Cheat Sheet: Safer Baby Wipes

It’s been a while since we visited the baby wipes topic and some new brands have popped up I thought it was time to redo it.

Why Should I Be Concerned About Baby Wipes?

We go through tons of them on a daily basis and each time you use one you are applying the ingredients from the wipe to the delicate skin on your baby.  So like any skin care product you put on your child, you’ll want to check out the ingredients in your wipes. We probably use wipes more than any other skin care product so I think it’s important to choose the right ones.  Conventional wipes contain a variety of ingredients that we already try to avoid including but not limited to parabens, phthalates (fragrance), PEG’s, propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol and a variety of other chemicals you might not want to be rubbing all over your precious newborn. Let’s not forget that the manufacturing process could cause contamination concerns (think carcinogens like formaldehydeand 1,4 dioxane).  Not to be all Scary Mary about it but the chlorine process of creating them is pretty hard on the environment and our landfills.

FINE. (I can feel you rolling your eyes!)  So which ones are safer?

Last time I published a cheat sheet there was a big chart of everything that’s bad in all the mainstream products.  Instead of doing that, this time I’d like to just flesh out some of the more “natural” brands and give you the 411 on what they’re made of. I’m not going to bother with commercial brands like Pampers, Kirkland (a lot of people ask me about these – have you looked at the ingredients? If you can’t pronounce the list don’t bother with it), and Huggies.  They all consistently use ingredients like phthalates, parabens and other chemicals that have me concerned about formaldehyde contamination and whatnot.   I’ll list the ingredients, the EWG Skin Deep rating (Rates products on their ingredients with a hazard score, 0 being the Best and 9 being the Worst) if there is one, and my thoughts on the product.  Then you can make a choice that suits your preferences and budget.  I will also list some reusable options and a DIY recipe if you want to really cut down on your waste, costs and chemicals. (Listed in random order)

Last Updated: September 3, 2014

WaterWipes Baby Wipes

baby wipes Ingredients: Water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract.

Notes: Nothing too alarming in these – some argue that there are hidden parabens in grapefruit seed extract, and some suggest triclosan is hidden in there during the processing of the ingredient.  I think the percentage is pretty tiny in these wipes over all and they do rate a 0 on EWG’s Skin Deep.  A sound alternative if you can’t or don’t want to DIY.  I spoke to the company and they assure me they have tested their grapefruit seed extract for contaminants: “As a precaution we had our product tested for a number of contaminates such as benzalkonium chloride, triclosan and parabens, among others. The tests showed there is no need for concern as they were all clear as expected. We also tested for a large number of pesticides and multi residue components. However none were detected in our Grapefruit seed extract. We believe our supply of Grapefruit seed extract is a clean supply from a reputable supplier and there is no reason for concern.”

EWG Skin Deep Rating: 0 (August 2013)

Costs: 60 count package RSP $3.99 but on Amazon you can find them for around $5.99 each  (link goes to a box of 9 60-count packages)

BabyGanics Thick n’ Kleen Baby Wipes

Ingredients: Water, Cetearyl Isononanoate*, Ceteareth-20*, Cetearyl Alcohol*, Gyceryl Stearate*, Vegetaruian Glycerin*, Ceteareth-12*, Cetyl Pamitate*, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol (* Derived from: Coconut and/or Palm Kernel Oil – which is just their way of making a processed chemical ingredient sound natural)

Notes: I really want to like these because they are easy to find but I have found that I have been repeatedly disappointed with BabyGanics products since they expanded and started mass producing a zillion products a few years ago.  They consistently use Phenoxyethanol in their products and I don’t think there is anything really that “organic” or natural about these wipes. Does anything in that list look natural to you besides maybe some processed vegetable glycerin? I don’t like to badmouth a company if I can help it but  BabyGanics is pretty well versed in the greenwashing language.   I want to trust BabyGanics, but I just don’t.

EWG Skin Deep Rating: 1 (March 2011)

Costs: Each 80 count package runs about $5-6

Bum Booza Bamboo Baby Wipes

Ingredients: Water, Polysorbate 20, Vegetable Glycerin, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Organic Aloe Vera), Calendula Extract, Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E), Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid

Notes: New formula – I liked these a little better with the old formula but they’ve added Sodium Benzoate so if you avoid that, these aren’t for you.  Those who have tried these have told me they are soft and work well. They’re also made with bamboo so they are biodegradable and a highly renewable source.  I don’t *love* the use of polysorbate 20 because of concerns with 1,4 dioxane (carcinogenic by product from processing) contamination.

