Beginners Guide To Reusable Wipes
Everything you need to know about reusable wipes.
Reusable wipes are a great alternative to disposable wipes, which can be expensive and environmentally damaging. Not only are reusable wipes better for the planet, but they can also save you money in the long run. In this beginner's guide, we'll show you everything you need to know to get started with reusable wipes.
What are reusable wipes?
Reusable baby wipes are simply small fabric cloths that are used to clean baby's bum, hands or faces. Once used, the wipes are washed and reused again and again, saving thousands of disposable wipes from landfill and saving you money.
Reusable baby wipes are not only environmentally friendly but they are far more effective, efficient and work so much better than disposables. One reusable wipe will do the job of 5-6 disposable wet wipes.
Our beginners guide to reusable baby wipes will take you through everything you need to know.
What is the best material for reusable cloth wipes?
Cotton or Bamboo "terry" fabric is best because it is a "loopy fabric" like a bathroom towel. Loopy fabric is best for reusable wipes as the loops on the fabric grip any bits of poo still on baby's bum and wipe it away. Smooth wipes, just like disposables, tend to smear poo rather than removing it.
Reusable wipes come in cotton, bamboo or microfibre. Microfibre is only suitable for hands and faces and not for little bottoms.
Some brands use luxurious organic cotton for their cloth wipes. Organic cotton is an excellent option for families wanting a very sustainable fabric with minimal environmental impact, but it can be more delicate and prone to more wear and tear than standard cotton.
Once wet there is little difference in softness between cotton and bamboo wipes. Bamboo when new tends to be a little softer, but the loops tend to be shorter and over time bamboo does not stay as loopy as traditional cotton.
How Many Reusable Baby Wipes Do I Need?
How many wipes you need depends on the age of your baby.
As a guide you will need:
Newborns 40 reusable wipes
Babies 6 month + 25-30 wipes
Newborn babies tend to poo more frequently and require more frequent nappy changes than older children.
Newborns should have 20 reusable nappies and 40 reusable wipes based on washing every second day. This allows 2 wipes per nappy change.
In reality you never use all of your reusable nappies before you do a nappy wash, plus for a wet only nappy you only need to use one wipe. This allows you some spares plus some for the nappy bag.
If you have a baby over 6 months old then the guideline reduces to 15 reusable nappies and you would have approx 25-30 wipes.
Which Cloth Baby Wipes to Buy?
The Nappy Lady offers a large selection of reusable baby wipe products so you will find the perfect wipe for you.
The Nappy Lady Premium wipes have been our best selling wipes for over a decade. They have a loopy cotton side for effective poo cleaning, and a smooth microfleece side to help dry off baby's bottom.
Cheeky Wipes are a popular size and ideal for wiping everything from bottoms to hands and faces, and not too big for taking out and about. The Nappy Lady classic wipes are a similar size.
Muslinz wipes are larger than the other wipes and are fantastic for sweeping up larger toddler poopy bottoms.
How to Use Reusable Baby Wipes
Reusable baby wipes are used just as you would disposable baby wipes, except that you wash them and reuse again and again.
Wipe baby's bottom with the front of the used nappy (reusable or disposable) to remove more of the remaining poo off their skin.
Take your first reusable wipe out of the clean storage tub and wipe baby's skin
Fold the wipe in half and wipe again using the clean side
Use a second wipe for a pooey nappy to ensure your little one's skin is thoroughly clean
Dirty wipes are stored until wash day.
How to use cloth baby wipes out and about.
Wring any excess water from a few of your washable wipes (TNL top tip: don't leave them too soaking wet or they may leak through your bag)
Put the pre made wipes in a waterproof wet bag or wipes pouch
Use the reusable wet wipes when doing a nappy change as normal
Store soiled wet wipes in your wet nappy bag or in a Mucky wipes bag
Alternatively you can take a few dry wipes with you along with a little spray bottle of water or wipe solution and wet the wipes as you go.
How should I store my wipes?
There are two main ways to store cloth wipes at home.
Wet so they are soaking in a tub and are pre-wet like disposable wipes. If you store your wipes wet, remember to change the water or solution every day or two to stop it starting to smell a bit stale.
Stored dry and add water or your wipes solution as you go along. This can be particularly handy if you have older toddlers at home who may be curious to explore a tub of water on the changing table!
Do you need to use a wipes solution?
You don't have to use a wipes solution, you can just use plain water. NHS guidelines recommend plain water only for a newborn baby.
Once baby is a little older, many families prefer to use a nice smelling cloth wipe solution to help clean and moisturise the skin. For some particularly strong poos, water just doesn't cut through the smell!
You can make your own wipe solution using a baby shampoo or baby wash such as the Earth Friendly Baby range, or simply add a few drops of essential oil to the water in your container. Lavender essential oil or tea tree are popular choices, though care is recommended with all essential oils as they can be harsh on babies with particularly sensitive skin.
You could try a dedicated product such Poppets Cloth Wipes Solution. Poppets solution is made using a special blend of shea butter and coconut oil and comes in a lovely selection of fragrances. Poppets are gentle enough for baby's sensitive skin and easy to make up: simply dissolve one Poppet in 1 litre of freshly boiled water, allow to cool and you're ready to go!
