Dhruvika writes on sustainable practices in various sectors for BuzzOnEarth. Get in touch with her at Sometimes she reads her emails too.

Remember those wet wipes commercials? The cool, fragrant and refreshing tissues for adults and babies. A hygienic and sanitary way to get rid of all the bacteria and sweat. Just wipe away all the dirt and dispose of the so-called ‘biodegradable’ wet wipes. Well, guess what? It doesn’t degrade that easily as advertised.

Wet wipes gained popularity a few years ago. Generally used for cleaning faces and baby bottoms, wipes are also popular in hospitals and classrooms for disinfection. These wipes maybe helping you to stay clean, but it’s making the world more polluted than ever.

These wipes are advertised as disposable as toilet paper but that’s not true all the time. That’s simply false advertising. Most wipes have plastic fibers in them which are non-biodegradable. They just don’t break at all. There has been a massive increase in reports of clogged drain pipes. The plumbers often advise people to stop flushing wipes down the toilet.

But these wipes aren’t just plumber’s concern. Even if the wipes manage to pass through toilets, it still creates havoc in whole city’s sewage system and many a time, it hinders the working of high tech machinery in wastewater treatment. A town Wyoming in Minnesota, US even filed a lawsuit against a wipes manufacturing company arguing, the wipes don’t degrade as advertised.

Without breaking down, these invincible wipes end up in oceans causing ocean pollution as well as beaches. Often, turtles (unfortunately, nearly all of the turtle species are endangered) eat these wipes mistaking them for jellyfish floating in the water and eventually die due to choking or failing to digest the wipes. Not just the turtles, many marine species eat these horrendous things and die.

Moreover, the wipes contain toxic chemicals that are reported to be harmful to the skin causing rashes and allergies. On top of this, researchers from Cardiff University found that if the same wet wipe is used again for cleaning multiple surfaces, it spreads more bacteria rather than killing them.


If you’re concerned about polluting the oceans, endangering marine life, clogging your drain pipes, or even spoiling your beautiful skin, stop using wet wipes right now. Traditional soap water and a towel work wonders. Do not believe blindly in what you see on TV adverts and what you read on the back of a packaged product. Do your research and make sustainable choices.

Images – and Karsten Moran For The New York Times