For as much as I’m an advocate of cloth diapers, cloth wipes turned me off for a long time.
That is weird, you are probably thinking. Cloth wipes have the same advantages as cloth diapers. They are better for the environment because they aren’t taking up landfill space. They are not clogging sewage systems and pissing off your local department of public utilities. They are gentle on baby’s butt and aren’t full of weird chemicals and fragrances. You don’t have to separate them from your cloth diapers to throw away later; you can just toss them in the diaper pail with the dirty diapers.
I KNOW this. I don’t know why it took me so long to try them. Perhaps it was laziness; we were gifted tons of disposable baby wipes before our daughter was born. But finally after a few months of seeing people talk about cloth wipes all over the place I was all, FINE. I will try them. We shall see.
I ended up with a mish mash of wipe materials and fabrics. Flannel is fairly soft and durable. Sherpa is even softer. Minky is okay as long as the other side is something more…grippy. Bamboo terry is amazing except I hate bamboo for other reasons. Fleece is idiotic and smears everything around. And so on. I could go on all day about fabrics and how good or bad they are at wiping up poop, but that’s heading into Crazy Cloth Lady territory which I try to avoid when I can.
They do work. Like anything cloth vs. disposable, cloth wipes are thicker. For the most part I found them more absorbent as well, although it depends on the fabric. Where I might have had to use 7 or 8 wipes for a REALLY poopy diaper, I might only need 3 or 4 cloth wipes. And it is really easy to just toss them in the diaper pail and not have to worry that the disposable wipe accidentally thrown into laundry will somehow multiply into 5 billion fluffy fibers that twist and stick to every millimeter of velcro in your machine.
You may have guessed by now that I am still not completely enamored with cloth wipes. It’s true. There is a box of cloth wipes sitting in our changing area but there’s a container of disposables right next to it, which I fully admit we reach for 90% of the time. “What?” you may be thinking. “You just spent half a page talking up cloth wipes, how can this be?!”
The biggest disadvantage cloth wipes have against disposables is that they are not pre-moistened. Our changing area is not next to a sink, so by the time I have my kid on the changing pad and the diaper is off, I end up realizing, “Oh crap, forgot to wet a wipe,” and grab for the disposable ones. This problem is often solved by people moistening a bunch of wipes in the morning, perhaps pouring a solution of baby butt soap and water over their cloth wipe container. This isn’t a bad idea, except there is no way I would remember to do that every morning, and I am positive I would let the container sit wet long enough to start getting moldy. If you are a much more diligent person than I, pre-wetting your wipes every morning might work for you.
For a while, I also tried keeping a cloth wipe solution in a spray bottle with the wipes. That way I didn’t have to worry about the wipes accidentally getting moldy, as I could just spray a wipe or my baby’s butt directly at each diaper change. The drawbacks I ran into here were similar. One, I never remembered to refill the darn thing so half the time I grabbed the spray bottle it was empty and I used a disposable wipe anyway. Second, for a big messy poop, you end up pumping that spray bottle FOREVER to get cloth wipes wet enough to get all the poop off. Meaning the next time I changed a diaper, the bottle was practically empty, leading me to using a disposable wipe anyway…yeah. It became a vicious cycle. Not to mention the few seconds it takes to use both hands to hold the wipe and use the spray bottle is just enough time for your kid to reach down, find her poop, and dig her fingers in. Sometimes finger painting on the wall follows!
The third disadvantage is accidentally flushing the darn wipe down the toilet. I bring the poopy diaper to the toilet and use the diaper sprayer, flush, and WHOOPS I forgot I shoved a poopy wipe in the diaper and the sprayer knocked it into the toilet and there it goes swirling away forever into poopy eternity. Now I am down one cloth wipe AND hoping the toilet doesn’t clog. Again. This has happened to me so. Many. Times.
Would I recommend cloth wipes to everyone? No. Like anything else, I believe that what’s best for you is what doesn’t make you go insane. I do think you should buy a few cloth wipes and try them; if you can make them work for you, that is awesome. If not, they make great baby washcloths or small rags. You could also use cloth wipes part of the time—this is what we have ended up doing, as when my child has diaper rash, a soft cloth wipe with plain water cleans the irritation much more gently than any sort of pre-moistened wipe, since even the tiniest bit of soap can often sting a raw rash. Sure, it would be great if I could fully transition to using cloth wipes full time, but you know, I’m not going to worry too much about it. They would all end up being flushed down the toilet anyway.