Thick, soft, and moist. Organic wood pulp construction is free of plastic and fully biodegradable. Ph balanced, hypoallergenic, and dermatologically approved for sensitive skin. Made by a company that’s as passionate about caring for sensitive skin as they are about protecting the environment.
Getting a single wipe out of the package can be tricky.
Bamboo construction is soft yet sturdy. Biodegradable in as little as 21 days. Soothes, nourishes, and cleanses skin with organic aloe vera, chamomile, tea tree oil, and lavender oil. Contains no harsh chemicals. Great balance of moisture and absorbency. Pleasant natural scent.
They stick together. A bit thin, but sturdy, nevertheless.
Certified organic cotton construction is thick, plush, and 100% biodegradable. Free of nasty chemicals. Safe for sensitive skin. Enriched with soothing chamomile, linden, and apricot essential oils. Doesn’t leave lint stuck to skin. Large and sturdy.
They’re pricey. If you have a sensitive nose, the scent might be too strong.
Biodegradable, plant-based, and plastic-free. Medical-grade material is thick and beautifully soft. Clean ingredients are safe for sensitive skin. Large size and sturdy construction effortlessly tackles any mess. Nice and moist without being too wet. Wipes come out one at a time.
Expensive. May take longer than others to fully break down.
Hypoallergenic and dermatologically tested. Organic aloe vera soothes and hydrates. Cotton construction lends these wipes a soft, cloth-like texture. Chemical, perfume, and irritant free. Complies with federal guidelines for flushability and septic safety. Biodegradable and packaged in recycled materials.
Pricey. Removing just one wipe is a challenge. Might still clog delicate plumbing systems.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Wet wipes are a modern convenience that most parents won’t leave home without. You can use them clean everything from kids’ bums to sticky hands, and they come in packaging that’s easy to stow in a diaper bag or the car. However, a lot of these wipes are made from some type of plastic that takes decades in the garbage dump to decompose. Enter biodegradable wipes. Made from natural materials like bamboo, wood pulp, and cotton, these wipes break down within a short period after use, sparing the environment.
What’s more, biodegradable wipes generally contain ingredients that are safe and gentle on sensitive skin. Some include soothing and nice-smelling botanical extracts and essential oils, while others are fragrance free with minimal additives.
Not all biodegradable wipes align on how clean their ingredients are — not all are organic — and some materials are more eco-friendly than others. With this in mind, we created a guide to help you find a biodegradable wipe that’s right for you. Keep reading for all you need to know about these eco-friendly products.
Conventional wet wipes are small, folded sheets that come pre-moistened in individually wrapped packages or stacked in a pack. They are designed for cleaning purposes: personal hygiene, diaper changing, household use. They are made from plastic textiles like polyester or polypropylene that are saturated with a solution of a variety of cleansing agents, softeners, and fragrances.
Biodegradable wipes perform the same functions and have the same appearance, but they’re made of natural fibers that break down in a matter of weeks, so they won’t take up space in a landfill.
Baby wipes: Wet wipes, including biodegradable ones, are primarily marketed to clean up baby messes and to wipe baby bottoms during diaper changing. Baby wipes are formulated with solutions that are gentle on sensitive baby skin. Biodegradable wipes in particular tend to have fewer additives and chemical irritants.
Household wipes: Another popular function of wipes is quick household cleaning. Biodegradable wipes fit in with “green” cleaning products that are marketed as more eco-friendly. They also generally have less toxic solutions than regular household wipes. They can be used to clean toilet seats, countertops, and spills on the floor and other surfaces in your home.
Body/personal hygiene: For a rinse-free body wipe, whether you’re camping or on an airplane, cleansing wipes for body, face, and hands are highly convenient and compact. If you’re camping, biodegradable wipes can be used as toilet paper and buried. You can find scented and unscented wipes in this category.
Bamboo: Made from bamboo, these “tree-free” wipes are highly sustainable and, depending on their thickness, break down very fast — in less than a month.
Cotton: Biodegradable wipes made from cotton offer a cloth-like thickness and feel. This material also takes the longest to break down, however. Opt for organic cotton options for toxin-free wiping.
Wood pulp: This substance is sourced from trees. It is pulped and processed into a fiber-like material.
Unscented and organic
A gentle baby wipe for the most sensitive baby skin, Kinder by Nature uses a non-irritating formula that’s pH balanced. These wipes are thicker than much of the competition and stay moist longer. The clean, nontoxic ingredients are worth the peace of mind.
Biodegradable wipes range anywhere from 3 x 3 inches to 7 x 8 inches. They come in packs of 10 to 100 sheets. Lower counts are more convenient for travel; higher counts are better for household use and tend to be more economical.
If you’re choosing biodegradable wipes over conventional ones, chances are you care about the environment. Choose packaging and a dispenser frame that’s free of plastic where possible. Some packaging can even be recycled if you’re striving for a low-waste lifestyle.
In lieu of chemical fragrances, many biodegradable wipes use essential oils and botanical extracts to add a refreshing, less irritating scent. Some of these ingredients, like aloe vera, also soothe skin. Wipes designed for the home or body may incorporate essential oils, like tea tree oil, for cleaning and disinfecting purposes.
