Ever since the invention of the wet wipe, originally called the ‘moist towelette (you can see why they changed the name), we’ve been addicted.
Wet wipes are super convenient and their disposability makes us feel like they’re more hygienic – it just feels cleaner to throw them away after wiping up.
The problem is that they’re incredibly wasteful. Only last week an island of wet wipes was found stuck in the River Thames. These wet wipe mountains or ‘fatbergs’ as they’re called are the product of the wipes that get flushed down the toilet. But even those that don’t get flushed end up in landfill or are incinerated as part of regular waste disposal. Most wet wipes are also made from plastic fibres as well.
Substituting cleansing cloths to wipe up nappy areas, mucky faces and hands can be a great way to reduce your households environmental footprint, without too much fuss. There are also other alternatives that make use of non-plastic fibres that are more sustainable. We were inspired to make Mushi cloths with this in mind – also in order to make meal time clean up easier by getting our kids doing it for themselves.
Before you check out Mushi reuseable cleansing cloths, these are the best alternatives to wet wipes we’ve examined over the years.
Wet wipes made from more sustainable materials
A major problem with traditional wet wipes is that they’re overwhelmingly made from plastic fibres. The good news is that a number of retailers in the UK have now banned plastic wipes from their shelves and that’s encouraged a proliferation of plastic alternative disposable wipes.
Biodegradable wipes from Cheeky Panda, like all of their products, make use of bamboo instead of plastic. Bamboo is soft and gentle on skin and crucially comes from a plant that grows quickly and is therefore considered sustainable. Harvesting bamboo and turning it into the cellulose product that you can wipe a baby with does use a chemical formula that not everyone loves however. Also, bamboo grows largely in east Asia and has to be shipped a long way to reach countries in the West. While not perfect though, it’s a great improvement on plastic production and if put into proper food waste bins, will biodegrade in a much more environmentally friendly way.
Another plastic-free disposable wipe alternative comes from Waterful. While they don’t state what plant they use, like Cheeky Panda, they also use cellulose plant fibres that are biodegradable in their wipes.
Another alternative to the disposable plastic wipe that uses fibres from sustainably managed forests to make biodegradable wipes. Mum & You claim that their wipes disintegrate twice as fast as an apple core so if you make sure they go in your food recycling or your compositing bin, you’re saving a lot of wipes from landfill or incineration.
Another brand of non-plastic wet wipes that made their name big on making sure their wipes were free from skincare ingredients that would be harmful to baby skin as well. They have some great weaning wipes as well with textured fibres designed to help clean mucky hands and faces of food as well. Made from a plant-based material they’re 100% biodegradable.
Wet wipes made from non-plastic fibres that are totally biodegradable are a great improvement on single-use plastic wipes that end up in landfill – or sewers. But packaging the wipes and relying on anything that’s single use also leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to an eco-friendly solution to cleaning up your kids.
Wet wipe alternatives… minus the wipe
Wet wipes were essentially designed as absorbent cloths that could carry a cleansing solution. Hence why they’re usually packaged in sealed plastic packaging. The whole purpose is to lock in the moisture to make cleaning easy. If you’ve ever tried using a dried out wet wipe, you realise just how useless they are without the ‘wet’ part. So a potential eco-friendly improvement is to make the ‘wet’ part convenient for any cloth or tissue and ditch the wipe altogether.
Wype is a clever alternative to traditional wet wipes in that they’ve removed the wipe altogether.
What Wype have done is say goodbye to the wipe, and just focus on the moisture. Locking the moisture into a dispenser that makes it easy to turn any standard toilet tissue into a wipe. Designed to upgrade your standard loo roll, they are a great travel alternative to carrying around baby wipes and can make use of the bathroom facilities wherever you go.
Of course, this leaves a lot up to you in terms of the toilet roll you use but environmentally friendly options do exist in that department also.
Wype uses a re-useable dispenser cap and aluminium bottle that is more environmentally friendly than a plastic bottle.
Re-useable wipes kits
While scrapping the wipe or changing the material of the wipe is a good alternative to plastic wet wipes, ultimately reuseability is a step above recycling when it comes to reducing our environmental footprint. Re-useable cloth wipes are moderately less convenient (you need to put them in the wash once they’re soiled), but they’re re-useable 1000s of times.
Our own GRASP Mushi cleansing cloths use microfibres to make mealtime clean-up of mucky hands and faces super simple. The microfibres actually do a better job at cleaning than wipes, are totally chemical free and can be machine washed 100s of times so you really never need to replace them as your baby or toddler learns to feed themselves.
Cheeky offer another alternative to disposable wipes with a wide array of materials and set combinations to make single-use clean up of your kids a thing of the past. Their travel range – designed to make on the go clean up easy – is particularly impressive with spray, soiled wipes bag and storage kit a great way to totally transition away from using any wet wipes again.