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Cloth Wipes 101

By Amalah

Hi Amy!

I’m 37 weeks pregnant and admit that I’ve religiously followed both your pregnancy column, and all baby-related questions you’ve answered. (Okay, I really just follow your entire column religiously). When I was attempting to convince my husband to cloth diaper, he heard all kinds of advice and pointers that my “friend” had given me on her experience. I’m sure I was so not-suave about it, he probably thinks I have an imaginary friend or something. Who just happens to really love to talk about cloth diapering.

Anyways, I’ve convinced him to grudgingly and reluctantly give cloth a try. After many, many hours of obsessive blog reading and online shopping, I’m now the proud owner of 11 BumGenius and 12 FuzziBunz diapers, both in the one size styles. [Grain of salt sidenote: without a real live baby to experiment on, I think the new FB look awesome!].

My question actually relates to the various squares of knit, flannel, and terrycloth that I’ve also managed to acquire. At the risk of sounding super-obsessive, how, exactly does the whole cloth wipes thing work? We have the Prince Lionheart warmer, and I bought a bottle of diaper lotion potion concentrate from Kissaluvs. But how do I go from there? Do I have to make cute little wipe rolls like on the box (fitting maybe a dozen) or can I just fold the wipes in half, lazy-style, and fit closer to 24, which I’m guessing will be closer to what we’ll need for a couple days worth of changes? All in all, I’d say I have a stash of close to 40 wipes. Do I mix up some water and ‘potion’ and pour it over the wipes, or do I need to make a bowl of solution, and dip everything first? Is a pricey “potion” even necessary, or will water and a little baby wash do the trick? Is the “stayfresh” pillow even necessary with cloth, or is it just for disposable wipes? Please tell me that there’s some sort of system for all this, because right now it’s sounding like I could be adding a whole lot more work to the cloth diapering deal.

thanks for all the great baby advice you’ve already given,

PS. I’ve been put on modified bedrest by my doc due to blood pressure issues. So, if this question sounds just a tad on the obsessive side, please bear in mind that I have kitchen cabinets that need to be cleaned out, drawers to reorganize, filthy baseboards, bottles that aren’t yet sterilized, and I’m not allowed to leave the couch. Virtual internet research nesting is all I’ve got right now! I must have a preplanned wipe system!

Let me promise you one thing: cloth wipes are EASY. Like, stupid easy. But like all things baby-related, they’re also easy overthink and over-accessorize.

First up: That diaper potion. I assume you’re talking about this one, probably in the concentrated version? (Since you’re mentioning using it as a wipe solution.) Huge thing that I simply must say: one of the ingredients is essential lavender oil. DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT ON A BABY BOY. Oh my God, this drives me insane, the number of baby products that still contain lavender oil. (Update January 2016: Amalah has been gradually changing her conservative position on lavender oil in children’s personal care products. Her latest view on lavender oils in children’s products can be found here. FYI– Her opinion from 2012 can be found here.)  Lavender oil, in its “pure” form, has been found to cause hormone changes and breast growth in prepubertal boys. (Personally, I’m not really sure I’d use it on a baby girl either, if there’s a chance it could unnaturally boost her estrogen levels.) Sorry to get all up on a yelly soapbox, but everybody: please double-check your baby’s lotions, shampoos, soaps, diaper balms, etc. and see if they contain lavender (or tea tree) oil. Especially if you’re a fan of the natural-type brands and formulations. (Note that lavender “fragrance” is different, and usually artificial or very diluted.)

Ahem. So! Obviously, I don’t use that particular wipe solution. I use bumGenius Bottom Spray, which emphatically does NOT contain either suspect oil (or parabens or phthalates). I never mix it into the wipes. Just spray it directly on the butt, Bob. And I only use it occasionally — not every change, just the messy ones when a wipe and water could use a little boost in power. This means a single bottle lasts for a long, long time.

As for the wipes and the warmer — every time I’ve recommended the warmer someone has most emphatically disagreed with its necessity, so let me just get this out of the way: I don’t give a baby rat’s ass about the TEMPERATURE of the wipes, I just care about the CONVENIENCE. If I had to trek over to the bathroom sink to individually wet a cloth wipe for every diaper change (while wrangling a poopy-butted baby in the other arm) I would NOT be using cloth wipes. That’s just me. I’m all for the environment and the long-term cost savings of cloth wipes, but I also love, love, love those convenient pop-up tubs of disposable wipes. I like having a nice fat stash of wet wipes ready to go right on my changing table, and I like being able to go back and grab a second or third wipe if things are a little messier than I first anticipated.

