Beginners guide to using washable wipes

Disposable baby wipes contain plastic, not just a little bit either, in fact  most are around 80% + plastic (not including the packaging)!!  So that they don’t break down easily in landfill, and when they do start to decompose they break ‘up’ into smaller and smaller fragments causing problems with micro plastics entering our food chains.

The alternative is of course, reusable wipes.   This may feel like one step to far but if you are using cloth nappies re-susable wipes are a very simple and cost saving addition to your nappy kit.  Once you start using them you will also realise that they clean SO much better than the disposable wipes ! So another big benefit.

You can buy packs of washable wipes in various sizes and material.  You can also make your own, cut up some old t-shirts or similar into rectangles or squares and use these. If you’ve got old towels or flannels kicking around unused then do the same with these (although these may fray at the edges so if you can be bothered to/have the skills to hem them, then this would be a good step).  

What type of fabric is best?  Cotton/organic cotton is great and a durable long lasting material but becomes a bit rough after washing which can be an advantage when dealing with a particularly messy bottom but bamboo stays silky soft but is not as strong as cotton and can become worn over time

How to use washable wipes: You can store the washable wipes in a tupperware box  with a little water and essential oils so they are wet and ready to go. As they are used you can put them in the nappy bucket and wash with the nappies (up to 60 degrees). Alternatively there is no need to dry them when they come out of the wash. Just put them back in the tupperware box, add some more water to make them damp and they’re ready again. They won’t go stale or stagnant as you’ll go through them too quickly.  

Many people who do not use cloth nappies still use washable wipes, as they are so much kinder on the skin and the pocket.

Washable wipes are a more economic and environmentally friendly alternative disposable wipes. Disposable wipes will cost around £250 to £300 for the period your baby is in nappies.   20 – 40 washable wipes will cost only £25-50 and can be reused time and time again from birth to potty.  They work brilliantly in conjunction with washable nappies.  Just throw them in the nappy bucket and wash with your nappies.  Take them wet off the line and use straight away.   They work really well with Little Violets Baby Cleanser Spray or Bumgenius Bottom Spray. Or make your own (see below for some recipes).   Most parents are told to use cotton wool and water to wash their baby’s bottom in the first few months, washable wipes are a much better and cheaper option and are free from chemicals for your baby’s delicate skin.


These lotions can be made up and poured over wipes in a container (use any lidded plastic box) or alternatively, keep your wipes dry and put your chosen liquid into a spray bottle. It can then be sprayed either onto the wipes as needed, or direct onto baby’s bottom.   

Basic Lotion:

2 – 3 drops of baby bubble bath

5 – 6 drops baby oil

1 teaspoon witch hazel

250ml cold water

Place all ingredients in an empty jam jar, put the lid on and shake ingredients to mix thoroughly.

Luxury Lotion:

1 squirt baby oil

2 drops lavender essential oil

2 drops Roman camomile essential oil

250ml warm water

Pour the ingredients into a jam jar, and shake to mix thoroughly.  If preferred, you can use tea tree oil instead of lavender oil, but this is not recommended on infants younger than 6 months old.

Basic Lotion 2
Make up a mug of chamomile and honey tea, allow it to stand and stew for a 10 minutes, remove teabag and when cool pour over your wipes. This will last a day or, at most, 2 so don’t make up too much!  It is aslo a wonderful tonic for sore bottoms caused by teething or caustic poo, camomile is very soothing and honey is a natural antiseptic which dosent sting and aids healing. 


Do not use the oils undiluted on the skin or internally.
Keep the oils away from children and eyes.
Do not use the oils if pregnant, epileptic or suffering from high blood pressure.
If using an oil causes irritation to the skin, or if in any doubt, seek the advice of a professional Aromatherapist.

How do I store them when they’re dirty? If you’re using reusable nappies, then your mucky wipes simply go into your dirty nappy bin with your dirty nappy.  If you’re not, then have a tupperware container with tight fitting lid to store them until you are ready to wash.  

What about when we’re out and about? You may decide that to start using at home first or even exclusively at home and not when out.  But again if you are using with washable nappies you just store with your dirty nappy in a wet bag and when you get home you empty the wet bag with soiled nappy and wipes into your bucket.

How do I wash them? If you’re using reusable nappies then you’ll already be well used to washing them and simply chuck your wipes in with your regular nappy load.  If you are not using cloth nappies just add them to any wash.  If they are soiled it may be worth doing a quick rinse cycle with the wipes first and then add the rest of your washing. 

Do I/can I tumble dry? Yes you can but it is not really necessary ,

How many do I need ? I had twins and had 30 wipes which was easily enough for me to never run out.  I was washing every other day due to having lots of dirty cloth nappies too.  So I would suggest you start off with 20 and see if are running out.  As I said earlier they clean much better than disposable wipes and even for a really dirty bottom you often still end up using just one cloth wipe, unlike disposable wipes which you can end up using about 4 for one change !