In raising my children and minimizing waste, one of my most steadfast beliefs is that disposable wipes are not at all necessary. I dislike them for many reasons, but now we can add to the list that they are not flushable. Recent research indicates that so-called “flushable wipes” are not really flushable after all.
I know that many people and parents don’t think they could function without disposable wipes. If you’re curious how we do without – and why – here are my top 5 tips:
Use toilet paper. If your goal is to flush it after you use it – use toilet paper. It is the only thing that is legitimately flushable. In place of a wipe, it can be used to remove eye makeup, wipe runny noses and clean off toilet rims. If you need a ‘wet wipe’ you can make toilet paper damp and still use it. Promise. (Just don’t scrub).
When purchasing the toilet paper, you can make it even more sustainable by buying one made with a high recycled paper content. Why should you seek that out? Because forests.
Use baby face cloths. To clean our babies’ bums, we used a set of baby face cloths instead of disposable wipes. You can buy them in cotton or polyester, and I definitely preferred cotton. When out of the house, we brought a bottle of water to moisten them, and a small water-proof bag to store used ones in. Once every few days they were washed along with our cloth diapers. My kids are out of diapers now, but we hung onto the facecloths as all-purpose rags, and we still use them daily.
Use paper napkins: We keep a few paper napkins in the glovebox of our car. They come in very handy for both kids and adults. Many a sticky hand has been wiped with one. Once used, we bring them home and put them in the compost. No wet wipe needed.
Use a handkerchief: I make an effort to have a clean handkerchief in my coat pocket or purse at all times. Not only are they handy for runny noses, they’ve saved my bacon when there’s been a messy kid. You can read more about why I love the humble handkerchief so much here.
Relax a little about germs: Your body, and your kid’s body, needs the natural ecosystem that lives on it. Using wipes with antibacterial agents is likely just killing the good bacteria that help fend off the bad bacteria on your skin (one of them main reasons I won’t use them). Washing with plain soap and warm water is the most effective way to remove unwanted bacteria, without killing the natural cultures on your skin.
There you have it – there is literally no upside to disposable wipes. If you think there is, I’d love to hear about it. Join the conversation below.