Are your baby wipes safe? Chemicals in baby wipes – Updated!

*I’ve updated this post because there are so many new brands of baby wipes out on the market now- and some super fantastic ones at that!

I’ve also learnt more about some of the ingredients and for reasons listed below, I’ve moved phenoxyethanol onto my ‘must-avoid’ list which has rearranged the rankings somewhat. To see the rankings list, jump to the bottom of the page.*

Baby wipes had just come out when I was born. My mum has often told the story of taking me to the Children’s Hospital with terrible nappy rash. Their solution? Two weeks without nappies and to cease baby wipes. Until I had Isabella, I never really gave this story much thought… But TWO WEEKS WITHOUT NAPPIES!?! I can’t even begin to comprehend that nightmare…

 

Given this horrific family story, I was very sure I wanted to avoid a repeat at all costs. When Isabella was very young, we’d use pure cotton make-up pads and a spray bottle with water in it to wet them. Baby wipes were just used when we were out of the house. As I grew more sleep deprived, I became more focused on survival and convenience, so wipes slowly became our norm… Not just for nappy changes, but for sticky fingers, wiping food from faces etc.

 

Trying to look up what chemicals are in baby wipes is a tricky thing! The big companies- Huggies, Curash, Aldi etc. don’t include their ingredients lists on their websites… Just a lot of words like ‘hypoallergenic’, ‘pH balanced’, ‘dermatologist tested’ etc. I literally had to go to the supermarket and take photos of the ingredients lists on the packets and go home and look them up! The ingredient names are all long and unfamiliar, so for most people, standing in the aisle with a baby getting restless, they would have no choice but to become a victim to the advertising of ‘trusted’ brands, with no opportunity to make an educated decision.

 

Ingredients in baby wipes have come a long way… Companies are starting to realise that consumers are becoming more aware and so some, like Huggies, have recently changed their formulations. All wipes have chemicals in them to act as preservatives and cleansers. It’s impossible to rank each chemical, but some are definitely worse than others; so I’ll list them in what I think of as ‘must avoid’ and ‘would be nice if it wasn’t there’ categories. My information comes from the Skin Deep Database published by the EWG which ranks certain risks of chemicals.

Must avoid:

  •  Parabens (see my previous post). These actually have a weak hormone activity and have been detected in breast cancer tissues and have links to male infertility. They can also cause skin irritation. The EU have actually banned many types of parabens.
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MI). This has been the cause of some horrific allergic reactions and is a leading cause of dermatitis. It’s banned in the EU from being used in baby wipes.
  •  2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1-2-diol. This releases formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. It is also an irritant to the skin, eyes and lungs.
  • Fragrance: This can be made up of hundreds of undeclared chemicals. Often including parabens and phthalates.(read more about fragrances and phthalates)
  • [Updated] Phenoxyethanol: Studies suggest that this ingredient has the potential to be an endocrine disruptor. Endocrine disruptors are bad news because they have an additive effect… we’re also talking about a product which we are applying to a large surface area of skin repeatedly, many times a day. You want it as safe as possible. That’s why this ingredient is in my ‘Must Avoid’ list. It is also a skin, eye and lung irritant. (Read more about phenoxyethanol here)

Would be nice to avoid:

  • Malic Acid. This is a skin irritant and shouldn’t be used around the eyes particularly (so watch out if you’re wiping your babies’ face with wipes!)
  • Propylene glycol. This is a skin, immune system and respiratory irritant. Propylene glycol also enhances skin absorption and so allows other chemicals to absorb into the skin more easily.
  • Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride. This is a skin, immune and respiratory irritant.
  • Tocopheryl Acetate. This is a skin irritant and allergen.

 

So how do the baby wipes you’ve got at home rate? [Updated]

I’ve looked at 27 different brands of wipes so you can learn about what is in the wipes you use at home. Here are what’s in them and my rankings.

[New Listing] Joonya Eco Wipes:  I discovered these only recently and wow! They have an unbeatable ingredients list and also are in a great pack- one with a hard plastic snap top so that the wipes stay sealed and don’t dry out. (I don’t know how many times my normal plastic packs have started to rip or lose stick – which creates an unhygienic environment so it really irks me!) The wipes also only come out one at a time rather than in a clump- they’ve thought of everything with this product!

