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As a parent, you want what’s best for your child, but as a cruelty-free parent, you also want what’s best for the animals.
If you’re new to parenting or living a cruelty-free lifestyle (or both), choosing the right products for your little one can be daunting. Baby wipes are just one of perhaps dozens of baby products that you may use on a daily basis, but they’re one of the most useful.
They have to handle tough messes while being gentle enough for your baby, and they must be free of animal ingredients and animal testing. You’ve got enough to do without spending hours researching cruelty-free baby wipes, so we’ve done the work for you.
We’ll share our top picks for the best baby wipes and some useful info to make it easier to pick safe, cruelty-free products for your family.
- Are baby wipes bad for the environment?
- Ingredients to limit or avoid in baby wipes (and elsewhere!)
- The Best Cruelty-Free Baby Wipes
- Our favorite cruelty-free baby wipes
Are baby wipes bad for the environment?
There’s no denying that baby wipes and other disposable baby products are useful and convenient, but their convenience usually comes at the environment’s expense.
Most disposable baby wipes are not biodegradable and will sit in landfills for decades before they decompose, which can put a environmentally conscious, cruelty-free consumer in a bit of a pickle.
There are a few eco-friendly baby wipe alternatives on our list of reviews, but there’s nothing wrong with choosing disposable wipes if that’s what works best for you. Following a vegan lifestyle is one of the best things you can do for the environment, and using disposable wipes doesn’t negate that!
Whether you choose to use disposable wipes or not, there’s no harm in learning more about zero waste parenting and making whatever changes you’re able to. Here are some great ideas for reducing waste from The Parenting Junkie:
Ingredients to limit or avoid in baby wipes (and elsewhere!)
Not all of the ingredients commonly used in baby wipes and other baby products are as “clean” or gentle as you’d expect. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most commonly used baby wipe ingredients that you might want to consider limiting or avoiding so you can make informed decisions about what you use on your baby’s body:
The pleasant smells of added fragrances used in baby wipes and other personal care products are often hiding something unsafe and unsavory.
A vaguely named “Fragrance” or “Parfum” may be derived from a harsh, irritating ingredient, but the FDA allows this to happen due to a loophole in the Fair Packaging and Labeling Program, which states that brands do not have to list ingredients that would reveal a trade secret. (1)
While it’s best to nix fragrances altogether, if you prefer them, opt for natural fragrances derived from natural, botanical ingredients that you can actually pronounce, like fruit and flower extracts.
Fragrance-free vs. unscented wipes
While we’re on the topic of fragrances, there’s an important distinction to be made between fragrance-free and unscented baby wipes. That’s right — they’re not the same thing! Unscented wipes may still have fragrance added to mask any unpleasant, chemical smells from the other ingredients in the wipes.
Fragrance-free wipes, on the other hand, are actually free of any added fragrance, so you’ll want to choose these over unscented wipes whenever possible.
Drying alcohols like ethanol are rarely, if ever, used in baby wipes anymore, but other types of alcohol are commonly used as preservatives and antimicrobial ingredients. The most common alcohols you’ll see in baby wipes are bronopol and phenoxyethanol. While they’re generally harmless in very small doses, overexposure to these ingredients can irritate a baby’s sensitive skin.
Bronopol has a high hazard warning from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) because it’s believed to be a formaldehyde releaser. However, it’s unclear just how much formaldehyde it actually releases, or if it even releases formaldehyde at all. (2, 3)
If you’d rather not take your chances with exposing your baby to formaldehyde, this ingredient is easy enough to avoid, as more companies are starting to replace it with alternatives.
Phenoxyethanol is considered a “moderate hazard” by the EWG, and the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) only consider it safe at a maximum concentration of 1%. It’s been linked to allergic reactions in rare cases, but if you’d rather be safe than sorry, ditch the phenoxyethanol. (4, 5, 6)
Parabens refer to a group of preservatives that are commonly used in our food and personal care items. They’re meant to discourage the growth of harmful bacteria and fungus, which seems like a good thing, but there’s reason to believe that these preservatives may do more harm than good in the long run.
Parabens — often found in the forms of isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, or methylparaben — have been scrutinized in recent decades for their possible role as endocrine disruptors. While their effects are weak individually, they may be harmful in large doses. If you’d rather not take the risk, avoid parabens in baby wipes and other products. (7)
Polyethylene glycol, or PEG, is a common additive in personal care products, including baby wipes. It’s used as a penetration enhancer, allowing other ingredients to be driven deeper into the skin, which can lead to irritation.
