The Effects Disinfectant Wipes have on the Environment

Updated on August 19, 2020
green and blue labeled pack

Photo by Christine Sandu on Unsplash

Recent times have seen a surge in anything that has the word disinfectant associated with it and that includes disinfectant wipes. 

With a global pandemic currently on everyone’s mind, people are using disinfectant wipes to wipe down everything from shopping carts to counter tops. Not to mention the biggest use of all, taking care of babies. 

While there is nothing wrong with disinfecting your environment, some thought should be given to the effects that all these used wipes are having on the environment. Our advice: where possible, look for companies like Sterifre Medical who make use of non-harmful chemicals for cleaning and disinfecting. Here’s why alternatives are essential in the modern market. 

What are Disinfectant Wipes made of?

The majority of disinfectant wipes are made of non-woven materials, particularly polyester. Most wipes also contain rayon, which is actually minute plastic fibers. Neither polyester or rayon is biodegradable. 

Are Disinfectant Wipes Bad for the Environment?

There are three reasons why disinfectant wipes are bad for the environment. The first is that wipes aren’t supposed to be flushed. Flushing causes blockages in sewer systems. 

Secondly, if wipes aren’t flushed but rather thrown in the dustbin, they only end up in landfills. Here they just add to the already enormous piles of non-biodegradable waste that make up most of the world’s landfills. 

In parts of the world where sewers are flushed out to sea, disinfectant wipes, like plastic, cause damage to marine life

Are There Eco Friendly Alternatives?

The good news is that there are eco-friendly alternatives to the traditional disinfectant wipes, the most common of these being bamboo wipes. Made using less than 10 ingredients, all of which are natural, these wipes are 100% biodegradable. Bamboo wipes are non-allergenic too, so almost anyone can use them with peace of mind.

Is it Possible to Make Your Own Disinfectant Wipes?

In this day and age it’s possible to make almost anything, so yes, you can make your own wipes without using polyester and rayon particulates. Let’s look at a quick and easy recipe:

What you’ll need:

  • One roll of paper towels: remember it needs to fit into your container 
  • Water: two big cups
  • Liquid baby soap: two tablespoons
  • Baby oil: one tablespoon should do the trick
  • Container with lid: make sure it can hold the towels and about eight cups of liquid

Start by boiling the two cups of water, for about two minutes. Add the baby oil and liquid baby soap and stir to mix. Put the paper towels into your chosen container. Pour the oil and water solution over the towels. Remember to remove the cardboard center. This is much easier when it’s wet. Make sure your solution is spread evenly over the paper towels. 

Close the container, making sure your container is closed securely. Only remove the lid when you’re ready to use your wipes. Pull the wipes from the center. If your wipes start drying out, just add a little bit of boiled water. This will refresh the solution.


With alternatives to harmful disinfectant wipes, it’s possible for us to keep our spaces disinfected without harming the environment. 

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