For a total of $8, you can have baby wipes in the form of cloth wipes for your baby through their entire diapering journey.
Baby wipes are something every mom needs, whether you use disposable diapers or cloth diapers. Baby wipes—on the whole—are not extremely expensive, but I realized that they are one more way I was adding waste to our landfills. I had a simple solution right in front of me to be eco friendly so I decided to forego regular wipes!
Since I already use cloth diapers for E I knew adding cloth wipes to the diaper load wouldn’t add any extra cost when considering the amount of detergent, water, or energy used for each cycle.
I also realized that the baby wipes we buy in the store don’t use any ingredients that I don’t already have at home (or can easily purchase at the store). I did a little research and found that the majority of ingredients are superfluous. As long as you have water and soap, your baby is good to go.
I did some research on name brand diaper companies and found that the wipes they offer are not that different from the cloth wipes I suggest below. Pampers even states concerning their Pampers Sensitive Wipes, “Water makes up more than 97% of the base in the water-based cleansing formula, used to improve the wipe’s texture and provide wetness that enables gentle cleaning.” They go on to say that their disposable wipes are, “As mild as washcloth and water…Ideal for baby’s sensitive skin.”
Huggies gives great explanation about each of the ingredients found in their wipes. Let’s look at Huggies‘ recent diaper wipes that they are proudly marketing as only having seven ingredients:
Let’s look at these ingredients
Upon looking at these baby wipe ingredients, I noticed a few things:
- Water is essential
- Butoxy PEG-4 PG-Amodimethicone is a nicety but not necessary—if you put enough water on the cloth wipe, it glides just fine.
- Caprylyl Glycol may be necessary for some children, but after you wipe your baby with a cloth wipe, you can always put lotion (that you already have) on their bottom.
- Sodium Benzoate is not necessary unless you are storing wipes in a container—this is not beneficial to the baby directly in any way.
- Coco-Betaine is again, a nicety, but lotion can do the job just as well.
- Citric Acid is not necessary unless you are storing wipes in a container—this is not beneficial to the baby directly in any way.
- Polysorbate 20 is a gentle cleansing ingredient that does the same job your soap does when you give your baby a bath.
So, of all of these ingredients, the only absolutely necessary ones for the benefit of your baby directly, are water and soap—and maybe some lotion on baby’s bum every once in a while.
Is there anything listed above that a cloth wipe cannot provide?
The answer is no! I would even argue that the convenience of typical disposable baby wipes is a falsity. Let me explain. My little E goes to childcare three days a week. They require regular diapers and wipes for the 5 hours a day she is there. I have found when using disposable wipes that:
- When there is a blow out, I get poo all over my hands. Then I have to use many wipes to get all the poo off.
- When I need to quickly grab a wipe, they are twisted inside the wipe container. Therefore, I end up pulling out more than I need and having to stuff them back in the container.
- Baby E loves the wipes! Now that she is crawling, she pulls them all out one by one and they end up on the floor.
- **The only reason disposable wipes would be more convenient than cloth is if you are not already using cloth diapers. In this case, you would need to do a separate load of laundry if you used disposable diapers but chose to use cloth wipes.
So what is so good about cloth wipes?
I am so glad you asked. Cloth wipes are easy, fast, and reusable—so great for the environment.
They also have a very minimum base cost. I only spent $8, but if you don’t already have extra cotton fabric or baby wash cloths, you will need to make this investment.
Currently I have 40 wipes and this gets me through 3 days’ worth of diapers with extra to spare while I am washing the others.
According to Katie at Health4Littles, you will end up needing roughly 1000 wipes for the first year of baby’s life—meaning more than 12 packs of 80 wipes. Looking at Walmart’s brand, which is going to be comparatively cheap to others, a three pack with 80 count each (total of 240) costs $4.22 (at the time of writing).
This means in order to have over 1000 wipes, you will need to spend around $20.00. This doesn’t include all of the other ways you will want to use a wet wipe—washing baby’s face, hands, etc.—which can all be done with a cloth wipe as well. Multiply that by two or three years and you are probably going to spend anywhere from $60-80 per baby.
Again, in the grand scheme this is not much money if the other factors of convenience and eco-friendliness didn’t factor into the benefits of cloth diapering along with the cheaper price.
Cloth wipe materials
- Cotton Towels: My friend gave me cotton fabric for which I didn’t have a need. Therefore, I decided to cut them in small squares—the size of normal store bought wipes—and used them for cloth wipes.
- Baby Washcloths: I took the majority of the baby wash cloths given to me at showers and used them for cloth wipes. I also bought some cheap baby washcloths on Amazon to add to my stash. They only cost $8. You can certainly get thicker ones, but I have found the thinner the material the better.
- A squirt bottle to put your water and soap in: I used the perineal irrigation bottle the hospital provided at delivery. They let me take a few home so I didn’t have to buy any. You can find them on amazon, though.
How do cloth wipes work?
It is really quite simple.
- I place all of my cloth wipes in a bin on my changing table, where I can easily grab them.
- I place the squirt bottle in the bin with the cloth wipes.
- When Baby E needs a diaper change I grab a cloth wipe and lay it on her changing pad.
- Then I grab the squirt bottle and get the cloth wipe as wet as I think is needed. *consider how gently you want the wipe to glide on baby, if baby has had a blow out, etc.
- And then I wipe baby and place the wipe in the dirty cloth diaper.
- Then I place the dirty cloth diaper and the wipe in my diaper pail to be washed later.
What ingredients are in my wipe solution?
Water and a drop of the baby soap I use for baby’s baths. First, I fill the squirt bottle with water. Then, I add a drop of the soap. Finally I shake it up, and voila—I have a homemade baby wipe solution for free!
One final benefit of cloth wipes
I have been surprised at how much easier cloth wipes are for poo. If your baby is older and his or her poo is not runny, you can often just pick up the poo with the cloth wipe and throw it in the toilet. Then you don’t have to even clean your diaper out in the toilet. When Baby E has a runny poo I will first wipe her with a dry wipe. This keeps me from smearing the poo more (which often happened with normal wipes) . Then I would use a wet cloth wipe to clean off her skin.
So there you have it, Mama’s—all of the ins and outs of cloth wipes!
If you want to learn more about cloth diapering, why I chose cloth diapers, and how to get stains out of cloth diapers and cloth wipes, check out my other blog posts below: