Wet wipes, first invented back in 1958 (yup, wet wipes are over 60 years old…) are absolutely everywhere these days. There are literally DOZENS of different types available – baby wipes, hand wipes, make-up wipes, kitchen wipes, surgical wipes, all kinds of anti-bacterial or cleaning wipes – pretty much any potentially ‘icky’ scenario, and you can find yourself a wet wipe. Wet wipes even have their own trade body and business convention.
“But wait, wet wipes have plastic in them?” Errr, yup. They’re made from a combination of synthetic cellulosic fibres and plastic fibres and so whilst they might sort of look like a tissue, the traditional, disposable wet wipe contains miniature pieces of pretty much indestructible plastic. Crucially also, they’re often marketed as “flushable” when they absolutely are not and as a consequence, are causing total havoc in the world’s sewers, creating giant fatbergs, otherwise known as huge lumps of congealed gunk – YUCK. They’re even changing the shape of actual riverbeds and The Marine Conservation Society have seen a 400% increase in wet wipes found along our coastlines over the past decade. Add to all that the serious hazard to wildlife they cause as they break down and spread into our oceans.
All in all, wet wipes are NOT GOOD NEWS and whilst the water industry body, Water UK, are working with wipe manufacturers to define a better standard to ensure wipes degrade properly, I would suggest a move entirely away from disposable wet wipes to a reusable fabric, knitted or woven together, such as cloth. Indeed, if you’re looking to parent in a more sustainable way, given the potential damage they are causing to our environment and simply down to the quantity of wipes you’ll get through, cloth wipes are a great switch to make to your nappy changing kit – plus if you’re cloth nappying already, this swap will be even easier for you as you’re already used to the extra wash load. Finally remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing – using reusable cloths at home and disposable cloths when out and about is a great compromise.
To get you started on your cloth wipe journey, in today’s post we’re sharing our favourite reusable wet wipe brands as well as how to make your own.
My January Baby are a UK based children’s clothing company, started by mum of 3, Helen. They sell beautiful handmade washable baby wipes, with a printed cotton outer and a soft bamboo back. Each pack can be customised with a variety of different (and all so beautiful) prints, and they’re sold in packs of 5 for £10. You can also stock up on reusable makeup wipes, facewipes and cute bibs for your baby while you’re there.
Ellowen Wilde is probably one of the prettiest Etsy stores we’ve ever seen. They sell low waste products for simple living, especially aimed at those on a low income. The shop uses natural, recycled materials to create hand crafted zero waste items, designed to bring beauty into your every day chores as well as creating less waste. Here you can get your hands on a pack of 6 cloth wipes made from 100% cotton, for only £4.50. The wipes are naturally dyed and eco printed, and were originally an old pillow case! You could also check out their hand-made stuffed toys, and cloth market bags – you can use these to store your wipes in.
Sew Cute is another gorgeous Etsy shop selling custom hand made childrens clothes. They have a reusable section where you can pick up this brilliant reusable wipe starter pack. The pack contains 2 6″x6″ wipes and 4 4″x4″ smaller wipes, and comes with a wash bag to keep everything in. The wipes are made from 100% cotton jersey, and are backed with bamboo terry towelling which is super soft on your babys bum or face. And each pack is made with a different, surprise fabric.
If you’re into low waste living or sustainable products, you’ll probably have already heard of Cheeky Wipes who sell everything from reusable toilet paper, period pants, breast pads to changing mats. They also have a pretty wide range of cloth wipes to choose from. We’d recommend these terry cloth baby wipes (a pack of 10 for £7.50) and you can also buy a brilliant washable wipes kit that includes everything you’ll need to clean a bum, sustainable style – 25 wipes, two containers for your clean and your mucky wipes, a waterproof travel bag, and some of their signature baby wipes essential oil blend. If you’re umming and ahhing about which type of wipes to get, try out the trial set and receive a selection of different brands.
Silly Panda was born out of Becca’s desire to live more a more eco friendly life, and is primarily a low waste destination for all your period needs. They sell cloth pads in funky patterns, breast pads, menstrual cups and even menstrual cup cosy’s! Becca also makes wipes designed for the bathroom, faces, hands and bums that are completely customisable for your needs. You can choose your own fabric, and whether you want them poppered or unpoppered, and they’re sold in packs of 10 for £14.
There are so many great brands up there to choose from, but if you’re feeling creative or have some old towels, flannels, muslins, sheets, blankets or even jumpers to hand (pretty much anything…!), it’s really easy to make your own wipes. You can experiment with making either one-layer or two-layer wipes and for super quick no-sew option (my fave!), choose a soft flannel or fleece material and cut into rectangles with pinking shears.
How To Use
The amount of wipes you’ll need to buy or make depends on how often you want to put a wash load on, and how many nappies your baby goes through in a day. If you’re washing every 2-3 days, I’d aim for around 36 wipes to see you through. Once you’ve bought or made your wipes, the simplest way to use them is to set up two small containers at your changing station – one with a basket of dry wipes, and another with a small container of water. Simply dampen each wipe before each use. If you’re heading out, you can either take a wet bag of pre- dampened ones out with you (though this can also make them smell a bit fusty if not used that day) or my preference is to just take a bottle of water out and wet them before use or give them a quick run under the tap. You could also make your own baby wipes solution to give your wipes a nice fresh scent but I just use water. Once you’ve wet them, use them exactly as you would a normal wipe, store all dirty ones in a wet bag if on the go or stick them in a nappy bin at home before chucking them in the wash ready for them to be good to go again after a wash 🙂
Do you already use cloth wipes or are you planning to make the switch? Let us know how you get on in the comments below and what is / isn’t working out for you.
P.S There are a lot of new wipes on the market now that claim to be natural and biodegradable, but not only are these more expensive than their regular counter parts, the biodegradable label isn’t all it’s cracked up to be… If you do want to use disposable wet wipes, Natracare whose made from organic cotton cloth, with no cellulose or viscose (though not, they are still not flushable – only compostable!)