Cloth Wipes!

by Amanda Hearn · 23 comments

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If you’re considering cloth diapers, or even if you aren’t, it makes sense to consider cloth wipes.

Why Use Cloth Wipes?
Parents prefer cloth wipes over disposables for several reasons.

Reusable wipes:

  • Simply work better. Much like a washcloth, cloth wipes really grab the mess – making it much easier to clean up. You’ll find that you use far fewer wipes as a result!
  • Produce far less solid waste than conventional wipes. Babies go through thousands and thousands of diaper changes before being potty trained – the folks over at diaper decisions estimate about six to eight thousand changes (yikes!). If you use two wipes per change (and let’s be honest…some of those poopy explosions are going to need more than two disposable wipes), we’re talking over ten to fifteen thousand wipes. Picture all that in your local landfill!
  • Are free from the chemicals found in most commercial baby wipes.
  • Are far softer on baby’s bum.
  • Will save you a ton of money!

Even if you don’t cloth diaper, it is a great idea to use cloth wipes as they don’t have all of the harmful chemicals found in traditional wipes.

Buying or Making Cloth Wipes
You can buy cloth wipes, or make your own. Either way, you’ll want to have two to three dozen on hand.

Buying Wipes

Some parents find it easiest to purchase wipes. Thirsties and other brands sell their own cloth wipes. Also, you can buy cloth wipes on Etsy. But many parents give great reviews to using baby washcloths for wiping, including Circo brand washcloths from Target. Basically, any baby washcloth should work fine as a baby wipe.

Making Wipes

When making wipes, you have a lot of fabric choices. Whatever fabric you use, an 8×8 finished size is common for wipes; most sewers make two-layer wipes by starting with fabric that is 8.5 x 8.5 inches. They put the outsides in (facing each other), sew most of the way around with a machine or by hand, then turn the wipe right-side-out and finish with hand stitching. Also, some people prefer to serge the edges, depending on the fabric and machines available to them.

Some common fabric choices for cloth wipes include:

  • Flannel wipes: Old flannel sheets or stained receiving blankets can have a new life as wipes.
  • Terry cloth: Some crafty mamas turn old towels into cloth wipes. Others use a soft fabric called “baby terry,” available at fabric stores.
  • Cotton or Bamboo Velour
  • Cotton or Bamboo Fleece
  • Mixed fabric: Terry cloth on one side; flannel on the other.

Here is a great little video I found that shows how to sew wipes with both a serger and sewing machine.

How to Use Cloth Wipes

Since disposable wipes come pre-moistened, you might be wondering, “How do I wet these wipes?” Again, you have options. You can store the wipes dry until you’re ready to use them, or you can pre-wet a supply in advance. Let’s look at both methods.

Keep the wipes dry until use:
It seems that most parents keep their wipes dry until diaper change time. Keeping your wipes dry makes for slightly more convenient storage, and you can store the wipes any way you wish. One great method is in a drawer near your sink in the bathroom.  Some parents re-use a disposable wipes box, some keep the wipes in a basket or decorative box on top of the changing table. There is no right or wrong way, as long as they are close at hand when changing time comes!

If you store your wipes dry, you’ll want to have on hand a way to wet the wipes. One option is to keep a spray bottle on the changing table/dresser top. (More on what’s actually inside that bottle in a minute.) A more popular option is to use a peri bottle, which essentially is a plastic bottle with a “sport top.” Peri bottles are more frequently used because they dispense water more quickly than spray bottles, are easier to use, and take up less space on the changing table. Many hospitals send new moms home from the hospital with a peri bottle for cleaning. Whichever bottle you choose, you can either wet the wipe or wet baby’s bottom – or both. Wetting the wipe seems less messy to me, but do whatever works for you.

If you want to wet the wipes in advance: 
You might find it easier to wet a one or two day supply of wipes in advance. If so, you’ll probably store your wet wipes in a box that formerly held disposable wipes, although there are of course other storage options. The most important features to look for in a storage box are ease of opening (especially when you’re holding a crying baby with one arm!) and tightness of the seal (if you’re wetting wipes in advance, you want them to be still wet at diaper time).

What’s in Your Wipes Solution?

Many parents use plain water as the wipes solution, either in the bottle or to wet the wipes in advance. But some mamas choose to add other ingredients to the mix. My advice? Start with water, and then play around with some of these additions to suit your taste.

If you are cloth diapering, it’s important to make sure that you don’t make a wipes solution that will harm your diapers. Here’s a short list of ingredients that some parents add; most use a few drops per cup of wipes solution unless otherwise noted:

  • Baby soap (Be sure to use something that is chemically safe like Burt’s Bees, California Baby, Earth Mama Angel Baby, etc.)
  • Essential oil (such as lavender essential oil)
  • Tea tree oil (said to help with diaper rash, but also said to be bad for little boys)
  • Olive oil
  • Baby oil, such as Burt’s Bees apricot baby oil
  • Grapefruit seed extract

You can also buy dissolvable solution cubes that you mix with water.

A helpful trick for storing your wet or dry wipes:
Pop up wipes – just like disposables.

I used this method when I first started, but I found that it just took too much time and was not as easy to use as simply stacking my wipes.  You may like it though!

There is a great tutorial from Dirty Diaper Laundry here!

