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Most of us have read about 'fatbergs', the repulsive sewer mountains that been found all over the UK. According to Water UK, 90% of the materials causing sewer blockages are wet wipes.
It gets worse. Not only do many wet wipes contain plastic – and we all know how bad that is for the environment – but after the discovery of all these fatbergs, many wipes don't break down and consequently can cause long-term issues for wildlife on land and in the sea.
Those that do break down can contain plastic that leaves behind a harmful residue.
Despite the warnings, there's a reason there are an estimated 11 billion wet wipes are used annually in the UK. They're convenient. And our time-poor lives can often make us overlook the impact these time-saving products are having.
Luckily, many brands are doing their utmost to manufacture wet wipes that are plastic-free and biodegradable or compostable.
Keep in mind that the jury is still out as to whether wet wipes can ever be truly biodegradable. So if you must use them, look out for brands that have good, planet-friendly creds behind them as you know they’ll be doing their utmost to research and utilise the best processes to limit the impact of their products.
Heed this wipe warning from Friends of the Earth too: Never flush them down the loo. Not even the ones actually labelled as 100% flushable or biodegradable.
Why? They will still become a choking hazard for wildlife because they don't break down entirely - in fact they break down into chunks, which can still end up in the ocean/waterways.
Your new wet wipe mantra? Bin, don't flush.
Best planet-friendly wet wipes for your face, home and baby
Sustainable face wipes:
Simple Kind to Skin Biodegradable Cleansing Wipes | £3.50 from Boots
Simple® has long been a kind-to-skin/animals/planet brand with no harsh chemicals used in their products.
These popular wipes are unscented and contain no artificial perfumes or harsh chemicals (they’re dermatologically tested and hypoallergenic too).
Plus, they’re biodegradable – aka they’ll break down naturally. How? They’re made with 100% plant-based fibres which biodegrade in only 42 days under home and industrial compost conditions (you can Google how to compost stuff at home).
The brand claims one pack of their biodegradable wipes saves the equivalent of four plastic bags. Plus they’re the first brand to put their wipes in a 100% recyclable outer packaging. The wipes are vegan, and the brand is certified cruelty free by PETA.
Beauty Kitchen 30 Cleansing Eco Facial Wipes | £5.99 from Amazon
These compostable wipes made in the UK by award-winning natural beauty brand, Beauty Kitchen, are one step better than biodegradable (which can take several months to break down).
Yes, in the right environment (which means warm temperatures, nutrients, moisture and plenty of oxygen) these wipes will leave behind beneficial residual products like fertilisers and others which improve the soil health.
The wipes contain Abyssinian Seed Oil, which nourishes and restores dry or ageing skin, but there are no parabens, sulphates, or synthetic fragrances. They’re cruelty-free and suitable for vegans/vegetarian friendly.
Founder Jo says: “To become a Beauty Kitchen product it has to do three things: first, it has to really work…second it has to get great results with only natural ingredients, and third it has to be sustainable both inside and out.”
The brand also has a return/refill/repeat programme to wash and re-use packaging which is better than recycling.
RAWGANIC Pure Cleansing Gentle Soothing Biodegradable Makeup Removal Organic Cotton Wipes | £9.99 (pack of two) from Amazon
Rawganic began life as a medical company specialising in skin wipes. But after discussions with hospital staff/patients, they realised that not only are people more conscious of what they put on their skin, but also concerned about using products in an increasingly disposable way.
So they developed these biodegradable and compostable anti-ageing organic face wipes which are made from 100% organic cotton. They're also free from nasties: they only use organic & natural bioactives to maintain skin moisture levels, strengthen skin barrier, and protect from free radical damage.
Sustainable cleaning wipes:
Ecozone Anti-Bacterial Multi Surface Biodegradable Wipes 40 per pack | £1.35 from Amazon
Ecozone is a UK company that’s been going for 20 years – and it is all about the power of plant-based ingredients.