These wipes are available in store as well as online. They are a top premium product (fantastic ingredients, non-toxic, unscented, good wipe and a great packet.) If you are happy to buy online in bulk (24 packs of 80 wipes) the company offers such a highly discounted price that they end up being HALF THE PRICE of the premium, eco wipes in the supermarket! (If you get a 24 bulk pack subscription: Enter promo code: ‘NONTOX’ at the checkout for $10 off! – valid only for new subscribers.)

[Updated] Ecoriginals: I love these wipes. Since I last wrote this post, I tried these wipes and loved them so much I’ve been buying them in bulk – along with their nappies! Such a great product- and from a really great Australian company too. The wipes when bought in bulk are cheaper than the premium wipes at the supermarket. They have a great ingredients list and are a good sized wipe. Can’t recommend them enough.

[New Listing] Tooshies by TOM: These have an awesome ingredients list. I’ve used a few packs of these and they are great. They are lightly scented from natural rose geranium oil if you like a scented product. I prefer things unscented which is why these aren’t our go-to at home.

Water Wipes: Two ingredients- water and grapefruit extract. Pretty amazing. Definitely the least chemical load, however because of this, there isn’t an effective preservative in them either. They have to be used very carefully so as to ensure the pack is kept as sterile as possible, otherwise there’s a risk of mould or bacteria incubating in the pack. The pack should be used within 4 weeks, kept at room temperature, not heated and no wipes should be put back in the packet again once they’ve been removed. I love them, but I’m also scared of contamination with them and so these aren’t the ones I leave in the nappy bag in the sun. To be used mindfully.

[New Listing] Little Innoscents Baby Wipes:  This has a great ingredients list! I’d like them even more if potassium sorbate wasn’t there as that can be a skin irritant too. But these look great!

Naty wipes: These don’t have any of the above listed ingredients that we’d prefer not to be in! I’d like them even more if potassium sorbate wasn’t there as that can be a skin irritant too. But these look great! One of the best ingredient lists I’ve seen!

Wotnot wipes: These contain tocopheryl acetate, however the rest of the ingredients list is good. Definitely a great, safe choice.

[New Listing] Kids Goat Bamboo Wipes: Apart from the tocopheryl acetate which I’d prefer wasn’t there, it’s a great ingredients list! A good, safe product.

Bambure Bamboo baby wipes: These contain tocopheryl acetate which, while it would be nice to not have in the ingredients, are still a lot better than most wipes. The only other ingredient of slight concern in them is PEG 40 hydrogenated castor oil, which can strip natural oils from the skin.

Baby Bumkins: These have tocopheryl acetate which I’d prefer not to be in there and sodium benzoate which I don’t love, but apart from that are a pretty good ingredients list compared to others!

Aldi Mamia Fragrance Free wipes: These have tocopheryl acetate in them which I’d prefer not to be there and sodium benzoate which I don’t love, but apart from that it’s a pretty good ingredients list!

[New Listing] Thankyou thick baby wipes: These wipes contain phenoxyethanol which is on the must-avoid list.  They also contain potassium sorbate which can be a skin irritant. I desperately wanted to love these wipes as I love the Thankyou company’s philosophy. Alas, I don’t love their wipes.

Gaia Bamboo baby wipes: These contain phenoxyethanol which is on the must- avoid list. They also have alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride which I’d prefer wasn’t there. I wouldn’t use them. 

Pampers Sensitive: These have phenoxyethanol which is on the must-avoid list. They also have benzyl alcohol which is a skin, eye and lung irritant as well as PEG-40 Hydrogenated castor oil which can strip natural oils from the skin and sodium benzoate which I don’t love. I wouldn’t choose them.

Woolworths Select Fragrance-Free Baby wipes: These have phenoxyethanol which is on the must- avoid list. They also have tocopheryl acetate in them, which I’d prefer them not to have and sodium benzoate I don’t love. I wouldn’t use them.

