Are Honest Diapers Toxic? Are They Really Worth It?

Honest diapers

Honest diapers is a product owned by The Honest Company that was founded by Hollywood actress Jessica Alba in 2011. It pledges to provide safe and eco-friendly baby products albeit being named in a few lawsuits filed by non-profit organizations, consumers, and investors.

Does the product actually live up to its name? Let’s find out.

What are Honest diapers made of?

The Honest Company calls its product ‘earth-conscious diapers’. It reiterates that its diapers are designed with safe plant-based materials and are thinner – which helps save more than 7,000 trees a year!

According to the information on the company website, Honest diapers are made of 

  • Absorbent bio-care wood pulp
  • Sodium polyacrylate
  • Odor inhibitors including citrus extract and liquid chlorophyll
  • Plant-based polylactic acid (PLA) on the outer layer
  • Polyethylene and polypropylene on the inner layer
  • Polymer spandex and polypropylene for leg and waist system
  • Polyolefin adhesives in the seams and joints
  • Inks for design on backsheet 

The product package further states that the diapers are made without latex, fragrance lotions, and chlorine processing.

What’s so special about Honest diapers?

So, what’s all the brouhaha about?

Honest diapers has a huge fan base and is heralded for these reasons

  • It is eco-friendly and non-toxic.
  • It is made using plant-based materials and chlorine-free wood pulp.
  • It is free of fragrances, lotions, latex, phthalates, and chemical additives – hence hypoallergenic.
  • It does not undergo chlorine bleaching.
  • It is made with healthy ingredients that are safe for your baby’s delicate skin.
  • It provides an accurate fit with super-soft liners, leg cuffs, and a secure elastic band – ensuring zero leaks and easy movement for your baby.
  • It comes in cute designs and patterns.
  • It offers a True Absorb Core – which can hold 17 times its weight in fluid.
  • It has a Diaper Duty Wetness Indicator – to alert you that your baby needs a diaper change.

Are Honest diapers safe?

Diapers have become an integral part of most babies’ lives in the world – almost a basic necessity till the baby turns two or four. The bootee ensures that the baby doesn’t become fussy and sleeps peacefully – well, also that the parents can sleep like a baby!

According to the National Diaper Bank Network, the average baby uses eight to 12 diapers a day – which accounts for an expenditure of $70-80 a month!

Let us evaluate if putting in your money on Honest diapers is a choice that is safe for your baby.


The Honest Company claims that its diapers are made from plant-based materials. However, experts argue that the percentage of it is small, and the product chiefly contains chemicals. While some call this ‘clever marketing’, some others signal it as ‘toxic lies’.

Honest diapers are said to be free of latex, fragrances, lotions, phthalates, heavy metals, and additives. However, as FDA does not regulate these claims, it is tough for us to be certain.

The diapers have polypropylene and polyethylene in the inner layer. These are essentially plastic polymers. Polypropylene is also used for the waist and leg cuffs. These chemicals emit toxic gas that can cause asthma and respiratory problems upon inhalation besides being hazardous to the skin.

Plastic chemicals in diapers – also known as volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) – are also known to be reproductive toxicants. High exposure and absorption of these chemicals into the skin can cause abnormal genital development, infertility, and testicular cancer in boy babies.

Spandex used in the waist liner is a synthetic fiber that cannot absorb sweat. This promotes bacterial growth and fungal infection.

Polyolefin adhesives are another set of chemicals that can cause contact dermatitis and be another source for VOCs.

The wetness indicator that Honest diapers boast of is actually a convenience that comes with a risk. The mechanics of it includes a dye or pH strip that changes color when it comes in contact with urine. The system comprises harmful chemicals and halogenated organic compounds that can have unpleasant side effects like reproductive problems, skin irritation, and respirational issues.

Finally, the designs and patterns of ink on the diapers do not really paint a picture of health. There is more to the ink than what meets the eye. The dyes and inks could be contaminated with heavy metals, and cause allergies and contact dermatitis.


Honest diapers are free from potentially dangerous phthalates. The chemical is included in the company’s Honestly Free Guarantee – the company’s guide to standards and philosophy. The company pledges to exclude phthalates as there is increasing evidence linking the chemical to several health issues like asthma, cancer, and reproductive toxicity.


One of the main sources of dioxins in diapers is chlorine. Since Honest diapers use the chlorine-free wood pulp and do not undergo chlorine bleaching, they are free of dioxins.

This is encouraging because dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental issues, and cancer besides harming the immune system.


Fragrance chemicals, phthalates, dioxins, and bleaches are the commonly found carcinogens in diapers. Since Honest diapers are free of these toxins, it is devoid of carcinogens.

Are Honest diapers good for sensitive skin?

The manufacturer maintains that its diapers are great for your baby’s skin as they are made from plant-based materials. While this claim is not completely genuine, it is true that Honest diapers are free from harsh chemicals such as latex, lotion, chlorine, phthalates, and dioxins. This is reassuring for the safety of your baby’s sensitive skin.

However, there are few reports of skin rashes caused by Honest diapers. This could be due to the presence of plastic elements in the inner layer, leg cuffs, and waist. Plastic polymers do not absorb sweat – hence resulting in bacterial infection and skin rashes. To avoid this, you should keep your baby’s skin dry and gently wash the skin during every diaper change.

ALSO READ: Are Pampers baby wipes safe?

Are Honest diapers hypoallergenic?

Honest diapers are free from latex, creams, phthalates, chlorine, and dioxins. This makes them hypoallergenic.

These chemicals are harsh on the skin and cause itchy skin, rashes, allergies, and wheezing to name a few.

Are Honest diapers organic?