PEG itself isn’t necessarily considered a toxic ingredient, but it’s so often contaminated with toxic substances, such as ethylene oxide, that it’s earned itself a “moderate hazard” label from the EWG. In short, you and your baby are better off without PEGs.
The Best Cruelty-Free Baby Wipes
Now that we have a better idea of what to avoid in baby wipes, it’s time for the fun part: reviewing our favorite, cruelty-free baby wipes. Let’s get to it!
Baby Wipes by bloom BABY
These unscented wipes from bloom BABY are hypoallergenic and made with 98% natural ingredients, including pure, glacial water. Users like how large these wipes are compared to most other natural wipes.
They also like that these wipes are soft and gentle enough for the most sensitive skin, but still thick and textured enough to hold up to big messes.
Each bulk case of bloom BABY wipes comes with a convenient travel pouch, which many parents find handy. Don’t expect to get multiple uses out of these pouches though; even fans of these wipes have to admit that they’re extremely flimsy and fall apart easily.
While these wipes are technically unscented, many buyers claim that they have a strong, unpleasant smell. Another common complaint is that these wipes don’t dispense neatly; pulling one out often starts a never-ending chain of wipes that have to be separated and stuffed back into the package (which is the last thing most parents want to deal with when changing a messy diaper at 2 am!).
Finally, while these wipes have mostly natural ingredients, they do contain phenoxyethanol, so these aren’t the wipes for you if you’re avoiding that ingredient.
- Textured surface
- Larger than most wipes
- Soft, yet resistant to tearing
- 98% natural ingredients
- Comes with reusable travel pouch*
- Strong scent that some find unpleasant
- Don’t dispense neatly
- Contain phenoxyethanol
- *Travel pouch is flimsy, kind of useless
Baby Bits Wipes Solution
Baby Bits Wipes Solution offers an eco-friendly alternative to disposable wipes. Made from coconut oil glycerin soap and essential oils, this solution comes in small, solid blocks that dissolve in hot water, making instant wipe solution that can be poured onto reusable cloth wipes, or the disposable wipes of your choice.
Most parents find the lavender and tea tree scent of this solution to be pleasant, but it’s too strong for others. It’s also worth noting that tea tree oil is a common skin irritant, so some babies may have a negative reaction to it. For the most part, users found that this solution leaves their babies’ skin feeling clean, without the unpleasant residue that many disposable wipes may leave behind.
A common complaint among users is that it can be difficult to get the solution blocks to dissolve completely, even in very hot water and with vigorous shaking. Others noted that the solution produced an unpleasant smell when used with wipes in a wipe warmer.
If you live in a hot climate, you may want to think twice before ordering this product in the summer, or you may find yourself stuck with a melted mass instead of individual blocks.
Overall, this is a great product for the eco-friendly, cruelty-free parent.
- Has a pleasant smell (compared to most)
- All-natural ingredients
- Doesn’t leave behind residue
- Tea tree oil may irritate some babies
- Doesn’t always dissolve completely
- May produce unpleasant smell when used in wipe warmer
- Difficult to ship during hot weather
Eco by Naty Hypoallergenic Baby Wipes
The Eco by Naty Thick Baby Wipes for Sensitive Skin are fragrance-free, hypoallergenic wipes that are supposed to be suitable for babies with sensitive skin. They’re also compostable, making them more eco-friendly than other disposable products.
They contain mostly water, plus aloe vera juice and chamomile extract, but some of their other ingredients may be cause for concern for some parents, such as sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate.
Many users find these wipes to be soft, thick, and great for sensitive babies. They also like that these wipes have mostly natural ingredients. Some parents, on the other hand, find that these wipes are too small, too thin, and not moist enough to get their babes’ bums truly clean with just a wipe or two. It appears that these negative qualities may be due to a recent change in the Naty wipes formulas.
Dissatisfied users state that even though this product is “unscented,” it does have an odd, chemical scent that they find unpleasant and deters some from continuing to use these wipes. They don’t appear to dispense well, either, as many users complain that simply removing a single wipe from a too-small opening can be a frustrating chore.
These hypoallergenic wipes may have been the go-to for cruelty-free parents seeking natural baby wipes once upon a time, but after a recent reformulation, it appears that you may be better off skipping these wipes.
- Gentle enough for (most) sensitive babies
- Too small and thin for some
- Not moist enough
- Unpleasant smell
- Don’t dispense easily
- Contains some concerning ingredients
The Honest Company Designer Baby Wipes
The Honest Company Designer Baby Wipes have set the gold standard for natural baby wipes. These wipes, available in bulk or in small, travel-size packages, are cruelty-free and packed with clean, botanical ingredients like pomegranate and cucumber extracts.
As an added bonus, they also have stylish packaging (hence, the “designer” part), making them a cute and colorful addition to your bathroom or changing table.
Parents like the Honest Wipes’ simple, plant-based ingredients, which make them great for most babies (and adults!) with sensitive skin. They’re also quite thick and have a quilted texture that makes it easier to clean up big messes. These wipes dispense easily, for the most part, and don’t leave behind any unpleasant residue, whether they’re used on your baby’s hands, face, or bum.
Not all users were so pleased, however; many claim that these wipes are too dry for their liking and some found that their wipes had a strong, unpleasant smell despite their being fragrance-free. Another common gripe was the designer price tag, but many find that the quality of the wipes is well worth the steeper price.
The most common complaint among parents doesn’t appear to have to do with the quality of the wipes themselves, but where they come from: China. The Honest Company is aware of their customers’ wariness of products made in China and have written an explanation of their decision to manufacture their products there on their blog. You can read what they have to say and decide for yourself if the “Made in China” label is enough to deter you from choosing these wipes.
- Clean, natural ingredients
- Stylish packaging
- Thick and textured
- Don’t leave behind residue or slime
- Gentle on sensitive skin
- Dispense easily
- Not as economically priced as other wipes
- Too dry for some
- Has unpleasant smell to some users
- Made in China
WaterWipes are praised far and wide for their simple, natural ingredients: 99.9% water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. Parents like that these wipes are free of unpronounceable chemicals. They also like that these are actually fragrance-free, unlike some other natural, “unscented” wipes that have an unpleasant chemical smell to them.
Parents of children who regularly get diaper rash or suffer from eczema were pleased to report that WaterWipes provided much needed relief.
WaterWipes stay wet, as their name would suggest, so you don’t have to worry about them drying out as easily as other wipes, even if you accidentally leave the package unsealed.
While there are a lot of benefits to using WaterWipes, there are some drawbacks as well. Perhaps the most common complaint among users is the poor packaging design of these wipes.
A flimsy, sticker lid makes it nearly impossible to keep these wipes completely sealed after a few uses and, according to most users, these wipes do not dispense easily at all, leading to a lot of added frustration. Some users found these wipes too thin and delicate for their liking, and didn’t care for their smooth texture.
It’s also worth noting that WaterWipes do contain 0.02% benzalkonium chloride, which is found in the added grapefruit seed extract. This ingredient is meant to deter the growth of mold, but it’s a known skin irritant. While it isn’t proven to be harmful at such a low concentration, you may be better off avoiding this ingredient.
- Minimal ingredients
- Stay moist even if package is left open
- Gentle enough for most skin types
- Flimsy packaging
- Doesn’t dispense easily
- Too smooth and thin for some
- Contains trace amounts of benzalkonium chloride
Babyganics Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizing Wipes
Babyganics Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizing Wipes use natural, plant-based ingredients to kill germs on your little one’s hands.
The citrus scent is derived from essential oils of orange and grapefruit, rather than artificial fragrances. While some parents find the citrusy smell pleasant, others find it overwhelming and downright gross, with some even claiming that it smells mildewy.
Users like that these wipes come in conveniently sized travel packs, making them easy to stow away in carry-on luggage, handbags, and diaper bags, but many users have complained that these don’t reseal well, which can lead to leakages and/or dried out wipes. Buyers of these wipes also aren’t too keen on the residue that it leaves behind after using.
Parents like that these wipes offer a way to sanitize their kids’ hands, toys, and pretty much anything their kids may come into contact with, without the use of harsh, drying alcohol.
While the lack of alcohol may make these wipes gentler, it’s important to note that the active ingredient in these wipes is benzalkonium chloride, at a 0.13% concentration. As little as 0.1% of this compound can cause a reaction in some people, so it’s important that you take precautions before introducing it to your child. (8)
- Convenient size for traveling
- No artificial fragrances
- Mostly “clean” ingredients
- Package doesn’t reseal well
- Citrus scent is too strong and unpleasant to many
- Leaves behind residue on hands
- Contains benzalkonium chloride
Baby Muslin Washcloths by Mukin
For the eco-conscious parent who wishes to use as few disposable baby products as possible, these Baby Muslin Washcloths may be the perfect solution. These environmentally friendly alternatives to disposable wipes are machine washable and can be reused over and over again.
