A really EASY way to make your own cloth wipes for your baby (or you) and how to use them.
Even though we have bought most things second hand, there has been a dark cloud of guilt over my head since my daughter, Sophie, was born.
I always intended to do the reusable nappy thing (and reusable wipes) once I had settled into being a mum and knew what I was doing (ha, I’m not sure I ever will feel like I know what I’m doing). However, I found all the information and opinions on the different types of reusable nappies a bit overwhelming, so I put it off and put it off. My only excuse for using disposable wipes for so long is laziness.
Now, in what feels like the blink of an eye, Sophie is nearly 1 year old. There’s that guilt cloud overhead again.
It’s time to give it a go. First, the wipes.
Edit June 2019: I’ve now been using cloth wipes for a year, so I’ve updated this post to reflect how I use them. I remember thinking they would be a lot of hassle but they’re just as convenient as disposables – it just takes a tiny bit of organisation and time (I’m talking a few minutes, every other day at most).
Making the reusable wipes
I’ve looked into the Cheeky Wipes system but, apart from being a bit pricey, it doesn’t fully fit with the reduce, reuse and recycle ethos. I didn’t want to buy new products, even if they are reusable.
Essentially the system is this: 1 container for clean wipes, soaked in a solution so that they are just wet enough; and 1 container for dirty wipes, with a soaking solution to make washing them easier. You can also get watertight zip-lock bags to take the wipes out and about.
I figured it would be easy enough to set up a similar system using items I already had. I’ve been using it for a few days, in the house and so far so good. Once I’m used to it I want to use it out and about too.
I’ve made the wipes out of a few of my husband’s old cotton t-shirts that were headed for a charity shop. I didn’t bother hemming them, as I read some people have done. Why bother going to that much effort for something that’s going to get poo (or food) on it?
I roughly cut each t-shirt into eighteen 19x19cm squares (the same size as a well-known brand of wipe) – and I mean roughly! I wanted to use as much of the t-shirt as I could, so I even used the sleeves, which turned out more triangle than square. They’ll still do the job!
The clean wipes go in a watertight food container we had spare (we have built up a fair collection over the years, as many people do). I made up a solution of water and a few drops of tea tree oil that I had in the bathroom cabinet. I left the wipes to soak it up and then drained the excess.
For the dirty wipes, I’m using a zip-lock bag that came with our changing bag. I haven’t put them in a solution but I’ll pre soak them before machine-washing them. I may yet switch to using a tub with a soaking solution. If I do, I’ll update this post.
Update: After a bit of trial and error, to prepare the clean wipes I now use a solution of warm water (I half fill the container), a drop of baby wash and a small amount of coconut oil (about half a tea spoon). After thoroughly wetting the wipes in the solution, I wring them out so they are damp but not dripping wet. Using an air tight container, they stay fresh for a few days (I make up a batch every 2-3 days).
I don’t put dirty wipes into a solution or pre-soak them prior to washing. I simply put them in the wet bag I use for dirty cloth nappies (I started using them a few months later). When the bag is full, I empty it into the washing machine (the bag goes in too) and do a rinse cycle before putting them on a long wash cycle at 60°C.
If you don’t use cloth nappies and are using your cloth wipes for other uses, such as wiping your baby after eating or to remove makeup, you could use a small wet bag to store dirty wipes between washes or just throw them straight into the machine ready for the next wash.
Why didn’t I do it sooner? The hardest part was cutting up the t-shirts – and that was pretty easy! Using the reusable wipes is really no more complicated than using disposables. Instead of putting the dirty wipe in with the dirty nappy, you put it in a bag/tub. Ok, so there’s a little bit of extra washing to do, but when you have a baby, what’s a little more?
I actually found that the cotton wipes do a better job of cleaning her bum than disposables. I only need to use 1-2, rather than 3-4 (depending on the poo), after getting the worst of the poo off with the nappy.
This now feels like such a simple step to make – as with a lot of things, the thought of doing it is often worse than the actual doing.
I’m going to do the same thing with some old white t-shirts to use for cleaning up after feeding Sophie (white, so I know which are for her face and which are for her bum). I also need to work out how I’m going to take the cloth wipes out and about, so I can stop buying disposables altogether.
Update: My nanna gave me some old flannels that they didn’t use anymore, which I use to wipe up after Sophie’s eaten. I simply wet a flannel under the tap as and when I need to use it. I use the same one throughout the day and then put it in the wash. I did cut up the old white t-shirts to use instead of kitchen towel/tissues. I can’t recommend doing this enough! They do a much better job than kitchen towel and as tissues are much kinder on the skin, especially when you’ve got a cold or hayfever (I feel your pain).
I now use the small wet bag that I was originally using to store dirty wipes to take clean wipes out and about with me.
Are you considering using reusable wipes? If you have any questions or worries, I’d love to help – just use the comments below or contact me.
Already using cloth wipes? If you have any other tips, please share below.