If, like me, you are a mom that is concerned about the environment but also needs the convenience of using disposable baby wipes then biodegradable baby wipes are the solution you have been looking for. Within the first month of your baby’s life you will use up to 320 wipes which will likely go straight to landfill. Most disposable baby wipes contain plastic fibres that make them non-biodegradable. On the other hand, biodegradable wipes can sometimes only take weeks to disintegrate. So, they are better for the environment, but are they better for your baby? We have done the research for you and tried and tested these products to find the best biodegradable baby wipes, these are our top picks.
What does biodegradable mean?
So what does biodegradable actually mean? Biodegradable wipes are capable of quickly breaking down and being decomposed by bacteria, fungi or microorganisms. During this process it breaks down to its basic components and can go back into the earth without creating many, if any, toxins during the process. Biodegradable baby wipes that are manufactured using natural or plant-based products such as bamboo or organic cotton do not contain any plastic which means that they can fully disintegrate. Unlike most other baby wipes, which are made using plastic fibres like polyester or polypropylene thus making them non-biodegradable. Non-biodegradable wipes never fully decompose, they actually just break into tiny pieces and release microscopic plastic fibres into the environment.
So does that mean that all biodegradable wipes are good? Well, not exactly. While a lot of baby wipes say biodegradable, they don’t tell you how long they take to disintegrate. Actually, most things would disintegrate eventually, but it could take hundreds of years. Our goal is to find the wipes that have the least biodegradation time so that landfills aren’t overflowing.
What is the difference between biodegradable and compostable?
Compostable products are able to be turned into compost which means you could add them to your compost heap- only your wet wipes, not soiled wipes, due to bacteria. However, compostable products need to be placed in certain conditions in order to decompose, which means that if they go to the landfill, they will probably take longer to disintegrate. If you are disposing of them the correct way, and sending them to a compost facility then compostable wipes are a viable option. But if you are throwing them in the trash then it is probably better to use biodegradable wipes. Although, both of these products are better for the environment than regular wipes.
Bamboo vs Cotton Baby Wipes
Most biodegradable wipes are made from bamboo or organic cotton, but which one is better?
Bamboo wipes are naturally soft, more absorbent and more durable than cotton. Bamboo wipes are naturally hypoallergenic making them perfect for babies and adults with allergies. Cotton wipes are generally cheaper, but at the expense of the environment. Cotton wipes are soft, and durable- although not as durable as bamboo wipes. However, cotton wipes are not as environmentally friendly, even if they are biodegradable. The World Wildlife Foundation conducted a study that found that it takes 5000 gallons of water to produce 2.2 pounds of cotton. Cotton also requires large amounts of insecticides and pesticides, polluting the surrounding soil.
So, Bamboo wipes are better for the environment but both wipes are suitable and safe for babies.
What should I look for?
Baby wipes made from organic cotton or bamboo are biodegradable because these materials naturally degrade.
It is important to note how long wipes take to disintegrate. Some wipes only take weeks while others take years.
Just because wipes are biodegradable, doesn’t mean that they are made with safe ingredients for your baby. Avoid wipes that contain harsh dyes, alcohols, or fragrances.
See our blog about safe ingredients in baby wipes
My wipes say biodegradable
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guide is creating clearer guidelines for biodegradable products. Some companies claim that their products are biodegradable but then place a disclaimer stating that the product needs to be disposed of in specific facilities in order to break down. The Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides advises that companies can only state that their product is biodegradable if the entire product will completely break down and return to nature within one year after disposal. This means that a lot of products that used to say biodegradable, no longer say that. Be sure to check your current packaging to see if your product has changed.
These 100% bamboo wipes are extra soft and durable. They contain natural ingredients and most importantly, they contain NO bleach- yes they put bleach in wipes to make them appear extra white. At first, I found these quite thin but I quickly got used to them. They are just as durable as other wipes and I haven’t ripped one yet. They do occasionally stick together but I just pull one or two out before I start changing my baby’s diaper to avoid this issue.
- 100% Biodegradable in only 21 days
- Suitable for sensitive skin
- Soft and durable
- You can buy them in bulk for a reasonable price
- Occasionally stick together
These wipes are made with 98% water and their ingredient list is very short, which is what I look for when buying safe products for my baby. Their ingredients are natural and hypoallergenic, making the wipes perfect for newborns and babies with sensitive skin. They do have a scent to them which I personally like, but some moms have expressed that they do not like the smell. They are made from 100% naturally derived fibres although the company does not clearly state what material the wipe is constructed from. Mum & You claim that their wipes remain ‘as good as new’ for up to 6 months after opening although I personally use my wipes within weeks.
- Suitable for vegans
- Biodegradable and compostable
- Breaks down within 4-6 weeks of being disposed
- Wipes remain moist for up to 6 months after opening
- Perfect for sensitive skin
- Not very clear what material the wipes are made of- although they are made from natural materials
These wipes are environmentally friendly and free from all of the ingredients you want to avoid using on your baby. They are made from 100% organic cotton, cruelty free, vegan friendly and hypoallergenic. These wipes are slightly more expensive than other biodegradable wipes but they are better for the environment. They do have a slight scent but it doesn’t linger and it isn’t strong. These wipes are very gentle on babies and are perfect for those with sensitive skin.
- Biodegradable and compostable
- Made with natural ingredients
- Certified organic
- Vegan friendly
- Slightly more expensive
- Company does not say how long they take to disintegrate
If you want to know exactly what ingredients you are using on your baby then these wipes are suitable for your family. These wipes are dry but simply add water and they become wet wipes. When using these, you will know that there are no chemicals or unknown ingredients. If you would prefer to use them when they are wet then follow this top tip from another mom- place a pack of dry wipes into your wipe warmer to hydrate them all at once.
I simply use a zip lock bag, add 2 cups of sterilized water and a few drops of essential oils such as lavender, tea tree oil and eucalyptus or olive oil for added moisture and scent. Shake the bag, place it in your wipe warmer and use as needed. I have the peace of mind that there are no additional ingredients in my wipes.
- Only one ingredient- Bamboo
- Alternative to wet wipes
- Versatile product
- No hidden ingredients
- 100% biodegradable and sustainable
- 20% larger than other wipes
- May not suit your needs if you need to wet the wipes before each use
Like the above product, these wipes are dry. They can be used for diaper changes, mealtime, nursing, or for runny noses and drool. They could even replace your household tissue box. Simply add water to make them wet or use them dry. These wipes are perfect for sensitive areas and help to prevent diaper rash. Because they are dry, they do not contain any additional chemicals or preservatives that may cause redness and irritation.
- 100% cotton
- Soft and durable
- Chemical and preservative-free
- May need to be wet before use depending on your needs
Choosing the best baby wipes comes down to each mom and baby’s individual needs. Personally, my top pick is the Aleva Naturals Bamboo Baby Wipes. They are made from bamboo and degrade within 21 days which is by far the shortest degradation time compared to other baby wipes. I buy them in bulk which means I only need to repurchase them every few months. None of my children have ever experienced any allergies or reactions when I have used these wipes and they don’t dry out my hands like some other wipes do. In summary, they are cheap, safe for babies and good for the environment. What else could I really ask for?