There’s no doubt that wet wipes are easy and convenient to use. From baby wipes to makeup removers and home cleaning wipes, wet wipes serve a multitude of uses. As convenient as these products are, wet wipes also have a significant environmental impact. Due to this growing concern, there’s a need to consider plastic-free alternatives to wet wipes.
Many of the traditional wet wipes out there contain plastic materials like polyethylene terephthalate and polypropylene1. As a result, they contribute to the world's pollution.
Every time we flush wet wipes that contain plastics, they slowly release microplastics and toxins into the waterways and land. Furthermore, there’s also a major challenge of wipes blocking sewage systems.
The Environmental Challenge of Wet Wipes
We use wipes for various reasons. These include cleaning makeup, wiping a baby’s bottom for personal hygiene, and even cleaning surfaces in the house. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the damage these items cause.
Regular single-use conventional wet wipes have several negative impacts on the environment and natural life. Information from studies has revealed that flushed wipes block sewer systems and contribute to fatbergs. These system blockages can also cause serious plumbing issues in the home and contribute to flooding our sewers.
In the UK alone, Water UK discovered that wipes make up the majority of sewage blockage materials - about 93%2. Apart from the fact that people shouldn’t flush these single-use plastics, those containing plastics don’t completely break down.
Many of these materials end up flushing into waterways, thereby affecting marine life. Also, the chemicals in these items are toxic to both land and sea creatures. When on land, such as on beaches, wet wipes can take years to biodegrade.
What Should A Wet Wipe User Do?
Eco-friendly alternatives to wet wipes are the way to go. Whether you’re choosing biodegradable wipes or switching to kitchen towels, you have your part to play. There are loads of choices of plastic-free alternatives available to you.
And as wet wipes perform a multitude of useful functions, from glass wipes to screen wipes, applications can vary as much as the alternatives. So by switching, you’re making an eco-friendly choice and ensuring safe ingredients for your body and surfaces.
It is worth noting that even without plastic, there’s no substitute for avoiding single-use products in the first place. The best eco-friendly baby wipes or bathroom wipes for general use at home or to take to a picnic are, no doubt, reusable wipes or reusable cloths you can wash and use again.
Etsy is our go-to place for supporting smaller businesses championing an eco-friendly zero-waste lifestyle. We love these eco-friendly bamboo fabric reusable cloths, so you’ll never be tempted to flush wet wipes away again.
You can use these clothes for pretty much anything, including face and zero-waste makeup routines, on the go or in the bathroom. (click here for some of the best eco-friendly makeup options).
Another excellent all-around alternative to flushable wet wipes is this set of either 20 or 50-family wipes. As the name suggests, these eco-friendly cloth wipes are suitable for most applications the family may require, everything from dishwashing to wiping away all manner of nasties.
Of course, being fabric, they come naturally fragrance-free, chlorine-free, and chemical-free. Even better, a wash later, and these clothes are ready for another bathtime. Grab some zero-waste body wash and zero-waste face wash, and you're set for an eco-friendly shower.
Toilet Paper Spray
Something you might not have thought of as an alternative to wet wipes is just adding the wet, so to speak, to eco-friendly toilet paper. Of course, recycled toilet paper made from paper products reused to create each roll helps to reduce the use of trees for paper production.
This pristine toilet paper spray is one of the highest-rated sprays on the market. You might have even seen it featured on Shark Tank!
Blending organic coconut oil, apricot oil, witch hazel, and other natural ingredients, all you need to do is spray your sheets, ensuring, of course, they are eco-friendly and they’ll flush without the plastic.
And all these natural ingredients also make them perfect for delicate skin. The spray is designed specifically to reduce waste, with their larger bottles preventing up to 1600 wet wipes from clogging up pipes or ending up in the landfill.
Plastic-Free Sustainable Alternatives to Traditional Wet Wipes
Below, you’ll find our rundown of some eco-friendly wet wipe brands. Today, you can also find wipes that are better for the planet, you, your baby, and your home. Below, we’ve listed some of the best biodegradable and compostable alternatives.
Caboo Bamboo Baby Wipes
Caboo makes these bamboo baby wipes from renewable harvested bamboo-based viscose. This tree-free and plastic-free alternative to wet wipes contains 99.3% natural components. It is free from harsh chemicals that can make their way onto a baby’s body.