CLOTHWIPESSquare-600x600

Washing Cloth Wipes

Most parents who use cloth wipes use cloth diapers. If you’re in that boat, cleanup is a breeze – just wrap the dirty wipe up in the dirty cloth diaper, and toss it all in the wash together

However, you can use cloth wipes even if you use disposable diapers. You’ll want a wet bag or separate diaper trashcan just for the wipes. Then toss a load of wipes in the washer with your regular baby detergent.
Have other cloth wipes tips to share? We’d love to hear it, please leave a comment!

**Special thanks to Lucy for all of your help with this post!

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous April 14, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Woo! I use cloth wipes and have since Day 1. Though I often use disposable diapers b/c the hubs just won't GET ONBOARD with my cloth diapers, but whenever we use disposable wipes, DD's bottom breaks out in the most awful rash EVER. Gerber white facecloths, and a spray bottle with a teeny drop of burt bees baby shampoo and we're good!

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Avin's Momma April 14, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Would you mind if I included a link to this post on my blog? I am going to be doing a post about cloth diapers and would love to include this information. My blog is located at http://avinsmomma.blogspot.com. If you wouldn't mind please email me at avinsmomma at gmail dot com. Thanks!

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Avin's Momma April 14, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Would you mind if I included a link to this post on my blog? I am going to be doing a post about cloth diapers and would love to include this information. My blog is located at http://avinsmomma.blogspot.com. If you wouldn't mind please email me at avinsmomma at gmail dot com. Thanks!

Reply

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The Kuh February 16, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I am just starting with cloth diapering, but it only seems to make sense that using cloth wipes would go hand in hand. I am using disposables right now, and it's actually kind of a pain to throw those in the trash while putting the diapers in the diaper pail. I'd rather throw it all in the pail.

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Mrs. Chastain October 12, 2011 at 3:00 am

I love cloth wipes. Always have. Even though we are a disposable diaper kind of family right now, we are trying to go the cloth route. It hasn't been easy convincing my husband but I started with cloth wipes! And I noticed my daughter's hiney is a lot cleaner and softer.

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Laura April 12, 2012 at 10:05 am

Our bathroom has a long vanity (countertop) right next to the sink, designed to be used for folding laundry, and changing babies. :) So, I just fill the sink with plain water, and use those cheap baby washcloths. I have a basket full at the end of the countertop.

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Lisa Cooper June 9, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I use Calendula Oil in our wipe solution – it smells delish!! I also went to our local Sally’s Beauty Supply and got 2 good-quality (but still inexpensive) spray bottles – one for the nursery and one for the diaper bag – and I use them to spray down the wipes :) I have also gotten in the habit of checking to see if the diaper is poopy BEFORE changing him so I can have an extra wipe pre-moistened, so I don’t have to fumble to get one sprayed while trying to keep him from getting poop all over himself :)

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Rachel N July 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I find cloth wipes a lot nicer for cleaning up messes. They seem to grab more than disposables which just smear it around. I usually put coconut oil, baby wash, and tea tree oil in my wipe solution but sometimes I get lazy and just use water:)

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Mama2C3 July 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Why is tea tree oil bad for little boys?

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Rachel January 11, 2014 at 9:01 pm

I heard it has estrogen-like effects if used regularly

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Jamie August 14, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Been using cloth wipes since she was a week old. Just cut up some old t-shirts of the husbands and store in an old disposable box. Solution I use is water with a few drops j&j baby wash and baby oil. Worked great at first, but when I open the wipes box lately (since last fill up a day ago) it seems smelly. Any ideas? I’ve been washing them with the regular laundry after a rinse in the tub. I’ve been looking at washing instructions for cloth diapers (we’re still using disposable at this time) to see if maybe it was a residue build-up issue. Any suggestions on fixing this?

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Andi September 15, 2012 at 8:08 am

I’m looking forward to using some of these soon :D I’m making them out of old towels and some fabric remnants, they’ll be nice and bright and nice and soft.

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Christina November 5, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I have used Bum Boosa baby wipes. Bum Boosa Bamboo Baby Wipes are a unique, 100% bio-friendly product that was developed with both the planet and infants’ sensitive skin in mind. Their mission is to provide a new option for a widespread consumer product that, through its use, trees and water are saved. They are able to do this by drawing on the benefits of a bountiful, regenerative and sustainable plant for our alternative nonwoven fiber: bamboo.
Bum Boosa aims to consciously care for consumers and the planet by making eco-friendly baby wipes with the promise of high quality natural ingredients, honesty and integrity. To that end, for each package sold, Bum Boosa plants a tree with Trees for the Future.
This is the Bum Boosa website: http://www.bumboosa.com
Hope to help you ~

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Beth Rees February 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm

We used cloth wipes in the beginning and switched to cloth, but I noticed once we switched to cloth that they cleaned so much better than disposable wipes. We love them and they are just as easy and convenient too

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Chelsea May 13, 2013 at 11:37 am

Love my cloth wipes!

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Allison October 14, 2013 at 8:51 pm

I’d love to hear what you think of the most popular cloth wipes out there!

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Kayla S December 20, 2013 at 9:50 am

Wow thank you for the information! we have been cloth diapering but just started using cloth wipes from irritation and its been going great after reading this, I love the pop up storage trick it made my husband less intimidated!

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Mary December 27, 2013 at 9:54 am

I love our cloth wipes! I’ll never go back to disposables! We use them for messes around the house, too (like cleaning up our son’s face and hands).

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