Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Homemade cloth wipes

I've been trying to transition to more reusable and less one-use throw away things.  Cloth diapers, reusable shopping bags, silicone muffin liners, cloth napkins, rags instead of paper towels, etc.  When I was thinking about what fills our trash can most the first thing that came to mind was baby wipes.  And I knew I could do something about that.  This has been some trial and error over the last few months but I think we finally have our system down and, with cloth diapering, it's really no more work.  And less in the trash which I love!

I started with 1/2 yard each of two different flannel fabrics.  They were 60% off at Jo-Anns when I bought them making the total 1 yard exactly $3.  Not a bad deal.  I also bought pinking shears for around $9 hoping that cutting the wipes with those would save on sewing a hem (spoiler alert, it didn't).

During one naptime I turned on Netflix, and started cutting these out (after doing a pre-wash!).  I cut most of mine approximately 5" x 7.5" which gave me 15 wipes per fabric.  I used a piece of paper cut to my size, laid it on the fabric, and cut around it.  These aren't perfect cuts but I'm not making a quilt.  I'm wiping a butt.  Good enough is good enough.

Then I thought I was ready.  I used two containers from my plastic kitchen stash, putting about 20 downstairs (where we do most diaper changes) and 10 upstairs (usually just at bedtime).  I originally used watered down witch hazel, about 4:1 water to witch hazel, as my liquid.  I just mixed it up and poured it right on the wipes.  I didn't want to mess with spraying, finding two spray bottles, keeping two spray bottles from Luke, etc.

This all worked fine.  I could bundle up the cloth wipe with a cloth diaper after a change and throw them all in the wet bag for the wash.  It was actually easier than separating the diaper for the bag and the wipe for the trash.  If it was a really bad diaper change we still used a disposable wipe, because sometimes it's bad enough to spray out a diaper.

Our method had two problems:

1) The wipes were unraveling pretty bad when they got washed.

2) We went through the witch hazel pretty quick.  At $2 a bottle it was cheap but I wasn't convinced we were saving any money over about $1 for a pack of wipes.

1) I had to sew them.  This was a no brainer but I had hoped to avoid it (since I don't have my own machine).  We used all the wipes once and then didn't resoak them once they were clean.  Once they had all been used and washed I was able to use my Mom's sewing machine to do a stitch around all the edges.  Each wipe only took a few minutes and it was good sewing practice!  I whipped through most of them during a naptime and then Luke "helped" me finish the rest, something he still talks about months later.

The edges have still frayed but not past my stitches.  They've held up rather well through many changes and washes.

2) I finished my bottle of witch hazel and just used plain water a few times.  Then, on my sister's recommendation (she makes her own disposable wipes), I now mix about 2 cups of warm water with a squirt of baby bath soap and a few drops of baby oil.  This works better than plain water and gives them a bit of a smell. I pour that into both of my containers and probably only refill the liquid about once a month.

We are now about 3 months into our cloth wiping and I have no complaints.  I wish I hadn't spent $9 on pinking shears and just sewed them from the beginning but I'm sure I'll use the shears again for something else so it's fine.  A little tweaking to our process overtime and it's been a piece of cake since.  It takes an extra long time to go through a pack of disposable wipes and that's awesome.  Less in the trash, less to buy, less to consume.  I've got my eye on a few other things around the house we can stop throwing away.
You can see how long this project drug on if you notice in the very first picture I still had up my paper guides for this gallery wall, which I posted about 2 1/2 months ago!  

Kinda from here but modified

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