Would you rub formaldehyde and hormone disrupting chemicals on all of your baby’s bottom? I am sure you answered no to that question. Well, if you are using some brands of commercially manufactured baby wipes, odds are you are doing just that.
Learning how to quickly and ultra cheaply make DIY natural baby wipes can prevent exposing your bundle of joy to such potentially toxic chemicals.
Several years ago, the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) analyzed the “hidden” ingredients in a plethora of personal care and beauty items – including baby wipes.
The EWG found that a grand total of 95% of baby wipes readily available on the market in the United States could contain possibly dangerous chemicals.
Do not bother running and grabbing your opened bag of baby wipes to compare read all of the fine print on the label. The potentially harmful ingredients likely do not appear anywhere on the package.
Thanks to proprietary laws, and to the lack of government oversight by the United States Food and Drug Administration on fragrances, manufacturers are not legally mandated to list all of the ingredients in personal care and cosmetics items on the label.
To ensure that the baby wipes you use on the little ones in your life are free from all potentially dangerous compounds, make them yourself.
It typically takes me less than five minutes to make enough DIY all-natural baby wipes that can last for days to a full week.
The ingredients you need to make natural baby wipes are probably already stockpiled in your homesteading pantry.
On average, it costs me only $.25 to $.35 scents – plus the cost of paper towels if you choose not to make reusable baby wipes, to make such a large batch.
DIY All-Natural Baby Wipes Step by Step
To make DIY baby wipes, either cut a roll of thick good quality paper towels in half, or use cloth squares. The cloth squares will need laundered in hot water and detergent to disinfect them before they are used a baby wipes again.
I often use cotton dishcloths because they seem like the perfect size. When washing the dish cloths, I use my regular homemade detergent with a few pinches of baking soda, and a couple of capfuls of distilled white vinegar thrown into the washer.
- Roll of thick absorbency paper towels
- A sharp knife or meat cleaver (if using paper towels)
- A container with a tight fighting lid or 1-gallon freezer bag
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Funnel – optional
- Mixing Spoon
- 2 teaspoons of your favorite carrier oil – coconut, olive, almond, or liquid Castile soap
- 1 tablespoon of Witch Hazel
- 1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups of boiled water – it must be cooled to room temperature before using. You can also use distilled water.
- 2 opened capsules of vitamin E or up to 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil
- 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel or juice
- Cut the paper towel roll in half using a sharp knife or meat cleaver. If you are using cloth squares, simply make sure they are both clean and handy.
- Mix all of the ingredients in a container that can seal firmly with an airtight lid or a freezer bag that can be sealed tightly.
- Close the bag or attach the lid on the container, then shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds.
- Unseal the bag or remove the lid from the container.
- Place the paper towel roll. Remove the lid, and press your half a roll of paper towels or cotton squares inside. Pushing them down so they are fully submerged.
- Seal the ziplock freezer bag again, or close the lid on the container.
- In my personal experience, this DIY mixture will stay potent and good to use for at least a few weeks after being mad, or up to one month. But, I highly recommend not adding in the paper towels if you want to make up a big batch and stock up on the natural baby wipes when you happen to have the time. The towels, no matter how thick or expensive, will disintegrate over time.
Some of the contaminants found in baby wipes and similar products are merely a byproduct of the commercial manufacturing process.
Sometimes, the components in a contaminant can break down over time while the product sits on the shelf, or interacts with other ingredients, or with the package or container itself.
What About the Actual Wipes?
Now for the wipes themselves, you have a couple of options:
For a tossable wipe Viva brand paper towels are super soft, and strong enough not to fall apart when wet.
Cut each paper towel into four squares for maximum usage. Before I started using cloth wipes, I used to store my paper towel wipes in an empty baby wipes container.
To save even more money, use baby wash cloths as reusable wipes. Alternatively, you can cut squares from those extra baby receiving blankets or old cotton T-shirts, and make your own. Just wash and use again!
Potentially Harmful Chemicals in Commercial Baby Wipes
This potent chemical can cause an allergic reaction if the mixture in the product boasts only a concentration of 30 parts per million (ppm).
Some formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, like quaternium-15 release at a level of 100 ppm, well above the typical amount necessary to cause an allergic reaction.
Both formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives may cause intense allergic contact dermatitis.
This condition is a form of eczema that typically presents within just several hours after the skin has come into contact with formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.
Symptoms of a Formaldehyde Allergic Reaction
- Blisters can form if the formaldehyde allergic reaction is severe.
- Blisters form on the skin that break and can result in the formation of scales and crust.
- The skin becomes red and swollen or bumpy and exceptionally dry.
- The exposed skin can develop a leather texture and darken over time.
- If the exposure to formaldehyde is long term, the skin can become thickened, scaly, and red.
List of Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives That May Be In Baby Wipes
- Imidazolidinyl Urea
- Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin
- Diazolidinyl Urea
- 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol – Bronopol
- Polyoxymethylene Urea
- 5-Bromo-5-Nitro-1,3 Dioxane
- Benzyl Hemiformal
- DMDM Hydantoin
- Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
Consumer pressure and awareness seems to have prompted some baby wipes formula recipe changes in recent years that either reduce or eliminate formaldehyde or related preservatives.
Ethylene Oxide and 1,4-Dioxane
Because many commercial manufacturers of personal care and beauty products (baby wipes included) use raw and often harsh petrochemicals in their recipes, they add other components that are less of a skin irritant into the mix, as well.
Ethoxylation is the term for the process which infuses ethylene oxide into such a recipe. During the process, trace amounts of the unreacted ethylene oxide could remain in the finished product.
The chemical compound 1,4-dioxane is also generated during the ethoxylation process.
A commercial manufacturer must use a vacuum-stripping method to eliminate the presence of this potentially toxic chemical to avoid it from getting into baby wipes and into other products.
My former son-in-law was a supervisor at a commercial vacuum service in Ohio. They would travel into several states to do this type of work – often using water blasting laser hoses to clean up in food and agricultural product factories.
After seeing what he looked like at the end of the day, and hearing about the gook he cleaned out of some factory vats, we all definitely stopped eating several types of food and brands altogether.
Both 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide are classified as carcinogens. Regular use of baby wipes that contain these chemicals might enhance the risk of developing cancer in the future for the babies they were used upon.
This chemical compound may be absorbed through the skin in potentially toxic amounts. 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide are also possible skin irritants.
Possible Ethylene Oxide and 1,4-Dioxane That May Be In Baby Wipes
- Polysorbate 20
- Potassium Laureth Phosphate
- Bis-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG-16/16 Dimethicone
- PEG-75 Lanolin
This potentially dangerous chemical compound is comprised of tocopherol and acetic acid. While tocopherol (vitamin E) and tocopheryl acetate boast both powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, they are often used in synthetic form in commercially manufactured products.
When hydroquinone is used to synthetically make these baby wipes ingredients, trace amounts can remain in production machinery and transfer into other products if proper cleaning is not conducted.
Although hydroquinone is noted as a carcinogen currently, it could still contain some carcinogenic properties, or cause allergic skin reactions and toxicity in non-reproductive organs.
Phyhalates are one of the ingredients you should expect never to grace a product label.
Typically, it is only referenced as either a perfume or fragrance. Many baby wipe manufacturers have now eliminated fragrances from their recipes, but not all.
Personal care items that contain fragrance mixtures often contain the diethyl phthalate compound.
This chemical may be associated with hormone disruption, respiratory problems, dermatitis, reproductive system issues, and allergies.