the problem with wet wipes

The Problem with wet wipes

What is the problem with wet wipes?

We are slowly waking up to the problems caused by our throwaway / convenience culture and the impact it is having on our water ways, beaches and oceans.

According to the EarthWatch Institute, 9.3m wipes a day, often used for makeup removal or as hand sanitisers, are flushed down UK toilets. Many wipes contain plastic or wood pulp, which means that despite being labelled “flushable” they do not biodegrade quickly when they enter the sewer system and can lead to blockages.

  • 11 Billion Wet Wipes are used in the UK every year
  • Wet Wipes cause 93% of blockages in UK sewers and contribute to the “fatbergs”
  • The Marine Conservation Society said that during its annual beach clean last year, it found an average of 12 wet wipes per 100 metres of beach cleaned
  • Wet Wipes are contaminating the river beds and changing the shape of some riverbeds
  • When Wet Wipes with plastic in them degrade they leave behind microplastics which fish ingest – 70% of flounder in the Thames have plastic in their systems, according to a recent study.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “As part of our 25-year environment plan we have pledged to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, and that includes single-use products that include plastic such as wet wipes.”

Alternatives to wet wipes

But we can act now by switching to more sustainable products like reusable wipes.  

Here are as some alternatives to single use wet wipes.

Baby Wipes

There was a time, not so long ago, that Baby Wipes didn’t even exist.  And, the answer then was to use a bowl of water with a soap and a flannel.

However, when you’re out an about it’s not always possible to have access to soap and water so a great alternative is to use reusable baby wipes.  You can buy reusable Baby Wipes , I love these gorgeous Peter Rabbit Reusable Baby Wipes made by Little Green Wood.  Or, you can make your own from flannels, old towels or muslins.

If you’re just out for a short while you may want to pre-wet your wipes and store them in a waterproof container, or you can make up a solution to take with you in a handy bottle.

A simple solution you can make up is:

Basic Baby Wipe Solution

  • 1 ½ cup distilled or cooled boiled water
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp liquid Castile soap

Always remember to use distilled water if possible, if not use cooled boiled water and only make up in small batches and use the same day.

Face / Make Up Wipes

Rather than using disposable makeup / face cleanser wipes why not switch to reusable wipes.  There are so many available now in a variety of fabrics that you are sure to be able to find some to suit your skin.

I love the reusable make up wipes by Little Green Wood as they are available in 100% cotton towelling, which is great for a good scrub with soft cotton fleece on the back for a super soft cleanse.  The Sample Pack is a brilliant way to find out which one suits your skin.

You can use reusable wipes with an oil cleanser to gently remove makeup or something like Rose Water as a gentle toner.

Kitchen / Bathroom Wipes

You don’t have to miss out on the convenience of having some handy wipes to the ready in the Kitchen or Bathroom just because you stop using single use wipes.  If you switch to reusable wipes you make your own to use in the Kitchen and Bathroom.

Here’s a simple way to make your own:

These are great to keep on the side in the kitchen ready for when you need to wipe down the worktops

Basic Kitchen Wipes


  • 1 cup distilled or cooled boiled water
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 12 drops tea tree oil
  • 12 drops lemon essential oil
  • Jar with lid
  • 15 – 20 cloth squares


  • Put the cloths into the jar. Mix the water, vinegar, and essential oils.
  • Pour the mixture over the cloths in the jar. They will soak up the liquid and be ready use.
  • Wash after use & make a new batch

Remember not to use vinegar based cleaners on granite, marble, stone or ceramic surfaces and use within a week.

I hope you’ll consider stopping using wet wipes now that you’ve seen the alternatives.

However, I know it’s not always possible to switch so just remember if you do use wet wipes, buy the most eco friendly ones and remember, DON’T FLUSH them.

I’d love to hear if you’ve made the switch.

Written by 

Hi, I’m Frankie. This is my blog (Thoroughly Modern Grandma) about blending old fashioned values with modern technology, whilst trying to reduce our waste and be a little kinder to our Planet.

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