EWG Skin Deep Rating: 1 (March 2011)

Costs: Each 80 count package runs about $5-6 / Buy Some

Earth’s Best Tender Care Baby Wipes

Ingredients: Water (Purified), Glycerin (Vegetable), Alkyl Polyglucoside, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice, Citric Acid, Vitamin E, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate (broad spectrum antimicrobial)

Notes: Not bad and they don’t treat the wipes with chlorine or alcohol.  The antimicrobial is a little questionable but it only rates a 2 in Skin Deep.  Though they do note that there is a formaldehyde contamination concern.  Overall these aren’t the worst and I’d choose these over conventional wipes any day.  I’ve used them in the past since they are readily available in some stores and they aren’t as expensive as others. They work just as well as any other baby wipe. (They also make flush-able Toddler wipes)

EWG Skin Deep Rating: N/A (I couldn’t find one)

Costs: Each 50 count package runs about $3-5 / Buy Some

Elements Naturals Baby Wipes

Ingredients: Version 1 – Purified Water, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis), Glycerin, Alkyl Polyglucoside (corn based), Vitamin E, Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate

Version 2 – Purified Water, Coco Glucoside, Phenoxyethanol, Dicaprylyl Ether, Decyl Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, and Ethylhexylglycerin (plant derived biodegradable preservative)

Notes: I”ve tried these before and I wasn’t a huge fan of the texture (they were better used for hands than baby butts) but they are compostable which is nice.  No waste.  I’m not sure about this Sodium Hydroxymethlglycinate… despite it’s low rating in EWG, I have found some troubling reading on Truth In Aging about it.  It’s a replacement for parabens but I’m not sure it’s much better. They say these are 100% natural but there is no way that ingredient isn’t chemically processed.  Additionally, I have found 2 different ingredients lists.  The list above is from Drugstore.com but Skin Deep has a conflicting list that includes Phenoxyethanol. I’m not sure which list is better or worse.  According to the EWG database, version 2 is the most recent dating February 2011.

EWG Skin Deep Rating: 1 (Feb 2011)

Costs: Each 70 count package runs about $6

GAIA Bamboo Baby Wipes

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Didecyldimonium Chloride, Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Extract (*Certified organic), Lemon (Citrus Medica Limonium) Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower (*Certified organic), Green Tea, Chamomilla (Anthemis Nobilis) Flower (*Certified organic), Tea Tree Extract

Notes: Ehh.  Ok these are free of phthalates, parabens and are also made with biodegradable soft bamboo cloth… but I’m not thrilled about the Cocamidopropyl Betaine, the Phenoxyethanol and the other few ingredients that look like a chemistry experiment. I can’t give them my stamp of approval. Considering the alternatives I’ve already listed, I’d skip these. Not worth it for the price.

EWG Skin Deep Rating: 3 (July 2013)

Costs: Each 80 count package runs about $5 \ Available from 3rd party sellers on Amazon

GroVia BioWipes Baby Wipes

Ingredients: Purified Water, Aloe Vera, Glycerin, Alkyl Polyglucoside, Vitamin E, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate.

Notes: A reader on my Facebook Page asked about these and they look pretty good!  No fragrances, no harsh chemical additives and made with ingeo fibers, a renewable plant fiber.  The only “dirt” I dug up was with the sodium benzoate which some health advocates have an issue with.  Sodium benzoate rates low in EWG Skin Deep but some argue that it is carcinogenic.  It’s a salt preservative but is synthesized in a lab which is not the same as benzoic acid which is found in low levels in fruit.  Food for thought.

EWG Skin Deep Rating: N/A

Costs: Each 80 count package runs about $6.50 / Buy Some

Honest Company Baby Wipes

Ingredients: Purified Water, Citric acid (fruit-based stability agent), Silver Dihydrogen Citrate (all natural, water-soluble preservative), Decyl Gulcoside (sugar-based cleanser), Sodium Citrate (corn-based antioxidant), Punica Granatum (pomegranate fruit) Extract, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (licorice root) Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (chamomile) Extract, Cucumis sativus (cucumber fruit) Extract, and Peucedanum Ostruthium (masterwort leaf) Extract

Notes: I don’t see anything too problematic in these baby wipes ingredients wise.  I have tested them out and do like how they perform as well.  They are also compostable according to Honest Company which I think is rather cool.

