Now that we’ve transitioned from diapers to the potty, we were looking for natural, chlorine-free and alcohol-free flushable wipes. There are a number of flushable wipes brands on the market such as Pampers Kandoo, Huggies Pull Up Flushable Wipes and Target Up & Up but these contain a host of chemicals that we were looking to avoid. There were only two brands made from more “natural” ingredients – Nature Babycare and Earths Best. However, both of these products contain Sodium Benzoate and Citric Acid which can react to form Benzene, a known human carcinogen!
I contacted both manufacturers to request information on testing results for Benzene. Nature Babycare responded back that benzene formation is generally found in the beverage industry and is therefore not tested in the cosmetics industry. It is important to note that Seventh Generation has performed testing on their baby wipes (they do not offer flushable wipes) and has not found any traces of benzene so there has been voluntary testing performed within the cosmetics industry! Per the Seventh Generation website:
Some studies conducted by the soft drink industry show that sodium benzoate in the presence of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and heat can react to form benzene, a known human carcinogen. Benzene can also be formed when sodium benzoate is in the presence of citric acid and heat, but to a much lesser degree. Because some of our formulas contain sodium benzoate and citric acid, we conduct thorough testing to determine if benzene is being formed in products that contain both ingredients. The results of these tests show that there is no detectable benzene in Seventh Generation for the Wee Generation Baby Personal Care products that contain both sodium benzoate and citric acid.
I was shocked to see that even though the “natural” flushable wipes avoided fragrance, alcohol and chlorine, the manufacturers listed below are not able to confirm that their products are benzene-free! Even though we have decided to forgo the convenience of flushable wipes, I have still listed the information on both products that I found for reference below.
Update as of February 2014: As outlined above, I contacted Naty customer service back last spring concerned that their toddler flushable wipes contained sodium benzoate and citric acid. These two substances can react to form Benzene, which is a known human carcinogen. It’s been a year now and Naty has responded back that they have changed their formulation and beginning in the 2nd half of this year, their flushable wipes will no longer contain citric acid!
Nature Babycare Toddler Flushable Wipes
Nature Babycare Wipes are made from unbleached wood pulp and are moistened with purified water and natural aloe vera. They are also 100% chlorine free. Note that the older formulation was alcohol-free when I was looking for wipes and now it contains benzyl alcohol which is listed with a toxicity rating of 5 on the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. The packaging is based on natural chalk and is 100% compostable.
The ingredients are as follows: Water (aqua), glycerin, panthenol, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide, Phenoxyethanol, Ethyhexyglycerin, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid.
The updated ingredients are as follows: Aqua( Water), Glycerin, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Benzoate, Propylene Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Dehydroacetic Acid, Decyl Glucoside, Citric Acid, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice.
Note: Ingredients will be updated with new formulation in the 2nd half of 2014 when they will no longer contain citric acid!
Note that these flushable wipes were not listed on the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, but their baby wipes (fragrance-free) had a rating of 2.
Earths Best TenderCare TOTS Chlorine Free Flushable Wipes
The Earths Best Tendercare flushable wipesare 100% chlorine and alcohol-free. Their packaging contains a plastic flip top which is not the most environmentally friendly option and has gotten bad reviews on being wasteful as it is difficult to pull a single wipe out at a time. It is difficult to pull out one wipe at a time from any of these packages, no matter the brand!
The ingredients are as follows: Water, glycerin, coco-glucoside, tocopherol, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, gluconolactone and sodium benzoate, dehydroacetic acid, citric acid, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) extract
The Earths Best flushable wipes were not listed on the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetic Database either, but their baby wipes had a rating of 1. EWG did note that there was a Formaldehyde contamination concern with the ingredient Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate in their baby wipes but this ingredient is not present in the TOTS flushable wipe.