So for that purpose, the wipe warmer is a glorious thing. We started out rolling each precious little wipe like they show you on the package, but pretty soon just started folding them in half and dumping as many in as possible. After I wash them (and I wash them with the diapers), I either take them damp right from the washer or toss a big dry pile in the sink and wet them all at once. Fold quickly, toss in warmer on top of the wet stay-fresh pillow (yes, you want that — everything dries out otherwise), and then I usually add a small cup of water on top just to make sure there’s enough moisture to keep things wet for a few days. If you notice that the pillow is scalding or stuff is drying out, just pour more water in.

My advice regarding your 40-odd wipes would be to dedicate about half of them to regular rotation and put the rest away for later, in a place where they aren’t taking up valuable space. You aren’t going to be able to cram that many in the warmer, and you’ll be doing diaper laundry frequently enough that the wipes will be getting cleaned at a nice steady clip. Cloth wipes do fray and wear out, so you can replace them as needed with the rest of your stash.

I do want to say onnnnne last thing, about cloth diapering in general: it might not be your most favorite thing at first, with a newborn. I’ve personally never cloth diapered a newborn, but have known quite a few moms who tried it and quit in frustration, usually because their beloved, adorable diapers didn’t FIT, or because the volume of dirty diapers was absolutely beyond anything they’d expected. Personally, if we do have another baby (My Husband: HA. HA HAHAHA.), I will opt for a cloth diaper service for the first couple months and wait until the baby is bigger before switching to one-size pocket diapers. (I do think the “one-size” promise is overstating things a little — newborns are TEENY and it’s tough to say a diaper designed to last through toddlerhood is going to fit properly, no matter how much snapping and cinching is involved.) I’m not saying this to give you One More Thing to obsess about from the couch, but just want to make sure you know that 1) it’s okay to come home from the hospital with a couple packages of Pampers, and 2) cloth diapering does NOT have to be an all-or-nothing, right-from-the-get-go undertaking. You can be a successful, long-term cloth user who reaps all the cost-savings and environmental benefits…after you settle in and figure everything else out first, because SERIOUSLY.

Published May 5, 2010. Last updated October 29, 2017.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Ms. K

    May 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    On the other side of the cloth-diapering universe, some people just use washcloths. Yep. Cheap white washclothes bought for $2/dozen at Target. Wet with water from the sink.
    (And the logistics are easy: just wet the cloth before removing the diaper. Or keep a bottle of water at the changing area and glug a little onto a dry washcloth from the pile you keep in the changing area. Easy, easy. Just toss in the diaper pail along with the diaper when you’re done.)

  • Elizabeth

    May 5, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    We use an old hard wipes container and just fold them in half and then pour in some water to get the whole stack wet. Periodically the bottom ones will dry out before being used, which means a quick top-off. This couldn’t be simpler and easier and work any better.
    Also, on the cloth-for-newborns front: we did it and loved it. They do go through so many diapers and that made me glad we were doing it. I had a stash of newborn prefolds (which are like $1 each) and a half dozen size 00 covers (from Craig’s List) and that got us through the first month or maybe even 6 weeks, although my babies are small, just over 6 lbs. Total cost was like $25, so a small percentage of our overall cloth investment. And more than worth it in terms of cute!

  • Kelly J

    May 5, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    In terms of cloth diapering a newborn, I had fantastic luck with XS Fuzzibunz. I also have several friends who have done well using newborn-sized prefolds, Snappies, and different covers. You may find some helpful info for diapering a newborn here –

  • Megan

    May 5, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    We use cloth wipes, but we don’t use a warmer. Like Amy, we just dump a pile in the sink and get them all damp at once (I find that the spin cycle on our washer gets them too dry to use, so wetting is a must). Then we fold them in half and stack them in a food storage container from Target. Since I end up doing laundry every 2-3 days anyway, they stay plenty damp and we always have wipes ready to go.

  • JCF

    May 5, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Fuzzi Bunz and BumGenius one size are so great, and you will love them–once your baby hits 10-11 pounds or so. You will not be happy if you try to use them on a teeny newborn; the poop will squirt out those leg holes with every diaper. I don’t know what 7lb. baby the manufacturers tested them on to claim they fit 7-35lbs. but in my experience, and in the experience of many of my friends, they just don’t fit for the first month or two.
    If you want to cloth diaper from birth (which I highly recommend–we’ve done it with both of our kids), you will need to get yourself a newborn-specific stash. I recommend going 1 of 2 directions (or a combo of the two). Either get 3 dozen infant sized prefolds and a couple of Snappis, or 3 dozen Kissaluvs 0 diapers. For both options, the Thirsties Duo Size 1 or Thirsties XS covers are great at keeping newborn poop contained. 5-6 covers is a sufficient number, in my experience. Whatever you decide to do, good luck and have fun cloth diapering!

