WaterWipes baby wipes contains only three components: dried grapefruit seed/pulp, vegetable glycerin, and ascorbic acid.


What I Think: The company supplied me with step-by-step instructions on how its GSE is produced. The process made sense to me. I am glad that there are no harmful ingredients such parabens, triclosan, or quaternary ammonium compounds (such as benzethonium chloride) that may be found in GSE.


But this also means that there are no preservatives at all in the baby wipes, which concerns me. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I am not a big fan of preservatives as most of them have some controversy around them. But I said a number of times on my blog that all baby wipes have to have preservatives due to the fact they are moist, and water is a potential breeding ground for bacteria and mold.


Company’s Claim: WaterWipes baby wipes are preserved with a patented preservation system that results in a sterile product before the wipe pack is open. And there is no food in WaterWipes baby wipes for germs to grow, after the pack is opened and used.


What I Think: It makes sense to me that a product can be made sterile before it is open. However, after consulting with a person experienced in microbiology and reading Amazon reviews, I am not confident that WaterWipes baby wipes remain sterile after they are open and used. I found a few reviews on Amazon in which people noticed mold growth on the wipes. Most of those people blamed themselves because they left the wipes in a hot car, or used them over an extended period of time, or transferred them into a baby wipe warmer or baby wipe dispenser.


I think that there is a possibility that WaterWipes baby wipes remain bacteria- and mold-free, if you follow strict guidelines, which are as follows: 1. Use WaterWipes baby wipes within 4 weeks of opening (write on the pack with a magic marker the date when you open them to be sure); 2. Use them out of the packaging they came in; 3. Do not leave them in the sun, in a hot car, or other hot places; 3. Carefully pull out the wipes, making sure that you are not touching the next wipe that will remain in the pack. Although I have not tested this, I have a feeling it is not easy to do that, especially when you have a crying baby at home.


Also, keep in mind that while we can see mold, we can’t see bacteria growth without a microscope, so we can’t be sure whether the baby is exposed to bacteria.


By the way, while reading reviews on Amazon I noticed that a lot of people complained that it is very hard to get one wipe at a time, which makes me believe that the sterile environment that the company has in mind does not work well. You should test it for yourself, though, to be sure. Your hands are not sterile; you might even have pee and poop on your hands while changing your baby’s diaper. So when you touch a top wipe with your hands, you might grow dangerous bacteria in there, such as E.Coli, and possibly even give your baby a urinary tract infection.


And lastly as an aside, WaterWipes do not contain any cleansing agents. Using water and a wipe might work sufficiently if the baby peed only. But I think with poop, using soap or some other cleanser helps a lot. The poop residue can irritate the baby’s skin too.


In conclusion, while WaterWipes baby wipes are free of toxic chemicals (a fact that I love), it seems to me that using them is associated with a potential risk of exposing your baby to bacteria and mold. Let me know your experience with them in the comments.



Original Post on WaterWipes Baby Wipes


Many of you have asked about WaterWipes baby wipes made by Irish Breeze Ltd, a company headquartered in Ireland. WaterWipes baby wipes are advertised as absolutely safe, “99.9% water plus a tiny drop of natural ingredients.” It is so hard not to get lost in the convoluted maze of unpronounceable ingredients all other baby wipes seem to have. What a refreshing difference with the WaterWipes baby wipes – just two ingredients! The company claims that there are only two ingredients in their WaterWipes baby wipes – water and a drop of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE). Can it really be that simple?

Sadly, no. In order to see the problem, let’s delve into GSE together.

GSE in the WaterWipes Baby Wipes


To begin with, I contacted the company with some questions. They responded by stating they would have to consult their microbiologist and get back to me. Unfortunately, as of today’s date. The company has not responded to me. If they do, I will let you know what they say.

Here is a simple question. If the ingredients of the WaterWipes baby wipes are that simple why do they need a microbiologist to answer questions?

