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reusable wipes - yes or not worth the hassle?

29 replies

Beesok · 01/06/2011 00:06

I am trying to be eco conscious :) and although I don't want to use reusable nappies (but will try ECing and early potty training) am thinking of at least using reusable wipes but have a couple of questions for experienced users :)

  1. how long is it OK to soak them - we do the washing every 3 days at home and I really don't want to wash stuff every day

2. I plan to use separate ones for bum and other (face, baths, wiping food etc) which ones are softer for face and bathing - bamboo or terry cloth?
3. What products did you use to soak the dirty wipes? Is tea tree oil enough or should I use something like the mothercare nappy soak?

any general comments/advice? :)
OP posts:
pookamoo · 01/06/2011 00:57

We did us reusable nappies and the wipes went in with them.

  1. I wouldn't soak at all. Get a bucket with a tight fitting lid and "dry pail" which basically means you put them in the bucket as they are, and wash when you're ready. You could rinse off any big poo before you put them in if you like.

2. We use fleece, just one of the many blankets we were given when DD was born, cut into squares. We keep separate terry cloth flannels for the hands/face wipes in the kitchen. Bamboo takes an age to dry, in my experience.

3. See 1 above - most people I know use dry pailing.

You might be surprised about reusable nappies, if you have a chance to look into it a bit (if you haven't already done so!)
pookamoo · 01/06/2011 00:58

You might be surprised with DC in the house how the general washing mounts up over 3 days, by the way!

LoonyRationalist · 01/06/2011 01:07

I made my own, fleece one side, thin towel (ikea bargain basement) the other. Thin towel essential or they take an age to dry, but towel much more efficient at removing poo than either fleece or disposable wipes. Fleece best soft material otherwise.

I agree with dry pailing but think you will find yourself with a little more washing anyway so 3 days might not be such an issue;)

Beesok · 01/06/2011 09:27

hahaha thanks ladies! I guess things will change around the house :)

I am not against reusable nappies but really hate the hassle esp. when out and about (I worked with a few babies in my nursery who had them and am still not convinced) but my aim is to try and get them out of nappies as soon as possible ;)

One thing with dry pailing - so you added nothing to the dirty wipes? Not even tea tree oil? Didn't that make them yukky and stinky? Blush and I am assuming you dry pail the bum wipes separately from the others?

where do you get the suitable fleece to make your own? and Loony did you just sew the towel to the back of the fleece? What size works best?
Sorry for all the stupid questions - I am no good when it comes to DIY but somehow have a lot of time on my hands so can try (or ask mum :)
Thanks Ladies!

OP posts:
ThePieSmuggler · 01/06/2011 09:33

I'm guessing you might have already seen the cheeky wipes website? (sorry am technologically inept so haven't learnt how to link stuff yet) if not, that might be worth a look, even if you don't buy from them. I've ordered some but they haven't arrived yet, I'm irrationally excited about them though!

ConfessionsOfAnAchingFanjo · 01/06/2011 09:48

I used standard cotton baby face clothes and water on DS after my MW said that new babies are more likely to suffer nappy rash if you use wipes. They worked really well and we'll be reusing them when DC2 arrives shortly.

I don't think they ever soaked for more than about a day and a couple did fade in the bleach (but they're bum wipes, so no worries there Grin). Babies really do make a lot of washing Grin

Didn't use reusable nappies, but have heard good things about dry pailing. Apparently it smells less than soaking in water/bleach, because the water carries the smell.

Coppernoddle · 01/06/2011 10:01

Is it really that Eco friendly??
The soak solution your throwing down the toilet, the washing powder and electricity to wash them and the drying if in the dryer! Can you not use Eco friendly wipes that just biodegrade? I'm all for water and cotton wool as yes I agree, wipes are too strong for a little baby, but all this Eco stuff, I don't actually think there that Eco friendly! At the End of it all, you've got nappies you have to get rid of rather than biodegradable nappies? I'm not being funny, I just don't understand it! But am very open minded and if proven to be wrong, would have a go myself!

nannyl · 01/06/2011 10:04

when i have used washable wipes they have always been dry pailed with the nappies in the same nappy bucket.

and washed with the nappies (every 2 - 3 days)

We never had any problems and as well as proper reusable wipes have also used thin flannels and cut up bits of thin towel too.

