Once you’ve made the leap to cloth diapers it isn’t long before you start thinking about using cloth wipes. After tonight’s Twitter #clothdiapers chat I realized that some people make this much harder than it has to be. Stay simple friends and your life will be…well…simple!
Here are the most frequently asked questions (and answers) about cloth wipes, accessories, and solutions:
Do I need special wipes? No, you can use anything from baby wash cloths to re-purposed t-shirts to make cloth wipes. However if you want the softest material to touch your babies behind hemp/bamboo wipes are luxury!! My favorite are the Thirties Fab wipes and the new (coming to the US in March) Itti Bitti wipes. A 2 ply wipe is a nice quality too so there is less chance for the solids to sneak through to your hands (for those squeamish of the poo). Our wipes collection includes one set of Thirsties, one set from Itti Bitti, a few bumGenius, and a ton of baby wash cloths.
Do I need a wipes warmer? No, again this is one of those items you can live without. However – I really love having nice warm wipes ready to go at changing time. I prefer my wipes pre-moistened and end up using them for everything. If you have the extra money or want to add one to your registry I would recommend a wipes warmer. The only one I’ve tried is the Prince LionHeart but I know there are several brands available now.
If I don’t have a wipes warmer how do you use the wipes? Most people have a small (or large) spray bottle filled with their favorite solution and will spray 1) the babies bum, or 2) the cloth wipes before wiping the babies behind clean. I have a small bottle that I will refill and keep on hand for those really nasty poops and smelly times. If you want to be even more eco-friendly use a glass bottle to avoid BPA’s and phthalates.
How do you store dry wipes? (If you aren’t using a warmer) Anything goes with this one! On lazy or busy weeks I simply throw them in a basket on the changing table and grab one before I spray. If you are looking for something more organized check out The Feminist Breeder’s post on How to Make Pop-Up Cloth Wipes or Dirty Diaper Laundry’s video instructions on the same technique. I’ve tried this both in an old wipes container and in my wipes warmer but don’t actually do this on a regular occasion.
Speaking of folding, how do you fold them in the warmer? Once I have all my wipes pre-moistened I roll them neatly to fit into the warmer – just fold in half and roll. Just be sure to wring them out before rolling.
What about wipes solutions? There are SOOOO many different solution recipes available online. I’ll tell you what works for us but feel free to experiment – this one is easy to try many different ways until you find one that you personally love. My favorite recipe is a few drops of baby wash/shampoo + 1-2 drops of tea tree oil + water. You can use almost anything including olive oil, coconut oil, honey, grapeseed oil…the list goes on and on. One warning on all the oils though – they can affect your laundry if you use too much so use only a few drops of oils. On really lazy or busy weeks I’ll skip the ingredients and just wet the wipes with water!
How do you store the dirties? I simply toss them in the same wet bag or bucket with my dirty diapers until laundry day. Do use caution though if you have used too much solution (with oils) or if you’ve wipes off lotions or diaper creams as they may effect your laundry when mixed with your diapers. For the dirty ones I tend to rinse briefly in the sink before tossing in the wet bag. (I have no fear of poo – you really don’t want to know what I’ve touched each day! Isn’t that what soap is for?)
How can using cloth wipes mess with my laundry routine? Several ways actually that you might not even consider. If you have Velcro diapers wipes are more prone to hang on to loose Velcro. If you’ve used a solution heavy in essential oils, olive oil, or other oil the oils can cause build up on your cloth diapers preventing them from coming clean. This could also lead to leaking – a nasty word to any cloth diaper user. And don’t forget about those diaper rash creams – if you’ve wiped off a cream or lotion you could have the same problems as you would with oils. If you have the time I would wash your wipes in a different load from your diapers but I would still follow the same recommendations for laundering to keep them super absorbent. Me?? I toss most of mine in with my diapers to save time and rarely have a problem.
How do you carry cloth wipes for day trips and outings? Two ways you can do this simply: 1) wet some wipes using the same technique as with the wipes warmer and store them in a resealable zipper bag, baggie, or wet bag, or 2) carry dry wipes and a small bottle of solution. I actually prefer the second option for traveling; just be sure the lid is on tight so it doesn’t leak in your diaper bag.
Day care and cloth wipes? Same as day trips and outings; just work with your day care provider to find out what works best for them. WARNING: Many providers will require the ingredients list so they know how to store the solutions. I know that ours needs to lock them up in a cabinet away from the children as a safety precaution and to meet Health Department standards. Don’t forget that a solution of plain tap water will work just fine on your cloth wipes.
What about mold? As long as you use the wipes in a the first few (1-3) days after wetting you won’t have a problem. If you’re going to be gone for an extended period (vacation, etc) I would wash and dry the wipes until you return. After almost 2 years I’ve never had a moldy cloth wipe.
Do you disinfect your wipes in the wash? In the early days when I still used bleach my wipes and diapers would get a dose of bleach in the wash water about once a month. Now that I don’t use bleach (so bad for your diapers and the environment) I just wash all of my diapers and wipes with one hot wash. The temperature and the detergent will kill all the bad stuff lurking in there. Oh, and bleach will take the color out of your wipes – duh! If you are really worried about germs you can sun your wipes too. Just be warned that the sun has stronger bleaching power than actual bleach – our wash cloths are faded but the Thirsties are still bright and colorful.
My routine from start to finish:
- Using one old wipes container (from disposable wipes) fill with warm water,
- Add a teaspoon (approx) of baby soap or shampoo (I use ecoStore USA baby body wash – it’s eco-friendly and safe for your baby),
- Add a drop (maybe 2) of tea tree oil (or your preferred additive),
- Swish to mix the ingredients,
- Toss in wipes to moisten,
- Pulling one wipe out at a time I ring out most of the moisture (until no longer dripping but not dry), roll, and place in warmer.
- Repeat with the remaining wipes until your warmer is full or you have ran out of wipes.
- This is all done with the warmer unplugged and in the bathroom to clean up my mess! I found that using the old wipes container for the solution avoids the mess.
What about you? What do you do with your cloth wipes?? Share your favorite solution recipe in the comments below.