These washcloths are soft enough for most users, and many have discovered that the cloths will become even softer after washing. However, many reviewers have had completely different experiences; several claim that the cloths actually become rougher after washing, and are very prone to shrinking.
Each of these colorful muslin washcloths has a loop on one corner for hanging, which is convenient if you’re using these in the tub as opposed to the changing table. They’re multifunctional (yes, you can use them too), and many parents choose to use them as burping rags.
While these cloths are a great alternative to baby wipes, they’re not for everybody. Many users state that they are too thin, they don’t lather well, and the colors may fade and bleed after just one wash. Some reviewers also discovered that their muslin cloths weren’t well constructed and started unraveling at the seams before they were even washed.
Even if you are as gentle as possible with these cloths, you still may find yourself replacing them within the year, but if you’re determined to avoid using disposable baby wipes as much as possible, these (or something similar to them) may be the best option for you.
- Soft enough (to most people)
- Convenient hanging loop
- Dyes fade and bleed easily
- Not very sturdy
- Prone to shrinking
- Too thin for some
- Doesn’t lather well
Our favorite cruelty-free baby wipes
There are a lot of great wipes on our list, but the top spot goes to The Honest Company Designer Baby Wipes.
These wipes meet all the most important criteria: they’re soft, gentle, textured, thick, and fragrance-free. Most users find that they dispense neatly and easily, they’re just the right size, and they clean up without leaving behind any sticky, slimy residue.
While these wipes are great, they’re not free from criticism.
Most users think these wipes smell just fine, but some claim that they have a strong, unpleasant smell. Their premium quality comes with a premium price tag that some may find off-putting.
The most common complaint about these wipes, though, is that they are made in China. The Honest Company has addressed these concerns openly, but if you’re set on not using products made in China, you may want to consider some of the other wipes on our list.
I totally get those concerns, too. From human rights abuses and scant regard for the environment through to criminally low wages and child labor, recommending products made in China is sure to raise an eyebrow.
However, our research and reviews put these out on top, and it would be remiss of me to say otherwise.
There’s also confusion in some quarters of the Internet regarding products made in China and the cruelty-free label. Yes, it’s true that certain products (think cosmetics) sold in China are required to be tested on animals, but items manufactured and sold elsewhere are not. The Honest Company, for now at least, falls into the latter category.
So, no matter which cruelty-free wipes you choose from our list, rest assured that you can have a clean, happy baby without contributing to animal cruelty.
If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.
About The Author:
Cristina is a writer, doggy daycare attendant, and vegan of nearly a decade. She earned a B.A. in Comparative Literature with a minor in gender studies from University of California, Irvine. As an undergrad, she served as president of the university’s animal rights club and conducted and presented research on the intersections of feminism and veganism.
When she’s not writing or taking care of dogs, she enjoys reading everything from autobiographies to YA fantasy novels, tending to her houseplants, cooking, and drawing. She lives in Southern California with her boyfriend and their dog.
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- LII | 15 U.S. Code § 1454 – Rules and regulationshttps://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1454 |
- EWG’s Skin Deep® | 2-BROMO-2-NITROPROPANE-1,3-DIOL (FORMALDEHYDE RELEASER) | https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredients/700019-2-BROMO-2-NITROPROPANE-1,3-DIOL_(FORMALDEHYDE_RELEASER)/
- ECHA | FORMALDEHYDE AND FORMALDEHYDE RELEASERS | https://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/13641/annex_xv_report_formaldehyde_en.pdf/58be2f0a-7ca7-264d-a594-da5051a1c74b
- EWG’s Skin Deep® | PHENOXYETHANOL | https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredients/704811-PHENOXYETHANOL/
- SCCS | Opinion on Phenoxyethanol | https://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/docs/sccs_o_195.pdf
- Campaign for Safe Cosmetics | Phenoxyethanol | https://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/phenoxyethanol/
- Emiliano Ripamonti, Elena Allifranchini, Stefano Todeschi and Elena Bocchietto | Endocrine Disruption by Mixtures in Topical Consumer Products | https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9284/5/4/61/htm
- Sheila Jacobs | Benzalkonium Chloride: A Skin Irritant and Sensitizer in Patients With Dermatitis | https://www.dermatologyadvisor.com/home/topics/dermatitis/benzalkonium-chloride-a-skin-irritant-and-sensitizer-in-patients-with-dermatitis/