All About Using Cloth Baby Wipes - This West Coast Mommy
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All About Using Cloth Baby Wipes

When you cloth diaper, it’s almost inevitable that the question of cloth wipes will come up. Eventually most parents will at least consider cloth wipes, for the same reasons that they chose to use cloth diapers in the first place. Cloth wipes are more cost-effective, create less waste in the landfill, and help you avoid the use of irritating soaps and chemicals on your baby’s delicate bottom.

For the record, cloth does a MUCH better job at cleaning poopy bums than a disposable baby wipe. The fabric “grabs” the mess and makes messy clean ups easier. They’re also much better at keeping your hands poop-free. Disposable wipes are so thin, they don’t offer anywhere near as much protection.

All About Using Cloth Baby Wipes - types of cloth wipes, how to store wipes, using a wet or dry system, and laundry.

Just like cloth diapers, cloth wipes come in many different price points, ranging from free or dirt cheap to luxury options. Cloth wipes can be upcycled from old towels or washcloths, or you can make your own from clearance bin fabric remnants. If you have a serger, putting a quick edge all around will keep them from fraying. It’s not a big deal either way though. After all, they’re just for cleaning poop!

Personally, I loved those thin baby washcloths that everyone gets at their baby shower. They’re not that useful for baths, but they’re just perfect for wiping bums. Many cloth diaper brands sell their own branded cloth wipes, or for luxury feels, you can buy ultra soft minky, velour, or bamboo cloths. Etsy is a great place to find those.

Cleaning up with cloth is as simple as just add water and wipe, though many people use homemade wipe solutions, store-bought solutions, or wipe bits. Virtually all of the time though, water was just fine for us.

Storage

There are many ways to store cloth wipes. In the beginning I reused disposable wipes containers and filled them with my cloth wipes folded in half.

Store cloth wipes in an old disposable wipes container

But then I had a second baby, and with two in diapers I stopped being fancy and just made a big stack of them next to the change table. This is a great way to get older siblings to help out too. I would draft Tee into helping me dig out all the cloth wipes out of the clean diaper laundry and stacking them neatly.

Cloth baby wipes - cost-effective, eco-friendly, and gentler on baby's bum

And when I was diapering on the go, I would take a stack of cloth wipes, fold them in half, stuff them into a small wet bag, and throw the whole thing in the diaper bag.

Keep a stash of cloth wipes in a wet bag in your diaper bag

Dry Wipes

The next question is whether to store them wet or dry. I used a dry system. All my wipes were dry until right before I used them. At home I got into the routine of grabbing a wipe (or two if I could smell there was something messy in there), running them under the tap, and giving them a quick squeeze to get the excess water out before bringing baby to the change table. For really big messes, I kept a roll of toilet paper next to the change table to get the worst of it, then finished the job with the damp cloth wipes.

On the go, I would pack dry wipes and either use the sink in whatever bathroom we found ourselves in, or pour a little out from my water bottle. That way I never had to worry about mildewy wipes. Of course, many parents go for the simple route and use cloth at home and disposable wipes while out, and that’s a valid option too.

Wet Wipes

Some prefer to make their cloth wipes as similar to disposable wipes as possible by prewetting them with solution so they’re ready to go right out of the bag or box. Don’t prepare more wipes than you think you can get through in one or two days though. Most homemade solutions don’t last that long (no preservatives, remember?), so it can be pretty disheartening to realize your carefully moistened and folded wipes are getting musty – or even worse, mildewy – in just a couple of days.

Another alternative is to keep premade solution in a spray bottle and spritz your wipes just before using. The solution will still go bad after a while (homemade sooner than commercial), but it’ll last longer in a bottle.

