Right now, I’m 33 weeks pregnant with my second baby and I’m trying to get organised with everything I need for his arrival. It’s been lots of work sorting through piles of baby clothes, cleaning the crib, preparing for the birth and buying in newborn essentials. But one thing I know I won’t need to put on my shopping list is mountains of baby wipes, because I’ve always used cloth wipes for baby.
Approximately 11 billion disposable wet wipes are thrown away each year, so I’ve always wanted to do my bit to help bring that number down. Baby wet wipes were only invented in 1958, so we can all do just fine without them!
With my daughter Ursula, I used both cloth wipes and reusable cloth nappies. This second time around I’m feeling confident about using both. I always see people in eco-mum groups ask about how to use cloth wipes for baby though, so I thought I’d do a quick guide.
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How many baby wipes do I need?
How many cloth wipes you’ll need for baby depends on the age of your baby and what you’re using them for. For nappy changes, you will probably only need 1 per change. To be generous though, allow 2 wipes per nappy change. For a newborn baby, that will mean between 20-24 wipes per day. You will need extra to allow for the washing turnaround, so consider rounding it up to 30. This will be plenty, especially when the newborn phase is over.
My go-to brand is Cheeky Wipes, who do a pack of 25 organic cotton cloth wipes for baby bottoms at a very reasonable price. When you bear in mind you’ll never have to buy baby wipes again it’s a no-brainer to me!
If you’re only using cloth wipes for baby faces and hands, allow 2 per meal. Thn round up to allow for washing. In this case, 10 cloth wipes should be enough. However it’s always better to have more than not enough. Personally I’d choose a pack of 25 from Cheeky Wipes to be generous. You can choose from microfibre or a super soft and luxurious bamboo velour. Both of them are perfect for mucky little faces.
How to prepare cloth wipes
I always put brand new baby cloth wipes through the wash before using them. You never know what chemicals someone might have sprayed them with during the manufacturing process.
Other than that, there’s very little to do to prepare cloth wipes. Pinterest is full of people telling you to mix up fancy potions to dunk the wipes in. Don’t believe them!
Baby’s skin, whether on their face or their bottoms and genitals, is very sensitive and delicate. You really mustn’t add unnecessary soap to cloth wipes and certainly never essential oils. Literally all you need to use is water. Anything else is a waste of time and resources, and might end up causing upsetting skin reactions.
What to put cloth wipes in?
There are two storage options for putting cloth wipes in: plastic boxes or waterproof bags, known as ‘wet bags’.
With boxes, you can choose to recycle an old takeaway container or similar. Personally though I found it difficult to get one the right size and shape. Instead I bought two Cheeky Wipes boxes, one for clean wipes and one for mucky wipes. You can also get a mesh bag that perfectly fits the mucky wipes box. Then at wash time, all you need to do is pull the drawstring and pop them in the machine.
Speaking of bags, small wet bags are great for putting cloth wipes in for when you’re out and about. Get one for clean wipes, a second for the dirty ones and just pop them in your nappy bag. You can either wet your clean wipes at home and take them out damp, or wet them in public loos.
How to use cloth wipes for poop
The best technique for using cloth wipes with poop is to wipe baby’s bottom with toilet paper first. This will get the bulk of the solids off before using the wet cloth wipe to clean more thoroughly.
This is not strictly necessary and you can just go straight in and wipe. However you would want to get some of the poop off the wipe before putting it in the wash. That’s why we always did a wipe with toilet paper first so most of the poop could go straight in the loo.
How to wash reusable baby wipes
Cloth wipes for baby bottoms should ideally be washed at 6o° to make sure they’re nice and clean. Face cloth wipes can be washed at just 40°. Ideally, you’d wash both kinds of wipes occasionally in a super hot 90/95° wash to give them a good sanitise.
Are cloth wipes worth it?
Yes, without a doubt cloth wipes are absolutely worth it! Let’s say you get through two packs of disposable baby wipes a week. Imagine you’re just buying a cheap supermarket brand and you need them up until your child potty trains at 2 years old. You could save £145 by choosing cloth wipes.
And that’s a conservative estimate. Premium disposable wipes can cost as much as £3 a packet and many children stay in nappies up to age 3 or even 4. So disposable wipes could cost you anything up to £1,248!!!
When you consider the terrible environmental impact of disposable baby wipes too, it really is worth it to switch to cloth.
Can you use reusable wipes on a newborn?
Yes, you can use reusable wipes on a newborn. In fact they’re great for newborn babies that need a lot of nappy changes. You will find yourself using a lot less of them than with disposable wipes.
Do you wet reusable wipes?
Yes, you always wet reusable wipes to clean baby thoroughly. You have two options for this. Either wet them as you go by running them under the tap, or fill your wipes box with water in the morning. Then you always have water available at your changing station.
I do recommend just filling the box with water and dunking dry wipes as you go, though. If you fill the box with wipes and water, by the end of the day they’ll all be a bit smelly. This is from sitting in stagnant water all day, which is not very hygienic.
Can you put cloth wipes in a warmer?
Yes, if you can find a suitable warmer that fits your wipes then it’s fine to put cloth wipes in a warmer. Most wipe warmers are designed for packs of disposables so make sure you choose one large enough for cloth wipes.
The Prince Lionheart Cotton Warmies Wipes Warmer is suitable although I haven’t been able to find an ethical retailer that sells it. This wipes warmer also comes with instructions to make an essential oils solution for the wipes. Remember to never ever use anything other than clean water on your cloth wipes!
Can you wash face wipes with bum wipes?
Yes. As long as you’re doing a wash of 60° or more with a good quality laundry detergent, it’s fine to wash cloth wipes for faces along with cloth wipes for bottoms. Clean is clean. Some people prefer to keep them separate anyway, but there’s no hygiene reason to do so.
I hope you’ve found this beginner’s guide to how to use cloth wipes for baby useful. If it’s inspired you to do more for our planet when it comes to babycare, check out my Ultimate Guide To Reusable Nappies. I also have a list of other eco-friendly newborn essentials to put on your baby registry.
Wishing you all the best with your eco-friendly mothering journey.