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Why We Choose Cloth Wipes

Posted by Becca on 2/1/2011 to Frugal Cloth Diapering

When we were pregnant, we had registered for a Diaper Genie and it was one of the first gifts we’d received. It got steady use for about three weeks with diapers and then we had about 11 cloth diapers, which with obsessive washing, I was able to turn into an almost full-time stash.

But we kept the Diaper Genie. Why, you ask? Because we were still using disposable wipes.

Now if you believe, as I do, that a Diaper Genie is useless for disposable diapering, then it’s even more useless when the only thing you are using it for is throwing away diaper wipes. I don’t know why, but when our daughter was a newborn, we just didn’t get around to getting a trash can in the nursery, so our wipes were being stuffed in the Diaper Genie. This was an utterly GROSS arrangement because you had to let them build up at the top and then stuff them down that terrible sleeve that tries to eat your hand as you dispose of anything. Yuck! Then, when we went to empty the genie, we’d have one, long—no l-o-n-g—string of mostly empty plastic, cluttered with clumps of wipes here and there like a strand of broken Christmas lights.

In addition to the Diaper Genie and baby wipes fiasco, it was wearing thin on me trying to find good deals on baby wipes that didn’t have the consistency of a stiff, brand-new dryer sheet. I was spending $6-$12 on them a month which may seem like a small amount, but over time it adds up—especially in these tight, economic times.

My husband even complained about how difficult it was to change a cloth diaper and use disposable wipes while out of the house. “Becca, I don’t know where to put the wipes when I’ve taken the dirty diaper off. I put the cloth diaper in the wet bag, but there’s not always a trash can around I can use to toss the wipe.” And he was right. I was finding disintegrated disposable wipes in the wash because both of us threw wipes in with the diapers, sometimes, because there just wasn’t another option. It was time for a change, and I knew it, but since I still had a low stash of cloth diapers, buying cloth wipes just didn’t seem like an option at that point.

So, one day, when my daughter was about 2 months old, I found a very simple tutorial on how to make your own cloth wipes with two squares of flannel and a simple, sewing machine capable of a zig zag stitch. Duh! Why hadn’t I thought of it before? I’m a half-decent seamstress and I happen to LOVE to sew, so I felt a little frustrated that this hadn’t occurred to me before. I ran downstairs to my somewhat large stash of fabric and pulled out all the scraps of flannel I could find. I came up with a weird conglomeration of different patterns, and oddly shaped scraps and without even a measuring tape, I cut out my own baby wipes. They were of various shapes and sizes because I worked with what I had, but it didn’t matter. Do rags used for wiping poo and pee off your baby’s butt really need to be clean-cut and pristine? No. Any shaped article of fabric will do.

Before my husband had even come home from work, I’d zig-zagged about 15 cloth wipes together with the soft side of the flannel facing out, and I’d replaced our box of Huggies with a basket of dry, neatly folded wipes, and a spray bottle with a little baby wash mixed in with some water. And the wipes were great! After a couple of washes the flannel softened to the perfect wiping consistency and the edges of the wipes were no longer fraying. They were not only cheaper than my Huggies and Pampers brand disposable wipes, but they were thicker and worked so much better on my daughter’s soft, little bum!

Since that time, I went to the store and bought a couple of yards of fabric. For about three dollars spent at Walmart, one yard of fabric makes fifteen cloth wipes that are seven inches squared. That’s $3 for a one time investment versus $72-$144 spent for wipes during the entire year. Oh, you aren’t crafty, you say? Well, you can buy a great variety of cloth wipes online. They are more expensive than the hand-sewn variety, but will still save you about $100 a year more or less. How many wipes do you need? I’d say about one wipe for every wet diaper and 2-3 for poopy ones, so you do the math. Also, I have discovered that you need more wipes as your stash grows because more time goes by before the washing gets done. So, even if you have a large stash, you’ll find that making 30-40 wipes you’ll still spend less than $10 and save tons of money over the course of the year!

My husband was thrilled at the money saved, and also at the thick, high-quality wipes we were now using. He would have been more thrilled, though, if when I’d replaced my disposables with cloth wipes, I’d let him know so he wouldn’t have had to wake up half-delirious at 2:00am for our daughter’s diaper changing only to frantically search for disposable wipes that weren’t anywhere be found. We laughed about that one later. Well, I did at least.

Eventually I bought some cubes of wipes solution that I dissolve into my spray bottle and even later I decided to store my wipes wet, which is simply a matter of preference. We have the cloth baby wipe routine down cold and are loving the money saved every month that can now be saved up for other more important things for my cloth diaper obsession.>/p>

Currently our useless Diaper Genie is retired in the basement, collecting dust and awaiting an opportunity to be listed on Craigslist or given away so as to never to waste any more of our time because we’ll never need it again.