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The personal wipes industry is worth well over $1 billion and growing all the time. The recent coronavirus pandemic, along with the public’s general need for convenient cleanliness, has seen this industry grow year-on-year.

That said, what exactly are adult wipes? Are they effective, do they harm the environment, and which wipes are the best for your needs?

What are Adult Wipes?

Adult wipes are basically grown-up versions of baby wipes. They are moist towelettes designed for personal care. You pluck them out of a self-contained pack, just like you would with a tissue, and then give yourself a quick clean. They help to clean and sanitize, and they dry quickly. After you’ve finished, discard the wipe and continue with your day.

You can use these wipes for any personal care purpose, whether you have suffered from an episode of incontinence or just need a quick freshen-up under the armpits and in other problem areas.

They can be scented or unscented and dry or wet, but they usually contain a skin-friendly sanitizing agent to help clean your hands and/or body.

What are Adult Wipes Used For?

Adult wipes are popular with young festivalgoers, as they’re easy, convenient, and allow them to get rid of all that sweat and stink without requiring an uncomfortably cold shower. Seniors suffering from incontinence also use them, as it’s not always convenient to strip off and shower.

That’s not all, either. Wipes are good to have in the car. They can clean the grease and salt off your hands after a drive-thru visit and clean-up spilled coffee from the seats.

Although they are often marketed as a “luxury” alternative to toilet paper, this isn’t the most eco-friendly or wallet-friendly way to clean yourself, and wipes are better limited to occasional use when you can’t wash by any other means. 

Baby wipes and adult wipes, which are basically the same thing, can also be used to clean pet’s paws and other problem areas, but again, they should be used sparingly in case they have a reaction. Your pet may clean itself and consume whatever substance is on the wipe, potentially causing them harm.

What are Adult Wipes Made From?

Adult wipes are usually made from a type of plastic or cloth, but they can also be composed of a combination of both. Eco-friendly wipes (discussed in more detail below) are often made from bamboo, a highly sustainable and versatile material that is also biodegradable. This makes it the perfect solution to reduce the many problems associated with these wipes.

Wipes may be individually wrapped for convenience or added to a pack and packed together. They are moistened with cleaning solutions, such as alcohol, and contain fragrances and skin-friendly ingredients such as vitamin E and aloe vera.

Are Adult Wipes Environmentally Friendly?

You could be forgiven for thinking that adult wipes are environmentally friendly. After all, how much damage can a little fiber do? In fact, these wipes often contain a type of woven plastic that makes them sturdy and ensures they don’t break apart when you use them.

Many wipes are sold as “flushable,” which is true, but it doesn’t mean they are safe and harm-free. When manufacturers use the word “flushable,” they simply mean that if you throw them down the toilet they will flush. 

There’s no guarantee that the wipes won’t clog your drains or cause problems in the sewers. In fact, increased use of adult wipes has been blamed for multiple major sewer blockages all over the world. 

In major cities, like London and New York, these wipes combine, trap fat, and create massive “fatbergs” that shut down several city blocks. To fix that issue, teams of specially trained individuals must climb into sewers and remove those fatbergs by utilizing specialist equipment.

The good news is that not all brands are using plastics, and there are some genuinely environmentally friendly wipes out there. If this is a major concern of yours, don’t pay too much attention to the “flushable” label and look for wipes that will actually break apart after coming into contact with water.

To promote genuinely flushable wipes and deter misuse of the “flushable” statement, some countries, the United Kingdom included, have approved new testing methods and advertising laws.

It could be a matter of time before non-biodegradable “flushable” wipes are phased out, but that’s not a bad thing, as the eco-friendly alternatives are often just as good.

The Best Natural and Eco-Friendly Adult Wipes

To point you in the right direction, take a look at the following adult wipes. All of these “wet wipes” are biodegradable and will not contribute to the massive waste problems faced by cities across the United States. In addition, they are made using natural and skin-safe ingredients and may even be safe for individuals with sensitive skin.

  • Dr. Butler’s Chemical-Free Adult Wipes: These wipes are hypoallergenic and made using only a handful of natural ingredients, including filtered water, rosemary oil, and vitamin E. The wipes themselves are made from bamboo so they should break down easily.
  • Eco Pea’s Natural Bamboo Wipes: Free from any fragrances and chemical additives, these dermatologically tested wipes are also vegan and designed for users with sensitive skin.
  • Simple Leaf: Although they are branded with the infamous “flushable” logo, these wipes really are flushable and biodegradable. They don’t contain alcohol or parabens and can break apart easily in water.