The best biodegradable wipes
Right up there with diapers, wet wipes are one of those modern conveniences that parents can't live without. But you don't have to be a parent to appreciate wet wipes, which can be the unsung heroes of a plane ride or a camping trip.
However, conventional wet wipes can take decades to decompose in a landfill, which is why many environmentally conscious consumers are turning to biodegradable wipes that quickly break down and can even be composted.
To help you learn more about biodegradable wipes and how they might be useful to you, we've created this buying guide. Our top pick is Jackson Reece's All-Natural Unscented Baby Wipes, which is pH balanced and hypoallergenic for sensitive skin.
Types of biodegradable wipes
The predominant type of biodegradable wipes are baby wipes. In addition to breaking down relatively quickly once tossed, they typically are formulated to be gentle on delicate skin and contain fewer irritating chemicals (if any) or additives.
For quick cleaning of spills or surfaces, choose biodegradable wipes designed for household use. They typically have "green" solutions that are less toxic than regular household cleaning products and may incorporate natural disinfectant ingredients like tea tree oil.
When bathing isn't a possibility, like during airplane travel or a camping trip, a rinse-free body wipe is your best bet. These come in fragrance-free and lightly scented options, and if you're camping, biodegradable wipes can be buried in the ground after use without harming the ecosystem.
Similar to body wipes, biodegradable feminine hygiene wipes are designed for women who want to freshen up their intimate area in lieu of bathing. These wipes are often formulated to be pH balanced and nonirritating/safe for that delicate area.
What separates biodegradable wipes from conventional wipes is their material. Regular wet wipes are typically constructed from plastic textiles. Biodegradable wipes are made from one of the following natural fibers that are guaranteed to decompose in a matter of weeks:
Bamboo: Considered "tree-free," wipes made from bamboo are highly sustainable as the plant is fast-growing and regenerates on its own. These wipes also break down the fastest of all biodegradable materials.
Cotton: For a more cloth-like feel, select biodegradable wipes made from the cotton plant. While these wipes can be thicker, they also take a bit longer to break down. We recommend opting for organic options when possible because of the heavy pesticide use involved in cultivating conventional cotton.
Wood pulp: A commonly used material for biodegradable wipes, this substance is pulped from trees and processed into a textile-like material.
Viscose rayon: Also sourced from trees, this wood pulp undergoes a chemical treatment to convert it into cellulose. This makes for some pretty thick and absorbent wipes.
Biodegradable wipes range in price from four to 37 cents a wipe. Household and baby wipes fall at the lower end of the price spectrum, and body and feminine hygiene wipes are available at the higher end.
Q. What should I look for in biodegradable baby wipes?
A. Most biodegradable baby wipes are hypoallergenic because baby skin is much more sensitive and prone to irritation and rashes than adult skin. If your baby is super sensitive, we recommend fragrance-free wipes. Many biodegradable wipes for baby care also offer solutions free of a whole host of potentially harmful chemicals, including parabens.
Q. Why do so many biodegradable wipes contain essential oils?
A. Generally speaking, biodegradable wipes contain ingredients that are natural and gentle on the body or other surfaces. Essential oils, like lavender, and other natural botanical ingredients, like aloe vera, offer both scent and function as an alternative to synthetic, potentially irritating ingredients.
Biodegradable wipes we recommend
Best of the best: Jackson Reece Kinder by Nature Natural Baby Wipes
Our take: Award-winning, gently formulated wipes for baby care.
What we like: These are pH balanced and hypoallergenic, not to mention dermatologist approved for sensitive skin. Soft, thick texture. Fully biodegradable.
What we dislike: Packaging can be a little tricky, especially if you're in a rush.
Best bang for your buck: Aleva Naturals Baby Bamboo Wipes
Our take: Affordable bamboo wipes packed with natural skin-nourishing ingredients.
What we like: Material is very biodegradable. Naturally cleanses and soothes with aloe vera, chamomile, tea tree, and lavender oil. Contains no chemicals. Pleasant scent.
What we dislike: On the thin side but sturdy nonetheless.
Our take: The best water-based wipes for rashy baby bottoms.
What we like: 99% water-based solution is ideal for diaper rash. Fragrance and chemical free. Large sheet size. Dispenser frame for single-sheet distribution.
What we dislike: Pricey.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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