With an increased desire for convenience and items that are easily disposed of, we may be doing more harm to the environment than we realize. This is especially true with one of the most commonly used products around our homes, the disposable wet wipe.
These pre-moistened towels offer a quick and easy way to clean our homes, our children and even ourselves, and as a bonus, many of these products are marketed as “flushable.”
The problem, however, is that once these wet wipes are flushed down the toilet, they do not simply disappear; they clog up our pipes and sewers, creating tons of harmful waste.
Because the wipes are usually made from a combination of plastics, wood pulp and cotton, they are difficult to break down, and can float in sewers and oceans for years.
A recent report by the Marine Conservation Society revealed that wet wipes have become the fastest-growing pollution on UK beaches, with volunteers picking them up along the coastline at a rate of 35 wipes per kilometer.
Not only that, but studies have shown that the chemicals in some wet wipes can cause serious skin allergies, including dermatitis and eczema.
Some baby wipes also contain an antimicrobial called bronopol, which can release low levels of formaldehyde as it breaks down. Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound that is known to cause eye and throat irritation, headaches and dizziness, and has been classified as a human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency.
It may be easier and more convenient to use wet wipes around the home, but there are more eco-friendly alternatives you can try.
For simple cleaning tasks around the house, try a reusable microfiber cloth and water.
And if you have any applications for which you prefer disposable wipes, try using organic and biodegradable wipes that are truly flushable as well as hypoallergenic to make sure that they’re safe for your family AND the environment.
Love that Norwex Baby Wipes are a great alternative to wet wipes! I learned so much from this article too!
I’ve always carried a travel enviro cloth in my purse, but since I started carrying the new wet wipes bag I find myself using it so much more when I’m out and about. I keep a travel cloth and baby body cloths in the bag along with a tiny spray bottle of water. I saw a family having a picnic yesterday and the amount of wet wipes they went through was enough to make you want to cry after reading this article. We need to keep sharing this so more people become aware.
Great article. Shared it on Facebook!! Thanks!
I love the concept of the wet wipe zippered bag for the Travel Enviro & Baby Cloth, however Norwex offered a variety of fabrics, as many of us prefer discreet /simple solid fabric colors.
great feedback Linda, i’ll pass it along!
I will use NORWEX wet wipes bag and travel pac envirocloths instead. Great eye opener.
We had some plumbing issues at our old house and this is exactly what the plumber shared. So glad for easy alternatives with Norwex!
I never flush…just throw in garbage. We have a septic system, and I just prefer to throw them away!
Question??? throwing them away might keep them out of your sewer system, but doesn’t it still go to your landfill? JB Culbertson
We use cloth wipes with our cloth diapers. If you don’t sew, you can cut up old t-shirts to make your wipes or tissues. I like to sew mine with flannel on one side & baby terrycloth on the other. They work great as face wipes & wash cloths & even family cloth (instead of toilet paper) too. Feel free to contact me if you are in need of some cloth wipes.
thanks for the ideas Misty!
We also use cloth wipes. Our fourth child is using these diapers and cloth wipes…and I can’t even imagine how many disposable diapers and wipes we’ve kept out of the landfill!! Diapers alone should be around 18,000 left out of the landfill. And that’s a modest estimate.
I once actually read the directions on a common brand of household wipes that said in order to properly disinfect a surface with the pre-moistened wipe, the surface needs to remain wet for 10 minutes and then rinsed with water. Not only are these wipes wasteful and harmful to the environment, most people are not likely using them properly either. I’m guilty of using these wipes years ago, but with a little education, I will never use them again.
That is exactly how I feel! I will never use chemical wipes again.
I used the new wet wipes bag at the grocery store this week! I’m so excited to have this going into cold and flu season.
It’s always concerned me that Disinfectant Wipes are on the school supply list each year for my kids’ classrooms. I know the teachers are looking for an easy way to clean up in the classroom. My daughter has a serious skin allergy so we’ve always supplied organic ones she can use. Anyone have experience with teachers using Norwex cloths with water in their classroom instead of Disinfectant Wipes? I’m thinking of donating one to each of my kids’ teachers this year.
I have a teacher friend who uses Norwex in her classroom! She has kids with chemical sensitivities and explained to the parents about bleach vs. Envirocloth. When they understood that the cloth worked just as well (better!) than the wet wipes, they were thrilled to cross them off their shopping lists. Parents gave a modest $2 supply fee to cover it for the year. Hand washing does a better job on kids and Norwex does a better job on surfaces.
P.S. Peppermint Hand Wash. Kids go gaga over the smell and the bubbles.
I donated one to my daughter’s classroom along with another consultant and a majority of the time they used those instead of the wipes! I think it’s important they get at least two in order to make the classroom cleaning still efficient.
I love the idea of getting teachers to have money donated towards a few instead of wipes but haven’t gotten that far yet at our school. That will be my next goal I think. 🙂
When my kids get wet and sticky…everyday…these work a treat.
