Going cold turkey…

…on baby wipes…

This may not seem that scary if you are not in possession of Small people, but believe me people, this is quite a ‘BIG STEP’…

We use re-usable nappies and wipes on SmallSmall 90% of the time. However, when we are out and about, I have to confess a packet of wipes invariably comes with us, and then wipes up the obvious-poos etc, faces, sticky hands, and the not so obvious-sticky marks on other people’s furniture, small patches of wee on the mother in laws carpet if SmallSmall has been allowed to wander ‘nappy-free’ for a touch too long… you get the drift…

I asked my mum what she used in the days “BBW” (before Baby Wipes) and she said they just didn’t bother. Must quiz her further on what she did for the bottom department, but I’m guessing mucky faces got the good old ‘spit on the hanky’ routine (actually, I’m not guessing, it is imprinted on my memory…)

We are presently guilty of having a pack of baby wipes in nearly every room in the house, as they are just so handy for cleaning up Small people and all their many and various messes.

But no more.

As I said, for mucky bums, we already we have these lovely bum wipes


which I bought years ago when we first started using re-usable nappies, and I have to say that I prefer them for bum wiping to normal wipes. They are nice soft fleece on one side, and then either towelling type material or somtehing a bit smoother (not sure what the technical name is..maybe velour?). I just wet them under the tap when I need them, although when BigSmall was little I spent ages experimenting with various solutions to soak them in, so they were ready to use. I eventually settled on a mix of a mug of cammomile tea, a slug of almond oil, and a few drops of lavender essential oil. But now, I can’t really be bothered with that, and just use good old water, and it seems to work fine! I will pre-wet a stash of these when we go out and keep them in a zipock bag in the changing bag.

For faces and sticky hands, and wiping up messes on other people’s furniture, I have made us a handy selection of wipes/flannels from old towels, and we will keep a stash in the kitchen, a stash upstairs, and a stash to go in the changing bag.

If you want to do the same, it is really very easy…

This is what you need:

  • old towels
  • pinking shears (or just plain old scissors)
  • pins
  • sewing machine and thread

And I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you, but this is what you do:

  • Cut your towel to the desired size and shape-I have made a variety of sizes-flannel size ones and some smallers ones too-if you are being cunning, then try and make use of the already hemmed edges to save you a job!

deo and flannels3

  • Fold over about 1cm hem and pin-I didn’t bother folding over twice to make nice neat hem, as I figured that a) this would make it too bulky for the machine, and b) these are flannels for wiping mucky faces-they do not need to be aesthetically pleasing…

flannels and fixes1

  • At the corners I chopped off a small triangle of fabric to avoid too much bulk at the corners. Again, it really doesn’t have to be that neat
  • Sew around all 4 edges-at the corners, leave the needle in the fabric, and turn your flannel through 90 degrees, and then sew on again. Remember to go forwards and backwards at the beginning and the end to stop your sewing unravelling!
  • Trim your loose threads, and you are done.

flannels and fixes2

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

You could even just cut the towels with pinking shears and not bother hemming the edges. But I did try this, and even with pinking shears, the edges started to fray after being washed.

The hardest bit is going to be the discipline to actually use them. Which is why we are buying no more packets of wipes-the temptation would be too great!

My plan is to find some suitably sized tupperware or old ice cream tubs etc, to keep a stash in, in the kitchen, and upstairs. And when we are venturing out, I will pre-wet a handful in the same way as the bum wipes.

I will keep you posted as to how we get on…!

PS. If you can’t quite face the thought of life without baby wipes, then please do consider supporting Ellie’s Fund.

35 thoughts on “Going cold turkey…

  1. Good for you! Wet flannels are the way to go. I still take one with me on car journeys and picnics and mine are 14, 12 and 9!
    I also used to give my children one if they went on school trips- easier than trying to find somewhere to wash sticky fingers after lunch. One of the primary school teachers still laughs that Connie proudly announced she had a damp flannel in a bag in her rucksack before a school trip aged 5!!

    I did the same as you with nappy wipes. I had a similar mixture all ready to go for #1, made chamomile tea in a mug 50% of the time for #2 and just about managed to stick them under a tap for #3!

  2. Have you heard of ‘family cloth’ ?The Americans seem very big on it .I have been using my own system for a year now and it works very well.I only use them for (wee) and they go in a separate bin in the bathroom and then in with the main wash.I have saved a FORTUNE in loo roll ,as being pregnant i am on the loo every 5 mins.Like i said i still use loo roll for (poos) but not anymore if its just wees and i really think it works.Its also kinder on your nether regions esp if you are going as often as me! I made all mine from old flannel pajamas which i hemmed in squares ,but mainly from tshirts as you dont even need to hem it.Just chop squares out and you are away.I keep all mine hung in cloth bags in the bathroom(which are actually my old PE bags from when i was 5!-(bless my Mum for holding on to them).They also fit in those cloth poly bag dispensers which works well, as any other cloth remnants go in one in our garage for hubbys oily hands when working on his car.Those ones get burned though as firestarters on the fire.

