Using cloth wipes and homemade wipes solution

Written by contributor Emily McClements of Live Renewed.

I‘m here to let you in on a little parenting secret I’ve discovered. Do you want to get rid of those really disgusting diaper changes? The ones that seem to use half a box of wipes to clean up because – well, I won’t go into that, because if you’re a parent then you definitely know what I’m talking about.

While I can’t change what shows up in your little one’s diaper, I can help to make the clean up much, much easier. Here’s my secret: use cloth wipes instead of disposable. Not only are cloth wipes reusable and eco-friendly, they’re also free of all of the dangerous chemicals found in disposable wipes.

And they are so much better at cleaning your baby’s bum! A typical dirty diaper change requires just one wipe, and I think the most cloth wipes I’ve used for the worst diaper change was only three! Whereas with disposable wipes, using three or four is typical for a regular diaper change, and I could easily go through ten, or more, on the worst of the worst diapers.

Getting started with cloth wipes

First you’ll need to decide what you’ll use for your cloth wipes, and fortunately, you have lots of options to choose from.

· You can buy flannel, velour, or even bamboo wipes from either an online store that sells cloth diapers, or do a search on Etsy for one-of-a-kind wipes. This is probably the most expensive option, but your wipes will be very high quality.

· Homemade wipes are simple to make, either with fabric you’ve purchased, or by using fabric you already have, such as scraps from other projects or flannel receiving blankets you’re not using. You can sew the fabric into wipes yourself, based on your preferences, or you could use pinking shears and cut squares of fabric to use.

Here are a few tutorials to help you in making homemade wipes:

· Consider using baby washcloths as wipes. This is what I use, and have found works best for me. I buy packs of the little, thin baby wash cloths that you can get at any big box store like Target or Meijer. They cost about six dollars for a package of 12 washcloth, and I think 50 cents a wipe is a pretty reasonable price.

Photo from Little Lily Bamboo on Etsy

Using Your Cloth Wipes

Once you have made or purchased your cloth wipes, you’ll have to decide on a system for using them during diaper changes.

I like to keep my cloth wipes in a reused disposable wipes container. I used to fold them into a nice little pile to fit in the container, but I’ve found I really don’t need to fold little squares of cotton that are just going to be used to wipe my baby’s bum, so now I just throw a bunch of wipes into the container together.

You can use just plain water on your wipes, and many mamas will recommend this especially if your little one has sensitive skin. At times that I’m feeling too busy, or really just too lazy to make wipes solution, I will just use water, and it works great.

But, most of the time I like to make an easy wipe solution that I think helps to give my wipes a little extra cleaning power.

Homemade Cloth Wipes Solution

  • 1 Tsp.* of Baby-mild Castile Soap
  • 5-7 drops Tea Tree Oil and/or Lavender Oil
  • 1 cup water

Combine the ingredients, either in a small bowl or a spray bottle. (*Measurements are approximate, I usually just squirt some castile soap in and add several drops of TTO.)

Some people like to keep their solution in a spray bottle and just wet their wipes before using them. I actually pour the solution over the wipes in the wipes container and use them that way. Then they are always ready to go, whether I’m changing a diaper on the couch, the bed, or the changing table, and I’ve found that the tea tree oil keeps them from getting musty or moldy.

Cleaning your cloth wipes is easy if you already use cloth diapers, you can simply through them in your diaper pail and wash them along with your diapers. If you use disposable diapers you can still use cloth wipes, just wash them along with your other household wipes and rags.

You could also keep a container of cloth wipes on the back of the toilet to use for your potty training toddler, older children, or even family cloth, if you’re so inclined (they really work so much better than toilet paper). They’re also great for keeping in the diaper bag, for diaper changes of course, but also for cleaning little hands and faces, and all the other messes that kids somehow seem to make.

Using cloth wipes for diaper changes with your little ones might seem like a hassle at first, but once you’ve tried them and see how much better they work than disposable wipes, I bet you’ll make the change a permanent one at your home.

Would you consider using cloth wipes on your little one’s bum? If you already use cloth wipes, what’s your favorite homemade wipes solution?

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  1. Christine S says:

    I do use cloth wipes at home with my cloth diapers. We just about a cup of water with a few drops of lavender and tea tree essential oils. Works great! So much easier with the cloth diapers!

  2. I was already using cloth diapers and had never heard of cloth wipes. I saw them on the Internet and gave them a try. I love them. They are even easier than disposable wipes since I can just toss everything in my diaper pail together. I just cut up some old t-shirts to use. I use one tsp. Liquid baby soap and one tsp. Baby oil in one cup of water. I think I’ll give lavender oil a try now.

  3. Great post, thank you for this! I almost wish I had a baby now, to get back into the whole cloth diaper thing, hehe. But I do need one for my 4yo, for ice cream eating in the car and such, so I’m going to make some for her.

    But I’m not too sure about using lavender and tea tree oil on little boys, though, as it mimics estrogen and has been shown to spur breasts:

    Maybe chamomile and calendula would be a better option?

    • Interesting – I had not heard about this. We use the lavender and chamomile night time bath with both my son & daughter. So far, I have not noticed any little buds on either of them (thankfully) Would this affect women’s estrogen levels too? Maybe a natural menopause ‘cure’. At least if buds do appear on your little boy they go away after stopping the product (according to the article) Soy is also a heavily estrogen plant – so I guess I have to add my favourite, lavender, to this list of things to watch out for. Thanks for posting.