Spray homemade or store-bought solution on your wipes as needed

Wipe solutions are basically water, soap, and oil. If you make your own, make sure to boil the water and let it cool before using to keep it lasting longer. Personally, I used plain water 99.9% of the time, but if you’re looking for simple wipe solution recipes to try, here are some ideas:

DIY Soap Bits Recipe from The Pierogie Mama

Three Favourite Homemade Wipes Solutions from All About Cloth Diapers

Ten Homemade Baby Wipe Solutions from Padded Tush Stats

Laundry

When you already cloth diaper, cloth wipes are a cinch to wash. Just throw them into your diaper pail and wash with your diapers using whatever routine you already use. When baby starts pooping solids, keep a roll of toilet paper at the change table to get the worst of the mess off and flush it down the toilet with the rest of the poop. That way you don’t need to worry about scraping or spraying your wipes. Easy peasy!

Do you use cloth wipes? Which system works best for you?

More cloth diapering resources!

6 Ways to Fold a Prefold Diaper | This West Coast Mommy - In this #clothdiaper #tutorial, I show you 6 different ways to fold a prefold diaper, with pictures.

9 Common Cloth Diapering Mistakes and What to Do Instead

Which Cloth Diaper Inserts, Doublers, or Liners Should I Choose?

12 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Cloth Diapers

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14 Comments

  • Cloth wipes are ALL I use—> they work SO SO much better than disposable wipes for big messes. No extra work to wash them, either. I recently discovered liniment, which is like a creamy, oil bum wash that makes using cloth wipes even easier…. no water needed! Oh, the money we’ve saved from using cloth wipes!

  • Great post! We considered cloth diapering and got a bunch from my cousin who only used them for a very short time with her first. We are currently still using disposables because of ease and now the thought of cloth diapering is a bit intimidating with the extra work it involves. But the nurse who led our prenatal class said that even gentler on newborn baby’s bum is to use old cuts of cloths and water for wiping instead of disposable wipes. That we thought we could get on board with but we’ve also just been using disposables. I think though now that I’ve read this post I may try using cloth wipes at home but continue to use disposables when we are out. My LO hasn’t had any really bad diaper rash (the worst of it was when he was newborn but he’s now almost 4 months with only minor flare ups once in awhile) but it does seem to be the better option… For baby’s skin and our wallet! Thanks again!

    • Thank you! Yes, cloth wipes and water are definitely gentler on baby skin than the stuff you find in disposable wipes, and depending on what kind of cloths you use, I bet you’ll find they do a better job of getting baby’s bum clean too. Lots of people do cloth at home and disposables while out – it’s what works for you and your baby. Good luck!

  • I love cloth wipes! They have made such a difference with my LO and she actually likes her bum wiped now. Thanks for your ideas for homemade wipes solutions.

  • I think cloth wipes, along with a roll of toilet paper, is the most economical way to go and, as you are using cloth diapers, they may be washed along with them. Washcloths are cheap and easy to use. That is what I used on my children, along with cloth diapers

  • I just recently switched to using cloth wipes with my twins. They work SO much better than disposables. I bought 3 packs of those thin baby face cloths from the dollar and they work like a charm! I hadn’t thought of keeping toilet paper nearby for getting the worst of the poop off. I will try that! With twins in diapers, we go through a lot of wipes each day so I don’t really worry about them getting mildewy. Any that are left at the end of the day usually go into the wash anyway or I make sure to put them on the top of the pile for the next day. I do a load of laundry a day so adding the wipes in is no big deal.

    • They do work much better! And with twins you’ll be saving so much more not having to buy disposable wipes all the time. 🙂

    • We actually use wet cloths for all those things. We have (separate) cloths we use wet for wiping hands and faces at dinner or on the go. They work really well!

  • I want to use the same system of cloth wipes and toiket paper. Im curious how you store your dirty wipes though? I was told to keep my dirty diapers away from water

  • I use a combo – dry washcloths (got a bunch of used ones from a friend who was clearing out her baby stuff!) and keep a spray bottle of just plain water nearby, and usually disposables on the go for ease. I do keep a package of disposables near the change table just in case/for my hands/my husband prefers them. I did find when my son was a newborn, he started to get a mild diaper rash shortly after bringing him home from the hospital – I started using the cloth wipes and it went away within two days. I definitely prefer them!