10 Toxic Ingredients To Avoid In Baby Wipes

Baby wipes are very easy to use, so it’s no wonder why many parents (or non-parents) buy them so often. If you’re a parent opting to use a baby wipe to clean your little one, you might need to read the label carefully before purchasing because many of these wipes contain ingredients that are harmful to your baby.

Here’s a list of toxic ingredients to avoid in baby wipes:  

DMDM hydantoin

This is another preservative. The problem with this one is that it’s a formaldehyde donor. Inhaling formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, and may trigger asthma. Moreover, the European Union restricts levels of formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers in cosmetics, and products that exceed safety guidelines carry warnings and list formaldehyde among their ingredients, whereas Sweden and Japan ban formaldehyde from cosmetics and toiletries.


This is a preservative that is also known as 2-Bromo-2-nitro-1,3-propanediol. Like DMDM hydantoin, it releases formaldehyde as it breaks down.

Source: Getty Images
Sodium Benzoate

While this preservative isn’t believed to cause eczema, studies have shown it to irritate eczema-prone skin in a small proportion of adults, meaning sensitive infants’ skin may well react more severely.


Parabens are a class of widely used preservatives in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. The paraben family of preservatives has been linked to allergic reactions, rashes, an increased risk of cancer and hormonal problems, including infertility. Also, look out for varieties of the chemical such as methlyparaben, propylparaben, butlylparaben and ethylparaben.

Note: Paraben is being phased out of baby products sold in the EU.

Tocopheryl acetate

While you’re not likely to encounter high doses of tocopheryl acetate when using skin care products, there is a danger of allergic reaction to this this ingredient. Side effects may include swelling, redness, burning, itching, and stinging when the product is applied.

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This common preservative is a known irritant, and shouldn’t be used around the mouth. According to Hello Charlie, it can also depress the central nervous system in infants.


Although these are rarely used in baby products these days, it may be found in perfumes or fragrances. That’s why you should always avoid scented baby products. Furthermore, phthalates are thought to be endocrine disrupters, which changes the way hormones work in the body.


This ingredient is often used as a solvent for preservatives and other materials. Glycols such as Propylene, Butylene, Pentylene, Hexylene, and Caprylyl Glycol are potentially irritating and harmful to the skin.

Source: Huggies
Polysorbate 20 

Polysorbate 20 is often treated with ethylene oxide in personal care products like baby wipes. The problem with any ingredient which comes into contact with ethylene oxide is that it can then become contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a potentially dangerous by-product. The Sun explains that this chemical is a known animal carcinogen that penetrates readily into the skin and has also been linked with skin allergies. Besides that, using wipes containing polysorbate 20 several times a day means exposure to the chemical adds up. This is particularly concerning for young children who are more sensitive to skin irritation.

Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS)

Sulphates are detergents that help to clean up messes. But they’re irritants and there’s some concerns about organ toxicity.

Sources: The Sun, Hello Charlie, Baby Center.