First of all, when there is water in the product, some type of a preservative is needed; otherwise, mold and bacteria will grow in a few days. And you do not need to be a scientist to know that. How long can you keep cooked food in the fridge? And your dry supplies such as grains last for a long time, right? Thus, all baby wipes need a preservative, because they are all moist.


Is GSE a preservative?


A number of skin care and personal care product makers who use GSE claim that natural GSE has antimicrobial properties. On the other hand, there are a number of studies showing that natural GSE does not have antimicrobial properties whatsoever. Natural GSE is good for skin conditioning but I am not aware of any studies that conclusively demonstrate that GSE is effective as a preservative. I found many studies in the US National Library of Medicine that conclude that GSE’s antimicrobial properties come from the synthetic preservative agents contained in it. (You can access the studies here, here, here, here, here, and here).


Synthetic agents found in GSE


So what are these synthetic agents found in GSE and how did they end up in it? One of the studies listed above explains that GSE is extracted with carcinogenic chloroform, a solvent, which converts grapefruit into a substance mainly composed of benzethonium chloride. Chloroform is an extremely toxic substance, rated 10 out 10 in the Skin Deep Database powered by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Benzethonium chloride is a quaternary ammonium compound. The European Scientific Committee concluded that it is not carcinogenic; however, it may cause skin irritation at a concentration higher than 0.1%. According to this datasheet, there is some evidence that it may cause sensitization, meaning that with prolonged use a person may become allergic to it. It is also toxic to organs but that of course applies to higher doses taken orally. In short, it is far from natural and innocuous substance and it should be disclosed to people who believe that they are buying absolutely natural and safe baby wipes.

In addition, according to the EWG Skin Deep Database, GSE may also contain triclosan and parabens, both of which interfere with the normal function of the body’s hormone system leading to developmental and infertility problems. Triclosan, rated 7 out 10, is also bioaccumulative (accumulates in the body) and persistent (does not break down in the environment). So without any disclosure it is hard to say whether WaterWipes contain those chemicals.


Is GSE Citricidal?


I also found an interview with a maker of GSE, the commercial name of which is Citricidal. The manufacturer says that there is nothing natural about it. The manufacturing process is proprietary and “[a]ll I am willing to offer is that we start with grapefruit bioflavonoids and convert them into a quaternary ammonium compound similar to a known, but toxic, compound called benzethonium chloride.” So he claims that there is no benzethonium chloride but he is not even willing to say which quaternary ammonium compound is there instead. That does not give me a warm fuzzy feeling about the safety of GSE they are making.

Also, from the interview it is clear that so called GSE contains other ingredients. In the case of Citricidal, it is ascorbic acid and glycerin. So we do not know what other ingredients are in the GSE of the WaterWipes baby wipes.


Conclusion about WaterWipes baby wipes

In conclusion, WaterWipes baby wipes are not as natural as the company wants us to believe. There are undisclosed ingredients in them and we do not know what those ingredients are. WaterWipes baby wipes should not be marketed as natural so please share this post with others who might be interested to know about this.


Here is a list of posts about baby wipes

Hidden Ingredients in Baby Wipes

Huggies Baby Wipes – Safe or Toxic?

Joonya Eco Wipes Review

Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes and Others

Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes: Safe or Toxic?

Products I Like – Biodegradable Baby Wipes

Products I Like – Toxin-Free Baby Wipes Not Made in China

Baby Wipes Rating List


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24 Responses

  1. I’ve just recently started to follow your blog. Would you be willing to make a list of say your top 10 or 20 brands you recommend. And include some more popular or easier to find ones as well? And rate them 1-10 or in an ordered list or better to worst? For diapers and wipes? I would just like to know what I should reach for next if my top pick isn’t available when I need it. Thanks.

  2. Rachel Rich-Shea

    Great to know, thanks! While I don’t use these wipes, I do remember coming across them and considering them in my search for good disposable wipes (we use Jackson Reece unscented)!

  3. I have been using Water Wipes since my baby was born 9 months ago. We have never experienced any problems with them and I love that they are pure and simple. My sister has also used them for 3 years and loves them. We use them as the package directions indicate which has not been a problem for us.

