Cloth Wipes For Baby: A Simple (But Complete) Guide

By April Duffy •  Updated: 06/25/24 •  14 min read

Parents have to make quite a few decisions when they decide to give cloth diapers a try. Whether to use cloth baby wipes instead of disposable wipes is often one of them.

In this quick post, I’ll go over the pros and cons of cloth wipes vs. disposable wipes, list out your cloth wipe and wipe solution options, give you a complete shopping list to get yourself ready to prepare and use cloth wipes on your baby, and give you a quick guide to making them work both at home and on the go.

It actually won’t take long, so let’s get started!

Cloth Baby Wipes Vs. Disposible Baby Wipes

Many parents who decide to use cloth diapers opt to use cloth wipes too, but there are others who don’t. Let’s quickly compare cloth and disposable wipes here so that you can make the choice that’s best for you and your family.

Cost Comparison

Just like with cloth diapers, cloth baby wipes are an investment that will initially cost a little more but will save a ton of money over time when you’re not buying boxes upon boxes of single-use products. You can always expect initially to pay more for cloth diapers, accessories, and supplies. However, just like cloth diapers, cloth wipes are a one-time investment that will last until your baby is ready to potty train and often for any future children you may have as well.

Over at the blog Natural Baby Life, they did some good math around the cost of disposable wipes. According to them, the cost for baby wipes during the first year is about $120-$547 US with an average cost of $10-45 US per month and between $.02 and $.06 US per wipe. They added that this range is so wide because your individual cost will really depend on the type of wipes you buy, how you purchase them, how often your baby needs a diaper change, and how often you use them on other things around the house (think sticky fingers).

Cloth baby wipes on the other hand cost just a few dollars each (or less) depending on the product(s) you choose or if you choose to DIY your baby wipes. For example, double-layered wipes may cost more than single-layer wipes, depending on the fabric used. Buying cloth diapering products in packages can significantly lower the price per item, as opposed to buying individually.

So, how much will cloth wipes cost you? All in all, even with the added cost of wipe containers and solutions (we’ll get to all that soon), cloth wipes should cost you between $50 to $100 for the entire time your baby is in diapers (and beyond).

Use Comparison

Of course, while cost is a big factor, it’s not everything. How easy it is to fit into your lifestyle and day-to-day routine is also incredibly important.

So, which is easier to use, cloth or disposable wipes? The truth is, if you’re using cloth diapers cloth wipes are usually the easier option! Why? Because it goes in the same bin!

Let’s illustrate this with the example of when you’re out at the mall and have to make a quick stop at the changing station to change baby. You swap out their cloth diaper, put that in your travel wet bag, wipe their bum and now what? If it’s a disposable wipe you’ll need to stretch to toss it into the garbage, or if the garbage is too far you’ll need to hold onto it while strapping baby back into their carrier. If it’s a cloth wipe, you can just toss it into the wet bag right along with your diaper for washing together later.

The one circumstance where a disposable wipe may be easier is when you’re using them for sticky fingers and other messes that aren’t in and around your cloth diapers. If you’re at the food court of that mall cleaning up the mess from that applesauce they just smeared all over themselves, tossing a disposable wipe in the nearest trash can be easier than digging out your wet bag with the dirty diaper in it and opening it all up to toss it in. But that depends on how close that garbage can is I suppose.

Is it OK to Use a Combination of Cloth and Disposable Wipes?

Many parents who aren’t convinced that cloth wipes are a good fit for them (or maybe for a reluctant spouse or grandparent) ask if it’s ok to use both at different times.

So, is it ok to use both cloth wipes and disposable wipes? Of course! There is no such thing as the cloth diaper police, I swear. Do what works for you and don’t worry about fitting into some mold. Using cloth wipes even part-time will still save you on purchasing several boxes of disposable wipes and pay for itself quickly.

How Many Cloth Wipes Do You Need?

Because of a cloth wipe’s absorbent properties, you’ll likely find yourself using fewer cloth wipes than you would disposable wipes when changing your baby. If you do choose to use cloth wipes, either full-time or part-time I recommend having enough to supply two for each diaper change for about two and a half days.

So, how many wipes is that, how many cloth wipes will you need to buy? For a newborn that’s about 60 cloth wipes you’ll want to purchase (I know that seems like a lot, but it’s still well within our approximate cost above, I promise), and for an older baby that’s about 40 wipes to buy.

If you’re wondering where those numbers are coming from, you can get information about the average number of diaper changes to expect here and multiply the number of diaper changes by two to get the per day number of wipes needed.

Why two and a half days worth? Because washing every two days is standard good practice for most dirty diaper storage systems (learn more about storing your dirty diapers here) and you’ll want an extra half days worth or so to cover the time it takes to wash everything and put it away.

If you know that you wash your diaper laundry less frequently, you’ll want to increase the number of wipes you have so that you won’t run out, but those numbers are a solid guestimate for most situations.

Available Cloth Wipe Options

If you are a parent just starting out in cloth diapering, try a few different cloth wipe brands to see what you and your baby like. You may decide to use different styles of cloth baby wipes for different jobs – whether it’s for diaper changing or face washing.

In fact, probably the most helpful thing you can do before purchasing any cloth wipes is to consider how you intend to use them. Will they just be for diaper changes or your go-to clean-up solution?

