Most of us are trying hard to reduce our eco footprints by creating less waste. For some, that means keeping reusable personal hygiene items in the house. These might include reusable menstrual products, “family cloths” like toilet paper alternatives, and washable diapers. But what about reusable baby wipes?
As any parent knows, you go through a lot of baby wipes when raising children. That’s a lot of waste!
Consider creating some reusable wipes instead! There are countless patterned cotton flannels out there to choose from, so you can make them as fun as you like.
What You’ll Need
Many of us are going green by eliminating plastics and using wood, metal, glass, and stone household items, instead. But many forget the massive impact that disposable personal items have.
The baby wipes that most people use are single-use cellulose sheets. They’re meant to clean up soiled baby bums in one go and are then discarded. Considering that the average baby will go through around 3,500 diaper changes by the time they’re potty trained, that adds up to a lot of wipes being tossed into a landfill.
- A storage container with a tight-fitting lid. Consider using an empty disposable wipe container, or a BPA-free plastic food container that snaps shut tightly.
- About a dozen organic cotton flannel squares measuring eight, 10, or 12 square inches. Feel free to use more if you’d like to make a double batch.
- 1.5 teaspoons baby-safe liquid soap or shampoo, such as Dr. Bronner’s unscented Castile soap, or an organic baby shampoo.
- 1 teaspoon similar baby-safe body oil OR liquid aloe vera gel: sweet almond oil is ideal, but you can also use coconut or extra-virgin olive oil.
- 1.5 cups distilled or filtered water
- 1/3 to 1/2 a cup witch hazel
- 5 drops of lavender and/or chamomile essential oil
Aim for the highest-quality products you can find. These products will be used on some of the body’s most sensitive and porous areas. As such, clean, healthy products are the best options possible.
Also, avoid anything that has synthetic fibers, wool, or anything heavily textured like denim or microfiber. A single-ply cotton flannel weave is best. You can buy large bolts of this type of cloth for extremely cheap at most fabric stores, or just re-use old clothing or towels.
Cut the cloth into shape. You don’t need to make them all the exact same shape or size, but it helps to make them as uniform as possible. That way, cleaning and storage is a more straightforward proposition.
You can round the corners of the cloth, which makes sewing easier, or just leave them square.
Use a sewing machine to create a simple hem around the edges of your reusable baby wipes. This will keep the edges from fraying every time you wash them. Basically, you want to make these look like reusable handkerchiefs.
Use the zig-zag stitch or overlock stitch to sew the entire exterior edge of the cloth. If you have a serger, even better. That way you can really seal the edge of the cloth.
If you don’t have a sewing machine, fold the edge of the cloth and sew it together using a needle and thread. If you aren’t handy with a needle and thread, you can simply cut the edges with a pair of pinking shears, but just know that this will never be as sturdy as sewing.
These don’t all have to be exactly the same size, so don’t fret about making them look perfect.
Next, mix all the wet ingredients together in a bowl or large measuring cup. Then fold the baby wipes into a pile inside the seal-able container, and pour the liquid over them. Use your (clean, washed!) hands to squidge them around a bit. This will ensure that the liquid saturates all the wipes as evenly as possible.
Then seal the container and place it with the rest of your diapering supplies. Or you can keep one container near your changing table, and another in the bathroom to use as needed.
You might want to invest in a wiper warmer to store your wipes in. Not only does this seal them up nicely, but you don’t surprise the baby with a cold wipe.
Alternatively, you can leave the wipes dry and put the liquid mixture into a spray bottle. Then, spray each wipe thoroughly to saturate it before you use the wipe.
How to Clean Your Reusable Baby Wipes
Toss these into a sealable diaper pail along with your washable diapers. Be sure to dispose of any large bits of fecal matter or debris. Aim to wash the wipes within 3–4 days of use.
When it’s time to wash and sterilize them, soak them in hot water with a bit of bleach for a few minutes. Then put them through a hot water wash with the other diapers. Don’t wash them with the rest of your family’s laundry.
Rinse twice, then dry on a line or in a clothes dryer.
Once you’re done, whip up a new batch of the wet ingredients and repeat the process described above.
These wipes will stay fresh for about two weeks. Chances are you’ll use them all up before that time is out, but on the off chance that you don’t, give them a wash and redo the solvent before using them again.
The last thing you want is for any kind of mildew to come into contact with your little ones’ most delicate areas.
If you find that you aren’t using up all the wipes in time, consider storing them dry and using a spray bottle to moisten the wipes before use.
Speaking of, keep in mind that these wipes don’t just have to be used for baby care. They’re ideal for camping trips. Keep them in the car for cleaning up all kinds of personal messes when you’re out and about.
You’d be amazed at how soothing these can feel when you’re cleaning up a bad scrape after an outdoor fall.
Feel Free to Get Creative
Once you know how to make these wipes, you can whip up fresh reusable baby wipes whenever you like. Feel free to experiment with different measurements and ingredients until you find a formula you like best.
Additionally, take note of any skin reactions when using various formulas. One of your children might react well to aloe while another might get contact dermatitis from lavender oil or Castile soap.