Going All the Way With Cloth Wipes


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!

How to Use Cloth Wipes

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:

  1. Using one old wipes container (from disposable wipes) fill with warm water,
  2. 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),
  3. Add a drop (maybe 2) of tea tree oil (or your preferred additive),
  4. Swish to mix the ingredients,
  5. Toss in wipes to moisten,
  6. 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.
  7. Repeat with the remaining wipes until your warmer is full or you have ran out of wipes.
  8. 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.     

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  1. says

    Yep, that’s pretty much our exact routine too – we have the Prince Lionheart warmer and we have always loved it!

    I have found that adding the tea tree oil prevents mold issues. We use water and Dr. Bronner’s peppermint castille soap. Sometimes I add 100% pure aloe vera gel for soothing as well, when I have it.

    • Georgia says

      I used the peppermint castille soap for a body wash and loved it…. Until I washed my nether regions, there it burned like the Dickens, like someone lit my hoohaa on fire…

  2. says

    I switched to cloth back in November with my then 15 month old. I bought a warmer but don’t intend to use it until the new baby gets her in May. Right now we don’t use a lot of wipes so I don’t want to premoisten too many and not use them. I keep them dry in an old wipes container. Then I have two different bottles of solution. A spray bottle that I use if he’s not to messy or just pee. I spray his bum and then just wipe with a dry wipe. For tougher jobs or wiping sticky hands or face I have a bottle I got from the hospital after his birth that’s ironically suppose to be for perineal wash solution. It has a pull top cap and does great at getting a wipe super wet when I need it.

  3. says

    I just use baby washcloths and water:) I had tried a homemade wipes solution in a spray bottle when I first started with cloth wipes, but I much prefer plain water. I just wet a wipe at each diaper change (2-3 for poopys). Easy Peasy:) I do use cloth wipes while out and about since I usually change LO’s diaper in a bathroom, I just wet it in the sink. But I do like to keep some disposable wipes on hand in case I’m not around a bathroom, or in the car. I sometimes forget to add cloth wipes so they have come in handy.

  4. mama b says

    Awesome advice. I cded my older son when he was in dipes, and now with #2, incorporating cloth wipes. Your post was super helpful!!

  5. Lynn says

    i have a small square fabric-lined basket and store my wipes, dry, in that. i fold them in half, then in half the other way [so its a square] and stick them in there. i use a used water bottle with just water. when im out of water, i replace the bottle and the water to avoid the old leaching plastic. the water is tap water and the bottles i have all the time since my dad doesnt believe in reusable water bottles [though i have one…it has skull and cross bones and was 3 bucks at old navy. AWESOME! :) lol. just fyi.] 😀

  6. Akhira says

    Recently been watching videos and even asking my mom on tips and guidelines that I can be able to have since in just a couple of weeks I’m giving birth to my second baby. I don’t know why I always have this feeling that I tend to forget things which I had the previous time back when I had my first. It may have been due to excitement or just being nervous but one thing for sure is I love the feeling that lingers every time me and my baby seems have a common connection.

  7. says

    I found this page via Pinterest and I have to say YAY! I am so glad to see another momma helping to bring more people to cloth wipes. They are SO nice. I love my Prince Lionheart warmer. Haven’t had any problems. And my daughter has barely any rashes. She’s almost 10.5 months and the worst rash she had was before we started using exclusively cloth. I didn’t even think about using too much oils for some reason. I am seriously going to have to cut back on my solution. DUH! lol I am just so tired I guess that it didn’t even occur to me. Thanks again from one cloth mom to another for helping to spread the word and banish the fear of cloth commitment.

  8. Stephanie violet says

    Hi there! Found this through Pintrest!

    We have a 20 month old and are trying for another! Wahoo!

    We currently do a mix of cloth diaper and disposables (my boy can PEE while he sleeps!) and I spend a oat load of money on Huggies wipes because everything else sucks! I’ve always wondered about cloth wipes and this made it seem manageable! We have a price lionheart wipe warmer that’s never ended up using because ht e little anti-bac foam insert thing freaked me out ….. Do you use the insert with the cloth wipes? Is it possible to just warm the wipes without it?


  9. Denise says

    I use a combo between facecloths and reusable baby wipes, I make a solution of baby soap, lotion and some essential oils, I always boil my water so the solution lasts a bit longer, and I refridgerate any unused portions. I also premoisten my wipes but i don’t use a wipes warmer (actually don’t feel as cold as the disposable anyway) and I store them in an old wipes container… I don’t roll them, I just lay them flat like reg ones would be. :) I go through a lot so I wet enough for a few days. I tried the dry wipe with spray and am not a fan of it at all. I like my premoistened ones :)

  10. Gretchen says

    We have a wipe warmer and I love it! For when we are on the go, I store the wipes in a plastic Tupperware and that works out great for us. I swear by using coconut oil in our solution, it’s just so moisturizing! My daughter is 8 months old and we’ve never had a problem with diaper rash! I couldn’t believe how pricey cloth wipes can be, so I cut up some receiving blankets and have also bought a yard of cotton from the fabric store. I cut them so they fit perfectly laying flat in the warmer! Cloth wipes are my favorite!!! Super easy and only a few ingredients!

  11. Michelle says

    We keep wash cloths in the OXO wipes container with just water. I’ve found that I can’t keep too many in there or they start to smell musty after a few days.

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  13. Rayelle says

    if you use cooled boiled water insted of plain tap water you don’t have to worry about smell. Use a deposable wipe container and fold my in half lapping the wipes. I add 2 cups of boiled water and a drop of soap. For outings I use a deposable wipe travel sized container and just grab a hand full of the top of my pre made wipes they will stay fresh for weeks when I use boiled water


  1. […] Wipes:  You’re already going to be doing diaper laundry so many parents decide to use reusable cloth wipes as well.  You’ll need around 12-24 wipes if you plan on washing every other day.  Wipes can be moistened with warm water or a cloth wipe solution.  To learn more, read my guide to How to Use Cloth Wipes. […]

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