We see them everywhere – those little cylinders of disinfecting wipes that are so convenient for grabbing a wipe and cleaning up a mess. We are satisfied that after we’ve wiped whatever it is, it’s clean and disinfected, and throw the used wipe and all the icky stuff into the garbage. Everything’s clean now, so it’s all good! Right?
Or is it?
Are disinfecting wipes bad for you? And the environment?
I’d have to say “yes” to both of those.
First off – is DISINFECTING really necessary for everyday cleaning jobs? Disinfecting means killing germs. Which is important if you’re dealing with raw meat or a sick kid’s bodily fluids. But what about wiping the kitchen table after dinner? Or wiping down the sink or something your child spilled? CLEANING is all that is needed in those cases.
We’ve become very germophobic in our society (myself included, after all – I work in a hospital) to our own detriment. In an effort to kill those germs, we expose ourselves to disinfecting chemicals that can trigger asthma, allergies, and other health problems.
You’ve probably already heard that antibacterial hand soaps are no better than regular old hand soaps. Washing your hands with a toxin-free soap is, in my opinion, a much healthier alternative! The skin on my hands will certainly attest to this, as they get very irritated from handwashing with the nasty industrial hospital soap at my workplace, and are much happier with my DIY soap at home.
The same applies to wipes. I know it’s so convenient to grab a Lysol or Clorox wipe out of the container when you need to wipe something up quickly. Not only are they full of chemicals that are hazardous to your health (and even more so to your children’s health, because their bodies absorb toxins much more easily than adult bodies), they end up in landfills. Where they add to unnecessary waste, and continue to leach those toxins into the environment.
If you love the convenience of wipes, I do understand. I have a container of Seventh Generation ones (with ingredients I am happy with) for emergencies (I reviewed them here). Aleva Naturals also has biodegradable wipes.
However, I try as much as possible to use my reusable DIY unpaper towels with a spray cleaner – either my DIY one, or Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner. I also reach for microfiber cloths when I want to make sure I’m getting the bacteria off a surface (and then it goes in the wash!). This way I can save on the paper towel and wipe waste, and avoid the chemicals in conventional disinfecting wipes and sprays.