  • kenandbelly

    May 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    I’m with Amy on the convenience factor being of the utmost importance, second only to the no-scary chemical requirement. Our solution was to keep a bottle of water with a sport top (for one-handed opening) at the diaper station and to just pour a bit of water on a sturdy paper towel (in the early days when we used disposables–the adjust-a-size ones were the easiest to work with and, bonus, are more biodegradable than most wipes) or a small soft cloth (when we switched to cloth diapers). Really easy. No warmer to deal with. Room temperature water never seemed to be too cold– a lot of the time, the sensation of cold we get from traditional wet wipes has to do with the alcohol evaporation anyway.

  • Bethysmalls

    May 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I cloth diapered a newborn but we didn’t have pocket diapers in the beginning. We had just the bummis starter kit and an array of hand me downs. It was simple as pie and everything fit our little guy no problem. (Like this only pre-organic—>
    Also I use a homemade solution for the wipes that, omg, uses Tea Tree Oil! Thankfully, my little boy has had no reactions, ahem, but I will certainly take that out of the recipe which is as follows:
    4c water
    1/4c olive oil
    1/8c baby shampoo
    (The amount of essential oil was really small, 2 drops per batch, but it is no big deal without it so.)
    I just didn’t think I could deal with buying ANOTHER thing so we just use regular olive oil and whatever shampoo we have. It’s really easy. and if we run out and don’t have time to make more right away, we just use water. Even easier.
    good luck!

  • Elizabeth_K

    May 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    I cloth diapered (and cloth wiped) both of my babies, from when they were newborns, and of course (as always) I agree with Amalah. I stole several packages of diapers from the hospital, and we used those up with both babies before switching to cloth. Both babies seemed TEENSY in the diapers when we first put newborn cloth on them, and there are A LOT of diapers at the beginning, but — eh — they are weensy, so still just one load of laundry a day. We keep our cloth wipes in a big Tupperware container on our changing table, and we use baby oil and baby soap in a recipe we found online — but, you know, easier is better. I think you’ll love it — we love cloth diapers, especially how cute the babies look in them!

  • Stefanie

    May 5, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I really wanted to cloth diaper as well. We did a service at first, but since I had to wash the diaper covers anyway, it didn’t really save on that much laundry. I also didn’t like the way that, with prefolds and covers, as soon as she peed even once she was all wet. The pocket diapers seem to be much better at wicking the moisture away. And even the newborn size (up to 10 pounds) covers were so big that the first time I put one on my daughter my husband and I had a 10 minute laughing fit because she looked so ridiculous. I might try to CD again with the pocket diapers, but I’m glad I canceled the service and decided to go disposable for a while, like Amalah said, until I get this whole thing figured out.
    We had the warmer too for the same reason that Amy did, but for some reason mine got all mildewy. I had collected a zillion inexpensive washcloths, but within a month the warmer appeared to have mildew so we discontinued its use and went about wreaking havoc on the environment with our disposable wipes and diapers. And we have plenty to clean up with the zillion washcloths.

  • Megan

    May 5, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Seriously. That last paragraph is golden…just because things don’t work the first week doesn’t mean that it won’t work eventually. I wish I had heard that before my son was born.
    Also, we just keep the wipes rolled but dry on the changing table along with an insulated thermos of water. That has worked out perfectly. As many wipes as needed and no dirty baby wrangling. The warm temp was also nice for middle of the night changes when he was really little.

  • Geeg

    May 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Um, regarding the lavender oil soap box, it seems that there may be more to the story: I really love this column, but it seems to me that we should look at all the information available toward making informed decisions, rather than accept the very limited results of a single study as the basis to adopt an avoid-at-all-costs mentality.

  • Kristen

    May 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    We used the bumGenius All In One XS diapers from the very beginning. They fit well on baby girl, and she came home at 6lbs 9ozs. She’s up to 8.5 lbs now and they still fit great. It’s been absolutely no different from using disposable diapers, other than making sure we pay attention to when it’s time to wash again.
    We were given a TON of wipes before she was born, so we’re working through those…but I expect we’ll switch to cloth wipes before it’s all said and done.