If you are on the go, Cheeky Wipes also make a Wet and Wipe solution. You can keep your clean wipes dry in your nappy bag and just wet them as you go. This is particularly handy for older children where you might not need to do regular changes while out and about.
Once you've used all the water or wipe solution you need to soak wipes at home, you can keep anything left over and pop it in a spray bottle to take with you on the go.
Can I use cloth wipes to clean poo?
Reusable cloth baby wipes are amazing for cleaning pooey nappies and far more effective than disposable wipes. This is one of the main reasons that people love cloth wipes! I remember when cleaning my own baby that disposable wipes would just smear the poo all over the place, where cloth wipes gripped onto it a lot more and made for a far less messy experience!
When you change a pooey nappy, use the nappy liner or the front of the nappy to wipe most of the poo off baby's bottom, then the wipe has less to remove.
Some parents have told me once their children got older they initially wipe with toilet paper or cotton wool, then use cloth wipes to remove the rest. Either way works, find what works best for you.
Can I use cloth wipes at childcare?
Many childminders and nurseries are happy to use washable wipes, so it's always worth asking your setting.
You could send your own wipes wet in a small wet bag, or send a supply of dry wipes in the bag with your nappies so the staff can wet them as they go. Used wipes can go in the wet bag with wet nappies.
How to store dirty reusable wipes?
If you are using cloth nappies as well as washable wipes, this makes things nice and easy as you can just store them all together in the same nappy bucket or wet bag until wash day. You can wash reusable wipes with your nappies too.
If you only use reusable wipes, you can either store them dry in a container or bag, or keep the soiled wipes in water which can help stop stains and smells from setting in between washes.
Cheeky Wipes make a Mucky Wipes storage box for the home or a Mucky Wipes bag for when out and about. The Mucky Box comes with a handy little mesh bag; when it's time to wash you can just pick up the mesh bag, open the drawstring and pop it straight in the washing machine so you don't have to handle the dirty wipes.
How to Wash Reusable Baby Wipes
Reusable baby wipes are very easy to wash. If you use cloth nappies, just pop them in your nappy bucket or wet bag until wash day and wash everything together.
The recommended washing temperature is the same as for nappies: 60 degrees for a baby under 4 months and 40 degrees once baby is older.
If you are just using cloth wipes, it's recommended to wash them every 2-3 days.
You may prefer to rinse them first, by hand or in the washing machine, then you can pop them in with your regular household laundry. A powder detergent would be best, to avoid affecting the absorbency.
Do I need to dry cloth wipes after washing them?
No, you don't have to dry them between washes, especially if you choose to store the wipes wet in a container.
Otherwise you can hang the cloth wipes to dry after each wash. This can be a great job for an older sibling who is keen to help with nappy changes or jobs around the house!
Do I need a separate set of cloth wipes for hands and face?
The choice here is yours. Often parents buy one set just for hands and faces, and a different set for nappies. They buy different colours or fabrics so they know the difference.
Other parents are happy to use wipes for both as they know they will have been thoroughly washed and cleaned between uses.
Does it matter if my wipes no longer feel soft?
Over time, your cloth wipes may begin to feel a bit hard or crunchy, especially if you live in a hard water area.
Tumble drying occasionally can help to fluff up your wipes, but don't forget that as soon as the wipe gets wet, the crunchiness will go away.
Are reusable baby wipes worth it?
Using reusable baby wipes is not only an effective way to reduce waste in your household but they also clean baby more efficiently, are kinder to baby's skin and save you money compared to using disposable wipes.
Reusable cloth baby wipes are a great investment and will definitely offer a significant cost saving compared to buying disposable baby wipes on a weekly basis. They are an easy cost-saving swap to make even if you don't use cloth nappies.
Choosing reusable wipes can save you up to £160 across the period your child will use them, compared to disposable baby wipes. For a one-time outlay of around £40 you could have all the wipes you will need.
Once your children are out of nappies you'll find plenty of uses for your wipes as mini flannels for wiping hands, mini face cloths and make up remover pads.
More and more families will also choose to use their wipes as 'family cloth' or an alternative to traditional toilet paper.
They are kinder on babies' skin.
Reusable wipes are kinder to babies' skin as you are in control of what is used on them. No need to worry about harsh chemicals or strong fragrances that might not agree with your little one's skin.
Better for Nappy Rash
Parents using cloth nappies as well as cloth baby wipes often report that their baby is much less prone to nappy rash.
This could be because they tend to change more frequently and are more mindful to clean the whole nappy area thoroughly, right up to baby's belly button and down to mid thigh. If baby does come out in a rash, perhaps due to a food sensitivity or periods of teething, cooled chamomile tea on a wipe can be very soothing on baby's sensitive skin.
Do reusable nappies really save money?
Yes they do. Read our comprehensive guide to comparing costs of reusable nappies and disposable nappies.
Making the switch to reusables
At The Nappy Lady, we are passionate about helping parents make the switch to reusable products. We offer a wide range of reusable wipes to suit all needs and budgets, as well as plenty of advice and support to help you along the way.
So, my dear, I hope this guide has been helpful in your quest for the perfect reusable wipe. Remember, choosing reusable is not only good for the planet, but it's also good for your baby and your bank balance!