In a nutshell, they provide consumers with sustainable alternatives to conventional household cleaning products. And these 100% biodegradable household wipes are alcohol-free but will still kill 99.9% of bacteria and bugs.
The Cheeky Panda – Antibacterial Bamboo Wipes (100 Wipes) | £7.99 from Amazon
After a trip to Asia in 2016 - where they saw how much surplus bamboo was being wasted - Cheeky Panda co-founders Julie and Chris realised it would be a more sustainable solution for products than using trees.
Now they make everything with surplus bamboo, from loo roll to tissues, nappies and wipes. And these strong Cheeky Panda wipes are made from FSC forest-certified bamboo (which uses 65% less carbon emissions than using trees).
These antibacterial bamboo wipes are made from water, aloe vera and fruit extracts. Simply pop them in your compost bin after use. And, yes, the packaging is made from recyclable material too.
My Happy Planet Wipes | £25.45 (12 packs) or £53.50 (36 packs) from My Happy Planet
Claiming to be the purest, sustainable wipes on the market, these multi-award-winning wipes are 100% biodegradable, 100% compostable and 100% plastic-free.
They are made from FSC certified wood pulp and dispersible cellulose plant fibres and contain 99.9% purified water, Apple Fruit Extract and food grade/mild preservatives.
Plus they’re alcohol-free, fragrance-free and cruelty-free too. Profits from every sale also go to support charities that tidy up our oceans.
Sustainable baby wipes:
Eco by Naty Unscented Baby Wipes - 100% Compostable and Plant-Based Wipes| £5.50 from Amazon
This Swedish company is working with organisations, governments and leading worldwide experts to find solutions for using better materials and better waste management.
The brand's mission is to use renewable and compostable materials that are good for the environment, not to mention our bodies. To ensure this happens, each raw material/product is tested twice in an independent lab.
These wipes are made from natural, compostable and renewable material with 98.4% pure water and are soothing for even the most sensitive baby skin.
Also, Naty has become one of the first wet wipe brands to be certified compostable by TÜV Austria (an official certification board) and Ecocert Cosmos ( all the products marketed with the Ecocert logo have been verified from composition to processing and packaging.)
Waterwipes Biodegradable Single Pack 60’s | £2.99 from Boots
Calling themselves ‘the world’s purest baby wipe’ – the Irish-based brand uses as few ingredients as possible. Each wipe is 99.9% water with a drop of fruit extract that acts as a natural skin conditioner.
The water content is purified using a unique, seven-stage purification process (which offers a deeper and more effective clean compared to standard tap water or boiled, cooled tap water).
The wipes are made from 100% viscose, which is a renewable, plant-based material. Plus it’s soft on your baby’s skin, and strong enough that it won’t fall apart in your hand as you’re wiping your baby.
CannyMum Bamboo Unscented Dry Wipes, 200 | £12.30 from Amazon
These are 100% biodegradable dry wipes, meaning the only ingredients added are the ones you put on them (or you can just wet them for use with plain water).
They’re softer on the skin than paper towels and don’t pill up, or fall apart like tissues. Also, bamboo decomposes rapidly, so any chemical-free wipes made from this are the most biodegradable version of bamboo baby wipes.
Sustainable wipes for your toilet
Wype 'wet wipe gel' | £10 (for a starter kit) from Wype
As nobody should be flushing any kind of wipe, no matter what its eco-friendly claims are, we’ve found a genius product that’ll turn your loo roll into a wipe.
Yes, relatively new UK personal care brand, Wype, has developed a natural gel that you spray onto toilet paper so it becomes a water-soluble wipe.
The gel is made from natural, organic, vegan and cruelty-free ingredients (including soothing aloe vera and chamomile). It’s also dermatologically approved and hypoallergenic.
Crucially, it doesn’t break down your toilet paper before you get the chance to use it, either. And the aluminium bottle can be refilled, too so it’ll last you for life.
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