  • Kate

    May 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    I knew about the lavender oil but not the tea tree oil which is scary since I have a diaper rash cream that uses it (which will now be going in the trash).
    We’ve been cloth diapering for about 10 months now (we did disposables for the first 6 weeks or so) and have never used anything except water to wet our wipes. For months we wet them one or two at a time which wasn’t a big deal since you can practically reach the sink from the changing table. Then about a month ago I saw on another website that she folded her cloth wipes into each other, put them in a used a disposable wipes box, poured water over them and then had pop-up wet wipes! It’s not perfect (for example I’ve found that when you get to the bottom few you have to open the box) but it doesn’t require electricity.
    We also just use baby washcloths instead of special “wipes.” When my mother saw that I was registered for cloth wipes she told me she that’s what she had done. I was able to pick a bunch up at a second-hand sale for less than 25 cents a piece and they’ve worked out great. Based on a suggestion I had seen multiple places on line I also cut up an old receiving blanket to use as wipes but I don’t recommend that. They work fine as wipes but they get all bunched up into a wad in the wash.

  • eva

    May 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Here’s what we did – keep a tub of washcloths at the change table along with a rubbermaid bottle full of water. Just squirt water on a cloth and you have a wet wipe, no warmer required! We used this bottle with the straw removed:

  • Meghan

    May 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Follow-up question – when you have non-BF poop on cloth wipes do you have to rinse them off before going in the diaper pail/wash?

  • Susan

    May 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    I have made my own wipes solution from the get-go, first using flannel squares and then switching to Scott’s half-sheet paper towels (they are so thick and big – anytime I have to use a regular baby wipe I get poop everywhere because I’m used to a heftier wipe).
    My recipe (and there are a bazillion more of them online): mix 1 T olive oil with 1 T aloe vera gel. Add 1 tsp liquid castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s or the like), stir well. Add 8 oz. warm water, stir well.
    I fold the paper towels in half and they fit into a 7th Generation plastic wipe tub. Pour the solution over the paper towels and let absorb into all the towels (if they seem soggy, add a few more paper towels). I use flushable gDiaper inserts and the paper towels get flushed right along with the insert, so no poopy wipes to deal with. You could certainly soak cloth wipes in the same way (and by not using a warmer, they won’t dry out – UNLESS YOUR HUSBAND LEAVES THE LID OFF, bless his heart).
    When we used flannel squares I kept the solution in one of those pump top bottles that doctors use for alcohol and manicurists use for nail polish remover, but it was kind of messy, so I switched to the wipes box. I can also fold presoaked paper towels into my plastic travel wipes case in the diaper bag.

  • rkmama

    May 5, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    We bought a bottle of Baby Wipe Juice ( ) to mix with water for our cloth wipes and it made my son’s bottom break out in a terrible rash that has taken MONTHS to go away. At first we thought the solution was just too strong so we cut the advised dosage by 85% and it was still too much. I had no idea about the lavender oil thing either but I just dug out the bottle and sure enough, there it is, so thanks Amy for the tip-off.
    That being said, cloth wipes just make way more sense. It’s much more convenient to toss the whole mess in the dirty diaper bin than it is to pick out the icky wipes to throw them in the trash. We used the Bum Genius spray and we liked it a lot but we were going through quite a bit of it because we never had the wipe warmer.
    And I completely agree that this doesn’t need to be an all or nothing thing, Good luck!

  • Susie

    May 5, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    If/when we have baby #2, I’m TOTALLY doing cloth wipes. In fact, I may switch because you make this sound so easy. If I’d known about the wipes warmer trick, we probably would’ve done that the whole time.
    We cloth diaper and love it (also thanks to lots of these columns). We had a newborn-size rental service, so a cross between a diaper service and doing it ourselves. We had 24 nb size bumgenius for, I think, $25 a month? We got them from – I’m not sure if she is still doing the bumgenius rentals, but you can email and ask her if you’re interested. We did all the laundry. Of course, we also brought home Pampers from the hospital because we didn’t always get the laundry done quickly enough, because, um, we had a new baby. We still keep Pampers around for various occasions (like not getting the laundry done on time, because, um, we have a mobile 11-month old!)