Earth-friendly, free of harsh materials, fragrance-free, and made safe, these wipes are gentle on your baby’s skin. Grab some eco-friendly diapers for even better eco-cred.
Jackson Reece Kinder By Nature Wipes
This is another alternative to unsustainable baby wipes. These plant-based wipes are compostable and biodegradable. So, not only do these eco-friendly options break down without causing damage to the environment, but you can also include these wet wipes in your compost.
Unlike wet wipes, the manufacturers make these from plant extracts and natural vegetables. They also include aloe vera to soothe the baby's skin. These hypoallergenic and dermatologically approved products are safe to use for babies with sensitive skin and conditions like eczema.
Yugi Baby Green Biodegradable Baby Wipes
These fragrance-free, 100% biodegradable, and hypoallergenic wet wipes are gentle on a baby’s body and the environment. They contain 99% pure water and are completely free of parabens, alcohol, or plastics. These wipes are ideal not only for babies but also for adults with sensitive skin.
And you can be assured no harmful chemicals will harm you or your little ones. These thick items come in a large size that’ll last you some time. Each box contains six packs of a stack of 72 wipes each, totaling 432.
Related: For more ideas for caring for babies with less waste, check out our guide to the best zero-waste baby products.
Natracare Intimate Wipes
The manufacturers formulated these organic cotton wipes to be suitable for daily use. They contain natural fibers and are GMO-free. They are biodegradable, compostable, and free of alcohol. Infused with organic essential oils, each product is ideal for cleansing and refreshing intimate areas.
DYMACARE Wet Wipes
These environmentally friendly alternatives are plant-based, making them sustainable and natural. They are free of synthetic or harsh ingredients such as alcohol, paraben, and fragrances. Gentle enough for everyday use, they are versatile and suitable for sensitive skin. The addition of aloe vera extract aids moisturizing. More good news? They are dermatologist-tested, biodegradable, and cruelty-free.
For Cleaning Pets
Pogi's Dog Grooming Wipes Travel Packs
If you’re looking to clean and cleanse your furry friends between baths, Pogi created the formula for that. This product is made from renewable bamboo and contains no harsh chemicals. The manufacturer infuses each wipe with vitamin E and aloe vera to keep your pet’s fur conditioned. These wipes are free from parabens, sulfates, and alcohol, which makes them ideal for daily use.
Earth Rated Dog Wipes
Earth Rated created these deodorizing and sustainable wipes to contribute to your sustainable pet care routine. These plant-based wipes are USDA-certified and 99% biobased. You can decide to compost the wipes once you’re done with them. This also helps reduce the environmental impact and curbs your pet’s carbon pawprint. The wipes are versatile, chemical-free, travel-friendly, and gentle.
For Makeup Removal
Organyc Organic Cotton Facial Wipes
These serve as an eco-friendly alternative to regular makeup wipes. For instance, if you’re on the road and can’t easily access wash clothes, these are a convenient choice to remove makeup. These wipes are made from 100% certified organic cotton and don’t contain toxic materials such as plastic and dyes. At the end of the lifecycle, they will decompose naturally in the environment. As a result, you create less waste and less harm. You can use these wipes for removing your zero waste makeup or for quick facial cleansing.
The Cheeky Panda Face Wipes
Formulated with plant-based ingredients, these Cheeky Panda face wipes are both safe for you and the planet. The manufacturers make them from sustainably sourced bamboo, making each product biodegradable and plastic-free. Free from harsh components, these makeup remover wipes are suitable for you if you easily experience irritations. The packaging is ideal for keeping within the house or taking along during travels.
If you’re looking for a sustainable alternative to wet wipes, there’s something on the list for you. Apart from the eco-friendly perspective, many of them are stronger than toilet paper. Therefore, this ensures durability.
Unlike dry toilet paper, they aid in cleaning and cleansing while providing moisturizing properties. The selections from the list come from sustainable sources and have an earth-friendly lifecycle.
Whether it’s for you, your baby, your pet, or your home, you’re certain you’re making the right choice by selecting plastic-free alternatives.
Briain, O. Ó., Mendes, A. R. M., McCarron, S., Healy, M. G., & Morrison, L. (2020). The role of wet wipes and sanitary towels as a source of white microplastic fibres in the marine environment. Water Research, 182, 116021
Water UK. (2017, December 12). Wipes in Sewer Blockage Study. [PDF]