Is being too clean damaging our children’s health?

Earlier in the week I came across this article in the Independent which states rather forcefully that parents failure to remove soapy residues from our children’s faces is basically causing allergies. As a parent with a one-year-old and three-year-old, I had to take a closer look. It made me ask myself, is being too clean damaging our children’s health?

is being too clean damaging our childrens health - parenthood - health - blog post header image


I will be the first to admit that I use wet wipes daily. For me they are the mum’s swiss army knife cleaning everything from floors to worktops, from dirty hands to faces. In a restaurant about to eat, I’ll hold my hand up and say my little ones get a wet wipe bath before I let them start their dinner. Highchairs, toys and even my own face has had the wet wipe treatment from time to time. I will admit that there is a rather loud voice in my head reminding me they are so unsustainable that it’s shameful, but they are just so damn convenient.

is being too clean damaging our childrens health - wet wipes in use

However, does this convenience come with an even bigger consequence than the environment? Could wet wipes be putting our children’s heath at risk? It seems so according to the article.

The fact of the matter is that most wet wipes on the market have chemicals in and using them on children’s skin leaves behind a soapy residue. This residue breaks own the skin’s natural oils and protection and once gone, leaves the skin more sensitive to chemicals. This sensitivity can then manifest with the usual allergy symptoms and will make pre-existing conditions such as eczema worse.

It makes sense when you think about it. After all, we’ve heard it for years about shampoo which strips our hair of their natural oils so why not our skin too when soap is not washed away. As parents we think we are doing good my keeping our children clean, but in reality, we could be creating unseen damage.

is being too clean damaging our childrens health - wet wipes


You know what, I’m not convinced. A skin sensitivity to soap powder for example; yes, it makes sense. Exasperating pre-existing skin conditions; sure. I’m convinced that breaking down and removing the skins natural oils will absolutely do that, and it has made me think twice about using wet wipes on the children. Both for their health as well as the environment.

However, wipes causing a protein allergy or a nut allergy or a lactose intolerance? I’m less convinced with that one. That being said, if I had a child who had an allergy would I switch to water wipes or give up wipes altogether in the hope it would make it better? Absolutely. After all, when it comes to our children, anything is worth trying right?

Has anyone else every experienced this? Did cutting out wet wipes make a difference? Would you stop using them if you think it would help? I’d love to know your thoughts on this too.

is being too clean damaging our childrens health - parenthood - health

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  1. I take these kind of articles with a pinch of salt. They’re constantly telling us what to do and what not to do with our kids and it’s contradictory all the time. I use baby wipes daily and my kids are fine, as are their skin, no problems.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Personally i do think it is a bit extreme. I use wet wipes for everything also, Rosie also has extremely sensitive skin. I use wet wipes on her all the time, and they have no skin problems.

  3. I use wet wipes quite a bit with the munchkins and they have perfect skin. There will always be some new research telling us what we are doing wrong with our kids and then more research disproving the previous notions soon after.

  4. the way I see it, dirt is a good thing! we use baby wipes all the time because of the convince of them during dinner time, my children’s allergies have all been a genetic thing and not preventable, I can see where you are going with it because being overly clean can prevent children from getting sick which then in the long run is better for them as it boosts their immune system but I dont feel using wipes will have much effect on them.

    good post! a real thought provoker

  5. While I can see some types of wet wipes causing skin issues in those with sensitive skin, due to chemicals, there are so many on the market and it’s just a matter of being educated on what you’re buying, and how they impact your baby directly. It’s really no different than anything else that way.
    Britt | http://alternativelyspeaking.ca

  6. Hmm..this is something to think about. Thanks for sharing!

  7. This is definitely an interesting post, never thought about this before! I don’t have children, but I tend to use wet wipes a lot too.

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