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UK to ban wet wipes containing plastic: Mumsnetters react to the news

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey says the ban will come into force next year.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Apr 6, 2023

Wet wipes containing plastic will be banned in England from next year, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey announced on Tuesday. The ban is part of an effort to combat water pollution and unnecessary single-use plastic waste, and comes as a result of the detrimental effects these products have on our environment - including blocking sewage systems, contaminating rivers, littering beaches, and ending up in landfills. In light of this ban many Mumsnet users will be looking for an eco-friendly alternative to this parenting essential.

Some of the best baby wipes are already plastic-free, like Mumsnetter-approved Mum & You Biodegradable Baby Wipes and Bambino Mio’s super-soft reusable baby wipes.

Wet wipes being flushed down the toilet causes 93% of sewer blockages and fatbergs, according to the BBC. In 2021, about 90% of wet wipes contained plastic, which doesn’t break down like toilet roll does, causing the blockages.

While the ban represents a step in the right direction, critics say it doesn’t go far enough. Biodegradable and flushable wet wipes take around 12 weeks to break down so, if flushed, they still contribute to blockages. These plastic-free single-use wipes are also usually more expensive than those containing plastic, so they might not be affordable for many families - especially during a cost of living crisis. Washable, reusable wipes are seen to be the most eco- and budget-friendly option by experts.

Mumsnet users aren’t too concerned about the ban, pointing out on a thread about the topic that retailers such as Tesco have banned plastic-containing wet wipes for over a year.

"Cloth wipes are really good for cleaning bums. Try them."

"I think it’s a great idea. They’re only banning ones containing plastic. If they break down, they’re exempt. About time companies were made to change. You can have non plastic ones or reusable ones, seems a perfectly simple solution to me."

Mumsnetters suggested a number of alternatives to single-use wipes, from portable bidet “bum guns” to Cheeky Wipes and tissue-moistening Wype Gel.

Users also pointed out that it’s not just babies that need wet wipes - they’re also a necessity for those with continence issues, birth injuries and some disabilities.

Lots of wipes available on the market right now are already plastic-free, and the government rejected an outright ban on wet wipes earlier this year.