Wipes themselves can be made from organic materials like cotton, but you may also want to pay attention to whether the botanical ingredients in the solution are organic. Organic ingredients don’t contain chemicals or pesticides used in agriculture and make for a less toxic product.
To avoid irritation to sensitive skin, select biodegradable wipes labeled as hypoallergenic. Baby skin is much more fragile than adult skin; it’s prone to eczema and rashes, which is why many baby care wipes are hypoallergenic. It’s advisable to opt for alcohol-free solutions if your skin is sensitive. Some hypoallergenic wipes are also fragrance free.
Most biodegradable wipes for babies are free of paraben, a preservative used in many personal care products that can disrupt hormone function. Many brands go a step further and offer wipes free of other common chemicals like chlorine, optical brighteners, formaldehyde, phthalates, and petrochemicals.
Wipe warmer: To keep your baby fuss-free during changing time, warm up your baby wipes using one of these compact gadgets that heats wipes to a comfortable, soothing temperature for your baby’s bum.
Diaper rash cream: After you clean your little one with a wipe, follow up with a diaper cream to soothe any irritation or diaper rash.
Diaper pail: Dispose of diapers and wipes in a pail designated for hygienic disposal and odor control.
90% of wipes on the market are made from polyester or polypropylene, both of which are plastics that can take years to decompose in a landfill.
Natural chamomile extract and aloe vera are added to some biodegradable baby wipes to soothe delicate skin.
Biodegradable wipes are made from planted-based fibers such as cotton, wood pulp, and bamboo.
Biodegradable wipes for baby care and personal hygiene range in price from $0.04 to $0.37 per wipe. Wipes designed for the body or intimate areas are on the higher end of that price range and typically come in smaller counts. They may be individually wrapped.
Biodegradable wipes for household use range in price from $0.04 to $0.11 per wipe. These typically come in large containers that contain upwards of a 100 sheets.
To go totally green, opt for washable wipes made from textured fleece, bamboo, or cotton that can be pre-moistened with water and laundered after use. This method is effective for wiping babies and creates zero waste. However, it is less convenient than disposable wipes and not a convenient solution for travel.
To save money, buy biodegradable baby wipes in bulk. Often, manufacturers offer multi- packs that slash your costs.
Biodegradable wipes with resealable packaging are often slimmer for travel, but sometimes, the sticker top loses its sticking power by the end of the pack, resulting in dried-out wipes. Wipes with plastic flip-top dispensers stay closed better, and wipes are more likely to stay moist.
If your baby is prone to diaper rash, opt for biodegradable water wipes with a solution of over 99% water and little else.
Opt for an unscented wipe when using a wipe on your baby for the first time. Some babies can’t handle fragrance in their intimate areas, and you wouldn’t want to buy a bulk of scented wipes only to have your baby react adversely to them. Always buy a smaller pack when trying a new brand to make sure your baby can tolerate it.
Bamboo wipes with botanical ingredients
These large bamboo wipes break down in only 21 days and are sustainably sourced. They are soft and absorbent and hold up against messes. Added plant-based ingredients, like tea tree oil and organic aloe vera, smell fresh while cleansing and nourishing baby and adult skin.
Going camping or hiking and want to stay fresh? Look no further than Surviveware Biodegradable Wet Wipes. This slim pack contains 32 wipes that are large enough, at 8 x 12 inches, to serve as washcloths for your entire body when no shower is in sight. The unscented formula has unisex appeal while also containing soothing aloe vera and vitamin E.
For household cleaning, Green Works Compostable Cleaning Wipes will clean virtually any non-wood surface in your home. These wipes contain essential oils and plant-based cleaning agents, and they can be tossed in the compost bin after use where they’ll degrade. The generous count will last you for a good while, and it won’t break the bank, either.
Q. Can biodegradable wipes be flushed down the toilet?
A. While it seems like the answer should be yes, it’s not a good idea to flush biodegradable wipes, even if they are advertised at “flushable.” It’s a matter of debate whether they are safe for septic tanks. Despite many manufacturer claims that a product can be flushed, there’s a risk of clogged pipes. Why? Although they are biodegradable, the wipes don’t necessarily break down fast enough in water waste systems. This could also result in damage to marine life. It’s best to dispose of wipes in the trash, or better yet, the compost bin. If you must flush, only flush one sheet at a time.
Q. Other there any other important factors to consider when purchasing biodegradable baby wipes?
A. Most new parents will attest that thickness matters when it comes to baby wipes. A baby wipe is the only barrier between you and your baby’s feces, so if it breaks or doesn’t absorb all the mess it needs to, you’ll be using a lot more wipes. While thicker wipes may cost more, you’ll probably need to use fewer of them for each mess.
Q. Are wipes labeled “flushable” also biodegradable?
A. Not always. The fact that a wipe is labeled by a manufacturer as flushable doesn’t mean it’ll disintegrate in a timely matter. Only wipes labeled biodegradable are green products that won’t contribute to landfill waste. Look for ones also labeled “compostable” before tossing them into your compost.
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