Whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, you need baby wipes in some shape or form. And while I may be completely sold on cloth diapering, as I've confessed before, I'm still not a fan of cloth wipes! They're fine for wet diapers, but messy changes make me shudder. However, once I finished the stash of giant wipes refills that I'd stockpiled (they were great deals with sales/coupons), I knew I was going to have to find a better solution. Yes, there are deals and coupons for wipes, but even the "unscented" wipes are loaded with chemicals, and I don't really want to have to keep up with all the sales to find a decent deal.
After some browsing around the internet, I came across the idea of making your own disposable wipes. There are various instructions, but most of them involve soaking half a roll of paper towels in a tub of water. Some advise adding tea tree oil to prevent mildewing, and others include ingredients like baby body wash/shampoo, lavender, etc. I knew I wasn't going to try the wipes-in-water, since I'm not a huge fan of standing water (and adding stuff to the water to keep it "fresh" doesn't appeal to me). Plus, added ingredients equals more steps/complication. So I decided to try "dry" wipes instead.
In the photo above you can see the rather simple solution to my wipes dilemma:
- A roll of Viva paper towels, cut in half on our miter saw (Viva is super soft, and also very strong). You can also use an electric knife, a little hand saw, or even a large serrated knife.
- A peri bottle filled with filtered water and some baking soda -- I think I bonded emotionally with this wonder-bottle in the weeks after giving birth! *wink* It works so much better than a spray bottle for wetting the baby wipes (and for dozens of other purposes, for that matter!).
You can also sort of see my extremely expensive changing table in the picture. How many baby changing tables come with an "Extra Rinse" cycle? Granted, this changing table probably cost several hundred dollars new (I'm not sure, since it came with the house), but it includes soothing vibrations (AKA the Spin Cycle) that Little Man finds very amusing during diaper changes. With cloth diapering, I've found changing diapers on the washing machine to be convenient and economical (the dryer would probably be easier, but since our laundry closet is barely big enough for both appliances, I use the dryer top to store our laundry baskets). A folded bath towel from our stock of gym/spill/work towels does the trick as a changing pad -- it's super soft, and when it's soiled I can easily toss it in the laundry basket and grab another one.
Anyway, back to wipes...
When it's time for a change, I pull a few sheets off the roll, place them on an old Cool Whip lid, and squirt some water in the center to wet them. The only disadvantage is having to pull off the sheets before each change -- I'm thinking a paper towel holder might make that task easier.
So how much do I save?
The going prices for Huggies and Pampers baby wipes (purchased in bulk) on Amazon.com is about $0.02 to $0.03 per wipe. That's about what you'll pay in store with a sale and a coupon, or for a store-brand wipe. The natural brands like Seventh Generation run about $0.04 per wipe.
My 6-pack of Viva paper towels cost a little less than $9.00 at Walmart -- I've seen better prices on sale, but haven't managed to grab one yet. Each roll is cut in half (12 rolls total), and each roll has 100 sheets. That equals out to 3/4 of a cent per wipe! Considering that I'm also avoiding wiping chemicals and preservatives on tender baby skin, I think it's a win-win. Granted, I think I use *slightly* more homemade wipes than store-bought per change, so I'll estimate my total cost as a penny "per wipe." I've cut my costs by half (at the very least), and I don't have to worry about finding great sales.
I'm much happier with my homemade wipes, too -- I can control exactly how wet they are, and now find that store bought wipes are often too dry for my taste. I go through my water fast enough that it doesn't go stale, but if it did I can just dump it and refill it.
I could cut costs even more by purchasing a cheaper brand of paper towels, but I love the flannel-like softness of Viva -- as well as the durability! The last thing I want is for a cheapo towel to disintegrate while I'm wiping up a major incident! *wink*
I keep a few packs of disposable wipes for travel purposes (my local Publix accepts the Winn-Dixie baby club coupons I receive monthly, so a 72-pack of unscented wipes is just $1.15), but I've found it so freeing to have an option that's cheap, healthy, and effective, even if there's no sale!
So yes, this is not the most eco-friendly solution in the universe. And yes, I am trying to use more cloth wipes for wet diapers. But for me, this is a frugal solution that works, and works well.