    • I read on an American blog about a family who were using reusable loo roll. I can’t quite bring myself to try it, which is possibly kind of weird when we use them on SmallSmall when changing his nappy, poos and all! I did broach the subject with hubby, and he laughed nervously and then told me in no uncertain terms I was not to even think about it…

      • I do…
        And I got a similar reaction from my husband, but then it occurred to me that if it was only for wees, it doesn’t affect him at all! So I just did it. The girls use them, but it’d be even easier for you in a house full of boys!
        Mine are mostly redundant cloth baby wipes from when the children were babies and cut up t-shirts too marked to pass on (but like the flannel PJ idea). I cut them into squares (no hemming 🙂 ) and keep them in a little basket. Used ones go under the sink in an old cloth nappy travel bag, but a nappy wipe box would be good too, if you still have one hanging around. I just stick them in the wash with whatever else is on. There’s no smell at all.
        The kids tell their friends they’re ‘just wipes’ if they ask and they assume they’re for cleaning the bathroom I think.
        Husband eventually asked what all the little squares were that he was hanging on the line…
        It has saved us a fortune on loo roll, and if you like the idea of the ‘moist’ (what a word!) loo roll advertised by the annoying woman in the campervan, you can just wet the cloth ones!

      • I have never thought of / heard of this, despite the fact that I’ve happily used washing over loo roll before when in India, always use cloth hankies (apart from anything else you never get a sore nose!), we use a compost toilet and I’ve used a mooncup for years (fantastic btw). Definitely considering now! The only thing is I’m not sure we put our washing machine on often enough for it not to get gross (no small people yet!).

      • I wouldn’t like to say how long mine sit around for before I wash them… There not airtight, so perhaps that stops them from getting manky?

  3. I always used cottonwool with water to wipe my baby’s bums with poo. You don’t need big pieces for that. For the rest a flannel is okay.

  4. My mum always used to tuck a wet flannel into a bag of some sort when we were kids and that is what I did when my daughter was a baby, I always used washable wipes. Now I have baby wipes in the car and in the loos, but don’t use them very often. I suppose I should really, but because of the preservatives in wipes and the infrequency i prefer to use them as wet flannels would soon go smelly and unpleasant. When I was washing nappies etc every other day, it was easier. Although I do use towelling wipes/muslin cloths to remove make up and cleanse etc. My friend uses washable handkerchiefs, which I tried but got fed up with soaking them as snot doesn’t wash off unless you pre-soak! Often thought about using washable sanitary but not got around to it yet… anyone tried it? Have tried the mooncup and after it got stuck once and hurt cervix like hell, it kinda put me off…

  5. in reply to Hazel- its so nice to know someone else does it!My hubby rolled his eyes at first but think the saving on toilet roll has convinced him.I have a little pedal bin with a black insert i use to put the used ones in til they get washed.Hazel is right there is no smell! Ironically i do use them for cleaning the bathroom too as there are always loads of clean ones to hand.Re Sue and the mooncup-I too tried it once and it got stuck ow ow ow!!!!I still have it and may give it a try again after baby as its supposed to be easier then.As for the sanitary towels I am still toying with the idea but have not tried them yet. ive decided not to use reusable nappies im afraid.At present i am on crutches with chronic SPD and i think anything that makes it easier once baby comes im going to have to do being so immobile at present.To Jen good luck if you do try family cloth,perhaps have a try in secret first!lol they are nicer than loo roll!xxxxxx

    • Thanks Helen! We used disposable nappies for the first few months while we were adapting to all things new baby, and then made the switch with number 1. With modern re-usables, it’s really not much harder than using disposables (just a bit of extra washing..!) When is your baby due?

      • Jen-Baby due 20th march eek-terrified! Vicky we dont have a small person yet and despite having these cloths hanging round waiting for a wash even in the summer there is no smell-i was quite worried about that in the summer.Once small is here i guess we’ll be washing a lot more.Jen- cant wait for the mooncup post.Sorry if we have all highjacked this post!xxxxx

      • hmmm thats whats worrying me-i feel knackered already! No spring chicken Im 39 and its our first and after all the complications ive had, quite possibly last child xxx

      • Please don’t worry. It will all be fine. You will be awesome. I remember thinking I would never cope if I didn’t get my 8hrs a night, and now I can’t remember the last time I did, but you somehow cope and your body adapts. And you have an amazing little person. I am not articulate enough to explain the wonderousness of a new baby, or to reassure you, but it will be fine. More than fine. It will be amazing.

  6. Hi Helen- I don’t know anyone in the ‘real world’ that does it either…

    And I second Jen- nobody says you have to start right from the beginning with cloth nappies. It’s just becomes a habit once you start. There won’t be a perfect time, when you’re on top of everything, so don’t think you have to wait for that, but you might feel more up to it once your SPD is better.
    With an older baby (depending on what system is used) it can mean you have one size less to buy too.

    At the risk of sounding like Mary Poppins (I’m really not practically perfect) I LOVE my mooncup, and have some washable pads for extra/beginning and end. Once you get the hang of it you’ll never go back. But sorry, I’ll wait for your post Jen!

    I use cotton hankies too- I just wash them with everything else, though I did notice they’re looking a bit grey recently and am planning to boil them with some lemon juice on a nice sunny day to whiten them a bit.

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