Making your own cloth wipes is a fairly simple sewing project that can save you some money. Cloth wipes are a great addition to any cloth diaper stash, but they also work great for babies with sensitive bottoms. You can use them as a washcloth, for quick clean ups after meals, and even to wipe runny noses. They are much gentler on the skin than their paper, disposable counterparts.
Virtually any absorbent cotton/cotton blend material will work. You can use brand new materials or recycle those you find around your house or local thrift store. Here are some of our favorites.
You can make your wipes out of one layer or two. We prefer two. You can also use your cute cotton print fabrics when using two. Just pick an absorbent layer for one side, and a cute print for the other. Our personal stash also includes some fleece and minky wipes. Fleece and minky are water-resistant so it can make wetting these wipes more challenging. However, these two materials are soft and they tend to grip poop very well making for easy cleanups.
Items that can be found around your home or thrift store that work well:
-Towels and washcloths
After you’ve picked out your materials, you’ll need to cut them into the appropriate size rectangle or square. The best thing about making them yourself is that you can choose a size that works for you – we have multiple sizes that we use in our own house. I’ve found that a 6″X7″ wipe tends to work best for us, but feel free to experiment to find what works for you.
Right sides facing out.
Once you have your pieces cut(use scissors or a rotary cutter, whatever you have on hand), pair your two pieces together with right sides facing out and pin them. You have several options on what type of stitch you can do based on what your machine offers.
If you have a basic machine set your sewing machine on your regular zigzag stitch. You want the zigzag to be a ‘tight’ one with the zigs and zags close together (short length), but fairly wide so that you have a good ‘grip’ on the fabric. You might want to test your stitch size on a scrap piece of fabric to find the width that you like best.
Zig Zag and Mock Serge Stitches
With a basic zigzag, I like to go around the wipe a couple of times. When placing your wipe under your presser foot, adjust the fabric slightly so that the right hand stitch will drop slightly over the edge (this helps prevent fraying). The technical term here is an overcast stitch. Stitch all the way around making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.
Short length, medium or large width
I upgraded my machine in early 2013 and my new machine has several mock serge stitches to choose from. The mock serge (on my machine the picture looks like a straight stitch with a zigzag beside it or a straight stitch with slashes beside it) is now my go to for cloth wipes. I still set the width fairly wide, with the length lower so the stitches are close together. Typically once around and I’m done.
You can also serge your edges if you own a serger. If you are using a serger, obviously you may only need to do one stitch. I don’t own a serger so we use the zigzag stitch or mock serge and it’s worked just fine for us.
If you prefer a cleaner edge or just don’t like the raw edge look, cut your fabric 1/4″ larger than you want your finished wipe to be on all sides. Place your two pieces of fabric with right sides facing in and pin them. Then stitch all the way around, leaving yourself a 1″ space to turn your fabric. Trim your corners (being careful not to clip your seam) and turn your fabric right side out being sure to press all your corners out. Then top stitch your wipe to close the turn around spot and give yourself a nice clean edge.
Caring for your Wipes
I have three different tubs of wipes in my house. The big tub in the top picture is an old ice cream box. This is where the majority of our wipes are stored. They’re folded so that they pop up and I cut a hole in the top of the lid to pull them from. An old disposable wipes box with a pop up lid sits on top of the toilet in the bathroom where my son potty trains. For my diaper bag, I have one of the disposable wipe boxes that the wet wipes for adults come in. I fold all of our wipes so they pop up and are easy to use when I need them.
We throw our wipes in with our dirty cloth diapers. We always preshrink our material to prevent any further shrinking in the wash. We put our wipes in the dryer, but hanging them on the line now and then can help get rid of stains.
The first few times you wash your wipes you will get some slight fraying along the edges if you have used the raw edge method. This is completely normal and you can cut away any loose strings with a pair of scissors. Some materials (like flannel and fleece) also pill. You can get rid of any excessive pilling with a lint shaver.
There are a TON of different cloth wipe solutions on the web. Just do a google search and you’ll find plenty. At our house, we like to keep it simple. I put plain tap water with just a small squirt of baby bath wash in a peri-bottle and gently shake to mix.
For travel, I bought one of the tiny travel spray bottles with a lid and I mix up some water and baby wash in this before I leave the house. I can spritz the wipe or baby’s bottom when we’re out for quick clean ups.
You can wet each wipe as you need it by squirting some of the water on top of your wipes or baby’s bottom. You can also pour your solution directly over your wipes. If you do this, make sure you use the wet wipes in 1-2 days or your wipes could smell musky or even mold. Choose whatever method works best for your house – that’s the beauty in creating your own wipes!