Friday, June 5, 2009

Homemade Wipes

For a while, I tried using cloth wipes. It wasn't too bad, I just washed them with the cloth diapers; but I missed the convenience of having a pre-moistened wipe (or several!) at my fingertips at the exact moment I needed them. I wasn't sure about the practicality of keeping cloth wipes wet as by that point, my daughter was having dirty diapers only once a day.

The first time I made disposable wipes, I found they got moldy before I could get them used. Yuck! I checked with a couple of bloggers who had posted about making wipes (there are TONS out there) and Joy @ Five J's, who posted her recipe at Happy To Be @ Home, suggested keeping the extra wipes in the refrigerator. I also add either Tea Tree Oil or Grapefruit Seed Extract, which I have leftover from our battles with thrush.

So, my recipe is as follows:

Homemade Baby Wipes

1 Roll Bounty Select-A-Size Paper Towels
2 cups water from the filter pitcher
1+ Tbs baby oil
1+ Tbs baby wash
10 drops Tea Tree Oil

Other supplies: electric knife to cut the paper towels, or serrated knife. I had much better luck with the electric knife. Two pop-up baby wipe containers. Bowl large enough to hold the half roll of paper towels. Piece of plastic wrap.

I finally had to buy baby oil, but I am still using baby wash we received for shower gifts two years ago because I use a moisturizing wash as Goose tends to get patches of dry skin. (That's part of the reason she usually only gets a bath twice a week anyway.) If your little one is sensitive to mineral oil, you can sub out a number of other types of oil. If you know that he or she is sensitive, you probably know better what to use than I would. :>) It's OK to use the good stuff, because you need such a small amount each batch that it'll really go far.

Once you cut your paper towels in half by whatever means necessary, I recommend you take them outside or put them over a trashcan and brush/wipe the cut edge with your hands to get as much of the floof off as you can. Otherwise it ends up in your wipes container and around your changing table area.

I warm my water a bit in the microwave on the theory that things will mix better. I squirt the oil and baby wash (separately!) into the measuring spoon and squirt in a bit of extra after filling the tablespoon. One T didn't seem like enough, 1-1/2 seems a bit much. After adding the wash and oils, I use my measuring spoon to stir it up, then I spoon several . . . spoonfuls of the solution over the paper towels, then pour. For whatever reason, our society can put a man on the moon but we can't make a measuring cup that pours well! Once the water level gets down a bit, I go ahead and pour the rest on. Let this sit for half an hour or so. If it hasn't soaked all the way to the bottom of the roll when you're ready to go to the next step, that's OK; it will even out after it sits in the container for a while.

You can also experiment with how much water you need - it'll depend on the brand of paper towels you use and how much you allow the cardboard tube to suck up. I use two full cups of water and let the tube get fully saturated so it pulls out more easily. You can use less water and pull the tube out earlier if you prefer.

If you have a round wipes container, you can just plop the roll in there, pull out the tube and pull the wipes out from the middle. I like my rectangular containers, though, so I unroll a bit of the towels from the outside, I fold them in my hand as shown. After I get a pretty good pile going, I put them in the container and then use both hands to unroll - I've found it's easier to start the folds in my hand, though.

With only one hand unrolling, I've found it's easiest to rest the roll on the "catching" hand (my left hand) with the loose end on the left side of the roll (the hole is towards me, so I could peek through it). I grab the bottom of the roll, and twist counter-clockwise as far as I can to get it to unroll a ways, fold the towels hanging down on my hand, and rest the roll on top of the folds to repeat. (It's much easier to DO than it is to explain!) If you get a partial tear, it'll still work fine. If you get a complete tear, you'll just have to go fishing for the next one when you get to that point.

I've found that half a roll fits in two of my wipes containers. I put one on the changing table and the other, I put in the refrigerator. Before closing the lid, I lay a piece of plastic wrap over the wipes so they don't dry out in the refrigerator.

If you find your wipes are too wet, try leaving the lid (not just the pop up lid - the whole lid) open for half an hour, then flip the wipes over, close the lid, and let them sit for a couple of hours. It's amazing how the water redistributes! Repeat if necessary. If they are too dry, sprinkle a TEASPOON or two of water over the top, close the lid and let sit for a couple of hours, repeating if necessary.

If you don't care if they pop up, you can also tear the wipes at this point and just lay them in your container. If you only have one suitable container, store your extras in a zip top bag or other airtight container in the refrigerator. You could use a rubbermaid/tupperware sort of thing, or even a jar, so long as it sealed well. These also work well for faces, hands, and other messes!

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not use these in the diaper bag. This is because I like to have it full and ready to go at a moment's notice, and because we don't go places very often, I think the wipes would likely mold and/or dry out by the time we got them used up. So, I buy a large-ish box of regular wipes and use those instead. I still think we're coming out ahead.

For more Frugal Friday posts, visit Life As Mom.

PS - I've been doing a bunch of "freezer cooking" lately - you can check it out here!


Whitney said...

Great idea. After I make it through my stash of free wipes, I may try this. Thanks for sharing!

Jenny @ The Zepf Life said...

I had not heard of adding tree oil, is that what keeps it from getting moldy? Plus, we use two packs a week, so they don't have time to get moldy.