Cloth Diapering Basics: Cloth Wipes 101
Okay so if you are like me you probably started getting obsessed with this whole cloth diapering thing and then started researching everything like crazy. At this point, you’ve probably decided either a)you’re going to do it or b)heck no, it’s not for you. Either way, at some point you’ve probably run into someone discussing “cloth wipes” or using cloth wipes with your baby. Now, when I first started thinking about cloth diapering, cloth wipes weren’t even on the horizon for me; It really wasn’t something I ever thought about doing. But after researching, I began to wonder what all the hype was about. For some reason, cloth wipes seem way more intimidating than cloth diapers. Why is that? So I am going to go over my ‘cloth wipe-ing” strategy with you, in hope that by the end of this post you know what you need, how to do it, and no longer feel intimidated by the thought of doing it.
So first things first, I should probably explain why I personally made the switch to cloth wiping and diapering. I know we’ve gone over the benefits of cloth diapering earlier in the series, so I won’t reiterate too much on that. But my reasons for cloth wiping are pretty similar as you might imagine. If you are looking to save money; this is definitely the way to go. Of course, if saving the MOST money is your end game, then I recommend just sticking to water, wipes, and a wipe warmer. Even though disposable baby wipes are about $1.00 a pack, you go through them like crazy with little ones, so they still end up costing you over the course of your baby’s diapering career. The real eye opener for me though, was the health benefits for my family by switching to cloth wipes. Have you ever wondered what is actually in your little one’s baby wipes? Let’s take Pamper’s Sensitive Wipes for example (a simple google search will show you):
PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil
Aloe Barbadenis Gel
August 11, 2016
Did I mention this is the SENSITIVE formula? Now, I’m no rocket scientist, but my guess is citric acid on a sensitive area that may or may not have diaper rash is NOT going to feel very nice (if only our littles could talk). I was speechless when I saw these ingredients.
Something the manufacturers decided they could leave off the wipes themselves; how convenient. I honestly don’t know what half of these chemicals are. Now, everyone slips up and we can’t be perfect with everything. For example, the Diaper Area Wash that we use has a couple things in there that I’m not particularly fond of, but at least the majority of the ingredients were things I recognized (calendula, aloe vera, tea tree oil). But looking at this list above, I think the only thing I recognize on here is water! For me personally, this was enough for me to make the switch to cloth. I recommend if you use a different type of disposable wipe, that you try to google search it’s ingredients to find out what you’re working with as well. It may be worth, at the very least, making the switch to a more natural type of wipe.
In addition to the health benefits and money savings, by switching to cloth wipes you are also helping the environment by not contributing to waste. Not only that, but you’ll help our world’s eco-systems as well, not to doom-and-gloom you. Scientists are worried about the effects the waste from baby wipes is having on marine habitats. This is caused from people flushing their wipes down their toilets and subsequently their sewage systems getting backed up. This of course leads to them being dumped into lakes and oceans. Biologists are worried about the impacts of the chemicals found in baby wipes and their effects on marine wildlife. (source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/19/dont-flush-wet-wipes-toilet-conservationists) But yet again, no judgement. I am not here to harp on what you should or should not do for your family. I know each mama’s circumstances are different; you’ll make the best choice for you and your baby. I just wanted to be honest with you about my decision to switch, and what went into convincing me to do so.
So now on to the fun stuff!
Let’s go over what you WILL need verses what would be NICE to have. What you WILL need is simple; cloth wipes. Really everything else you hear after that is simply just “nice to have”. Now, you can go out and buy the ultra soft, absorbent wipes or you can take some old cotton t-shirts that your hubby doesn’t wear and cut them up. Really, honestly it will make no difference to the world or your baby. After all, this is simply what you will use to clean up poop. Poop people; it’s poop, so really we don’t have to over complicate this. Now, if you are semi-crafty or simply know how to sew on a standard machine. You can spend maybe 30 minutes one afternoon and whip up some standard square or circles out of just about anything.
Here are some ideas you may not have considered:
Old wash cloths
Extra baby wash cloths
Old kitchen towels
Extra receiving blankets
Extra burp cloths
By now my guess is your probably thinking through odds and ends things you have laying around your house right now. Myself personally, I did a combination. I had made my daughter’s crib blankets and curtains, so I had some extra scrap micro-flannel in my sewing cabinet. When she was about 2 months old I started whipping up some extra cloth wipes in between naps and feedings. I probably sewed myself about 15, and then I purchased some unbleached Oso-Cozy cloth wipes. After I realized how much they would get used I picked up a pack of micro-flannel gerber wash cloths. So all in all, my stash is up to about 30 wipes, and so far that has been the perfect number. So that’s really all you’ll NEED to get up and running. It’s up to you what type of wipes you want and how many you think you’ll need. Just figure how many diaper changes your baby needs a day, and multiple that by 3 (the max days you’ll go between laundry), then add 2 extra days worth of wipes because you’ll need some while your wipes are being cleaned and for the diaper bag.
