Non-Toxic Baby Wipes

There are two main things to watch out for in baby wipes: fragrance and certain synthetic preservatives, namely parabens or phenoxyethanol.

All baby wipes need some type of preservative, to prevent mold and microbial growth. This is true even for brands such as Water Wipes, that proudly claim to be 99% water. In the case of Water Wipes, the preservative is grapefruit seed extract, which contains benzalkonium chloride. Although the concentration of this preservative is very low, given its potential to cause irritation and allergies, I would prefer to avoid it.

Instead, the best type of preservative in baby wipes appears to be sodium benzoate. (with an EWG score of 3, versus 6 for benzalkonium chloride).

My recommendations for fragrance-free baby wipes that use this as the preservative are:

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Wipes

  • Very good ingredients and performance, with a soft texture that cleans well.
  • Parents typically love these wipes. The only (rare) complaints are that sometimes the wipes can leave a lint-like residue, or that it is difficult to remove a single wipe at a time from the pack.
  • Average cost per wipe (in bulk): $0.03-0.04
  • Ingredients: Water, cocamidopropyl pg-dimonium chloride phosphate (plant-based cleaning agent), citric acid (plant-derived pH adjuster), quillaja saponaria wood extract (plant-derived cleaning agent), aloe barbadensis leaf extract (plant-derived skin conditioner), tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin E) (synthetic skin softener), sodium benzoate (synthetic preservative). Soft wipe material: Wood pulp, polyethylene, polypropylene.

Pampers Aqua Pure Wipes

  • Thick, soft, and very moist, without harsh chemicals.
  • Average cost per wipe (in bulk): $0.04
  • Ingredients: Water/Eau, Citric Acid, PEG 40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Citrate, sorbitan Caprylate, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA
  • In creating these wipes, Pampers seems to be trying to capture some of the appeal of the ever-popular Water Wipes, but the end result is a product with even better ingredients and performance.

The bottom line

The ingredients in Seventh Generation wipes are slightly better than Pampers Aqua Pure, but Pampers wipes may perform slightly better. Both are very good choices, so one option is to start with Seventh Generation and then switch to Pampers if needed.

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