Really like your blue enviro clothes…they really soak up the moisture…
I’ve always given our kids’ teachers Norwex for the classroom. They love it!
I also use essential oils. I’m wondering if I can use these on our cloths to help freshen as I clean? Or if the oils will cause any damage to the cloths if I’m wiping myself off and I have oils on me?
The oils won’t damage the cloths, but also are not needed. You just need water!! Amazing!
This is super gross. I’ve always used cloth wipes for baby, and I have loved the Travel Pack of EnviroCloths. I’m digging the Wet Wipe Bag, and I put the little 1 oz. spray bottle in there with water. It’s such a healthier alternative to thousands of nasty rags in the trash every year- not to mention that my house smells better without that in the trash can!
This is a very real problem where I live. Our processing plant repeatedly spills raw sewage several times a year into the nearby desert wash adjacent to our subdivision. The plant owner has claimed multiple times that is due to flushed wipes. I love that Norwex has the baby body cloths and the new carry pouch as solution!
I like this idea but am confronted by using a reusable cloth for the only thing for which I use baby wipes; diaper/nappy changes. I have a 1 year old with some pretty horrendous bowel movements that require extensive cleaning! How do you use a norwex cloth for that, how many do you need and how on each do you clean them afterwards?
I really think you’d be amazed at how much the cloths hold on to & pick up. They also have silver in them which allows them to self-purify as they dry.
Emily, thats the only thing I use them for as well. With my first daughter, I cut a bunch of regular body cloths in little pieces and laundered them every couple of days. A lot of work and running back and forth to bathroom to get them wet. It’s time-consuming and inconvenient unless your changing table is in your bathroom.
But I’ve been trying to use Norwex baby body cloths as well. At least for number one’s one cloth will do. Rinse it out after and reuse, launder them as you feel needed, maybe every few days to week. It’s all a matter of making it a habit. Number two’s are tough …
How do I tell my friends about this without making them feel super guilty about using so many wet wipes?
why not share this article on facebook 🙂
I am so excited to purchase a wipes bag to keep with me at all times. What a great alternative.
I can’t wait to order that wet wipe bag and take my travel cloths with me when traveling. I’m lucky that I don’t have any babies around anymore to use them but they would have been so convenient way back when… 🙂
I had a toilet clog. I figured one of the kids threw a toy in it. When the plumber came, it was clogged for sure. But not with toys! With baby wipes. That I used TWO YEARS AGO while potty training my daughter. They really are a problem!
I love using the Reuseable Wet Wipe Bag when we travel, with the Travel Pack. But now I am excited to use the New Microfiber Variety Pack (EnviroCloth, Window Cloth, Body Cloth all with BacLock).
For adults that use flushable wet wipes, a wonderful option are bidet toilet seats. They are available from a number of companies (Toto Washlet, Bio Bidet, Brondell are a few) and are available on Amazon. Warm tush, warm water, less toilet paper and no wet wipes quickly offset the cost.
I think this was the first article I commented on. I’m so happy that I have a couple of the travel packs to carry in my wet wipe bag. I take it with me to zumba class in case we are going out and I bring my body cloth with me to clean up. I also take the bag with me on trips to clean my hotel room with my travel cloths before I touch anything! 🙂
while travelling a long distance wet baby wipes are good to use
we can also reuse it for time being,
But baby wipes are good for long term use if its a organic baby wipes means it protect the baby from the rushes and skin disease.
its very good to use a wet baby wipes which will be more helpful in travelling time….
Never have used them – the Norwex cloths are such a more sensible solution – in every way – effectiveness, cost, environmental and health impact.
My kids only knew cloth diapers and DIY reusable wipes. I am amazed when I see parents with large boxes of diapers and wipes in the checkout line at the store. I know that cloth diapers are not for everyone. I think that more people would be more likely to be on board if our sociey was more conscious about where waste actually ends up, rather than it disappearing from the curb (and our conscience) on garbage day.
The reason why I stopped purchase wipe diapers, save $$ and help enviroment. I love NORWEX baby cloth.. reusable
I just purged my house of wet wipes! <3
Great article, loved the visual, really makes you think about what we are doing to the environment.
As a teacher I used to get ‘bus loads’ of these brought into my classroom for cleaning supplies. Until I was better educated with Norwex I never read the label! It states that you have to keep the surface visibly wet between 4 and 10 mins depending on the brand. Then you have to rewipe the surface with potable water, wash your hands, ideally wear gloves and the fine print it says KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN!
My classroom soon got the mini enviro’s that the children can use… easier and safer all around!
Thanks for sharing, Helen. It’s funny how many people aren’t aware of the warnings found on most wet wipes labels. Glad you discovered Norwex!
My boyfriend insists on using them. I never thought about the impact and thought of myself as pretty environmentally conscious. I guess I have some work to do and we are either not using them or changing to another brand that biodegrades.