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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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