Looking for the best eco-friendly baby wipes in the UK? Find out the eco terms to be wary of, and then try out my top suggestions for sustainable baby care – from plastic-free to certified compostable.
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I’ve previously shared my best advice on getting started with reusable nappies. And I’ve shared my guide to eco-friendly disposable nappies if reusables aren’t for you, or you want to use reusable nappies on a part-time basis. But what about eco-friendly baby wipes?
The truth is that choosing eco-friendly baby wipes is a quagmire of greenwash. There are so many green claims that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Let me start off by showing you the marketing terms to be wary of, before showing you the best eco-friendly brands.
The Eco-Friendly Baby Wipe Terms to Be Wary Of
The eco-friendly baby wipe market in the UK is awash with green buzzwords, many of them without substantiation. Here are some of the most common terms to be wary of:
The trouble is that many disposable baby wipes, even the ones marketed as “flushable” are a disaster for both our sewer systems and for the environment. This is because even flushable baby wipes often contain plastic, and therefore don’t break down in the water as toilet paper does. And even non-plastic wipes can cause blockages. In short, don’t flush any wipes down the toilet, regardless of what the packaging might say.
Biodegradable sounds good, but have you considered what the term biodegradable really means? Many people think the term biodegradable means compostable. However, this isn’t true as all compostable items are biodegradable, but not all biodegradable items are compostable.
Confused? Compostable means being able to be broken down to make compost. Meanwhile, the term biodegradable means that an item can be broken down into increasingly smaller pieces. This isn’t helpful with regards to biodegradable plastics for example. A biodegradable plastic bag will break down into smaller pieces, and hence biodegrade. However, those smaller pieces of plastic become microplastics, which in turn poses a much bigger environmental problem.
I’ve written more about the differences between biodegradable and compostable that explains in more detail. The short version is the term ‘biodegradable’ isn’t very helpful for anyone trying to make greener shopping choices, and in particular, those looking to make eco-friendly baby wipe purchasing decisions.
A packet of baby wipes may say that they are compostable, however, it depends on how you dispose of them. Did you know that food waste doesn’t break down in landfill? With that information in mind, then it’s safe to say that compostable baby wipes certainly won’t compost in a landfill. For compostable baby wipes to compost, you have to have access to the correct facilities.
For home compostable baby wipes, there are a number of issues when it comes to composting. In particular, if you plan on using your homemade compost in fruit or vegetable beds. What’s the issue? As a starter for ten, if you’ve been wiping a poopy baby bum, then you don’t want human faeces in your lovely compost. The other issues are that baby wipes tend to be impregnated with moisturising lotions, perfumes, or detergents. In short, chemicals that you probably won’t want in your compost.
Something else to think about is how large your compost bin is, and if it can handle the number of baby wipes you plan in using in a day. In order to make good compost, you need a 50:50 mix of materials that are rich in nitrogen and carbon. The nitrogen comes from materials such as grass clippings, and food waste. Meanwhile, carbon comes from brown material, such as woody stems and cardboard, and compostable baby wipes. Will it be possible for you to maintain a 50:50 mix by adding baby wipes every day? If you have too much carbon in your bin (as you may do so by adding baby wipes every day), then the composting process will be very slow. It’s definitely a point to consider.
There’s a lot to look out for and consider, but thankfully there are options out there.
The Reusable Baby Wipes
As with pretty much every sustainable swap, the most eco-friendly baby wipes are the reusable ones that you wash and use again and again.
If you want to go down the reusables routes then there are a few options:
Make Your Own Reusable Wipes
The greenest option would be to use something you already have to make baby wipes. An old towel or an old cotton or flannel sheet, cut up into squares, would do the job. If you have access to a sewing machine, then hemming the edges to prevent fraying is a good idea. Alternatively, if you have a stack of old facecloths, these would also work without having to spend any money. When you need to use them, simply wet and wipe, then wash. And then repeat into infinity!
If you don’t want to go down the DIY route, then Cheeky Wipes reusable wipes are a great option. These are cloth wipes that you wet with water when you need to use them, and once used you pop them in the washing machine.
I personally used Cheeky Wipes on my youngest daughter, and I really loved them. My disclaimer is that I was already using reusable nappies, so I didn’t find this a hard swap as I was already used to washing nappies. I used these in the house, but I used them out and about too. Simply pop a few cloths in a bag and carry a bottle of water in your nappy bag and you’re good to go!