  • stacy

    May 5, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I still have not made the plunge into reusable diaper wipes!! I use cotton pads dipped in a bowl of water (after my midwife yelled at me for using commercial wipes and insisted on cotton and water! yeesh! – though I still use the commercial wipes on the go). I can’t get past the whole, tossing poopoo wipes into the diaper pail aspect… I know, I know… it’s just, we flush poo now, so what about all that *real food* poo?? and it’s touching everything now!! help??
    When my little girl was born, we had ordered a packaged mixture of newborn diapers and pre-folds/covers from Nikki’s Diapers and it really helped us determine what we liked and didn’t. We liked pocket diapers, fitted diapers with covers, and pre-folds with Snappi’s and covers.
    With a newborn, I probably went through an average of 10 pre-folds in a day. I didn’t have to use too many covers — I had 4 total I think. If a little bit of poo leaked, I just rinsed it in the sink and hung it over the shower curtain to dry. Breastfed poop is pretty much entirely inoffensive and water soluble.
    *She did not fit into the one-size diapers very well in the beginning, as Amy mentions. I definitely preferred the pre-folds since I had 2 dozen and if she had just a little squirt of poo I felt like it was fine to just throw on a new pre-fold, whereas I hoarded my much cuter diapers for when we went out and hated when I had to change a pocket diaper only 5 minutes after I put it on!* 🙂
    Once she started solid food, we started using flushable liners or rice paper liners to contain the poo. With liners, I much prefer the pocket diapers. The liners just don’t slide around as much as with prefolds or fitted diapers (for me). For just around the house I’ll throw on a pre-fold or if we’ve got an hour before bathtime or we’re getting low on pockets, but 90% of the time she is in BumGenius. (I do love FB’s but I was given my BG’s so – free)
    congrats on the impending little one!

  • Julie

    May 5, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I totally agree with the “one more thing”. We did disposable diapers the first couple of weeks home from the hospital. When you have a new baby and are trying to figure out everything else at the same time, and they have the little scrawny chicken legs that the cloth diapers don’t close around, having one less thing to worry about is nice. Not having all the extra laundry when you’re still sleeping whenever you’re not nursing is nice. And in our case, having a nice stash of disposables on hand when the washer broke down the day before I was planning to switch to cloth was also nice.
    I also found that the silly disposable diapers that have the strip that changes color when the baby pees are worth it for the first few days. I never would have bought them, but since the hospital gave us free samples we used them. And then I bought one more package. Because those first few nights, when the baby is crying and you can’t figure out why, and you haven’t gotten the hang of swaddling and dealing with clothes and being able to tell if a diaper is wet without having to remove all the layers to get a finger in or peek in, that little blue strip was nice. It meant that I didn’t have to constantly be unswaddling and reswaddling every time I had a “well, he was dry a minute ago, but maybe he peed since then” moment when trying to calm a crying baby. Instead, I could just undo enough of the blanket or sleep sack to take a quick peek at the outside, and was good to go. We only used them at night, and use the cheap ones during the day.
    After the first few days, you quickly become a pro at decoding the “I’m tired” vs “I’m wet” vs “I’m hungry” cries, and get very good at judging if a diaper needs changing without removing any clothing to do so, but it takes a few days to get the system down.

  • Kay

    May 5, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Well, I will admit it… I really like the cloth wipes warmer. I know it’s not all that necessary (I’ve used cold water on baby’s bum too and I don’t think she cares), but I find it pleasant to reach into the warmer and have a nice warm washcloth ready. It’s a little thing, but sometimes even a small luxury makes mamahood a bit easier. 🙂
    I fold the wipes in half, then run the whole stack under the sink, then put them in the warmer. I don’t use any wipes solution, just water and the everfresh pillow.
    One this is for sure… warm or cold, solution or plain water, I REALLY think cloth wipes are the way to go. Ours are terrycloh (basically washcloths) and, once I got used to how well they clean everything in one swipe, the disposable wipes seem so flimsy and slimy.

  • Trish

    May 5, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    We are another cheap Target washcloth family. However, instead of using water with them, we keep a bottle of Curel on hand, and coat her tush with that. Not only does it provide a nice, protective layer against diaper rash, but my wee one’s skin is very prone to dryness (like her mother) and pretty much soaks it up before the diaper even touches her, so we’ve never had to worry about it disturbing the effectiveness of the BG. Also, the really sticky poos wipe off much easier if you add lotion. To go out, we just put some lubed-up washcloths in a sandwich bag.
    We also used the newborn diapers the first two weeks until stumpy went away. The stump just freaked me out and I was very worried about it getting caught on anything.

  • Emily

    May 5, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    anyone used the G-diapers? I’ve got my husband convinced he can do those, but he’s not all into the cloth. Baby isn’t here yet, so still in the “wonder if those are good” phase of thinking.