There are definitely a ton of cloth wipe options out there, which come in many sizes, fabrics, and thicknesses.
Large wipes are needed to clean up big messes, but smaller wipes are sometimes better for some storage containers.

Double-layered wipes can have different fabrics on each side. One side of the wipe may be made from a softer fabric to absorb liquids better while the other is best at clearing off solids.

How Do You Store Cloth Wipes? Do You Store Cloth Wipes Wet or Dry?

No matter what style of wipes you get, you’ll want to have a wipe warmer, bin, bag, or another container full of them and at the ready when it’s time to change baby.

But the next natural question then is, do you store cloth baby wipes wet or dry? The truth is that you can store them either wet or dry, it’s totally up to you and your needs, but if you choose to store your wipes wet (like disposables) you’ll need to store no more than one day’s worth at a time to prevent mold and bacteria growth.

How To Store Cloth Wipes Wet

Storing your reusable wipes wet is pretty easy, you just place the wipes you’ll be using for the day and then pour in some of your wipe solution (I’ll get into wipe solutions in just a moment below).

You can make wet wipes in any container you like, some choose to reuse disposable wipe containers, some like to store them in mason jars, and others prefer to use a wipe warmer.

If a wipe warmer is something you’d like to use for your reusable wipes, just note that not all wipe warmers are reusable wipe friendly. Many of them are made for packages of disposable wipes only.

For cloth wipes, I recommend the Prince Lionheart Warmies warmer (Amazon link), which is not only made specifically for cloth wipes but actually comes with a few wipes in the box. You can read my full comparison of wipes warmers here to see why I think it’s the best for reusable wipes.

Once again, I only recommend pre-wetting about a day’s worth at a time to prevent mold and bacteria growth, especially if using a wipe warmer.

For on the go, I love love love the OXO Tot On-The-Go Wipes Dispenser for pre-moistened wipes because it’s leak-proof and squish-proof, while also being open enough to make loading it up with cloth wipes easy.

How To Store Cloth Wipes Dry

Storing reusable wipes dry is pretty fool-proof because you can just shove them in any container you like, and just keep it next to a spray bottle or squeeze bottle of your wipe solution.

This brings me to my main point for storing your cloth wipes dry, the tricky thing is really what to use to wet your wipes when you need to. Some parents just wet their wipes at the sink, some parents prefer a wipe solution (again, I have wipe solution info coming up below) and want to keep a bottle of it next to their wipes.

If you plan on wetting your baby’s bum and then wiping it with a dry wipe, a spray bottle works best, but if you plan on wetting the wipe with a cloth diaper solution and then wiping your baby, a squeeze bottle is the way to go for speedy diaper changes.

Cloth Wipe Solution

As you’ve probably gathered already, if you do choose to use cloth wipes instead of disposable ones, you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to wet them for use during diaper changes. And yes, you’re going to want them a bit damp to get all of those solids off and clean the area well.

What you’re going to wet them with is often referred to as a “cloth wipe solution.”

While there are fancy wipe solution products like Baby Bits Wipe Solution, BALM! Baby Juice Those Wipes, and others, often a very simple homemade baby wipe solution of water and maybe one other ingredient is enough.

You can find my favorite homemade cloth wipe solution “recipes” here.

What You’ll Need to Start With Cloth Diapers

We’ve talked about a lot of stuff up until this point, but if you’re not an a-type and haven’t been taking notes, that’s ok, I’ve got a list of all the essentials you’ll need to have in order to cloth wipe full time with one baby (double it for twins, triple it for triplets, etc.).

Here’s what you’ll need:

How to Use Cloth Wipes

If you’ve read this far down the article you know that you’re going to try cloth wipes, you know what to buy, and you’re ready to go. But what does the whole cloth wipe thing look like? What are the logistics of it all? Here’s a quick step-by-step for using cloth wipes at home and on the go:

Using Cloth Wipes at Home

Step one: Get your diaper stuff out and ready, including your wipes and wipe solution (if you’re using dry wipes).

Step two: Open up that soiled diaper and assess the situation and how many wipes you’ll need.

Step three: Get your cloth wipe and clean up the mess.

Step four: Place the dirty wipe in your dirty diaper storage bin/bag to wait for wash day. This is of course where you’ll also place your soiled diapers to wait for wash day, though you may have to remove the soil from your diapers first.

Step five: Put a fresh and clean diaper on.

Using Cloth Wipes On the Go

Step one: Get your diaper stuff out and ready, including your wipes and wipe solution (if you’re using dry wipes).

Step two: Open up that soiled diaper and assess the situation and how many wipes you’ll need.

Step three: Get your cloth wipe and clean up the mess.

Step four: Place the dirty wipe inside the dirty diaper and wrap it up inside the dirty diaper, snapping it shut if you can to keep all the mess contained. Place the bundle into your travel wet bag to bring home to wait for wash day. Again, you may have to remove the soil from your diapers before washing.

Step five: Put a fresh and clean diaper on and continue on your way.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article helped you decide if cloth wipes are something you’d like to try. If you’re still unsure, why not drop by the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook group and ask any remaining questions you may have. Thousands of our members use and love cloth wipes and would be happy to help!

April Duffy

April is the founder of Cloth Diapers for Beginners and author of The Cloth Diaper Wash & Care Handbook. Since 2015, April has helped well over 75,000 parents and caregivers cloth diaper their children through this website, her book, her YouTube Channel, and the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook Group.