My youngest daughter is five now. Although baby wipes don’t feature much in our house now, I repurposed my Cheeky Wipes and now use them alongside my homemade cleaning wipes solution. Just to show that you can repurpose the wipes once the baby and toddler days are long gone!
When you are past the nappy stage, but still in the messy eating/playing stage then I also found a great tip for wiping hands and faces whilst out and about. Simply carry a damp face cloth/flannel/Cheeky Wipe in either a wet bag or a plastic carrier bag (such as a plastic zip-lock bag), for wiping your kids down. When you get home, simply pop it in the wash at the end of the day. You’ll leave it in your bag or in the basket of your buggy, leaving it to go stagnant and stinky just a few times before you get into the habit of taking it out and putting it in the washing machine, promise!
The Best Eco-Friendly Baby Wipe Brands
Reusable wipes don’t suit everyone. Therefore, in the interest of not excluding people who need to use disposable baby wipes then here are some more sustainable brands to look out for. These are eco-friendly baby wipe brands available in the UK that are good for your baby’s skin and better for the environment than standard disposable wipes.
CannyMum Bamboo Dry Baby Wipes
Bamboo dry wipes are a new one for me, but if you want to use disposable baby wipes but want to eschew the plastic packaging then these CannyMum wipes are a good eco-friendly choice. These plastic-free baby wipes come in a cardboard box, and when you want to use one simply wet it with water and wipe. The wipes are soft yet strong and don’t disintegrate when wet, as toilet paper does. The used wipes can then be composted at home if you want to (perhaps not the poopy ones).
Buy CannyMum wipes in packs of 400 directly via the CannyMum website for £18,98.
Cheeky Panda Bamboo Dry Wipes
Another bamboo dry wipe brand, Cheeky Panda Bamboo Dry Wipes* is one to look at as an alternative to baby wipes. These wipes are plastic-free. They are also FSC certified, free from animal testing, and Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free. What’s more, Cheeky Panda is a certified B-Corp, meaning they have been independently verified to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance.
Again, wet these super soft wipes with water when you want to use a wipe. The wipes can then be composted at home, if you have the facilities to do so and you aren’t composting the poopy ones. Cheeky Panda says these will break down in your home composting facility in around 3 weeks.
The only point to note is that outer packaging is made from wax paper, which isn’t always recyclable, depending on where you are.
Buy Cheeky Panda Bamboo Dry Wipes in packs from 100 from Ethical Superstore* for £5.99.
Eco by Naty
Naty eco-friendly baby wipes* are chlorine and perfume-free. What’s more, you won’t find any alcohol, parabens, or phthalates in them either. They do contain sodium benzoate though, which I know that some people like to avoid. I haven’t been able to find anything scientific of note to back up that sodium benzoate is harmful. Interestingly, sodium benzoate is permitted in certified organic products. However, it’s definitely your call as to whether you avoid this ingredient or not.
The Naty wipes themselves are made from 100% beechwood tree pulp from sustainably managed forests. They have also been independently certified to home compost in 12 weeks. And the good news is that Naty wipes are also free from animal testing and suitable for vegans.
My only gripe is that the wipes do come wrapped in bioplastic, and are marked with the recycling number 7 label. These types of plastic generally cannot be recycled in the UK, so the wrappers need to go into your landfill waste bin. I would love it if Naty could investigate more recyclable packaging options.
Buy Eco by Naty Wipes: £2.55 for a pack of 56 baby wipes from Ethical Superstore*.
Natracare’s eco-friendly baby wipes* are free from detergents such as sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) or any of its close relatives. They also don’t contain any parabens or synthetic preservatives, including methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and other types of formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.
The wipes themselves have been certified as organic by The Soil Association, and they’re vegan and cruelty-free. Scented with organic essential oils of chamomile, apricot, and sweet almond oil, these cleanse and refresh.
Something to note is that Natracare says their eco-friendly baby wipes are home compostable in the UK, however, I couldn’t find any independent verification to support this claim.
Buy Natracare Wipes: £3.19 for a pack of 50 wipes from Ethical Superstore*.
Any other eco-friendly baby wipe recommendations? As always I’m all ears!