  • Erin

    May 5, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    A few things. First, I’m FREAKING OUT ABOUT THIS TEA TREE OIL THING. I don’t use lavender, but I’ve used TTO in wipe solution (not anymore) and I also use it in the cleaner I make for my bathroom. IS MY BABY BOY GOING TO GROW BOOBS? He plays in the bathroom a lot. (Not as gross as it sounds. I clean a lot.) But. Scary.
    Also, I just use washcloths and old baby blankets cut up for wipes, too. I also use disposable wipes when I’m out and about (in the spirit of it doesn’t need to be all or nothing. Also, since we change our son in the bathroom every time, I end up being very close to the sink. I can just wet a wipe without leaving him on the table. It’s nice.
    Finally, in terms of cloth diapering a newborn, I would almost definitely recommend prefolds. I know they sound all scary, but you won’t even have to pin them. Because that baby WON’T MOVE AROUND ON YOU. And you can reuse covers throughout the day and prefolds are way cheaper so you can have 10,000 of them, and they also make great burp clothes. If those BumGenius don’t fit right away, don’t despair! Just do prefolds for a couple of months until the baby starts to move around a bit, or puts on some weight…and then you’ll be golden. And the BEST thing, because you’ll only use them for such a short time, you can resell them or put them away for baby #2. No waste!

  • Jen W

    May 5, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    We started with the BumGenius XS Bamboo diapers with Thirsties Covers (alas, the Bamboo is discontinued.) and that took us from birth (6 lbs) to about 10 lbs.
    As for cloth wipes, we have 75 cloth wipes which are essentially 6×7 washcloths my mom made. They are flannel on one side and terrycloth on the other. We keep a spray bottle next to the changing table with a solution of Castile soap, baby oil and water. We just spray on as needed. We don’t keep the wipes wet all the time. It works great. We keep the wipes and a travel spray bottle in the diaper bag. No issues and my twins are 6 months old now. Occasionally for really unpleasant cleanups I will wet the wipes in the sink, but the vast majority of the time the little sprayer does the trick. We spray it onto the wipe, but have occasionally sprayed directly onto the babies, and while they startle a little at the cold jolt on their diaper area, they have survived.
    I honestly think disposable wipes with cloth diapers would be a bigger pain, since you’d have to have a trash can and a diaper pail. I am content to dump it all in the same load of laundry and be done with it. Plus we never run out of wipes.

  • Joanna

    May 5, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Thank you–this couldn’t be more timely. Inspired by reading your cloth diapering 101 articles, I switched from disposables when my son was ten months old, but I just didn’t “get” the cloth wipes process. Today I finally picked up a Prince Lionheart warmer and some Warmies, resolved to write in to the Smackdown requesting…this very topic. So, thanks for always staying a few steps ahead of me! I read and love pretty much everything you write.

  • Dana

    May 5, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Another vote for not over-thinking the cloth wipes. I had a ton of cheap baby washcloths. For each change, wet one with water from sink. Or, keep your perineum cleansing bottle from the hospital, fill with water and use to wet wipes as required.
    Also, if you have a particularly nasty change to do, try putting an old fashioned cloth prefold diaper or a towel under baby’s bottom and spray them down with warm water from peri bottle.
    My kids have sensitive skin so less is more for anything (particularly natural essential oils type stuff, which I tend to be quite sensitive to myself). Fuzzibunz, baby washcloths, water, that was it. Once they started sleeping long periods at night I’d use disposables at night with Vaseline on their bums. I can tell this strategy worked for me because, after 3 children, I still have the very first tube of diaper rash cream I bought for before the first kid was born.

  • miriam

    May 5, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Ditto for Geeg:
    Could we please calm down on the tea tree oil and lavender oil? We are not feeding these things to our kids, nor are we marinating them in them.
    For the kissaluvs concentrate– easy. Follow directions on bottle and dilute with witch hazel (which is mostly alcohol OMG).
    I used the bottle they gave me at the hospital to spray my hemorrhoids (bike bottle also good idea). I keep it full by the bedside, and squirt the wipe. Then I spray the wipe with some of the lotion potion (if the wipe was dry you wouldn’t even notice). Since only half the wipe is wet, I use the dry end to sort of pat clean before I powder. A big breastfed poo (or toddler poo) may take two or more wipes– recommend the terry for those. Otherwise you’re just reassuring yourself that the peepee is off the child’s bum, so you just need one flannel type wipe (and you barely need that).
    Having the squirt bottle means I travel with the wipes dry, so I put them with the diapers and can repurpose them for wiping hands or mouths (which I really wouldn’t want to spray with the lotion potion ick sorry) or tables.

