This little item is something most moms can’t live without. We use them on baby bums, on messy hands, on runny noses, and on gunked up toys. The wonderful product we know and love – the wipe. I even have them stashed all over the place, and I’m one of those crunchy cloth diapering types. I mean, sometimes that backup package in the car saves the day after the 7-month old has an epic pooplosion while I’m out running errands, or I make the bad decision to let my 3-year old eat a candy cane in the car (still totally worth 5 minutes of silence). I try to stick to cloth wipes at home but I recently bought some Honest disposable baby wipes since they are made with sustainably harvested material and without a lot of chemicals typically found in wipes (and they were on sale). Hey, I’m human, and I like a good deal.
So how did a baby wipe end up in my washing machine? Well, I have a very wriggly 7-month old and during a frenzied diaper change the other day I must have thrown a wipe into the wet bag with the cloth diapers bound for the laundry, instead of into the diaper pail bound for the landfill. The wipe in the photo made it all the way through the cycle, which included a prewash, hot normal wash and double rinse. It had gotten wrapped around a few of the diapers and was still intact! Nothing was breaking that thing apart.
This is a perfect example of why wipes should never be flushed. If you’ve ever had a tissue sneak into your wash you know they break up into tiny pieces, stick to your clothes, and make a mess. Not wipes. They get stretched and tangled and spun but they stay in one piece. They only got tangled in diapers in my washing machine, but if they are flushed they can get tangled in pumps that are used to pump our wastewater to treatment plants, or form a cement-like material when combined with fats, oils and grease (called FOG) in our sewer pipes. This leads to increased maintenance costs, clogs, and even sewage spills into the environment.
There are actually no regulations right now for labeling a product as flushable, so even if your wipe package says “flushable”, please don’t flush them! Just because they can make it down your home’s plumbing doesn’t mean they won’t cause issues down the line. You can help keep the environment clean and keep your kiddos clean at the same time – just make sure to keep the wipes out of the pipes.
And if you are wondering why in the world I cloth diaper in the first place – check out my cloth diaper blog. You may be convinced to try it yourself!