In 25 weeks and will be using cloth nappies on mine, as well as cloth wipes. (I have got a load of cheap flannels to use as face wipes and for food in kitchen and that sort of stuff, and a good friend of mine who runs her own business making childrens clothes / cloth nappies / wipes is kindly making me some proper cloth wipes as a new baby present Smile she uses all her really cool fabric of cuts with organic bamboo velour, and they are just lovely Smile

Do you plan to wash poo-ey wipes with other stuff? I'm all for washing machines washing stuff to make it clean, but personally prefer to wash dirty nappies and wipes separately (with wet nappies too) but the nappies make it a whole load worth putting on.

saying that, surely its not different to washing baby clothes with poo on with other cleaner baby clothes, and i dont see a problem with that!

Beesok · 01/06/2011 10:24

Piesmuggler yes I have looked at the Cheeky Wipes website and they seem quite practical!

Copper am not pretending to be some super Eco conscious freak but I try to do as much as I can within my "lifestyle" - no I won't be using washable nappies but can try with wipes - you do use a huge amount of wet wipes with a baby no? If I can reduce that amount including packaging etc and wash every couple of days (which I will be doing anyway) then why not?
Although I do take your point re washing etc (I don't use a dryer) which is why am still debating it because I don't want to wash pooped wipes with other stuff and it might not make sense unless I get a large amount to begin with and do the washing in one go less frequently. Oh and I try to use eco friendly washing powder etc for all our laundry.
I recently switched to muslin cloths for removing makeup and since have hardly bought any cotton pads - I just rinse the muslins with hot water and pop them in the laundry whenever I do it so I think that you CAN reduce waste by doing small steps like that...

Realistically how long can you dry pail dirty wipes for? Is 4 days "pushing it"? :)

OP posts:
pookamoo · 01/06/2011 11:33

You would probably need a LOT of wipes to get through 4 days without washing, I'd say - they are so handy to have around, even for snot and puke etc, so you would either need about 100 of them, or wash them a bit more often. I think we have about 30. They are about 4 inches by 7 inches. I didn't sew towelling on them, but I have a small stack of value face cloths reserved for bottom wiping for the really poopy times!

coppernoodle that's a big debate all of its own accord! To answer your queries,

  1. People don't generally use a soak solution these days

2. They dry pretty quickly and often aren't put in the dryer
3. Reusable nappies can be used for 2, 3, 4, or more babies, and after that, they become excellent floor cloths and dusters!
When you weigh up the cost savings, apart from anything else (like landfill etc) reusable nappies are (in my opinion) a great option.

Beesok you are right, doing little things makes such a difference overall, and if you can find a few things to fit into your lifestyle, then so much the better. When are you due?
Nanny01 · 01/06/2011 12:04

We used flannels from Ikea they were really cheap and then put them with the dirty cloth nappies. I hope to use cloth again but this is baby no.5 so I'm maybe delaying it till baby is 3-4 months and it will be spring as we have no dryer and I really struggle with the drying in winter. Interestingly if you have 2 in cloth nappies I found it easier as there was always enough naps to wash every other day. I used to put lavender or or a dash of tea-tree oil in the bucket to help with the smell.

idlevice · 01/06/2011 12:14

I used old flannels & some homemade muslin squares the same size. I didn't need to soak as we did washing at least once a day when bubs was small. Have not had any staining - only when repurposing the wipes later on for wiping off food!

I did part-time EC with DS, using disposables for sleep time & when going out. We found we could re-use the disposables if they hadn't got soiled or other wise messed up. The EA did a study a few yrs back comparing disposable & reusable nappies on environmental impact & they came out with no significant difference, but I can't remember the details unfortunately.

Beesok · 01/06/2011 12:19

pookamoo am due in Oct but a bit of a control freak so trying to sort out things and do research early on :)

I guess I will learn as we go along - it's just that I really don't want to wash pooped wipes with anything else Hmm so I think I might just buy some more for the nappy changing and just wash these alone. It makes sense if you're using cloth nappies I guess but I do agree with drying! It will be a winter baby so drying will be a hassle - so far I used to use the baby room hehehe for drying laundry ....

