Wet wipes are definitely a parenting essential. In fact, did you know that British parents use a staggering 44.1 million wet wipes EVERY DAY?
Saved article for later
I am probably responsible for at least a million of those, as I use them SO much - not only for wiping my little monster's bum, face and any other crevices that require cleaning, but also around the house; a spot of light dusting - check. Food splattered up the wall - check. Returning my trainers to a lovely shade of sparkling white - check.
Plus, I use facial wipes and eye make up remover wipes every day and multi surface anti bac wipes for quick wipe downs, like the high chair. I've even got nail varnish remover wipes! I'm a bit of a wipe addict (mainly due to both laziness and convenience).
I have however, found myself feeling a bit bloody guilty about wet wipes recently to be honest, especially as they're in the news a lot at the moment due to the government rightly looking at eliminating avoidable plastic waste. When you actually stop and think past the ease of using wet wipes, they are pretty flipping awful. I had not considered what they were made of - usually cotton woven with plastic resins like polyester or polyproylene, which are not biodegradeable. Also, after a spot of research on the subject, I have discovered that some of the chemicals and fragrances that are used are really not great when in contact with human skin - least of all on your precious little nugget's backside.
Then there's the flushing of wipes. About a fifth of parents admit to flushing wet wipes, which of course is a significant cause of damage to river beds and marine wildlife. Lots of people are confused about this, but you really aren't supposed to flush ANY kind of wipes at all, even the ones that say they are flushable, as despite what the packaging says there are currently no products available that meet UK standard water industry flushable guidelies.
And who could watch the beautiful Blue Planet II without feeling like they simply must do more to reduce their use of plastic? Not me - I cried my eyes out.
BUT... could I live without my beloved wet wipes? Could I? I decided I was going to have a blinking good go at it. So I started with what I personally saw as the easier switches, so here's how I did it:
I replaced the beauty wipes with eye make up remover and organic, biodegradeable cotton pads that can go straight in the bin after use. I'm using Organyc 100% Organic Biodegradeable Cotton Pads, £2.49
I'm now using re-useable muslin face cloths to remove my cleanser - you can pop them in the washing machine every couple of days, so I have a couple on rotation. I can really recommend Tender Touch Bamboo Face Cloths by Face Theory, £7.25 for three. If you really can't live without face wipes, you can get biodegradeable ones, like these from Boots, £2.66.
- I've ditched the multi surface cleaning wipes and replaced them with liquid cleaning products and re-useable cloths - my Mum actually got me in to the cloths, as she's a bit of an eco warrior on this front and has been nagging me for ages about it. Again, you just wash them as needed, which is super easy. My favourite cleaning products are Method (they smell divine as well as cleaning really well and are environmentally friendly), but I've also discovered White Vinegar Spray in Wilko's for only £1 and can report it cleans EVERYTHING and contains no nasties. I also love microfibre cloths by e cloth, available at most supermarkets.
So that was the easy bit and after these fairly easy wins, I definitely felt I'd done my bit and actually might end up going to heaven too!
But, and it's a really big BUTT (pardon the pun), what about the baby wipes? This made me mega nervous as they're so easy and also so cheap (we're currently using a supermarket brand's sensitive version that works out at under 1p a wipe).
So I popped on Blue Planet II again to remind myself what it really was all about and began researching alternatives as I mopped my eyes dry (not with a wet wipe, I hasten to add).
You can go the whole hog and use re-useable cloths and water, but I really am not convinced I can make this leap just yet, although I did find a fab new product that is an environmentally friendly alternative to wet wipes.
with FreshX Tissue Spritz you can do anything that you do with a wet wipe - you simply spray toilet tissue with FreshX and it transforms into a soothing and cleaning wipe. It really does work and comes in fragrance free or aloe vera. Plus you can actually flush this, as it is toilet tissue.
FreshX Tissue Spritz with botanicals is available in Sainsburys stores and online at www.sainsburys.co.uk priced at £3.00 per 150ml bottle which makes up to 200 wipes.
If however, you feel that's not for you, I did look at biodegradeable wipes too, which are the first logical step away from non-biodegradeable wipes.
There are actually quite a few on the market (see my Top 5 here), but I've gone with Mum & You, a great new brand who designs products for mums by mums and whose wipes are 100% biodegradeable, made using 100% naturally derived fibres and are dermatalogically tested and hypoallergenic. They work out around just under 2p per wipe, but I think if we're going to be committed to solving this terrible plastic problem, we have to accept that the products will cost slightly more. Also, as I'm not using them for general cleaning anymore, they should last longer!
As Catherine Stopp, Chief Innovation Officer at Mum & You says "We don't expect anyone to change their lifestyles, but if everyone made one or two small acts, such as swapping their baby wipes for biodegradeable ones, this would add up to a monumental change"
I've definitely had my head turned on wet wipes - as parents we want to have convenient products that are great for our kids, but we also need to consider what is best for the environment too, especially as the ban on single use plastics will be imminent. I'd encourage everyone to give it a go - if I can do it, then really anybody can!