    • It is good to know. Do you always use them within 4 weeks of opening?

      • We pretty much do use them within the 4 week time frame since we still do a lot of diaper changes and we use Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm afterwards, this has worked well for us along with using Bambo (for night use) and Earth’s Best (for day use) diapers.

  4. Hello,
    Thanks for your useful website.
    We have been using the WaterWipes since our son was born almost 2 years ago. At the time there seemed to be endocrine disruptor in every other brand! No problem with mould nor bacterial infections on his bottom, though I was always conscious of the lack of preservatives in these wipes so now that we’re using less of them we only have one pack opened at once and finish it well within 4 weeks. Nursery uses the Huggies wipes but we can ask for cotton wool and water instead, which is what I chose for our son. I really don’t think that any detergent is necessary considering he has a bath in the evening which clears it all out! For me it’s a no-brainer: WaterWipes are cotton+water without the fuss…

  5. Are these wipes safe? have you heard anything else- been using for a few days now- but want to make sure they do not contain anything like parabens , synthetics or triclosan still!

    • I was convinced by the company that their GSE (the only ingredient besides water) has no additives such as triclosan. However, that fact gave me pause because the wipes might be prone to bacteria growth while they are used.

  6. Hi, I came across your post whilst wondering something about the safety of WaterWipes myself. However, I’m querying the water – if they are made with Irish public system water do they have fluoride in them??? This is a real issue for my as 98% of Irish tap water is flouridated and this is potentially a hazard for our children. Have you or anyone else queried this at all? Thanks. Otherwise love WaterWipes! Generally use cotton wool and water at home but the wipes are great for out and about!

    • Generally, in baby wipes purified or filtered water is used. I will contact WaterWipes about their water. Thank you for the question!

  7. I do not trust this company , I emailed them directly because my baby broke out from wipes, they would not show me evidence of test results- something seems shady

  8. Hi, ive just read your blog to see if anyone had experienced mould in the wipes like i have in the last packet i brought. The mould was there before i opened it and does not expire unitl 2016. Very concerning, i used a wipe on his face before realising Currently waiting on a response from them.

  9. Laura Begg

    Hi I just came across your blog as I just opened a fresh pack of water wipes to find they are all mouldy! The pack is in date and there was no damage to the pack. I have sent pics and a message to the company via Facebook. It will be interesting to see what they come back with… free wipes for life?!:)

    • Hi Laura: this is awful. Thank you for sharing! This just proves my theory that their preservation system is not sufficient to be safe. And that just mold that we can detect with our eyes. The environment that is beneficial for mold to grow is also good for bad bacteria to grow, which we can’t see. Please keep us updated. If you are looking for different wipes to use, you might want to check my analysis and rating list of all major disposable baby wipes. Thank you again for stopping by.

  10. Hi, do you know if the Jackson Reece wipes are ok? Thank you!

  11. We just discovered that my baby has a citrus allergy – I had just identified it after scrutinizing my diet (I nurse), and that night my husband unknowingly used the first water wipe in a package we just bought to clean my baby’s neck and he got hives. So – just a caution to spot test these first if your infant has not yet been exposed to citrus.

  12. I found your post after googling water wipes reactions; I used them for the first time tonight and my face is burning and covered in a rash; needless to say I will stop using these on my toddler x

  13. Andrew Chapman

    Hi, I’m amazed they can say the wipes are 99 percent water as the tissues themselves aren’t woven from water and they are the main constituent surely? These really worry me as by the time you can see mould it’s already infested everything.
    I’m interested to see if any microbial tests over time after opening have been carried out? Surely those should be done before they are for sale but, like you I’m worried about harmful bacteria and fungi growing on them.
    Very worried.

  14. Thanks for your information. We have been using these wipes for almost 2 years with our son, and they have been great for us. I prefer a cotton cloth, but sometimes I need a disposable wipe. My daughters had diaper infections at least a couple, but I am happy to say my son has never had one. I liked the ingredients of these, and that they lacked the usual preservatives. I have been really happy so far, and haven’t had any issues.

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