How Safe Are Baby Wipes?

I was recently chatting with one of my readers who mentioned that both her daughter and her daughter’s baby had painful eczema, especially on her fingers and the baby’s bottom; she wondered if the baby wipes had anything to do with it.  I remembered that I had terrible bouts of eczema on my fingers when I had babies and ended up making my own wipes because of it.

Most baby wipes contain a common preservative known as Bronopol, or 2-BROMO-2-NITROPROPANE-1,3-DIOL, which according to the Environmental Working Group has the highest hazard score possible and is a known human immune system, lung and skin toxicant.  It is listed by the European Union as a toxin affecting wildlife and the environment.  Bronopol is used in baby wipes in place of alcohol and other preservatives and because it is a highly effective antimicrobial ingredient.   Wipes can also contain phthalates (a group of synthetic chemicals that act as a softening agent but are also known endocrine disruptors) and other skin irritating chemicals.  While eczema can be hereditary, people with it usually find that chemical irritants can trigger an outbreak.

Whether you and your baby have eczema or not, I recommend erring on the side of caution (small, developing bodies are more susceptible to the dangers of toxins than adult bodies) and encourage you to buy one of the purer, alcohol and fragrance-free brands like Seventh Generation or Tushies, make your own, or try the “waterfall” method recommended by a French pediatrician in Manhattan. He encourages new moms to set up a changing station near the kitchen sink and hold the baby under the faucet to clean them.  It cleans better than wipes and cuts down on diaper rash.

For those of you who want to save money and have the time to make your own baby wipes solution, I have listed a basic recipe below.  You can also find many recipes using a variety of essential oils or specific anti-fungal recipes on-line.

The Environmental Working Group site offers baby product suggestions, including shampoo, soap, wipes and diaper cream that are safer alternatives to conventional brands loaded with toxic chemicals. Go to

Basic Wipes Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons chemical-free baby shampoo or wash
  • 2 tablespoons oil (almond, olive, or jojoba)
  • 2-4 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel

Shake will in a jar or mix with whisk and then pour over wipes (soft wash cloths, tee-shirt or cotton squares) quickly before oil begins to separate.

Information compiled from and



3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cloth Diaper Guru on June 12, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Reblogged this on clothdiaperguru and commented:
    Commercially available wipes can contain toxic chemicals that irritate delicate skin. Read more from “What’s Green with Betsy” for safe and environmentally friendly ideas on DIY disposable or cloth wipe solution.


  2. Posted by gail on June 13, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Can’t wait to have grandchildren so I can try this out!!!
    I love your ideas Betswee


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