How to Choose Baby Wipes Without Toxins, But Also Without Mold

Now Trending:
I'm wendy!

I'm a environmental toxins lawyer turned clean living coach who is obsessed with morning sunshine, Ningxia Red and all things holistic living (but for real life).  Catch me over on Insta and come say hi.


A few of my favorite things!

The cleanest, purest, most sustainable essential oils on earth. Use Code SHAREYL to Save 10%.

Whether it's blue light blocking glasses, red lights or my infrared sauna blanket, Bon Charge is my go-to. Use Code WENDYKATHRYN to Save 15%.

My must have all-natural skincare & deodorant that actually works. Use Code WENDYKATHRYN to Save 10%.

My family's favorite clean protein, electrolytes & Pre/Pro/Post Biotic. Use Code WENDYKATHRYN to Save 10%.




Today we’re talking about diaper wipes. Last week, I went over trends in the low-tox diaper space and elemental chlorine-free versus total chlorine-free. Overall, in 2023, we saw brands get cleaner. I am seeing fewer toxins and harsh preservatives and more plant-based gentle ingredients.

Honestly, I was happy to see that! Moms are demanding better, and companies are starting to listen. Well… some companies are starting to listen.

But there is one trend I noticed while reviewing wipes that has me a little concerned. Since I know moms are out there looking for the best for their babies, listen to this episode so you can be armed with this little tidbit of information when you’re shopping for wipes.

In This Episode:

  • The truth about disposable wipes

  • 4 concerning ingredients in disposable wipes

  • Trends in in the clean diapering space

  • How to avoid mold on disposable wipes

The Truth About Disposable Wipes

I want to start this episode with an inconvenient truth for all the moms out there. I said this about diapers in the last episode, and I’m going to say it again about wipes.

There is no such thing as a completely clean disposable wipe.

To have the convenience of something disposable, in a container, and that you can throw in your baby bag, there will be chemicals. There have to be ingredients in the wipe that preserve it. If it was just water and a wipe, mold, bacteria, and fungus would grow, that’s not good either.

The cleanest thing possible is an organic cotton cloth or organic bamboo cloth that you get wet right before you use it and then you wash it and reuse it. I recognize that this isn’t always doable or convenient. We ended up having to cloth diapers for my daughter because she had horrific eczema. Organic bamboo diapers were the only thing that didn’t irritate her skin. We eventually figured out she was really sensitive to all synthetic fragrances. She’s actually the reason why I started this health journey. We got rid of everything with toxins and fragrance in all our products because we were trying to help her, and it worked. Her skin cleared up.

I was too scared to try any disposable diapers after that. She still has sensitive skin, but it’s under control. If you want something that’s the simplest and the cleanest, go with an organic cotton cloth. Get a whole pile of them. Wherever you change your baby, grab a little bit of water and get it wet before you wipe them off. That’s the easiest, cleanest, and safest thing to do.

If you just read that and you were like, “I am not doing that. Give me all the disposable things,” that is fine! You are like most of the moms out there. Luckily, they’re getting cleaner.

Concerning Ingredients in Disposable Wipes

Having said that, there are some basic ingredients I saw in a lot of in-store brands (Huggies and Pampers) that are concerning.


I’m still seeing synthetic fragrances. Fragrance is a problem if it is not specifically listed that it’s a botanical or essential oil of some kind. If you don’t see one of those or just see ‘fragrance’, then it’s a problem. Fragrance can be over 3,000 different ingredients. One of the ones often used in fragrance is phthalates. We have all these studies and scientific data on phthalates, and it’s bad news. For your baby, phthalates lead to things like infertility, hormonal dysfunction, thyroid issues, breast cancer… It’s a lot. We want to avoid anything synthetic or an undisclosed fragrance.

What about natural fragrance? To me, natural fragrance can start naturally, and then companies can do whatever they want to it. They can manipulate it. They can manufacture it. They can add solvents and synthetics to it.


Polysorbate are ethoxylated ingredients, which means they are created using ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide creates 1,4 dioxane, which is a carcinogen. These ingredients aren’t necessary. It’s simple to avoid them.

Benzalkonium Chloride

I’m still seeing benzalkonium chloride, which is an ammonium salt. We call them quaternary ammonium compounds (a mouthful, I know). It’s used as a preservative, so it has cleaning agents, but it also causes severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation allergies. It’s a huge skin sensitizer, so it can lead to eczema.

The fact that companies put that crap in baby wipes is literally beyond me. I will never understand it, but I found them in a lot of baby wipes, and the only thing I can think of is that they are antimicrobial.


Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that I avoid; it’s another ethoxylated ingredient. It causes really bad skin irritation and has been specifically found to irritate baby’s skin.

However, I saw less phenoxyethanol being used as a preservative. I’m starting to see more companies switch to sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate, which is what I want to see. Remember when I said no wipe is perfect? These 2 preservatives are the safest and least likely to cause skin issues, but babies can be sensitive to those two preservatives as well. It’s just a lot less common. They also aren’t known to cause any health issues whatsoever. The only thing about them is that for some babies, they can be a little irritating.

Trends in Diaper Companies

There are some really clean diaper companies (Eco Boom, Ecoriginals, and Terra). These are some of the cleanest diapers out there. Their wipes have great ingredients as well, but with one pretty significant concern.

If it weren’t for this one issue, they would be on my toxin-free shopping guide. The problem is they’re using a “preservative” that I’ve never seen used. I don’t even know what the ingredient is because they’re not using anything I recognize. They’re not saying what it actually is; they’re saying it’s hydrolyzed soy protein, Japanese soybean, soybean amino acid… which aren’t actually known ingredients that I am aware of.

Here’s the thing, preservatives go through testing to ensure that they work and actually inhibit mold and bacteria growth. They test and retest at 3, 6, and 12 months to figure out how long the preservative lasts before things like mold, bacteria, and fungus start to appear.

I’ve never seen these ingredients used before, I’ve seen published data on their effectiveness and I’m uncomfortable with the idea that they don’t tell you what the ingredient actually is or provide any support, proof, or published data whatsoever to prove that these preservatives actually work.

The brand Believe Baby is different. They use a bamboo cloth and claim that because it’s a bamboo cloth, it’s antibacterial, and they don’t need a preservative. That’s not a thing and has been proven to be untrue. Mold and bacteria contamination can cause really serious infections, especially for babies, and having an effective preservative in your wipe is really important.

How to Avoid Mold on Baby Wipes

Some of the things that exacerbate diaper wipe mold or bacteria growth is that a lot of times, you throw them in the car. In the summer, it’s hot. Or people are using wipe warmers. That accelerates the bacteria or mold growth. Being in direct sunlight is another one. If you’re putting them in a spot that has direct sunlight from a window, move it to a darker spot.

I’m going to watch baby products closely and keep you all in the loop of what I find. If you hop over to my toxin-free shopping guide, I have a list of all of my favorite top clean wipes. The ones on my list have legitimate and clean preservatives.

Related Episodes:

Episode 30: Phenoxyethanol: Clean Beauty’s Dirty Little Secret

Episode 44: Safe Synthetics in Perfume vs. Natural Scents: Cracking the Fragrance Code, Part 1

Episode 53: Total Chlorine Free (TCF) vs Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) Diapers: Here’s What You Need to Know

+ show Comments

- Hide Comments

add a comment


When you click my links, I get an affiliate commission and you get a discount— which I love because that helps me keep doing what I am doing and it saves you money. It’s a win-win.