EWG Skin Deep Rating: No rating for the wipes yet.

Costs: Each 80 count package runs about $4.95 / Buy Some

Jackson Reece jacksonreece  “Kinder By Nature” Herbal Baby Wipes (Unscented)

Ingredients: Aqua (Purified and Deionised Water),*Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Betaine ,Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Levulinic Acid,Sodium Levullinate ,Glycerine,Potassium Sorbate (Preservative) , Sodium Citrate,*Certified Organic Ingredients ,*Aloe Vera Certified Organic by Mayacert

Notes:I reviewed these a few years ago, though I tried the scented version.  They were nice wipes, the scent was a bit strong but they worked fine.  I’m glad to see they have an unscented version now.  Nothing too alarming in the ingredients list.  I found the texture to be a little weird but the ingredients kind of make up for it. I’d have to say these are one of the safer brands, now more readily available on Amazon in the US.  UK  shoppers have a bevy of options – their website lists stores to find them in.

EWG Skin Deep Rating: N/A

Costs: Each 72 count package runs about $5 each / Buy Some (Unscented) / UK – Tesco

Naty by Nature Babycare Wipes

Ingredients: Aqua, Gluconolactone, Glycerin, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Propylene Glycol, Decyl Glucoside, Citric Acid, Calcium Gluconate, Chamomilla Recuita Flower extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice.

Notes: They have reformulated these wipes to eliminate the use of phenoxyethanol and some of the PEG ingredients, however, they are using Propylene Glycol, Sodium Benzoate and a non-organic aloe juice which can always have a risk of paraben preservation from the distributor.  According to the company they are 100% compostable, biodegradable and chlorine free which is good but I have a hard time with propylene glycol degrading into the environment.  Apparently it has a fast rate of degradation and a “low toxicity” to animal and sea life but… is that good enough? Not sure.  Seems unnecessary for a baby wipe.

EWG Skin Deep Rating: 2 / The rating of these dropped from a 4 to a 2.

Costs: Each 70 count package runs about $3-4 / Buy Here

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Baby Wipes

Ingredients: Old Formula: Water, cetyl hydroxyethylcellulose, glycerin (vegetable oil derived), citric acid, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E acetate), potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate (food-grade preservatives).  New Formula: Water, cocoamidoproply pg-dimonium chloride phosphate, sodium benzoate, quillaja saponaria wood extract, citric acid, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, tocopheryl acetate.

Notes: This is a new formula (it is what they have published on their website). I received several emails asking about the new formula of “Free & Clear” baby wipes.  They have pared down the list of ingredients but it’s not all that different.  I liked the old formula better because it didn’t have sodium benzoate in it. These still contain aloe which can sometimes be preserved with parabens by the distributor before they use the ingredient.  I can’t seem to get an answer on that from the company.  The new packaging also doesn’t state “chlorine free” like the older wipes and they changed the material.  I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the new texture not working well.

EWG Skin Deep Rating: No rating for the new formula yet.

Costs: Each 70 count package runs about $4-5 / Buy Some

Whole Foods 365 Baby Wipes

Ingredients: Aqua (filtered water), decyl glucoside, glycerin, sodium hydroxymethlglycinate, simethicone, citric acid, tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), aloe barbadensis extract (Thank you to my readers for providing this list for me!)

Notes: Not bad and certainly better than most.. no parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals…. although that big long one looks creepy (sodium hydroxymethlglycinate).  Just looked it up and it’s a “natural preservative”. Hmm. Skin Deep says it has formaldehyde (carcinogen, toxin and irritant) contamination concerns and I found some disturbing info about it on Truth in Aging. Seems like a chemically processed replacement for parabens.

EWG Skin Deep Rating: N/A

Costs: I believe it’s about $3-4 for a pack at Whole Foods… correct me if I’m wrong.

Reusable Baby Wipes

Many cloth diapering families will attest to the ease of use and reduction of the environmental impact that reusable cloth baby wipes provide.  There are many readily available, already made systems out there that work great and fit right into a cloth diapering home.  And even if you don’t cloth diaper, switching to a reusable system is pretty easy. Below I have listed a number of companies that make reusable wipes and products that will get you on your way to being disposable wipe free.  You’ll need cloth wipes (either bought or made from organic baby towels) water or a natural wipes solution, and a wet bag for laundering.

