Baby Wipes vs Wet Wipes: What’s the Difference?

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different kinds of baby wipes and wet wipes
Photo by Your Best Digs

With a baby on the way, now is the time to stock up on wipes.

You’ll be amazed at the number of wipes you go through in a day, heck, even just an hour!

They can:

  • Clean dirty butts and private parts
  • Wipe away spills
  • Remove excess Aquaphor or diaper cream
  • And be used to clean up pretty much anything in your house!

There are so many different types of wipes out there though, that it’s understandable that it can get confusing. Do you need baby wipes? Wet wipes? What’s the difference?

In this article, I want to break down the differences between baby wipes vs. wet wipes and help you decide which one is right for you; and it might be both!

The main difference between baby wipes and wet wipes is their intended use. Baby wipes are specially formulated to be gentle enough for cleaning a baby’s skin.

Wet wipes, on the other hand, are designed more for adults and cleaning up messes, as they often contain antibacterials and other cleansers.

Let’s take a little bit of a closer look at this comparison.

Baby Wipes Explained

Baby wipes are meant to do just what their name implies, wipe your baby. They do not include any harsh chemicals or cleaners so that they are as gentle as possible for your baby.

Baby wipes can come in different scents, and several brands contain aloe, but they still remain a gentle option for cleaning your baby’s skin.

Baby wipes are simply a durable, moist cloth that usually contains little more than water and possibly some moisturizers.

Baby wipes are effective for cleaning up after a diaper, wiping your baby’s face and hands, and cleaning any other part of your baby’s body.

Since there is no overuse of chemicals and other harsh ingredients, using baby wipes results in fewer cases of diaper rash and other skin irritations.

The main use of baby wipes is:

  • To provide a safe way to clean your baby’s skin

Baby wipes come in many different brands (Pampers, Huggies, Seventh Generation, Honest, off-brands, etc.) and can be found in a number of different stores. They are sold in single packs, multi-packs, travel packs, and pretty much any other size pack you can think of, and quite a few wipes come in “pop-up” containers.

These containers make it easy to grab a wipe with one hand (because your other hand is most likely on your baby), and then the next wipe simply pops up, ready to go.

Baby wipes are not designed to disinfect; most don’t contain any antibacterials or alcohol because their first priority is to remain sensitive on your baby’s skin.

For that reason, a baby wipe isn’t great for, say, disinfecting your bathroom sink.

But we use them all the time in our house to wipe down surfaces or clean our hands.

(And by the way, many flushable wipes designed to adults are pretty much just baby wipes in different packaging. They’re usually alcohol-free and simply feature water, moisturizers, and/or aloe.)

Pros and cons of baby wipes

Baby laying on bed with mom tickling

What’s to like about baby wipes?

Are there any drawbacks?


  • Safe for Baby’s Skin: Baby wipes are specifically designed for use on your baby’s skin and even face, which means no harsh chemicals, alcohol, or extra ingredients.
  • Multi-Use: In addition to using baby wipes on your baby’s skin, they are also useful for removing make-up in a pinch and wiping up spills.
  • Trusted: Baby wipes have been used for years, and have been proven to be a good way to clean your baby’s skin.


  • Don’t Disinfect: Although you can use baby wipes to clean up some messes, baby wipes do not normally have any disinfecting properties. This is because they do not contain alcohol and rarely include any antibacterials.

Pampers Sensitive Wipes (with a flip-top lid) are pretty much the gold standard when you have a newborn in the house. Click the link to check them out on Amazon.

(Ever wondered if you need to wipe baby after every pee?)

Wet Wipes Explained

Wet wipes are intended for use as a cleaner, and in many cases, a disinfectant (depending on the actual ingredients).

Therefore, wet wipes contain a number of chemical ingredients so that they can effectively clean messy surfaces.

Since wet wipes can contain a variety of chemicals and alcohol, they are best used to clean surfaces and should not really be used on your baby’s skin. The alcohol alone can be very drying on the skin, and certain ingredients may even be irritating to an adult’s skin.

(A wet wipe can be as simple as an alcohol-soaked moist towelette, or it could be something like a Lysol wipe full of harsh cleaning agents.)

Wet wipes are often used by older kids and adults as a hand wipe, and some even contain moisturizers and advertise that they can be used on the face.

However, make sure that the particular wipe you are using is safe for that purpose.

Wet wipes come in a number of different varieties, and some of these options will contain ingredients that make them better suited for hard surfaces instead of your skin. However, wet wipes can be a great way to clean your baby’s high chair and wipe down her changing table in between diaper changes.

The main uses of wet wipes are:

  • To provide a quick method to clean up a mess
  • To provide a quick way to clean and disinfect hands
  • To clean and disinfect surfaces

Wet wipes look pretty much exactly like baby wipes once they are out of the packaging. They are soft, durable, moist cloths.

Wet wipes come in several different brands, and which one you choose will depend on your own personal preferences.

There are some brands of wet wipes that are specifically for sensitive skin. These wet wipes do not contain as many harsh ingredients, and theoretically could be safe enough for your baby’s skin in a pinch.

Pros and cons of wet wipes

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using wet wipes.


  • Quick and Convenient: Many wet wipes come in handy travel sizes or packs. Plus, they have everything you need for cleaning in one wipe.
  • Disinfecting Properties: Wet wipes are often designed to clean and kill germs at the same time, so many of them contain antibacterials, alcohol, and other cleansers.
  • Multi-Use: Wet wipes can be used for a number of purposes; cleaning hands, cleaning up spills, and disinfecting surfaces — just check the ingredients list first.


  • Can Be Harsh on Skin: Since wet wipes contain several chemicals designed for disinfecting and cleaning, they can be pretty harsh on your skin.
  • Not a Great Choice for Baby: For the most part, wet wipes are not the best choice for cleaning your baby’s skin. Baby wipes are still the top choice in this department.

If you want to keep some disinfecting wipes around to clean baby toys or high chairs, better go with something baby-safe (but still effective) like wipes from Babyganics (Amazon link).

Wrapping Up

The biggest difference between wet wipes and baby wipes is how they’re intended to be used — and, of course, the ingredients contained within each.

Baby wipes are specifically designed to be used on your baby’s skin, so they are free from harsh chemicals and an overload of ingredients that could add to skin irritation.

Wet wipes often contain cleansers and other ingredients that are designed more for cleaning up general messes and to be used by adults.

It’s a good idea to stock both. Baby wipes for diaper changes and any skin-related messed, and wet wipes or disinfecting wipes for heavier messes and cleaning baby toys!

I hope this helps, parents, and good luck with your search!

And before you go, check out more baby stuff explained: