DIY baby wipes
We decided to make our own baby wipes when we discovered all the ones on the market contain plastic (i.e. they are a single-use plastic); we also found a number of irritants and chemicals in commercially bought baby wipes which can aggravate delicate skin whereas more natural, organic products can do the same job without those, and they are cheaper!
The fabric that baby wipes are made of is called spunlace:
“Spunlace is a composite of different fibres and nearly always contains Polyester (PET) & Polypropylene (PP) as they are renowned for having good strength. The fibres are bonded together by chemical, mechanical, heat or solvent treatment, none of which are either woven or knitted. Other ingredients are usually viscose (made from wood pulp or bamboo pulp), wood pulp or cotton, the most common of which is PET+VISCOSE.”
Spunlace will not biodegrade or compost, potentially for hundreds of years, and therefore must not go down any toilets (it will cause blockages either in the toilet, the sewers or at the sewage plant), should not go to landfill or into the water as it will last for hundreds of years, so they need to be incinerated with the nappies which is not a sustainable solution.
93% of sewer pipe blockages in the UK are caused by baby wipes, and overflows of sewage into rivers during floods cause piles of them in rivers as well, which then may drift into the sea, causing widespread pollution. This is the main reason that Tops have now stopped buying baby wipes – until manufacturers start manufacturing without plastic.
Tops also object to the lack of labelling on baby wipe packets, particularly those marked with only the liquid ingredients instead of the wipe material as well, and the company has complained to the advertising authorities with just a polite acknowledgement as a response.
Several senior Tops nursery staff with babies have been making their own baby wipes for years, and the nursery group piloted the DIY version in their nurseries prior to deciding to change to them on a permanent basis. They are no cheaper than trade-price baby wipes for nurseries, but they are cheaper than retail prices that parents pay.
Disposable Nursery/DIY baby wipes
What you need
- 1 roll of heavy duty paper towels (NB: cheap paper towels don’t work for wipes)
- A suitable lidded container/tub/bucket – such as old wipes containers, plastic shoe box containers, old plastic coffee containers; large plastic ice cream buckets also work, as do clip-on or Tupperware type boxes
- 420ml boiled (or distilled) water – cooled but still warm. Regular water is OK if you use the wipes within a week like we do.
- 1 tablespoon of pure aloe vera
- 1 tablespoon of pure Witch Hazel Extract
- 1 teaspoon of gentle, fragrance free Liquid Castile soap
- 2 capsules of Vitamin E (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of Olive Oil (optional
- Essential Oils of choice (optional, up to 12 drops) – orange, lavender, calendula and chamomile are all good suggestions. Tea tree oil too but only for babies over 12 months.
How to make them
- Cut the roll of paper towels in half using a sharp knife (not serrated)
- If using a plastic shoe box or old wipe container, accordion fold the wipes into the container. If using a taller container , place the wipes, cut side down into the container.
- In a bowl or jug mix the water, aloe, witch hazel, castile soap, Vitamin E and olive oil and stir.
- Add essential oils if desired and stir.
- Pour over paper towels in container and allow them to absorb – this takes approx 5-10 minutes.
- Flip the container over to make sure wipes are well soaked.
- If the container you use allows, pull the cardboard roll out from inside the paper towels – doing this should also pull the innermost wipe out and start them off for you.
Depending on the brand of paper towels you use, you might need to experiment with the amount of water to get it right.
Use as you would regular wipes, and smile to yourself in the knowledge that you are helping to keep our beautiful children and the planet from future pollution-related health problems.
Reusable homemade baby wipes
If you like the disposable wipes you’ve made, you can make reusable ones also. Just cut up old t-shirts, t-towels, etc into 20 x 20cm squares. fold them into old wipes containers and pour the same mixture (above) onto them or spray onto each wipe with a spray bottle before using.
These are even cheaper and save using paper/trees, but they’re not particularly practical for day nurseries as you need to keep them to individual children, and launder every day.