Thanks Nanny01 will def. be popping into IKEA for other bits and pieces so will take a look at the flannels.

OP posts:
carolinemoon · 01/06/2011 12:21

I bought the cheeky wipes kit and absolutely love them - but gave up on reusable nappies after far too many explosive newborns poos ended up everywhere!

The cheeky wipes aren't cheap but I'm not really into sewing, so for me it was a price worth paying. I would recommend as a half way house that you buy the wipes (we have two sets which is about 50 I think) but get the boxes and essential oils elsewhere. They do new boxes now (one handed opening I think) which look good but our boxes are the older style which are essentially just the water tight "lock and lock" boxes that you get for food branded with the cheeky wipes logo (a smaller one for "clean" wipes and a bigger one for "dirty" wipes). If you buy the cheeky wipes one I think it comes with a net to put in the box to gather up the dirty wipes for the washer, but we have never really used it and just tip the box out into the bottom of the washing machine, so no need to touch the wipes at all.

I buy essential oils from Boots to add to the clean water, that way you can choose the smell you like and I use the dirty box dry. We started off using water and the lemon/tea tree oil in the dirty wipes box but to be honest the oil smelt like fly spray and it didn't seem to overcome the inevitable whiff of pooey wipes sitting in a box of water! I think dry pailing is fine, yes there's a slightly funky smell after day 3 of filling the wipes box, but not the end of the world compared to the smell of a nappy!

We also bought a smaller "lock and lock" box for taking clean wipes out and about in the change bag, and use a nappy sack to store dirty wipes until we get home. The travel bags sold by cheeky wipes for going in the change bag didn't really work for us.

Hope that helps!

WhereTheWildThingsWere · 01/06/2011 12:24

I bought quite a lot of washable wipes (about 50), also used reusable nappies and dry pailed.

I'm afraid I have never seperated face/bum all just got used for whatever and used again.

My youngest is long out of nappies but the box of wipes is going strong and is used for hands/faces/noses/dog paws/cleaning up spills/wiping down/cleaning the rat cage and more.

Oh and all my old terry nappies are now kitchen tea towels/wiping up cloths.

Adair · 01/06/2011 12:32

When ds was in the cotton wool phase I just used a load of cotton rags - if just wee/face/not too bad I'd chuck in the washing machine. If grim I'd chuck. My rags are made from old t-shirts or stained babygros etc

rightontime · 01/06/2011 12:58

Bamboo velour are the softest for newborn babies. Fleece is a bit smeary and cotton/bamboo towelling tend to get a bit stiff and hard. Fine for older babies but I wouldn't use on a newborn once they have been washed a couple of times.

I would dry pail. If you are soaking in water for 3 days that water is going to be manky. Give the wipes a quick rinse or flush down the loo and then pop them in an air tight box/nappy bag and wash when you are ready. 3 days should be fine. I have never left nappies or wipes longer than that though and certainly wouldn't during the hot summer months.

For smells you can attach a wipe to the top of the lid (or stick a sanitary towel on) and out a few drops of oil on it to freshen the smell a little.

With regards to washing, with nappies I tend to rinse first and then top up with clothes and do a full wash. That way there isn't actually any poo in contact with my clothes. As someone else said though even when a disposable nappy leaks and poo gets on the clothes, or when child potty trains and poos in their pants you are going to have to wash these clothes and you would just put them in the machine without thinking about it.

The study that showed reusables were no more economical than disposables is a few years old now. It was based on people tumble drying which really isn't necessary, line drying is better for nappies and they will last longer. Most washing machines these days are more economical. you can get A++ rated ones which were not available when the study was done. They also based it on the nappy load not being a full load IIRC and most people use full loads IME. Also based on soaking which isn't generally done any more. So for the sake of maybe 3 extra loads of washing a week compared to the mountain of disposables that take many many years to decompose I am pretty conviced that they are more economical than disposables. (This last point was for the lady that asked, not trying to convert OP at all)

aethelfleda · 01/06/2011 13:33

I did use washable wipes-- but not for bottoms! As a cloth nappy user with both DD1 and DD2, I bought washable wipes in terry, cotton, and velour/fleece mix. When they were going in with the nappies i dry pailed (one bucket each day) and washed with napisan in the washer every second day.

