In a previous post we looked at a nice little reusable baby wipes kit – the Bottoms Up Washable Cloth Baby Wipes Kit. This is a great kit for parents who want to go green but are a little too busy to make their own reusable baby wipes. That said, it really doesn’t take much time to make your own reusable baby wipe kit.
When my son Cedar was born I made my own reusable wipes kit – actually not to save the planet either. I was just trying to save some cash. I didn’t realize the eco-benefits until later. There are some major eco-benefits though, such as…
Less waste – this is a biggie. If you buy plastic bins of baby wipes for the entire time your kid is in diapers I’m positive you could save enough bulky plastic bins to use them as bricks and build a pretty large playhouse for your kiddo by the time he’s three or four years old. Those plastic bins are HUGE and most of the time they’re wrapped in plastic too. Even if you purchase wipes in soft packages, the wrapping is still plastic waste.
Less use of non-renewable resources – plastics, as I’m sure you’ve heard are made with good ol’ non-renewable oil. It’s also what’s used to wrap almost all baby wipes, unless you go with an eco-brand of wipes that uses corn based packaging. Corn based packaging, by the way, is not trouble free. Currently, it’s very hard to find a recycling center for bio-based packaging material. Additionally most baby wipes do not biodegrade quickly or entirely.
Zero toxic chemicals – conventional wipes contain junk like weird added fragrances perfumes, alcohol, perfume, benzoic acid, parabens, phenoxyethanol, propylene glycol and more. Do you know what half this stuff is without looking at a chem book? No? Then you shouldn’t rub it all over your baby. Huggies baby wipes for example score a 7 at Skin Deep – that’s a toxic score even by adult product standards. Ingredients in many conventional wipes are linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergies, endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, skin, eyes, or lung irritation, and much more.
Fewer pesticides – most conventional disposable baby wipes are made from a non-woven fabric which is strong, sure, but made of combined fibers like cotton and chemical-based materials like polyethylene and polypropylene. Conventional cotton as you may know is heavily treated with insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
You can make your own eco-friendly wipes easily. It’ll literally save you thousands of dollars over the years and keep your baby safe from harmful conventional wipes AND conserve planet resources to boot. Here’s how to make your very own eco-friendly reusable baby wipes kit…
1. Gather some bins:
You’ll need two bins for your cloth wipes – one for clean and one for dirty. It’s hard to suggest anything but plastic here. You could go with a glass container, but in my opinion that’s a little nuts because a kicking baby could easily knock a glass container over and break it. You could also aim for stainless steel, but that’s heavy and the lids aren’t usually great. As for recycled plastic containers, you can look, but they’re hard to find in bigger sizes. Sadly, for this purpose, plastic is your best bet. Some ideas…
- Oxo Good Grips POP Big Square 4-Quart Storage Container
- 29 Cup Airtight Container with Handle by Snapware
Other canister tips:
- Make sure you can get the lid off with one hand.
- Get a bin that fits about 20-30 washcloths at a time bin but don’t go too large.
- If you can find a bin with a lid with a handle that stays put so you can move the container from room to room.
- For safety make sure that a baby’s head can’t fit into the container easily. It’s smart to keep ALL containers with liquid up and away from a small child as little ones can drown in less than one inch of water.
- If you can, find a non-clear container for dirty wipes – it’s just more attractive. You can also wrap your dirty wipes container in contact paper to hide the mess and also so you can tell the bins apart. I’d label them too – you think you won’t forget which is which but when you’re running on one hours sleep and need to change a baby at 3am, you might.
2. Get some cloth baby wipes:
We used small baby washcloths (which we got in abundance at our baby shower) for the first few months. Real baby sized washcloths are really nice in my opinion because they’re tiny, so perfect for little bums and also softer than regular washcloths. We also picked up some basic washcloths to use as Cedar got older. I think it’s best to go with organic but if you can’t find affordable organic washcloths, conventional cloths are still a better eco-choice than conventional baby wipes. You’ll need about 20-30 baby sized washcloths and 20-40 regular sized washcloths. That’s seriously all we had and they lasted the entire time Cedar was in diapers. Cedar is nine now and I still have some of the bigger washcloths (now used for cleaning) so they last forever.
