Traditional wet wipes can contain plastics and other materials that take decades or more to break down. They also use preservatives and other chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Fortunately, there is an alternative. Biodegradable wipes break down quickly – typically in 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 contain only non-irritating ingredients. Plus, they have a soft, fabric-like texture.
What to know before buying biodegradable wipes
Types of biodegradable wipes
There are many types of biodegradable wipes out there, and for the best experience it is crucial to choose one designed for your needs. The most common type is baby wipes. They are intended for wiping the sensitive buttocks of babies and formulated to be gentle on the skin. They are generally gentle, made with few ingredients, and free from potentially irritating chemicals.
Another common type is personal hygiene wipes and are intended for use when bathing is not possible, such as when you are camping. Some may also prefer to use them in the bathroom instead of dry toilet paper. They are also useful for cleaning your hands and face whenever the need arises. Personal hygiene wipes might 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, especially in a woman’s intimate area. For this reason, they are generally pH balanced, so they don’t disturb your normal levels. Feminine wipes use gentle ingredients and tend to come in packages small enough to easily fit in a purse.
Household wipes designed for use on your home surfaces stand out from all others. Most biodegradable household wipes use green cleaning solutions rather than the chemical varieties found in many other household cleaning products. Despite this, household wipes should never be used on the body, as the ingredients can be harsh, potentially causing irritation and contact dermatitis.
Biodegradable wipes typically use one of four materials: bamboo, cotton, wood pulp, and viscose rayon.
Bamboo is one of the most environmentally friendly materials because it grows quickly, does not require fertilization, and does not self-regenerate from its roots. It degrades very quickly after removal, often in less than a month, depending on the thickness.
Cotton wipes are generally thicker than bamboo wipes and have a soft, rag-like feel. Some may think that this makes them more useful for cleaning big messes or baby’s bottom, but the downside is that they take longer to decompose than bamboo wipes.
Wood pulp is less environmentally friendly because it comes from trees, and depending on the type of tree and how it is harvested and grown, it may not be considered sustainable. It is made by reducing and then turning wood into a fiber-like material.
Viscose rayon is also considered less environmentally friendly due to the chemical treatment and deforestation typically associated with it. Of course, some companies practice sustainable methods in their production, which will usually be mentioned somewhere in the product list. Wood pulp and viscose rayon wipes tend to be thick and very absorbent.
Scented or unscented
Biodegradable personal use wipes are available in scented and unscented options. The scent options use essential oils and other herbal remedies, so they are gentle. However, some may still find them irritating, primarily if used on sensitive body parts and may want to go for a scent-free option. Household wipes are almost always scented.
Features to look for in quality biodegradable wipes
Anyone who buys biodegradable wipes probably does so because they care about the environment. Therefore, it would make no sense to choose wipes in plastic packaging or other non-environmentally friendly or non-recyclable materials.
If you are trying to avoid chemicals, you should choose biodegradable wipes made from organic materials. In doing so, you need to pay attention to the fabric of the tissue itself and to the plants and other ingredients used for the infusion.
If you have sensitive skin or buy baby wipes, it is essential to choose biodegradable wipes marketed as hypoallergenic. These will be free of common substances known to irritate. They are usually also fragrance free and water based, rather than alcohol based.
How much do biodegradable wipes cost?
Biodegradable wipes often don’t cost more than non-biodegradable options. This means that you can expect to pay anywhere from 4 to 40 cents per wipe for baby wipes, personal hygiene, and feminine wipes. Household wipes generally range from 4 to 15 cents per wipe.
Biodegradable wipes faq
Can biodegradable wipes be rinsed?
A. Although they are biodegradable and some are marketed specifically as disposable, it is best not to flush them down the toilet. They don’t break down quickly enough in water to clog pipes and sewers.
Are biodegradable wipes compostable?
A. Although this is a common misconception, not all biodegradable wipes are compostable. To be considered compostable, a material must decompose completely under certain conditions within a defined period of time. If you want to buy compostable and biodegradable wipes, you should look for wipes that are explicitly labeled as such.
What are the best biodegradable wipes to buy?
Top biodegradable wipes
What would you like 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 will love: They are biodegradable and compostable, 100% chemical free and have a pH balanced formula.
What you should consider: Sometimes it can be difficult to remove a single wipe from the package.
Or buy: Sold by Amazon
Biodegradable wipes at the best value for money
What would you like to know: These bamboo wipes biodegrade completely in just 21 days and contain ingredients that nourish the skin.
What you will love: The addition of tea tree oil gives them antibacterial and antifungal properties, and they also contain lavender, which is anti-inflammatory to soothe irritated skin.
What you should consider: Some may find them a bit too thin.
What would you like to know: These lightly scented wipes are pH balanced and alcohol free for use on all skin types.
What you will 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.
Or buy: Sold by Amazon
Register now here to receive the weekly BestReviews newsletter for helpful advice on new products and great deals.
Brett Dvoretz written for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.