Huggies Fragrance-Free: These have phenoxyethanol which is on the must- avoid list as well as tocopheryl acetate and malic acid. I wouldn’t use them. 

Coles Comfy Bots Fragrance- Free: These have phenoxyethanol which is on the must-avoid list. They also have propylene glycol which would be nice if it wasn’t there. The other ingredients are ok, but not fabulous, like potassium sorbate, another known skin irritant. I wouldn’t use them.

Aussie/ SIDS and Kids Unscented Wipes: These have phenoxyethanol which is on the must-avoid list. They also have propylene glycol and tocopheryl acetate. I wouldn’t use them, which is disappointing as I’d love to support such a great cause. 

[New Listing] Baby U Goat Milk Baby Wipes: These wipes contain phenoxyethanol which is on the must- avoid list. There’s also tocopherol acetate, propylene glycol and sodium benzoate. I wouldn’t use them.

Woolworths Select baby wipes: These have phenoxyethanol and also ‘fragrance’ which is most probably hidden parabens and phthalates. They also have tocopheryl acetate. I’d definitely avoid them.

Coles Comfy Bots Lightly Scented: These have phenoxyethanol and also ‘fragrance’ which is most probably hidden parabens and phthalates.  They also have propylene glycol and potassium sorbate, which would be nice if they were absent. I’d definitely avoid.

Curash Simply Water: These sound great until you see that one of the ingredients is MI, so definitely a no-go.

Aussie/ SIDS and Kids Travel Pack: These have MI in them and a similarly severe skin allergen called Methylchloroisothiazolinone. They also have propylene glycol and tocopherol acetate amongst other not fabulous ingredients. I’d definitely avoid.

Aussie/ SIDS and Kids Wipes Toddler Wipes: These have MI in them and a similarly severe skin allergen called Methylchloroisothiazolinone. They also have propylene glycol and tocopherol acetate amongst other not fabulous ingredients. I’d definitely avoid.

Dymples Fragrance- Free wipes: These have 2 types of parabens as well as phenoxyethanol, propylene glycol, and tocopheryl acetate. I’d definitely avoid.

Curash Fragrance- Free: These have five(!) different parabens, including one which is banned in Europe! They also have  2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1-2-diol and phenoxyethanol. I’d definitely avoid!

K-mart wipes: These have five(!) types of parabens, including one which is banned in Europe. They also contain 2-bromo-2-nitro propane-1-2-diol. To top it off, they have phenoxyethanol, tocopheryl acetate and propylene glycol as well! I’d definitely avoid!

 

In Summary: [Updated]

My Recommended List : Joonya Eco Wipes , EcoriginalsTooshies by TOMWater Wipes,  Wotnot wipes , Naty wipes and Kids Goat Bamboo wipes.  

 

We use: Joonya Eco Wipes and Ecoriginals at home at the moment and occasionally Water wipesWotnot or Tooshies by TOM. I haven’t actually tried Naty, Little Innoscents or Kids Goat Bamboo wipes but now definitely will. 

 

If I couldn’t choose my top wipes: Bambure bamboo baby wipes, Baby Bumkins and Aldi Mamia Fragrance-Free had a pretty good ingredients list, I’d use them if I couldn’t choose the others, which I do think are better.

 

Wipes I wouldn’t use myself: Gaia bamboo wipes, Woolworths Select Fragrance-Free wipes, Thankyou wipes,  Huggies Fragrance- Free, Pampers Sensitive, Coles Comfy Bots Fragrance- Free and Aussie/ SIDS and Kids Fragrance-Free.

 

Wipes I definitely wouldn’t use are: Woolworths Select baby wipes, Coles Comfy Bots Lightly – Scented, Curash Fragrance-Free, Dymples Fragrance- Free wipes, Curash Simply Water, K-Mart and Aussie wipes travel packs and Toddler wipes.

 

Other great options: [Updated]

Another great option is to buy dry wipes and wet them yourself before each nappy change, reducing the need for chemicals and preservatives. Reynard Dry Baby Wipes are used in hospitals, including the special care nursery. You can also do away with disposable wipes completely (and be much more environmentally friendly!) and choose reusable wipes- if you don’t mind the extra effort of washing! Apparently once you get a system worked out, they’re pretty easy for home changes. These Nature’s Child organic cotton reusable wipes ones look great.