    • Desarae Smith says:
  4. I use cloth diapers and baby washcloths as my wipes. I’ve just been using water to wet them and then coconut oil to keep her comfortable. Thanks for sharing your solution! I’ll try this to jazz up our routine!

  5. I made cloth wipes from cut up receiving blankets like you mentioned– just zig-zagged around the edges.
    I use Amy from Progressive Pioneer’s wipes solution:
    I used to put mine in a container and pour the solution over like you do, but found I go through the solution much slower now that I have it in a spray bottle. I just toss the clean wipes in a basket and keep the bottle with the to spray directly on the bum or on the wipe itself.

  6. I made my own cloth wipes using flannel on one side and terry cloth on the other (soft for most diaper changes, and a mild “scrubber” for the messy jobs). Works great! I just throw the dirty diaper & the cloth wipe in the diaper pail together. I even use them on the go, and put the dirty diapers & wipes in a “wetbag” (I use Planet Wise, works great!) till I get home.

  7. Heather says:

    I made my own cloth wipes by cutting up old receiving blankets (using a disposable wipe as a guide for the size), and either used water or the Diaper Area Wash spray by California Baby for cleaning. They worked really well, and I just tossed them in with the cloth diapers to wash and dry. I preferred the spray to soaking the wipes in the container – mine would get really soggy by the time I got to the bottom, and I had to wring them out to use them.

    It was a life saver with my 2nd child, who turned out to be sensitive to disposable diapers and a lot of types of wipes – we switched to cloth and all those awful rashes just went away.

  8. We use the swaddlebees cloth wipes. They are a little more pricey (we got them all as baby gifts), but they have a velour side (soft) and fleece side (scrubby). They are also cut in the size/shape of the container, so you don’t have to fold or roll, just place flat in the stack! We use a wipe warmer, which keeps them warm and wet and has really worked well for us! I’ve used a variety of solutions, from small “cubes” that melt in water to just squeezing some soap/oil/tea tree oil. I love not throwing money away with every diaper change!

  9. JessicaD says:

    I love! my cloth wipes. I found a stack of rusty orange cheap washcloths on clearance and I bought the whole thing. (Most my towels are color coded anyway so this was very convenient) we used solutions for a while, but eventually we simply wet 3 or 4 every morning at first change and put them in the wipes box. Folded in half they fit very nicely. I would not wring them out too dry and then we could squeeze out any extra water we did not want onto the others left in the box. It was very cheap!!! and I loved it.

    Now? baby is 3 and well beyond diapers… I was recently inspired to try “family cloth” so guess what i dug out of the attic? TADA! And yes, I love it.

  10. Yes! We use cloth wipes, and love them. Actually, we use the cloth for all of us. It started as just for my babes, since we cloth diapered we figured we should use the cloth wipes too, but then we moved to cloth tp for all, and it works very well. You can read about our journey more here

  11. sara_kay_w says:

    We have used cloth wipes and diapers for both our children and love them. To start with, I bought cloth wipes from When they began to show signs of wear, I made wipes out of old t-shirts by putting two squares of t-shirt material together and zig-zagging around the edges. They are GREAT! We also use a solution similiar to the one you describe.

  12. Rachelle says:

    We use cloth diapers and cloth wipes. I cut up some of Daddy’s old T-shirts, and we just spray them with water right before we use them. My baby has extra-sensitive skin, so I like not using any solution or chemicals on her. They work well for us.

  13. When we were home, I wiped off as much as I could with the diaper, then brought the baby right over to the sink and did an old fashioned wash under the faucet.

  14. Cloth wipes rule! This is almost exactly the same as my routine. I keep two wipe containers so that while one is in use, the other is dry, clean and awaiting freshly washed wipes to be added. When the container in use runs out, I mix fill a jar with water, add about one teaspoon of olive oil and my essential oils. Shake and pour over clean wipes in the new container. Old container hoes in the dishwasher. This keeps my containers and solution from going rancid. We don’t have sensitivity issues, so I am heavy handed with the essential oils…always use about 8 drops of tea tree oil for “the cleanliness factor” and then a few drops of others for their aroma therapeutic benefits. This week it’s 2 drops of ylang ylang and 3 drops of orange. Yum! This cleans my son’s bum faster, more easily and MUCH better than any disposable wipes out there. He is 2 and is solely a cloth baby.

  15. I also cut up old receiving blankets for my first cloth wipes. I still have them three years later. I have added to my wipe stash with flannel. (I sell flannel wipes on my etsy site too at ) they’re perfect size to fold in half and put in a wipe container. My 3 year old has the job of folding and does it so well. For a wipe solution I do 5-7 drops of tea tree oil (I’m allergic to lavender so I stay far away from lavender) and 1 tbsp of white vinegar and then fill up the rest of an 8oz squeeze bottle. I prefer squeezing on as I go. Plus, I’ve lived in hot climates and don’t want to play the mold game.

  16. I bought a bottle of Lusa Organics wipe juice with my first child and the $10 solution (you mix it with water) has literally lasted me through 2 kids of cloth diapering! it’s amazing, and so easy (easier than disposables) when you are already cloth diapering!

  17. Baby #1 is due sometime in the next week, so I’ve been busy nesting! I have a mountain of cloth diapers awaiting, but my question is how many wipes should I have? I’ve made about 30 of them out of old receiving blankets (then got ambitious and made another 25 for a friend!). Is that enough?
    These comments have given me some great ideas for using the wipes solution. I still need to figure out the best way to handle that one the go.

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