Other Handy Products and Resources to DIY

LuSa Organics Baby Wipe Juice – A cloth diapering parents favorite.  This stuff has a number of uses but was originally created with baby wipes in mind.  You simply combine 1-3 tsps of Baby Wipe Juice to 1 cup of water and pour over your wipes. SafeMama approves all LuSa Organics products.  Love that company!
Make Your Own Reusable Baby Wipes Kit –  A very thorough article on making your own wipes and the tools you need to do it.  Great tips and a great DIY resource.

SafeMama’s Baby Wipe Spray Recipe

My favorite way to DIY baby wipes is to not bother making wet wipes. It’s messy, and I find it more effective to create a spray and apply as needed.  I re-purpose an old California Baby Diaper Area Wash spray bottle for this.  Add to a small spray bottle and shake gently before each use:

  • 1 cup water
  • 3-5 drops Earth Mama Angel Baby castille soap (I use less so it’s not so sudsy)
  • Optional 1-2 drops essential oil (I use lavender oil but tea tree oil would be good too)

I keep the spray bottle near my changing station and spray a cloth wipe until wet enough to wipe with or I spray directly on their bum for bigger messes.

Comments

15 Responses to “Cheat Sheet: Safer Baby Wipes”

  1. Traci on August 16th, 2013 3:00 pm

    Which wipe is your #1 recommendation?

  2. cristina on August 28th, 2013 6:00 pm

    hi, I wanted to know if you have heared of water wipes.
    I am really interested to see a breakdown of the product.

  3. Ruth on October 2nd, 2013 1:05 pm

    We don’t use soapy substances on ourselves after using the bathroom. Why do we use them on our babies? I used room temp water on a wash cloth to wipe my daughter when she was a baby. Please make sure to not use warm water as it can still irritate baby’s skin. I rotated between wash clothes. If the cloth was especially soiled, I would just soak it in a small tupperware with water and a smidgen of baby detergent and it would make washing very easy later on. For normal messes, I would just quickly wash the cloth with some soap and rinse well and leave to dry. You can also just leave in a very diluted baby detergent solution in a tupperware and rinse very well before the next wipe. Not that my daughter didn’t ever get diaper rash, but it was much rarer for her than the average baby.

  4. PR on November 3rd, 2013 6:06 pm

    I read on Target’s website in the description for Seventh Generation free and clear wipes that they are “whitened without chlorine”. Not exactly the same as chlorine free, but I think they are trying to advertise that. Hope that helps! Loved the list!

  5. Brittney on November 14th, 2013 7:36 pm

    This is a comment about the 7th generation wipes. You don’t have listed on the ingredients, citric acid. I am looking at a container of their wipes that I purchased and citric acid is listed on there. I find it worrisome that sodium benzoate AND citric acid would be in the same product regardless of the amounts because sodium benzoate, when combined with vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or citric acid, forms benzene, a known carcinogen. Not sure what your views of it are, but I am really wishing I had read the packaging more thoroughly before wasting my money on these wipes.

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  7. Melissa on January 28th, 2014 9:58 pm

    What about Burt’s Bee’s wipes?

  8. Erica on February 24th, 2014 2:12 pm

    Have anyone tried to make their own wipes? is it better and cheaper?

  9. Kim on March 7th, 2014 5:06 am

    I have been very disappointed with BabyGanics products too! So bummed! Their laundry detergent, which says cloth diaper safe on it, either doesn’t clean the diapers well enough or leaves buildup. Also, very bummer that their disposables left a rash on my LO’s bum and they tear easily. Was excited to find a disposable to keep as a back up but they didn’t work out either.

  10. Florine on March 10th, 2014 1:44 pm

    I love your website – so informative, and well organized – thank you! In the spirit of baby wipes, I found these and was wondering if you reviewed them but they just didn’t make the list: Clearly Herbal wipes (http://www.clearlyherbal.com/index.php?route=common/page&id=naturalwipes)?

  11. Debbie on March 19th, 2014 2:45 pm

    Any concerns about Honest company making the wipes in China using Chinese filtered water?

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    You really make it seem really easy along with your
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  13. Roxana on August 26th, 2014 2:58 pm

    I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned ” water wipes” which are made of 99.9% water and they rate 0 on ewg

  14. Emily Gallas on September 5th, 2014 6:55 pm

    Glad you are back. This is quite an extensive review and I totally apprecitate all the hard work it took to put it together. Just know you are valued!

  15. SafeMama Kathy on September 10th, 2014 4:02 pm

    Thank you!

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