Honest diapers are not as ‘green’ as they are marketed to be. While the company asserts that its diapers use only chlorine-free wood pulp from renewable forests, what is true is wood pulp forms only a small part of their diapers. The inner layers that come in direct contact with the baby’s skin, the waist liners, and the leg cuffs are all made with plastic polymers such as polypropylene and polyethylene.

As manufacturers of disposable diapers are not required to furnish the complete ingredients list, one cannot be sure if there are more toxins going in.

Are Honest Diapers biodegradable?

No, they are not biodegradable and not compostable. Honest diapers are not completely plant-based products. They contain sodium polyacrylate and other plastic polymers.

While the wood pulp decomposes in a few months, sodium polyacrylate and plastic polymers require several years to break down.

Conclusively, Honest diapers are not environment-friendly as they are declared to be. Just like many other diapers, they also end up in landfills.

Can you compost Honest diapers?

A baby is estimated to use 2,500-3,000 disposable diapers in its first year of life. Such disposable diapers make up two percent of landfill waste in the USA – and they require up to 500 years to decompose in a landfill.

Honest diapers is not contributing in any way to making the statistics look better for the environment. It contains a lot of plastic polymers that are not biodegradable.

Do Honest diapers cause rashes?

The Honest Company may be striving to make eco-friendly, safe diapers for your baby. However, it has not caught up with customer satisfaction. There are few reports of Honest diapers causing skin rashes. Here are a few reasons why this is the case

  • Poor absorption – because of which the baby’s skin is in direct contact with wetness, leading to rashes
  • Plastic polymers on the inner layers – could be harsh on the baby’s delicate skin
  • Adhesives – cause contact dermatitis
  • Spandex on the waist – is a synthetic fiber that does not absorb sweat, causing infection and rashes
  • Wetness indicator – contains carrier matrices and chemicals that could be skin irritants
  • Wheat – an ingredient known to be used in Honest diapers can cause rashes if your baby is allergic to it

Do Honest diapers have a wetness indicator?

Yes, according to the company website and product packaging, Honest diapers have a wetness indicator. The diapers are touted to have a color indicator to alert that the diaper needs to be changed. The change in color is due to the dye or pH strip coming in contact with urine.

While the safety of dye or pH strips on the baby’s skin is debatable, there are consumers who are debating the very presence of this feature in Honest diapers. They urge that the product does not have a wetness indicator.

The company website indicates this as a ‘new upgrade’ – therefore some consumers probably are yet to see it.

Are Honest diapers better than Pampers?

Here is a short comparison of Honest diapers and Pampers to see which is the better of the two.

CriteriaHonest DiapersPampers Diapers
ManufacturerThe Honest CompanyProcter and Gamble
IngredientsWood pulp, Sodium polyacrylate, Plastic polymersWood pulp, Sodium polyacrylate, Plastic polymers
ChemicalsFragrance-free, Chlorine-free, Lotion-free, Phthalates-freeContains fragrance, Lotion on inner lining, Stearyl alcohol, Chlorine-free, Phthalates-free
ComfortTend to run smallKnown for comfort
Size8 pounds – 35 pounds and up6 pounds – 35 pounds and up
Wetness IndicatorYesNot all products
Price38 cents per diaper32 cents per diaper
Skin safetyMore recommendedKnown to cause rashes

If you are looking at skin safety and fewer chemicals, Honest diapers surely get the thumbs up. In terms of pricing and comfort, Pampers scores higher.

Read More: Are Pampers diapers safe for your baby?

Are Honest diapers better than Huggies?

Here is a short comparison of Honest diapers and Huggies for you to decide which is the better of the two.

ManufacturerThe Honest CompanyKimberly-Clark International
IngredientsWood pulp, Sodium polyacrylatePlastic polymersWood, cellulose fiber, Polyacrylate, Plastic Polymers
ChemicalsFragrance-free, Chlorine-free, Lotion-free, Phthalates-freeFragrance-free, Phthalates-free, Latex-free, Chlorine-free, Lotion-free
ComfortTend to run smallKnown for comfort
Size8 pounds – 35 pounds and up8 pounds – 37 pounds and up
Wetness IndicatorYesYes
Price38 cents per diaper29 cents per diaper
Skin safetyMore recommendedKnown to cause rashes, blistering, peeling

Honest diapers are more expensive than Huggies, but they sure are a safer option for your baby.

Read more: Are Huggies diapers toxic?

Are Honest diapers better than Hello Bello?

Here is a comparison of Honest diapers and Hello Bello diapers for you to decide which is the better of the two.

CriteriaHonestHello Bello
ManufacturerThe Honest CompanyDax Shepard and Kristen Bell
IngredientsWood pulp, Sodium polyacrylate, Plastic polymersPetroleum-based plastics, Plant-based PLA, Fluff pulp
ChemicalsFragrance-free, Chlorine-free, Lotion-free, Phthalates-freeFragrance-free, Phthalates-free, Latex-free, Chlorine-free, Lotion-free
ComfortTend to run smallVery comfortable
Size8 pounds – 35 pounds and up8 pounds – 35 pounds and up
Wetness IndicatorYesYes
Price38 cents per diaper27 cents per diaper
Skin safetyMore recommendedSafe

Honest diapers and Hello Bello are almost on par with each other. However, the merits of Honest diapers could be weighed down by the comfort and pricing factors.

Do Honest diapers expire?

Honest diapers do not have an expiry date. However, they could lose efficacy over a period of time. The company advises you to use them within a couple of years from the date of manufacture.

Are Honest diapers worth it?

Our analysis shows that Honest diapers are the most expensive of all. They are touted to be eco-friendly and plant-based, but most other products also contain similar wood pulp or fiber. They cause as much damage to the environment as all other products. Further, Honest diapers score low on the comfort factor too.

This is a product that will break the bank for fritters.



Anand Srinivasan
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