Traditional wet wipes can contain plastics and other materials that take decades or longer to decompose. They also use preservatives and other chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Thankfully, there is an alternative. Biodegradable wipes break down quickly — typically within 60 days or less — and most use natural ingredients rather than harsh chemicals.
For sensitive skin, there are few better choices than Kinder by Nature Water-Based Baby Wipes. They are pH balanced, pediatrician approved, completely free of chemicals and only contain non-irritating ingredients. Plus, they have a soft, cloth-like texture.
What to know before you buy biodegradable wipes
Types of biodegradable wipes
There are many types of biodegradable wipes, and for the best experience, it is crucial to choose one designed for your needs. The most common type is baby wipes. These are to wipe sensitive baby bottoms and formulated to be gentle on the skin. They are usually soft, made with few ingredients and free of potentially irritating chemicals.
Personal hygiene wipes are another common type and intended for when bathing isn’t possible, like when you’re camping. Some may also prefer to use them in the bathroom instead of dry toilet paper. They are also helpful for cleaning your hands and face whenever the need strikes. Personal hygiene wipes may not be as gentle as baby wipes but still shouldn’t irritate most people.
Like personal hygiene wipes, feminine wipes are used on the body, specifically in a woman’s intimate area. Because of this, they are usually pH balanced, so they don’t throw off your normal levels. Feminine wipes use gentle ingredients and tend to come in packages small enough to fit in a purse easily.
Standing apart from all the rest are household wipes designed for use on surfaces in your home. Most biodegradable household wipes use eco-friendly cleaning solutions rather than the chemical varieties found in many other household cleaning products. Despite that, household wipes should never be used on the body as the ingredients can be harsh, potentially causing irritation and contact dermatitis.
Biodegradable wipes generally use one of four materials: bamboo, cotton, wood pulp and viscose rayon.
Bamboo is one of the most eco-friendly materials because it is fast-growing, doesn’t require fertilizing and self-regenerating from its roots. It degrades very quickly after disposal, often in as little as a month, depending on the thickness.
Cotton wipes are usually thicker than bamboo wipes and have a soft, cloth-like feel. Some may feel this makes them more helpful in cleaning heavy messes or baby bottoms, but the downside is that they take longer to break down than bamboo wipes.
Wood pulp is less eco-friendly as it comes from trees and, depending on the type of tree and how it is harvested and grown, it might not be considered sustainable. It is made by pulping and then processing the wood into a fiber-like material.
Viscose rayon is also considered less eco-friendly because of the chemical processing and deforestation usually associated with it. Of course, some companies practice sustainable methods when producing it, which will usually be mentioned somewhere in the product listing. Both wood pulp and viscose rayon wipes tend to be thick and very absorbent.
Scented or unscented
Biodegradable wipes for personal use come in both scented and unscented options. Scented options use essential oils and other botanicals, so they are gentle. However, some may still find them irritating, mainly if used on sensitive body parts and may want to opt for an unscented option. Wipes for home cleaning are almost always scented.
Features to look for in quality biodegradable wipes
Anyone buying biodegradable wipes is probably doing so because they care about the environment. Therefore, it wouldn’t make sense to choose wipes in plastic packaging or other non-environmentally-friendly or non-recyclable materials.
If trying to avoid chemicals, you should choose biodegradable wipes made from organic materials. When doing so, you want to pay attention to the fabric of the cloth itself and the botanicals and other ingredients used for infusion.
If you have sensitive skin or are buying baby wipes, it is vital to choose biodegradable wipes marketed as hypoallergenic. These will be free from common substances known to irritate. They are usually also free of fragrances and water-based, rather than alcohol-based.
How do biodegradable wipes cost?
Biodegradable wipes often don’t cost any more than non-biodegradable options. This means you can expect to pay anywhere from 4-40 cents per wipe for baby, personal hygiene and feminine wipes. Household wipes usually range from 4-15 cents per wipe.
Biodegradable wipes FAQ
Are biodegradable wipes flushable?
A. Despite being biodegradable and some marketed specifically as flushable, it is best not to flush them down the toilet. They don’t break down fast enough in the water to ensure they won’t cause clogs in pipes and sewers.
Are biodegradable wipes compostable?
A. Though this is a common misconception, not all biodegradable wipes are compostable. To be considered compostable, a material needs to completely break down under certain conditions within a set amount of time. If you want to buy compostable, biodegradable wipes, you have to look for wipes labeled explicitly as such.
What are the best biodegradable wipes to buy?
Top biodegradable wipes
What you need to know: These pediatrician-approved wipes have a soft texture and are made with non-irritating ingredients that make them ideal for children with sensitive skin.
What you’ll love: They are biodegradable and compostable, 100% chemical-free and have a pH-balanced formula.
What you should consider: It can sometimes be difficult to remove just a single wipe from the package.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top biodegradable wipes for the money
What you need to know: These bamboo wipes completely biodegrade in just 21 days and are packed with ingredients that nourish the skin.
What you’ll love: The addition of tea tree oil gives them antibacterial and antifungal properties, and they also have lavender, which is anti-inflammatory for soothing irritated skin.
What you should consider: Some may find them a little too thin.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: These lightly scented wipes are pH balanced and alcohol-free for use on all skin types.
What you’ll love: They are made from soft organic cotton and infused with essential oils.
What you should consider: The price per wipe is higher than many others.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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