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Water Wipes – Are These Baby Wipes Really A More Sustainable Choice?

    water wipes are they sustainable

    Water Wipes claim to be the world’s purest baby wipe. 

    With just two ingredients in their product, as well as the wipe itself, Water Wipes say their wipes provide gentle care and effective cleaning for baby’s skin alongside having environmental and sustainability benefits. 

    The problem with standard baby wipes is that they are packed full of chemical-based ingredients, aren’t biodegradable and are generally not eco-friendly at all. This is also true for nappies, which is why eco-friendly nappies are now a good choice.

    So, if Water Wipes are the real deal this could be great news for parents, babies and the environment. Let’s take a look. 

    Just so we’re clear, this article will be talking about WaterWipes. There are other water-based wipes out there, which may have similarities, but will also have differences to the information given below.

    What are Water Wipes made from? Are they just water?

    According to Waterwipes.com, Water Wipes contain just two ingredients:

    • Specially purified water (99.9%)
    • A drop of grapefruit extract (0.1%)

    How do they achieve this? 

    The company behind Water Wipes say it’s their specially purified water that makes their product the best in the business. 

    Water Wipes do this through their unique seven-stage water purification process. This removes any impurities and softens the water, which allows for more effective cleaning than standard tap water even if it has been boiled first.

    In fact, the water in Water Wipes is so pure that they have been accredited by the UK Skin Health Alliance as suitable for premature babies, as well as newborns and those with sensitive skin. 

    The actual wipe itself is made from viscose. This is a plant-based material that has generally been grown in Asia and has been highly processed. In essence, it comes from the fibres of wood and can also be made from bamboo plants. If you’re interested you can read more about viscose and bamboo sustainability here.

    Original Water Wipes are made in Drogheda, Ireland. 

    is bamboo eco friendly header

    Do Water Wipes contain plastic?

    No, the new Water Wipes do not contain plastic. They are plastic free.

    Previously, the wipes were made from a blend of 80% polyester and 20% viscose, however these have been changed so they are now 100% plant-based viscose.

    Although the wipes themselves are plastic-free, the packaging does contain plastic in the form of low density polyethylene (LDPE). LDPE is a type of thermoplastic that can be recycled, but at a specialist facility. It’s the same stuff that plastic bags and often coffee bags are made from. 

    Each pack of wipes is also wrapped in a thinner plastic film to help keep them airtight. This isn’t recyclable, although the company say they are looking into it. 

    On the plus side for Water Wipes, their boxes are made from recycled cardboard, which can itself be recycled. 

    Difference to standard baby wipes?

    Standard baby wipes often contain a lot of chemical-based, synthetic ingredients. 

    The traditional baby wipes that we’ve all bought before have an average of 16 ingredients in them. These ingredients do all sorts of jobs and include surfactants, preservatives, conditioning agents, emollients, fragrances, pH buffers and more. 

    Even the sensitives wipes and those that are ‘purer’ and more ‘natural’ can have anywhere from 7 to 15 ingredients. 

    Water Wipes say you don’t need all these extra chemicals – just two ingredients will clean effectively. The ingredient that makes Water Wipes so special is the highly purified water! 

    Many standard baby wipes do contain plastic with the actual wipe material made from a type of plastic, unlike the plant-based Water Wipe material.

    That said, Water Wipes are a great example of more eco-friendly baby wipes that are helping to stem the tide on the waste problem we have.

    Are Water Wipes biodegradable and compostable?

    As Water Wipes are now made from 100% plant-based fibres, they are biodegradable. 

    Independent testing has verified that the wipes meet the standard for full biodegradability and will break down into organic matter, carbon dioxide and water in 12 weeks. This standard is known as EN13432 which actually makes the wipes compostable. You can learn more about compostable materials here.

    However, don’t be throwing these wipes into your garden composter just yet. The EN13432 standard means that a material is compostable by an industrial composting facility only. This is because home composters don’t get hot enough or have the right balance of conditions to break everything down. 

    So, if you’re in the UK, make sure you put them into your garden/food waste bin that gets collected by your local council. 

    You can find a list of other biodegradable baby wipes here.

    Are Water Wipes antibacterial?

    As Water Wipes contain just two ingredients, let’s tackle them both. 

    Water, whether it’s sterile or purified, can’t be classed as antibacterial as it can be quite easily contaminated. 

    Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) does have natural antimicrobial properties, as shown in this 2021 study, when tested against MRSA and other multi-drug resistant bacteria. 

    In Water Wipes, GSE only makes up 0.1% of the ingredients – is this enough? 

    The study linked to above shows that GSE demonstrates antibacterial properties even at very low concentrations of 1/1024, which low and behold is 0.1%. 

    The slight catch is that this antibacterial element may come from benzalkonium chloride which is a synthetic disinfectant used in commercial GSE products as explained here.

    The good thing is, with no artificial fragrances, Water Wipes can be considered hypoallergenic and safe to use on babies. 

    Are baby water wipes flushable?

    No, these baby Water Wipes are not flushable. 

    No wipes – even flushable wipes – should be flushed down the toilet as they combine with other items, such as oils, that cause problems for the sewer network.

    Water Wipes are still biodegradable, but they just can’t be flushed down the toilet. While we’re on the subject of toilets, you might like to take a look at the best eco-friendly toilet rolls.

    eco friendly toilet roll explained

    Where to buy Water Wipes?

    You can buy Water Wipes from most supermarkets in the UK. 

    As you know, supermarkets aren’t the most ethical and environmentally of places, as has been shown by Ethical Consumer magazine. Unfortunately, I can’t see any Water Wipes available from the popular online eco shops

    Overall, I think Water Wipes are an eco friendly and sustainable alternative, particularly when compared to many other wipes which are packed with synthetic chemicals. 

    They contain just two ingredients and are now made from plant-based products, which although have been highly processed, are still biodegradable and compostable in industrial facilities. Compared to the standard wipes, I think Water Wipes are very good. 


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