Cloth wipes are something that took me a long time to get on board with. When I was pregnant with my first child, I read all about cloth wipes, but I decided that I would just start by using cloth diapers with disposable wipes and see if I had any interest in it later. I was somewhat overwhelmed by it all, and I figured I was “doing my part” by choosing cloth diapers over disposables, so I didn’t worry too much about the wipes.
It took me until over a year into cloth diapering my second child until I moved into using cloth wipes over disposable. Looking back, I’m not sure why I was so overwhelmed by the thought of using cloth wipes. Maybe it was just the thought of trying to keep up with washing them, making a cloth wipes solution… I don’t know! All I know is I can’t believe I was apprehensive–I love them so much, and they work so much better than disposable wipes!
Before I get into why I love cloth wipes so much and how to make your own wipes solution, I will say that not all cloth wipes or homemade wipes solutions are created equal. The success I will describe below is based on flannel wipes, my personal homemade wipe solution, and how I store and care for them.
What’s So Great About Cloth Wipes?
I love cloth wipes so much more than disposable wipes, and it has nothing to do with waste or chemicals. I bought natural/hypoallergenic wipes before, so the preservatives in standard wipes wasn’t really a concern for our family, though it is for many others.
So what is it about the wipes that I love so much?
First of all, they work SO MUCH BETTER. Every time my baby had a poopy diaper (especially a messy one), I used a minimum of 3 wipes, but often more than 5. Disposable wipes aren’t as wet or as absorbent (they aren’t absorbent at all). I didn’t think absorbency mattered in a wipe, but once I started using my homemade flannel wipes I quickly saw what I had been overlooking in a wipe for over four years.
The absorbency is key for a great wipe because it actually grips the poo instead of just wiping it around. It’s a game changer! Because of the thickness of flannel, I can just fold the wipes to get a clean side to wipe with. I almost always use just one wipe when I use a cloth wipe.
As for the wetness, that was something that always bothered me with disposable wipes, but other than trying a couple different brands, I didn’t do much about it. I guess I wasn’t sure that cloth wipes would be wetter, but they definitely are, and that goes back to the absorbency of the flannel–it can hold more wetness than a disposable wipe can.
Another thing I love about our cloth wipes is that my son gets significantly fewer rashes when he has been pooping a lot. This is thanks to the homemade solution we use, and not really a result of the wipe itself. We didn’t often struggle with rashes unless we were dealing with diarrhea from teething (the excess drool produced and swallowed while teething can upset the stomach and make their stools more acidic; we dealt with this with both kids) or from eating excess fruit, but when he would get those rashes, they would be so painful and raw and could take a while to clear up.
I didn’t expect to get fewer rashes when we started cloth wipes, but I was shocked to find that was the case for us. I had never read anything about homemade wipes solution being better for rashes, so it wasn’t even on my radar. But it has undeniably been a huge help for us!
One reason why I think these are so great for rashes is because of how great they work–if they absorb more and are wetter, you can wipe the baby MUCH faster than it takes with disposable wipes. That is much more comfortable for the baby and less irritating for the rash.
Another reason is that the wipes solution itself is healing and soothing.
I don’t think all homemade wipes or wipes solutions will result in fewer rashes. It will totally depend on which recipe you follow. I will share my recipe that has worked awesome for us at the end of this article.
Super Easy To Wash
One of the things that overwhelmed me about cloth wipes was the thought that I would have to scrape poo off of them before washing. I thought scraping poo off a diaper would be enough to worry about.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that scraping poo off the wipe was a non-issue. It mostly absorbs into the flannel, but if not I just dip it in the toilet a couple times before putting it in the diaper pail. Alternatively, if the poop is solid enough, I’ll just use a little toilet paper to wipe off any pieces I need to. But 90% of the time, I don’t need to do anything to the wipe and I can just toss it in the diaper pail.
Had I known this when I started cloth diapering several years ago, I would have used cloth wipes right from the start.
My Homemade Wipe Solution Recipe
Here is the recipe for my homemade cloth wipes solution that I swear by! I will admit I eyeball all of these ingredients and they may not be exact, but thankfully you don’t need perfect measurements.
- 2 cups hot water
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 4-5 drops lavender essential oil
- 1-2 drops tea tree essential oil
- about 20 flannel wipes
- Put the 2 cups hot water in the bowl or tupperware you plan to store your wipes in. Add the 2 tbsp coconut oil and swirl or stir the water until it is all melted.
- Add the 4-5 drops lavender oil.
- Add the 1-2 drops tea tree oil. Swirl or stir.
- Take your flannel wipes and lay them flat, one on top of the other in a pile. Take the pile and set it in your bowl of solution. Push down until all the solution is absorbed by the wipes.
- Cover your bowl of wipes and keep near your changing area.
**Note #1: I use regular coconut oil for this recipe, but it does mean that you might see specs of the solid oil on your wipe when the solution cools. I have no issue with this and will continue to use regular coconut oil. Some people prefer to use a fractionated/liquid coconut oil so it doesn’t do this. It’s up to you, and either one will work.
**Note #2: Once the solution cools, this does result in cold wipes. They are colder than disposable wipes because they are wetter. Some people like to use a wipes warmer because cold wipes can be a little uncomfortable, especially for brand new babies. It is up to you. I personally do not use a wipes warmer, and my son doesn’t LOVE the coolness, but he did get used to it.
If you do use a wipes warmer, I might recommend halving the recipe and number of wipes to keep the batches smaller. Make sure you completely dry out the warmer between new batches to prevent a mildew smell. The tea tree oil will be great to prevent mold/mildew, but if can still happen, especially if it never gets the opportunity to dry and it’s just always warm and wet in there.
**Note #3: Tea Tree and Lavender essential oils are safe for babies in reasonable amounts and diluted, like in my wipes solution. However, not all essential oils are safe for babies. If you want to experiment with the homemade wipes solution and try different oils, make sure you do some research on the safety of that oil on a baby. Here is a great resource I found for essential oil information regarding babies and kids.
What’s the Secret?
The ingredients in this wipe recipe are very intentional. Coconut oil has antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. It is soothing and moisturizing, and it helps put a barrier on the skin to prevent irritation.
As great as coconut oil is, I really believe the secret lies in the blend of tea tree and lavender oils. Now, I am far from an essential oil expert. I haven’t really experienced many benefits from essential oils (I would love to be convinced and taught about how to do it right if I’m just missing something) outside of stress relief. But they clearly have worked great in this wipes recipe.
Tea tree is great for mold and mildew prevention (since these will be sitting around wet for a while, this is important–and it works!) It has many of the same disinfectant properties as coconut oil. Lavender is very soothing and helps relieve pain. It can promote circulation, which helps for quicker healing. The two of them together (and combined with the coconut oil) are awesome for treating and preventing rashes.
I have seen a number of other recipes out there calling for some baby soap and olive oil to be added to the wipes solution. You can certainly add them if you wish, but I do not believe they are necessary and prefer keeping the recipe quick and simple. I personally don’t use soap because it can be irritating if it isn’t rinsed off properly, and I usually don’t rinse after a wipe. The amount of soap in a wipes solution is probably not enough to irritate, but I had an experience with soap irritation when I was a kid, so I’m cautious.
Have you ever tried homemade wipes or a homemade cloth wipes solution before? What recipe do you like to use? Let me know in the comments!