How to Use Cloth Wipes

Disposable wet wipes suck!

I mean, they actually suck at the job they’re meant to do. Even if I’m using disposables for some reason, I prefer to keep up with cloth wipes if possible.

It’s really not complicated to use cloth wipes: if you’re already using cloth diapers, its super easy, and if you use disposables you can definitely still enjoy the waste-reducing and efficiency-boosting powers of cloth wipes without too much hassle.

What wipes do I use?

I have a huge variety of wipes in my collection, and I would advise you to start off with at least 40. My mom has made a lot of our wipes out of flannel, just by cutting squares and serging the edges. Over the years I have accumulated other wipes from a variety of brands: Bummis, Öko Creations, AppleCheeks, GlowBug, Nuggles and GroVia.

While not everyone shares my opinion, I truly prefer single-ply flannel wipes. (They also make great handkerchiefs.) For those looking for a bit more lux and willing to spend more per wipe, the ethically and lovingly-made Öko wipes and GroVia’s large, textured bamboo wipes stand out from the crowd, in my opinion.

If you’re thrifty but can’t sew, just buy baby facecloths from the dollar store. They will work just fine!

What do I put on the wipes?

1- Les Produits de MaYa Liniment

While it’s perhaps the lesser-known cloth wipe option, I’m putting liniment first because it’s what I’ve been using at 99% of diaper changes since Miss Cub was born, and I will also be using it with the twins. This liniment is a no-rinse, oil-based cleanser that you can apply directly to the wipe or to baby’s bum to clean away urine and feces. (An this is only ONE of the eight ways I use liniment!)

I love this liniment because unless there’s a major irritation happening, I don’t have to also use diaper cream. The liniment leaves a light layer of oil on baby’s bum, which hydrates and protects. Having used liniment almost exclusively on Miss Cub since the day she was born (it works wonders on meconium), I can honestly say I have had to apply a diaper cream fewer than ten times.

Liniment is super convenient because you don’t need to rinse it, and you don’t need to add water. When you have to change a diaper in an absolutely random setting, it’s all you need.

2- Wipe solution

Wipe solution is simply water mixed with a blend of mild cleansers and essential oils. There are lots of brands on the market. Some come in a convenient spray bottle, others come as a concentrated solution to which you add water, others come as little “wipe cubes” that look like tiny chunks of soap that you dissolve in water, and finally, some people just make their own.

I like using a wipe solution in a spray bottle because it also can serve the purpose of a handwash when out and about. (I loathe antibacterial sanitizers: so not necessary.) Most blends contain an oil, which, like liniment, offers some moisture for baby’s bum, plus some cleansing essential oils or mild soaps.

3- Water

Plain old tap water is a perfectly effective bum wiping solution. Why else would there now be a brand of disposable wipes actually called “Water Wipes”? (Which I think is silly, but that’s another story.) If your change station is in your bathroom, you might just use the tap. When Cub was born, my solution was to fill up a good-sized thermos with warm water in the morning, then moisten the wipes in a little dish as needed. This also saved running the tap forever for the water to heat up. When changing a bum in a public washroom, you can use the tap there, and you can also carry a little spritz bottle of water in case there is no tap available.

You really can clean your baby’s bum with just water. After all, it’s free.

What about pre-moistened wipes?

Some people definitely do soak their wipes either in plain water or in a wipe solution and keep them on the change table. Some even use a wipe warmer. I am not a huge fan of this method because it requires forethought, and if you leave them too long, wet cloth wipes can get stinky and moldy. Also, unless you’re using a warmer (and I really don’t think they’re necessary), the wipes can be pretty cold! If you do pre-moisten wipes for home use, you could put them in a leak-proof container or bag when you’re on the go.

What about washing wipes?

What you’re really asking here is: what do I do with wipes covered in sh*t? Well, first of all let me recommend that you always have some toilet paper handy at very messy (aka: sticky and chunky) changes. This way, the actual large turds can be flushed. Unless a wipe has three-dimensional poop on it, I don’t rinse it; I just put it in the wet bag with the diapers. A wipe with chunks gets along with the diaper. In any case, the wipes get washed along with the diapers.

If you are using cloth wipes but disposable diapers (which is absolutely doo-doo-able), store your dirty wipes in a small wet bag. Before you toss in a load of kids’ clothes, throw all your dirty wipes into the laundry machine and run a cold rinse cycle with a bit of detergent. Then add the kids’ clothes and wash as usual.

Using cloth wipes is easy!

Store-bought wipes have a huge environmental impact and they aren’t cheap. They also don’t really wipe bums all that well! Make the switch to cloth: you won’t regret it!

Have you made the switch yet?

9 responses to “How to Use Cloth Wipes”

  1. Shirley Yip

    I love the “3 dimensional poo” description. I’ve always struggled to explain that part to people haha.
    Also, single ply flannel wipes are my preferred wipe for liniment.:)

  2. Marianne

    So I’ve used cloth wipes since the beginning and didn’t have a problem while EBF, but now that LO has 3-D poops, I was worried I should rinse off the wipes before washing (since I rinse off the diapers too). I’m only using water though. Do you just through the poopy wipes directly into the laundry ? Might have to look up that liniment!

    1. Lindsay Gallimore

      As I mentioned, I only rinse off really poopy wipes. All the dirty wipes go into the wet bag with the dirty diapers. If a wipe needs to be rinsed likely so does the diaper, so I use my Spray Pal and sprayer.

  3. Lindsay Gallimore

    As I mentioned, I only rinse off really poopy wipes. All the dirty wipes go into the wet bag with the dirty diapers. If a wipe needs to be rinsed likely so does the diaper, so I use my Spray Pal and sprayer.

  4. Thank you for the suggestion to keep a thermos of hot water handy – brilliant!

    1. Lindsay

      You’re very welcome! I was pretty proud of that idea with my son!

  5. Colleen Highland

    Hi. Is liniment safe on cloth diapers without a liner?

    1. Lindsay

      Absolutely! It has similar ingredients to most cloth-safe bum balms.

  6. […] If you’d like more tips on using reusable wipes, here’s my how-to! […]

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Welcome to my Wolf Pack!

My name is Lindsay and I am a 40-year-old mama of four trying to live an eco-friendly, budget-friendly life! I am a substitute teacher and Child Passenger Safety technician in Calgary, Alberta. Join me on my adventures!

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