Petit Kiddo‘s baby bum cleanser used with large organic cotton pads is another great, non-toxic and totally safe alternative.   You also don’t need a nappy balm afterwards as it leaves a lovely organic olive oil residue on the skin once the rest is wiped off. It’s also slightly alkaline which counteracts the acidity left by urine. I was really impressed by this product.

*Remember never to flush wipes down the toilet as they don’t act like toilet paper and block the sewer systems creating huge damage!

*If I’m missing any wipes you’d like me to check out, please take a picture of the ingredients list and email it to me and I’m more than happy to take a look and add it to the list!x

 

I hope this helps you make informed choices! I have also written guides on what to look for when choosing safe bottom balmsbaby shampoo and also toys.

Every move we make towards decreasing ours and our baby’s cumulative exposure to chemicals is an important one. To kick start you on your journey, I’ve written a FREE GUIDE of ‘9 Easy Ways To Reduce Your Chemical Exposure At Home’ which you get as a bonus when you sign up to my newsletter.

 

To see and read more about products I love and recommend, and to follow Isabella and my journey more closely, head to my Instagram page! x 

These rankings are purely my subjective opinions based on the ingredients lists on the back of baby wipe products in March 2016 and my research into the different ingredients using the EWG Skin Deep Database.

53 thoughts on “Are your baby wipes safe? Chemicals in baby wipes – Updated!

  1. Thank you so much Emily for taking the time to do the research behind this article and sharing your findings to provide such a clear and simple review of what’s available in the market!

    This is something I will share with all my mum friends as I know a lot of them are using brands on the avoid list just due to cost and availability.

    It’s reassuring to know our choice at home has made your recommended list! We have been using the Tooshies by Tom wipes and nappies for the past 7 months and have been really pleased with both the quality and performance of the products for the cost.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment Becc!

      It means so much to hear that you found it helpful and I’m so pleased and grateful to you for sharing it with your mum friends! The more we get the message out, the more people will be buying safer products and companies who aren’t creating safe products will feel the pinch. Then they’ll have to reformulate and use safer ingredients too so they can stay in the game. We really have the power to change the world by informing and empowering those around us! <3

      Thank you for the recommendation! It's great to hear how others find the brands! Thanks again for your kind words and support!
      Em x

  2. Wow what a great article! Thank you so much for sharing your reviews on baby wipes. I wish I had this knowledge two years ago when our first child was born. I used three brands of wipes that you suggested to never use. Eeeekkkkk!!!!

    So happy to see that Tooshies By Tom baby wipes are on your recommended list. I switched to Tooshies By Tom baby wipes 6 months ago after I started using their nappies and I love them. I love the smell of them, they are thick and moist. Most importantly, they are biodegradable and made with organic ingredients. Both my kiddies have sensitive skin and have not had a reaction to Tooshies wipes. Winning!
    Thanks again xx

    • Thank you Elle! It makes my day to hear that my research is useful to others! 🙂
      I wish I had the knowledge when I first had my daughter too! I think that is what has made me so driven to write to the blog… even though the hours doing it are often at the cost of sleep! 😉

      Thank you for sharing your experience with Tooshies. It’s great to hear how others find the brands.. aspects like smell are such a personal thing, that it’s really good for readers to be able to get a balanced review of the wipes which do have great ingredients lists!

      Thanks for reaching out. 🙂
      Em x

      • Thank you for taking the time to write Angela! I’m so pleased to hear that you found the article helpful! So many hours go into the research and writing of the blog and hearing feedback like yours makes it all feel very worthwhile. So thank you! Em x

  3. Thank you so much for writing this article – it has opened my eyes to some bad decisions I have made in the past as nearly 3 years ago there weren’t neatly as many eco options as there are today. I have been using Tooshies since they came out and very happy to see you are a fan of them and their ingredient list. I do like the rose geranium oil they have used as it gives them a very fresh smell and love they aren’t super wet like many other products!