Following are some organic wipe ideas…
- Bumkins Organic Cotton Washcloth 3-Pack – Dusty Blue
- WillowSprouts Super Wipes Organic! 12 pack – made with a unique organic cotton/hemp material that’s a little stronger than plain cotton.
- Supersoft Lightweight 12 Piece Bamboo Fiber/Organic Cotton Wash Cloth Value Pack, 2 each of 6 colors
- Organic Hemp Wash Cloth (8″ x 8″)
- Unembellished Organic Cotton White Baby Bath Wash Cloth
- One of the best deals I’ve seen is the six pack of organic baby washcloths from Under the Nile
Other ideas – it can actually be cheaper to buy two regular sized organic towels or other natural fabric then cut them and hem them into your own baby sized wipes. Or to save money you can go with non-organic wipes, which as I noted are still reusable so more eco-friendly than disposables. Some non-organic reusable wipes…
- Thirsties Fab Wipes 6 Pack
- Kissaluvs Soft Organic Wipes, 12 Pack, Unbleached
- You can always hit a regular store too and get like 12 washcloths for about $6 (think Target-type stores).
3. Snag some natural soap and organic essential oil:
Natural soap and organic essential oils are not necessary but both are nice additions. If you do decide to use essential oils read the essential oil safety guide first. Some people can have allergic reactions to essential oils. After that make sure you buy the right organic essential oils – i.e. pure, organic and in dark containers. I used lavender and tea tree oils mostly with Cedar although sometimes I’d mix it up and use orange or cedarwood too. Following are some natural soap and oil ideas…
- Organic and natural liquid soap
- 100% pure essential oils
- Aura Cacia Baby Calming Nursery Organic Essential Oil
- Organic lavender essential oil
- Organic tea tree essential oil
MAKE YOUR REUSABLE WIPES
- Place your washcloths in your clean bin. Don’t stuff it full because it makes it harder to pull a wipe out. Put in enough for about two or three days.
- Pour water over your washcloths to dampen but not soak. You want them damp but not so wet you’ll have to wring them out. If you’re using soap and/or essential oils grab a large cup, pour the water in the cup, add a few drops of natural soap and a few drops of essential oil – mix – then pour over your washcloths.
- In the dirty container place a little water and a few drops of essential oil to help hide icky smells.
- When you change your baby use one of the clean wipes obviously then place in the dirty bin.
COMMON REUSABLE BABY WIPE Q&A
Can I use reusable wipes out and about? You can if it’s a short trip. They’re a lot of trouble on say, a road trip, but for trips to the park or play date you can make reusable work. Itzy Ritzy makes these awesome Wet Happened baggies that are perfect for cloth diapers, reusable wipes and more. These wet bags are made with a 100% cotton designer fabric exterior with zipper closure and a PVC-Free lining that will not wick, even with the wettest items. The bags are machine washable and hold a ton of reusable wipes. Grab two of these – one for clean and one for messy wipes and you’re ready to get out and about.
How long should you go before changing out the clean wipe bin? About 2-3 days. Any longer and your wipes may start to get icky due to the sitting water. It only takes a couple of minutes to wash the clean wipe bin out and refill it.
When should you wash the dirty wipes? I tended to just toss the wipes into the wash once the bin filled up OR if there was a super messy diaper change. If you use essential oils in the dirty wipe container it really keeps it from getting smelly in between washes.
Won’t my baby hate the cold water? Your clean wipes will be a little cold due to the water. However cold wipes never hurt a baby and if your room is generally warm the wipes won’t be icy cold, just cool. If your baby does seem to mind the cold wipes excessively try placing dry wipes in your clean bin and when you change your baby use a spray bottle of water to wet the cloth. That’s time consuming though. My son never seemed to mind the wet cloths.
Reusable wipes sound like too much work… They’re really not. I honestly used them almost 100% of the time with Cedar and they were no trouble at all. You save time driving to the store for wipes and washing can be done with your other laundry. The biggest time concern is changing the clean wipes container but that only takes minutes. Compared to all the money and resources you’ll save it’s not a big deal once you get in the swing of reusable baby wipes.
If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.
Do you make your own reusable baby wipes? How is that working out for you?