I shudder to admit it but disposable wipes are VASTLY better at getting poo off baby's bum! The washable ones just didn't cut the mustard for bottoms.

However, washable wipes are BRILLIANT for wiping sticky hands and faces, and 5 years on I'm still using them for that (plus a million little kitchen/table spills.) I got most of mine from Wee Notions (google them) and they do loads of colours, they live in a fruitbowl in the kitchen and are possibly the best value baby purchase I've made!

Coppernoddle · 01/06/2011 13:52

Ill give the wipes thing ago then! If it saves on money and wipes all the time it's got to be a winner! But not the poo'y ones! Wee's and face only!! But as for the nappy thing, I'm on my third and last child so would of made sense when I had my first, but then it was more expensive!

Beesok · 01/06/2011 14:27

hahaha copper I see you're getting convinced! ;)

tbh after reading all the post am still slightly confused but getting there :) and I think since I will not be using washable nappies then using wipes for poo is not really convenient (I agree with copper and aethelfleda but will def. be using them for everything else - bathing, cleaning up etc and that should still reduce the amounts I use by half at least !

PS I know this sounds silly (and don't shoot me - this is my first baby :) but can't I just clean a poopy bum under the bathroom sink?!?

OP posts:
Coppernoddle · 01/06/2011 17:47

The art to using less wipes for poopy bums is mastered to an art form in my house! Use the front of the nappy to get as much off as you can and then you'll need no more than two to freshen up! Beesok, I think you'll settle into your own rhythm of using wipes and flannels! You'll soon find out what's convenient and what's saving money!!

aethelfleda · 01/06/2011 18:22

besook - you can stick baby's bot in the sink- but when faced with a poo explosion, it's so much hassle to clean the sink afterwards, most mums prefer to stick baby in the bath/shower and hose them down with a shower attatchment! If you do decide hose is best some people buy a special bidet-type shower attatchment that fits onto your loo and lets you hose babies' bot directly into the loo (its popular in some Arab countries where they don't use loo paper).

And if you are thinking about bio-disposables, check on the net- Sainsburys sell nature boy&girl nappies from size 1 to (quite good) pull-ups, and net sellers sell Moltex Oko and bambo Nature nappies in big packs. Pricier than the BOGOF standard brands though- not a cheap option- cloth would be cheaper even for one beeb. Totally understand if you're not keen, but there are lots of supportive mums out there who can offer advice if you change your mind and decide to give cloth nappies a try.

Beesok · 01/06/2011 18:41

aethelfleda I just had a vision of my newborn slipping into the loo while I try to hose him/her down hahahahahaha - seriously - you would be amazed on how much stuff slipped through my fingers straight into the loo and then had to be fished out and chucked (that's what happens when you have a cupboard right above the toilet hehehehe)

Thanks for the tips but re bio-disposables - how do you actually "recycle" them? I mean if you're gonna put them in the rubbish then whether degradable or not they're still in a plastic rubbish bag with tons of other stuff Confused

Oh well, I will find out my own "poo-routine" soon :) and then I'll have to convince Daddy to do half :)

OP posts:
aethelfleda · 01/06/2011 19:53

Yep, a major criticism of biodisposables is that most people just chuck em
In landfill... Though they do break down a little quicker than plasticy nappies. Even so the bio-disp brands are typically only 70% degradable (sticky tabs, elastic etc don't break down). That was one of the things that tipped me to trying reuseables in the first place.

One thing tho in the bio-nappies favour is they don't contain gels- means they dont superabsorb the wee BUT they are kinder for babies bot- some babies get awful nappy rash if the gel-nappies (pampers/huggies) split open and the gel contacts a small bot.

aethelfleda · 01/06/2011 19:54

Anyway see what works for you, and if you do get tempted by reusables take a look in the mumsnet cloth nappy section. I'm sure you'll get intona routine that works for you, we all do somehow!

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