Monday, January 23, 2012

Greener Disinfecting Wipes

I confess to the occasional use of disinfecting wipes. I try to limit my use because, as they are disposable, they are not at all environmentally friendly. However, sometimes I do reach for a wipe to give bathroom surfaces a quick going-over between regular cleanings. Or I might use one to wipe down the kitchen counter after preparing chicken.  

The wipes I use are Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes. These wipes contain a botanical disinfectant made from thymol, a component of thyme oil. Significantly, they do not contain certain ingredients found in other, popular brands of disinfecting wipes.

I researched wipes offered by two major brands and found that they contain ingredients to which I would not want to expose myself or my family. Both of the brands use alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (ADBAC), a pesticide. ADBAC has been shown to be toxic to birds and aquatic life; it is also suspected of causing asthma. The public interest group Beyond Pesticides rates ADBAC as toxic, meaning this ingredient is toxic to human health and the environment and is not recommended for use in most cases.

One of the conventional wipes uses ethanol and the other uses isopropanol as solvents. These solvents are skin and eye irritants. Inhaling them can irritate the nose, throat and lungs. The conventional wipes also contain "fragrance." Manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients covered by the the term "fragrance" in their ingredients list. Many of the chemicals covered by the term are known or potential toxins.

If you also succumb to the convenience of these wipes, protect yourself and the quality of the air in your home by choosing a product that is free of potentially harmful ingredients.  The Seventh Generation wipes are a good choice.  Are there any other wipes that you would recommend?

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