If you’re a cloth wipe user as well as a cloth diaper user, you’ll know the struggle of finding a good homemade baby wipe solution for your change table.
I’ve been experimenting with everything from distilled water to sensitive skin solutions and finally, after much research, trial, and error, I’ve put together my three favorite wipes solution recipes right here for you. So let’s dive right in and make some DIY homemade baby wipe solutions that are non-irritating, cleansing, and perfect for cloth diapers:
My Three Favorite Homemade Wipes Solution Recipes
1) The Simple Solution
- Warm water
Yup, my first “recipe” is just plain old water. This extreme version of “water wipes” are both simple and effective. Grab a cloth and some from the tap and you’re good to go!
Wait, Can You Just Use Water With Cloth Wipes?
Yes! You can use water from the sink to wet your cloth wipes and then store them in your wipe warmer, or just load up your spray bottle with water and have it at the ready.
Distilled Water vs. Tap Water
The main difference between distilled water and tap water is that tap water contains more minerals. This is because companies that sell distilled water make it by boiling water and then condensing the collected steam back into a liquid. This process removes impurities and minerals from the water.
Do you need this level of purification for baby wipes? Probably not. Let’s face facts, you’re using it to clean up feces and urine from your baby’s bottom here, and you’re probably not bathing baby in distilled water, so there’s no health reason to use it during diaper changes.
Distilled water also doesn’t prevent mold any better than tap water so it doesn’t help you to store the wipes longer. This is because most water distillation methods allow trace elements and compounds to survive that can easily grow mold under the right conditions; especially conditions like wet fabric that’s been previously used to clean a dirty bum and then washed in detergent.
2. The Moisturizing Solution
- 2 tbs coconut oil
- 2 cups warm water
Plain old coconut oil is great on it’s own for a wipe solution, but because of it’s higher cost, watering it down is a great way to make a DIY wipe solution that is both great for wipes and will save money.
Wait, I Can Use Just Any Old Coconut Oil?
Yes, but I find fractionated coconut oil easier to use in this case, and it will be necessary if you choose to use your solution in a spray bottle.
Fractionated coconut oil, also called MCT oil, is virgin coconut oil that’s been distilled, allowing long-chain fatty acids to be removed. What remains is an ultralight, odorless oil that stays liquid in form at all times and at cooler temperatures. Since it stays in liquid form, you don’t have to worry about it clogging a spray bottle or clumping up on your wipes. I personally use Nutiva MCT oil (which I get at Costco, but here is the Amazon link so you can have a look) as that’s what I have on hand for my KETO coffee, but any fractioned oil will do for wipes. And of course, if you’re willing to work with the clumps at cooler temperatures, any old coconut oil can work.
Is Coconut Oil Safe for Cloth Diapers?
Yes, coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, etc. are all safe for cloth diapers, though they may leave a grease stain if they soak into one spot of the fabric. If grease spots are left on your cloth diapers from any of these natural oils, you can remove them by pre-treating the diaper before washing with your regular, preferably liquid, detergent (ie. put your laundry load’s detergent on the stained diaper rather than in the drum or detergent dispenser).
Coconut Oil Substitutions
The coconut oil in this wipe mixture is there to add a moisture-protecting layer on top of your baby’s skin as well as adding some slickness to help make cleaning easier.
Adding a moisture-protecting layer on top of the skin is particularly beneficial for preemies or babies with sensitive skin, but it can also be helpful to those babies who have eczema or who easily get moisture rashes.
With that said, not all cloth diaper parents like coconut oil, and some tell me it actually feels drying to them. Luckily, this wipes solution can easily be modified by changing the type of oil you use.
Olive oil, almond oil, and of course baby oil are three great substitutions to use if you’re not a fan of coconut oil or have a coconut allergy. Do not swap the coconut oil for any other oil I haven’t mentioned before having a look at my list of ingredients to avoid below
3. Basic Cloth Wipe Solution Recipe
- 2 tbs gentle baby wash
- 2 cups warm water
This basic recipe combines your favorite baby body wash and water to create a stronger cleansing solution.
The baby wash in this recipe is there to help cleanse the skin more effectively. I recommend choosing a gentle, ph balanced baby shampoo or baby wash like Puracy Natural Baby Shampoo and Body Wash which will not dry the skin out like harsher soaps can.
This recipe can be adapted by changing the type of baby soap, but before making any substitutions, please see my list of ingredients to avoid below and the next section on castile soap.
Baby Soap Substitutions (With a Caution Note About Castile Soaps)
Castile soap is another popular choice among many parents for wipe solutions and can be used here as a substitute for the baby wash. Dr. Bronners Baby-Mild Castile Liquid Soap (Amazon link) is a popular choice, as is Earth Mama Organics Calming Lavender Castile Baby Wash (Earth Mama website link).
A caution here though; while soap is gentle, it also doesn’t behave like commercial baby washes, which have things called surfactants in them. When mixed with hard water, soaps like castile soap leave films on surfaces, including your baby’s bum, so rinsing them clean with additional water will be necessary.
Soaps also work best in warm water, so if using soap it would benefit you to mix your solution each day with warm water and keep it warm if possible (like in a wipe warmer).
A Caution About Using Soap Solutions on Baby’s Bottom
If you’re using a soap solution to clean your baby’s bum at every change I highly recommend using a diaper cream (even an all-natural one like coconut oil, olive oil, or aloe vera) at every diaper change.
The soaps and commercial baby washes can remove the natural oils from baby’s skin and change the ph significantly if left on the skin. Using a good barrier cream or oil will help prevent that from causing irritation.
Why Not Combine the Soap and Oil into One Solution?
Many of the cloth wipes solution recipes you’ll find online say to combine an oil with a soap. I don’t think the authors of those solution recipes understand how soap works, which is no fault of their own, most people don’t.
If you’ll permit me the short science lesson, the baby wash cleansers you buy from the store often have mild surfactants added to them to cleanse dirt and oils then and wash cleanly off the skin. The molecules in these surfactants have two ends: one end of soap molecules love water – they are hydrophilic. The other end of soap molecules hate water – they are hydrophobic.
Hydrophobic ends of soap molecule attach to oils and dirt. Hydrophilic ends stick out into the water.
If you mix soap and oil, all of the soap’s hydrophobic ends (the ends that attach to dirt and oils) will attach to the oil you’re mixing it with. If the soap attaches to the oil you’re mixing in with it, it won’t have any ends left to attach to the dirt you’re trying to clean up.
The oil makes the soap useless, and vice-versa.
So mixing the two in a cloth wipe solution you want to use to remove dirt doesn’t make any sense when looking at how those ingredients work.
What Ingredients Should You AVOID in Baby Wipes?
1. Essential Oils
I know, in your search for the perfect baby cloth wipe solution recipe you’ve read countless blogs and social media posts telling you to use things like lavender essential oil, tea tree oil, and assorted other essential oils.
I take the risks far more seriously than that and don’t recommend using those ingredients on your baby’s genitalia, especially considering how often you’ll be using your wipes solution on your baby.
Here’s the facts those other sources are ignoring:
- Children have skin that is much thinner than our own. Though studies on using essential oils on children are limited, and those that have been done are not conclusive, there has been red flags raised about the topical application of lavender essential oil and tea tree oil onto the skin of young children (NIEHS, 2020).
- Though these oils are popular, and big business — the essential oils market is expected to reach $15,618.8 million in 2026. (Kumar, et al., June 2020) — the testing done on them for safety has been limited, and the regulations imposed on them have been few. Labeling of essential oils is not federally regulated, and as a result, many are sold with no indication of what they’re made up to be used for. It’s the wild west out there when it comes to essential oils safety.
- Essential oil packaging can be faulty and dangerous. Poison centers across the U.S. received more than 17,000 calls about children under age five who were exposed to essential oils in 2018. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to keep essential oils away from young children. (Crumley, 2020).
If you choose to use essential oils, don’t keep them at the changing table or anywhere that’s accessible to your baby or toddler.
Aside from storing them safely, if you do decide to go ahead and use essential oils on your baby, also consult your pediatrician first, and recognize that even promoters of essential oils on children recommend not using any essential oils on children under three months of age and not using tea tree oil (a very common ingredient in other DIY wipe solution recipes) before six months of age. (Harper, 2016).
Another thing to avoid in your baby wipes solution is alcohol. Alcohol is not good for baby’s thin and delicate skin as it will dry it out quickly. Alcohol will also dry out your wipes, which means you’ll need to use more of them with every change.
Vinegar is very useful in the cloth diaper world, just check out this post about how it can help in the laundry room. But while it may seem like a natural fit for wipe solution, being anti-fungal in nature and a food substance, it’s not a good idea.
Putting vinegar, even apple cider vinegar, on your baby’s skin is not a good idea because it can cause irritation. I know I sound like a broken record, but your baby’s skin is very thin and sensitive and vinegar can cause chemical burns, and it may damage an infant’s sensitive skin (Gál, 2018).
How Do You Use Your DIY Wipe Solution With Your Cloth Wipes?
Once you have your solution made up, you have two good options: Make some homemade cloth baby wipes, or make a diaper wet spray.
Which method you choose is going to be a personal preference. Myself, at home I liked using a spray bottle, but outside of the house I like pre-wetting some and putting them into a travel wipe sachet (specifically one of those cheap, Huggies ones, but they do have nicer looking ones if you’re looking for something nice).
1) How Do You Make Homemade Wet Wipes?
To make your own wet wipes that you can use just like disposable wipes, you just need to pre-wet a certain number ahead of time. Simply put some wipes in an old disposable wipes container, a mason jar, a suitable plastic container, or a fancy wipes warmer and pour the solution over them.
2) How Do You Make a Diaper Wipe Spray?
If you don’t like the idea of pre-soaking your wipes, you pay prefer to make a diaper wipe spray. Doing that is as simple as putting your solution into a good spray bottle ( I love this continuous spray one I found on Amazon), and then spraying it directly onto baby, or onto your clean wipe before wiping baby at change time.
How Long Does a Homemade Wipe Solution Last?
As long as you keep the container you store it in clean, your homemade wipe solution itself will last for about the same length of time as a regular store-bought wipe solution. This means you should be able to use it up long before it “goes bad,”, especially with young babies who are going to be changed often.
If you’re using your wipe solution to pre-wet your cloth wipes, it will only last a few days before they can become musty and potentially grow mildew. If using these wipes in a wipe warmer (my choice for the best wipe warmer for cloth wipes is the Prince Lionheart Warmies Wipe Warmer) I don’t like to put more than a day’s worth in at a time as that warmth can encourage mildew growth to happen quickly.
More Information on Cloth Wipes and Cloth Diaper DIY
I hope this article helped you to make DIY homemade baby wipe solution that is non-irritating, all-natural and perfect for cloth diapers.
Whether you’re using cloth wipes, or even making DIY disposable wipes out of paper towels to cut down on chemical exposure, I hope seeing how simple wipe solutions can be will help you stick with it, and love the whole process.
And who knows, you may just find yourself using your wipes in messy baby situations you’d normally use commercial wipes, like for face washing, sticky fingers, and more!
If you’d like more information on using cloth wipes, you can check out my simple guide to reusable cloth baby wipes here. And if you’re looking for more cloth diaper DIY info you may want to click over to out my posts on DIY cloth diaper liners here, and cloth diaper fabrics guide for sewers here.
- Crumley, Nora. (2020, November 01). Health Alerts: Essential oils, hand sanitizers, OTC drugs, and more. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) News. Retrieved from: https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/11/01/healthalerts110120
- Edgar, Julie. (Last Reviewed: 2016, September 06). Are Tea Tree and Lavender Oils Safe for Kids? WebMD. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20160906/tea-tree-lavender-oils-safe-kids
- Essential Oils. (Last Reviewed: 2020, November 03). National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Retrieved from: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/essential-oils/index.cfm
- Flaman, Zorina, et al. (2001, February). Unintentional exposure of young children to camphor and eucalyptus oils. Pediatrics & Child Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804512/
- Gál, Kat. (Last Reviewed: 2018, September 25). Can apple cider vinegar help with eczema? Medical News Today. Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323160
- Harper, Emma. (2016, July 1). Safe Essential Oils for Babies and How to Use Them. Healthline Parenthood. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/essential-oils-for-babies
- Kumar, Sumesh, et al. (2020, June). Essential Oils Market Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2019–2026. Allied Market Research. Retrieved from: https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/essential-oils-market
- Simple Science: The Difference Between Soap and Detergent. Nyco Products Company. Retrieved from: https://www.nycoproducts.com/resources/blog/simple-science-the-difference-between-soap-and-detergent/
- Watson, Kathryn. (Last Reviewed: 2019, September 25). Is Aloe Vera an Effective Treatment for Rashes? Healthline. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/skin/aloe-vera-for-rash