    I have twins so I am sure how many wipes we’ve used over the years. I am so grateful to Tooshies and reviews like this that allow me to take a big sigh of relief at my purchasing decisions for my girls and not to mention the planet!!

  4. Pingback: Cotton Wool All of the Time: Except sometimes – Wannabe Green Parent
  5. Hi! I’m just wondering if you’ve ever reviewed the kids Goat Bamboo Wipes?

    The ingredients list is: Water, Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Caprae Lac (Goats Milk Powder), Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis Gel Extraxt), Tocopherol Acetate(Vitamin E), Benzoic Acid.

    I’d love to know your thoughts! Thanks!

  6. Thought I’d share – we use reusable wipes and/or cotton pads at home. I find this to be better for baby & the environment & cheaper. We’re also starting elimination communication (to eliminate the need to use any of this altogether!). When we’re out we use water wipes.

    • Thanks for sharing Ree!
      Which brand of reusable wipes do you use? Wow! I hand it to you for starting elimination communication. I have no idea where you even begin with it!
      With the water wipes- just make sure you get through the pack within the month as they don’t have a strong preservative in them and can grow mould.
      Em xx

      • We use cheeky wipes. It’s really easy, we just have a container of water in the change table that we change every morning (at least). And we line the change mat with terry towels so we have a lot of them to wash anyway (put the towels & wipes together. We were using cloth nappies to buy currently on a break..).
        And elimination communication – my baby has a VERY obvious poo face, so when we see it we run/strip him off right away and sit him in the toilet. So we’re not there yet, but hoping to 😃 (And not worried about the peeing as yet, it’s too much work.. we have a puppy as well.. 😒)

  7. What about Natracare?
    I was using curash but now are on gaia.
    Will try the others but I have not seen some of the brands in Adelaide.
    Mamia, huggies and dymples caused redness and irritation here.

    • Hey Leah,
      I haven’t heard of Natracare, happy to check them out for you if you take a photo of the ingredients list and email me! mynontoxicbaby@gmail.com

      A great online company that deliver quickly is Ecoriginals. We’re using their wipes at the moment in our house 🙂 They do pretty good bulk buy deals.x

  8. Just saw this article now, it’s a great guide, thank you! It’s such a shame the ‘good’ wipes are so expensive! I use Huggies with my toddler (but now rethinking this) and Precious Eco Water Wipes with my newborn. They have bamboo wipes at Baby Bunting and wondering if you have checked their brand out?

    • Hey Rhyannon,

      I’m so glad you found it helpful!! Thanks for letting me know. So many hours go into the research of my posts, so it’s lovely to get feedback!!

      There are a few different brands of bamboo wipes out there… unfortunately most wipes don’t put their ingredients lists on their website, so you literally have to go and take a photo of the ingredients list in order to check it out! If you can get a photo of the ingredients list and email it to me; mynontoxicbaby@gmail.com I’m happy to look at it and let you know what I think.

      Em x

  9. I’m so glad I read this! I have been using the Curash water thinking they have minimal ingredients so must be better. I will now be changing our wipes!!! Thank you 😊

    • I’m so pleased you found it helpful Erin! It can be really tricky working out what products are actually safe… so many times I’ve been tricked by clever advertising too. I’ve also written guides for choosing safe nappy creams, baby shampoos and toys which you might be interested in reading. xx

  10. Hi there,
    First and foremost, this post is great! Extremely helpful, thank you.

    I was just wondering if you could take a look at the ingredients of the ‘Kids Goat Bamboo Wipes’ that I’m looking in to? I can only see 1 of the “nice to avoid” ingredients in there but would feel better discussing with someone who has more of an idea than me as I am new to this mummy biz!

    Ingredients:
    Water, Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Caprae Lac (Goats Milk Powder), Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis Gel Extract), Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E), Benzoic Acid

    Thanks so much 😊

  11. Hi! Thank you for this great post, I have now referred to it many many times to check ingredient lists! We currently use Naty, but have just received an email announcing that Little Innoscents have released baby wipes. What do you think of those??
    We currently use Little Innoscents as sunscreen and are very happy with it so am hoping for another great alternative (plus they are cheaper than Naty).