Now let’s talk about the basic set-up and use, then we’ll go through all the extras you can get for your baby. I’ll then talk about my own personal cloth wipe set-up. For now, back to the basics. So how do you use cloth wipes and what are the benefits to using them? It’s pretty easy to use cloth wipes. For the basic approach simply get the wipe wet with some warm water, ring out, and use on your little one. Viola- you’re cloth wiping! When you are finished with the cloth wipe, throw it in your laundry pale with your dirty cloth diapers. The cloth wipes will get washed with the diapers the same way they do. No muss-no fuss. Two main benefits of using cloth on your baby are, they wipes are much softer, and cloth cleans up poop messes SO much easier than regular wipes. The first time I heard someone say this, I didn’t believe it either…But it really is true!
Okay, so here are some extra things that might be nice to have. I’m going to list them out, then I’ll go through my personal weekly cloth wipe routine, and you’ll see how all of them get used.
Cloth Wipe Solution- I use California Baby Cloth Wipe Solution and we love it, it has essential oils in it which have helped clear up any diaper rash, and it smells really nice
Wipe Warmer- we bought the Prince Lionheart Warmies Wipe Warmer and I love it! It even came with a few really soft wipes. Getting a wipe warmer that is MADE for your cloth wipes (like this one is) is extremely important. The phtotos you’ll see below we’re taking with a different wipe warmer I was initially using that was NOT made for wet wipes, and yes, you guessed it. It broke very shortly after we began using it. So stick to the one I put above or at least one that says it’s cloth wipe safe! You’re wallet will thank me.
Cloth diaper and wipe safe Diaper cream- okay we use baby Aquaphor on her after every single changing and it really helps. My little one was getting bad diaper rashes from disposables, when we switched to cloth diapers and wipes, it has really cleared up!
Cloth Wipes Wet Bag
Cloth Wipe Bin
Tiny spray bottle (if you don’t buy a cloth solution that comes in one)
So now that we’ve listed out what the fun additions are, let’s talk about each one and how you would go about setting up your cloth wipe station. For myself, personally, I have a bin next to where I keep my cloth diapering accessories. It’s just a little bin I picked up at target that matches her room decor. This is where I store her cloth wipes, and I store my extra wipes here between laundry cycles; they are stored in this bin dry.
In order to do your cloth wipe set-up you will first need to have all your wipes cleaned through washer first. Then grab your wipe warmer, unplugged, and put in about 1/4 cup of warm water directly inside the wipe warmer. If you want to use cloth wipe solution, this is when you would add it in (usually about 1 tsp), and stir with your finger. Now take your cloth wipes and wet them under a faucet with some warm water, and in out the excess liquid. Repeat this with each wipe, then place the wipes in the wipe warmer. You can simply put the wipes in the warmer, close the warmer, and place near your diapering station plugged in. Now take your wet bag, place about 9 extra wipes in the clean part of your wet bag. Then mix up some more wipe solution, and put it in your tiny spray bottle, and put the wet bag and tiny spray bottle into your diaper bag for when you are on the go. Great job! Now you’re a cloth-wiping-mama.
Store your leftover wipes dry in the bin, so that they are ready to go when you have to make up a new batch. Usually, about the time I have to do cloth diaper laundry I notice my wipes are about run through in the wipe warmer, so it works out really nicely. Now make sure when you go to reload your wipe warmer, you first clean it with some dawn dish soap and a scrub brush. This is important. Mold and bacteria grow in dark, damp places, so you want to make sure you always give it a good scrub out to prevent anything funky from growing. This is another reason why I don’t recommend putting more than about 30 cloth wipes inside the wipe warmer at any one time. Much more than this, and it will take too long to cycle through them, and you might be leaving yourself open to growing some funky science projects inside that thing. YUCK!
I’m going to include photos below on my step-up and on how I fold my wipes inside the wipe warmer. I fold mine so that they pull out of the wipe warmer just like a disposable baby wipe container; there’s always one following behind the other. You may already know how to do this, but just in case you don’t!
Step 1: Place one wash cloth in over a side
Step 2: Place another wash cloth half way over second
Step 3: Fold over first wash cloth over second
Step 4: Place new wash cloth over side that is folded down
Step 5: Fold opposite side halfway over new wash cloth
Step 6: Place new wash cloth in on opposite side of folded cloth
Step 7: Fold over opposite side halfway
Continue to repeat for the rest of the wash cloths until wipe warmer is full to desire
Voila! Close and pull one through the top! Now your wipes will pull out one after another
Plug back in and store back at your changing station!
Now if you don’t want to bother with this “fancier” process. Simply wet your cloth wipes, roll them up, and fill the wipe warmer up with about half your stash. This is easy and will work just fine as well! For example, the current wipe warmer we are using now (Prince Lionheart) does not have a top like this. It functions more like a box. So for me, I know just wet, roll, and store, and it’s worked great for 6 months now!!
Let me know your tips and tricks!
Your Trusty Mama