  • lindswing

    May 6, 2010 at 12:03 am

    We started out using a baby shampoo/almond baby oil/water mixture, but my diapers (BGs) kept repelling and needing to be stripped biweekly, so I switched to plain water, and it works great! We actually spray it directly on his bum with a squirt bottle if he’s not groggy and use an otherwise dry wipe. I also keep a pack of disposable wipes for final clean up on the really messy ones. And I made my wipes by buying 2 yards of flannel and cutting it into squares then stitching the edges so they don’t fray. I think I got 3 dozen (half of them double ply) for about $4 when it was all said and done?

  • Nicole

    May 6, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Hm, I didn’t know about the Tea Tree Oil, but I use it in such minute quantities I don’t think it would be that bad. And the above link about questioning the research seems to be a good one, IMHO.
    I keep a pile of cut-up receiving blankets (cut to approximately the size of a commercial wipe), and a container of my solution on a small roll-away thing next to the change table/dresser. The container is an old commercial wipes container with the lid taken off – I just dip the wipe, squeeze and it’s ready to go (none of this warming business).
    When I make the solution, it’s a couple of squirts of baby wash (whatever I happen to have around), warm water and a few drops of tea tree oil (no more than 5), and I fill the container fairly full.
    If you have fifty million receiving blankets like I did, this is a good use. Also, the blankets make excellent workout towels.

  • Kim

    May 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Emily, I used g-diapers almost exclusively for over a year with my first, mostly inserts and some cloth. My husband was fully on board, and we even composted the wet ones. This go-round, I’m trying to do as much cloth as possible. But all of my g’s are medium to large, so I got some pockets. And as much as it pains me to say anything against my beloved g-diapers – I like the pockets better, I think. I haven’t had a single leak with my BGs and Smartipants.
    I’m sll psyched up to try cloth wipes now! I’ve got some old terry bibs that I’m going to cut up.

  • Kate

    May 6, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Meghan — THIS is my question too!! and what’s held me back from cloth wipes for my whole year (!) of cloth diapering. I don’t use a diaper sprayer, I use Bummi’s flushable liners, so the poo just peels off into the toilet and, yes, it is annoying to throw the dispoable wipes in the trash and the rest in the diaper pail, but…. what about the wipes that are covered in poo? I really don’t want to dunk n’ swish them. What do other people do?
    And, I agree with everyone else that a one size diaper on a newborn just doesn’t work (even my 9 lb chunker). They don’t even fit until 10-11 lbs and even then, they’re pretty bulky. When baby #2 comes around, I plan to start off with Fuzzi Bunz XS’s, which are a little bigger than other brands’ XS’s.
    Last point — Also freaking out about the lavender! I do my final rinse cycle when I wash diapers with a drop or two of lavender oil — it’s an antiseptic and works great to remove stink. Now my little boy will have boobs?!? yikes!

  • Cristina

    May 6, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    3rd-ing the rec to keep the peri bottle, fill it with water or whatever solution you want to use, and squirt the liquid onto the wipe over the open diaper pail. Really, really easy. I like the Kissaluvs 2-sided wipes, since the loopier side is great for messier cleanups. But really, anything will work.
    For newborn diapers, we used the smallest size prefolds and had 4 Bummis Super Whisper Wraps (we could’ve maybe done with 6, but I was able to do laundry every day and we squeaked by). Once he grew out of those at about 6 weeks, we graduated to the next size prefolds (folded in thirds and laid flat in the cover) with Flip covers, and we’re loving them. The only adjustment we’ve made so far has been to add in a fleece liner – just a yard of plain fleece cut to the size of the folded diaper. It keeps him from waking himself up in discomfort after peeing. He’s 3 months now, and hopefully we’ll be able to keep this going until he’s on solids, then we’ll figure out if a change needs to be made.

  • Jamie @ PB&N

    May 6, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Ack! Please look at this before you put the Lavender and Tea Tree Oils are bad for boys all over the internets:

  • Karen

    May 6, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Just one more already stated comment on the wipes because.I.can’t.resist.
    I bought a couple yards of flannel fabric from Joann’s and had my mom just sew two 6″ x 6″ squares together. So fun to pick out all the cute patterns!
    No wipes warmer here, no water container (no room), no potion. I got a spray bottle from Target and put plain old water in it and that’s all we’ve used. We only use a wipe when there’s poop – spray water on wipe and apply. Pee = no wipe. No rash. None. For 8 months now.

  • Whozat

    May 7, 2010 at 12:39 am

    I also can’t resist adding my $0.02.
    We use baby washcloths for wipes. A few of them were shower gifts and are very cute (and, originally, were to be used only for bathing and never – OMG – for diapers. Yeah, whatever.) and the rest are from yard sales ($1 for a HUGE PILE) and I prefer those, because they are older and have been washed a zillion times and are softer.
    I keep my peribottle from the hospital on the changing table, full of water, and just wet a wipe when I need one.
    For the diaper bag, I have a smaller squirt bottle of water, and I roll up a washcloth inside each diaper that goes in the bag, so it’s ready to use to clean her up before putting that diaper on.
    (I also keep a few extras in the diaper bag, because poopy usually requires more than one.)
    Oh – and at one of the yardsales, a few of the “washcloths” that I bought turned out to be burpers – same material, twice as big! I try to save those for poop!
    My daughter is 18 months old, so we have some fairly (but not completely – she still nurses a LOT) mature poop.
    If there’s something solid enough to knock off into the potty, we do.
    Otherwise, we just toss it in the washer, and we’ve not had any problems.
    (Other than finding the occassional veeery clean raisin in the dryer.)

  • Jesse

    May 14, 2010 at 5:33 am

    SERIOUSLY! Stop it with the lavender/tea tree scaring! It’s becoming like the vaccination/autism hype all over again. The study you site was TINY and had some very questionable perimeters. Please do more research before scaring the bejesus out of every mom who reads this column (which is 99.99% awesome, IMHO).

    Also, cloth wipes? A basket on the bathroom counter. Wet wipe. Retrieve clean diaper. Change baby. Dump all cloth in bin. So easy, really, really easy. And you can use the wipes (clean, of course!), for spit up, and messes on the go.

  • SaltwaterMom

    May 14, 2010 at 11:49 am

    My daughter is three and a half weeks old, and we’re working up to cloth diapers full-time. As for cloth wipes, we’re working up to that too.

    I got 75 baby washcloths at my shower. 75! I wish I was kidding. I’m taking all the patterned ones with polka dots and rubber ducks printed on them and saving those for bath time and face washing (my baby loooves her some warm face washing). All the plain, solid-coloured ones I’m reserving for bottom-wiping. Dump them in a disposable wipe container, pour water over them and away you go. Toss in wet bag or diaper [ail and laundry with the diapers.

    **NOTE** those washcloths are teeny, as are the cloth liners for diapers. Speaking from experience, they can get sucked into the pump on my front-load machine. I’ve started putting them in a mesh bag for laundering (when I remember, which is you know, one in three loads).

    As for cloth diapering from the get-go, take Amalah’s advice to heart – the first few weeks are a real mindfuck, and it is TOTALLY OKAY to use disposables for a while.

    I stocked up on bummis prefold, a few one-size AMP ( diapers and five all-in-one AMP in size small. I’ve used cloth diapers before when I was a part-time nanny putting myself through university, and I thought it would be a breeeeeeze. I planned to cloth diaper from Day 1.


    My baby is three weeks old, and we’ve only used the all-in-one diapers. The one-size and prefolds are hilariously large on her, and I feel like it hurts her hips to have her legs spread to wide by the ENORMOUS diaper. Because I only have five of them (and she’s a breastfed baby who poops at every feeding), we’re still relying on the disposable diapers while she grows into the prefolds. I use the cloth diapers (and the AMP all-in-one diapers are ADORABLE) when she’s hanging around the house in just her diaper.

  • Jenn

    July 25, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    For tiny newborns BumGenius makes an awesome AIO newborn cloth diaper that fit my baby girl (7ibs 2oz at birth) for the first six weeks (up to about 12 lbs). They may not be worth the investment for just one baby, but if you’re planning on having more than one, can get them used, or start using them right from the beginning I’d say they’re well worth it. Easy on the conscience, and my husband says he thinks they’re easier to use than disposables!

  • MamaOfTwo

    August 6, 2014 at 9:38 am

    The study on lavender oils and boys was a flawed study. They used a very small population and did not give a history of the subjects. This wasn’t an actual study and the conclusion the doctors made was based on an extremely limited sample.
    There was no analysis of the individual products the boys were using, so there’s no way to be sure it was actually the lavender oil or some other ingredient or contaminant (with more evidence of potential hormone disruption) like parabens, phthalates, or pesticides – all common in conventional care products.
    The report stated that once the boys stopped using products with these oils, the effects completely disappeared, so it seems as though whatever the culprit, it was more like a rare allergy than anything inherently toxic about the products.
    Who’s to say they weren’t using SOY? Just my two cents.