Getting rid of Disposable wipes

clean your home without disposable wipesOur change the world Wednesday challenge this week, set by Reduce Footprints, is to cut out any disposable wipes we use.

Well readers, I had to do quite a bit of research of this challenge because I couldn’t actually think what disposable wipes might be, which will give you a clue to the face that I never buy them!

Wipes generate a lot of waste and include, according to Reduce Footprint products such as baby wipes, single use window cleaner sheets and duster sheets.

Disposable wipes products

Taking a look around stores in the UK I found no less than 11 ‘wipes’ products

  • baby wipes (to clean babies bums)[amazon-product align=”right” small=”1″]1847734588[/amazon-product]
  • cleaning wipes (for toys, electrical items, kitchen and bathroom surfaces)
  • antibacterial wipes (for worksurfaces, highchairs, tables etc)
  • floor wipes (self explanatory)
  • moist toilet tissue wipes (for cling-ons and sloppy poos no doubt)
  • 4 in 1 multi action wipes (clean grease, remove soap scum, kill 99% of bacteria and leave fragrance)
  • cleansing wipes (for cleaning the face)
  • 3 action window cleaner wipes (self explanatory)
  • clean and dust furniture wipes (self explanatory)
  • toilet wipes (for cleaning around seat, lid and handle)
  • intimate wipes (reaches the parts moist toilet tissue wipes don’t I guess?!)

Disposable society

I was shocked! We really have turned into a disposable society and I didn’t even realise. What’s concerning is that all these wipes, bar one brand, are made from a mixture of materials derived from petrochemicals then soaked in (often toxic) cleansing liquid. Not only that but they come in plastic packaging (the only option is to landfill this after use) or rigid plastic boxes (supposedly to be refilled from packs bought in plastic packaging). After use these wipes and their packaging are thrown away.

Toxic ingredients

What’s even MORE concerning is that when you take a look at the ingredients and realise you’re spending, on average, 10p a throw these products could be made at home – far more cheaply, with safe ingredients and without the waste.  I did raise a rye smile when I saw the ‘3 action window cleaner wipes’ boast that they clean with vinegar! Woohoo! Why not just use vinegar and a washable cloth then?

The cost of convenience

The antibacterial wipes contain alcohol, disinfectant, surfactant and perfume. You could simply use antibacterial essential oils such as lavender, lemon and tea tree in a spray bottle with a dash of eco friendly washing up liquid. It’s not rocket science is it?

I know we’re living in a time poor society, one where convenience prevails and after last weeks challenge I admitted that sometimes all a gal needs is a  little convenience, but we have to stop and ask ourselves at what price does this convenience come? With disposable, once-use wipes this price is toxic chemicals on your skin and in your home and increased and unnecessary waste.

Baby wipes recipe

Today I’m going to share my recipe for baby wipes; why not give it a go?

  1. Cut up some old towels, muslin squares or t shirts into wipe size. Or use flannels if you have a stash.
  2. Next, choose a suitable oil. If your baby’s skin is dry use sesame oil. If your baby’s skin tends to be oily, use Witch Hazel, and if baby needs more of a barrier cream then use coconut oil.
  3. Decant whatever you choose into a 100ml bottle. All of these can be purchased from chemists, health food stores or online.
  4. If nappy changing time is a battle ground, then you can add a drop of lavender and a drop of chamomile pure essential oil to the base oil to soothe fractious tempers. We used a 50 / 50 mixture of Witch hazel and grapeseed oil with a drop of lavender essential oil in it when Little Miss Green was a baby, but you can create a recipe suitable for your baby’s skin. Have fun experimenting with different oils.
  5. Put a little of your oil onto one of your cloths and use it like a wipe. If you are out and about, you can presoak cloths in cooled chamomile tea. Don’t forget, you can use plain water for most messes! Sometimes we over complicate things when the simplest solutions are staring us in the face.
  6. The wipes can be washed with everything else when you next use the washing machine. If it will be a few days, then store used wipes in a nappy bucket or similar.


  1. Small Footprints on May 19, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Wow … I love this post! I knew that disposable anything and single-use anything was bad … and while I suspected that they contained chemicals that I’d rather not have on my skin (or in the air I breathe), I really didn’t know the extent of it. Amazing! Thank you for that information!

    Thank you, also, for the fabulous “baby wipe” recipe.

    Have a great day!

  2. Diane on May 20, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Far too many things when a re-usable dish cloth or flannel will do. People seem afraid of germs these days – so many different anti-germ things, that they’re hoodwinked into buy stuff you can use once and throw away.

  3. Mrs Green on May 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    @Small Footprints: You’re so welcome, the baby wipes are fantastic (and safe to use which is great!)

    @Diane: You’re right; we are germ crazy and look where all these antibacterial products are getting us – on the fast track to superbugs. **sigh**

  4. jenny on July 14, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    this is one of my favorite green tips! try to stop or at least cut back on disposable towels/wipes. they’re so unnecessary in most cases.

    diane – i agree, people are way too afraid of germs and think they need to kill all of them! not true, and actually kind of bad. just like anti-bacterial soap – it’s poison to the our oceans, and all it takes to clean your hands is some warm water and scrubbing! the amount of natural resources depleting because of our disposable habits are staggering!

    if you can’t live without some paper towels – which i understand can sometimes be more convenient and useful than a towel, try this:
    always have an extra hand towel in the kitchen or bathroom to use and stash the paper towels somewhere out of the way or on the top shelf, so that you really only use it when necessary. we do this in the home office i work from. it helps you become more conscious of how often you use them!

  5. Mrs Green on August 7, 2010 at 6:53 am

    @jenny: Hi Jenny; great to see you on this journey too! I agree with you about antibacterial products; we don’t use any of them in our home. I rely on essential oils instead. Your idea of making a reusable towel more convenient than disposable is brilliant 🙂