  12. Hi, hubby just brought home Kids goat bamboo wipes as they looked good. They’ve listed the ingredients but I’m struggling to work out what’s harmful and what isn’t. Would you be able to have a look? Esthet

  13. Great post. It is really helpful for parents to know this information. What do you think of the thankyou wipes which seems to be a new product sold at woolworths and baby bunting? https://thankyou.co/baby It has Phenoxyethanol, but unsure about the other ingredients which seems to be natural ingredients

  14. Hi! I just want to say, great post! I really like your blog. Have you tried the Tooshies by Tom baby wipes? Their ingredient list looks pretty good. I would love your feedback on the ingredients list. Cheers 🙂

  15. I used water wipes until my son was one month old and now I’m using cloth wipes. I have the cheeky wipes containers – so good, and I made my own wipes from organic, unbleached and undyed flannel. I found your blog because I am looking for disposable wipes for the nappy bag. Thank you so much for this excellent information.

    • Thanks for your comments Rae, I really appreciate it 🙂 It sounds like you’ve got a great thing going with the organic flannel. You definitely can’t beat that as a non-toxic solution for changes at home! I haven’t heard of the cheeky wipes containers- I’ll check them out, thanks.

      For our nappy bag, we’re using Ecoriginals at the moment. I think they’re great. I like that it has something to act as a preservative in it given that I might not get through the nappy bag wipes as quickly and the nappy bag may end up in the sun occasionally… You don’t want to inadvertently incubate something nasty by having a bag of unpreserved wipes sitting around in a nappy bag too long! :/

      Wishing you the best of luck with everything. Hopefully you can continue to follow along with the blog.
      Em x

      • My first baby is due early May so I haven’t tried ANY kind of nappies as yet 😀 I bought a box of newborn disposable nappies and my plan is to use cloth nappies after they run out. Reusable cloth wipes are not as easy to find, so I might just make my own after my pack of wotnot (thanks to you!) is done.

        I’ll get back to you around June re the cloth nappies 🙂 One of my friends is using this and she says that they’re really not that much more work.

      • Hey Ree,
        How exciting! Do you know if you’re having a boy or girl? Definitely worth having a box of disposable nappies for the first week, it all goes by in a blur of excitement and extreme sleep deprivation!

        I know the brand ‘Under the Nile’ make some organic reusable wipes and another brand ‘Pea Pods’ do some reusable bamboo ones- and I’m sure there are other brands too if you looked online! Although if you’re up for it, making your own shouldn’t be too tough either!

        Would love to hear about your experience of how you find cloth nappies etc. Wishing you the best of luck with everything!x

  16. Thanks for highlighting this issue. I have decided to switch to cloth wipes. Now to buy some pretty cotton flannelette and get sewing!

    • Thanks for the support Tamara! I’m thinking cloth wipes would be a good option. If you found some organic cotton flannelette and felt like adding a cloth wipes line to your business, I’m happy to spread the word!x

  17. you didn’t cover the Coles Little Explorer fragrance free wipes…Phenoxyethanol is second on the ingredients list. I used face washers mixed with a little gaia bath wash and water for my babies, but the youngest is now 4, so we use wipes for messy hands and faces only and not enough to carry round wet face washers…a great report!

    • Thanks Hayley. I’ll add the Coles ones and a few others to the list this afternoon. 🙂
      Which wipes do you use now for hands/faces?
      I haven’t looked into the Gaia bath wash, but i agree, you can’t beat face washers and water! The most natural soap you could use is a few drops organic liquid castle soap into the mix. x

  18. Great post, I’ve just been facing this dilemma with a newborn on the way and I will initially use cotton make up pads and water and then I’ve stocked up on Wot Not wipes. I haven’t heard of Water Wipes!

    • Thanks Roxanne 🙂 It sounds like you’re well prepared. Whatnot wipes are a really great product and to start with, you can’t beat cotton pads and water!
      Water Wipes are great too, you can buy them in Coles and Woolworths. The only thing with them is that you have to be super careful not to contaminate the pack as they have minimal preservative.
      Good luck with everything!x

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