Written by Tracy Ariza
Cloth wipes are very handy to have on hand, whether you use cloth diapers or not. They are soft, reusable and they can be used with any wipes solution you choose.
Some people are turned off by the idea of using cloth wipes, though. They like the convenience of being able to pull a wipe from its dispenser with one hand, and have another waiting in its place.
I ended up using cloth wipes because my son has very sensitive skin. All of the commercial wipes that were available here in Spain were full of chemicals: some smelled bad, others stung his skin. Either way, I wanted to avoid them. In the United States, I would guess that there are more options available, but even if you can find a milder alternative, disposable wipes will never measure up to cloth. They contribute to waste and, in the long run, end up being more expensive because you have to keep buying them over and over again.
My cloth wipes ended up costing me nothing because I made them from old t-shirts and the clothes that my son was outgrowing. I had been working on making a baby clothes quilt anyway, so I cut extra squares of fabric from the excess cloth, and they ended up being my wipes. T-shirt jersey fabric doesn’t fray at the edges, so no sewing or finishing of the edges is necessary!
Some people like to keep their cloth wipes already moistened in solution in an old wipes container. I preferred to keep mine dry and just spray my son’s skin and wipe off the solution with a cloth wipe. By keeping them dry, I was able to keep them in a cuter container. I no longer needed plastic to maintain the humidity, and instead was able to use cloth.
Cloth wipes can be easily folded in a way that they pop up from a dispenser, whether it be an old wipes dispenser or any other container with a small slit or opening to pull the wipes from. I took advantage of that, and made a cute cloth dispenser with a small zipper opening for pulling the wipes out.
This looks complicated, but it is actually very easy. I am in no way an expert seamstress!! It will be easier to visualize the steps as you go along and actually try to make one yourself.
Here’s how I did it:
You will need:
- 1 Zipper (7 inches or longer)
- 4 Cloth rectangles (7 x 10 in.), 2 of the main fabric and 2 for the lining
- if you want to add a strap: 2 strips of fabric ( 3 x 8 in.) (I used one of each fabric, but you can use both of either fabric.)
1. Sandwich the zipper between one rectangle of your main fabric and one rectangle of the lining fabric along the edge of one of the short sides. Keep the right sides of the fabrics facing each other, and make sure the top of your zipper faces the right side of the main fabric.
2. Using your zipper foot, sew through all layers along the zipper. LEAVE ½ inch un sewn on both sides. (I forgot and had to open up the seams on either side afterwards.)
3. Pull back the fabric so that you now see the right sides and the zipper is exposed. Press the seam in place.
4. Now, on the other side,sandwich the zipper between the other two rectangles in the same way as before, meaning that the right sides of the fabric should be facing each other, and the top of the zipper should face the main fabric. You can see in the picture that you will be covering up the other rectangles from before.
5. Once again, sew along the zipper, through the 3 layers, with a zipper foot in place, LEAVING a ½ inch unsewn on either side.
6. Pull back the fabric to expose the zipper again, and press the seam. You now have the zipper neatly in place.
7. Flip the rectangles so that both main fabric rectangles and both lining rectangles come together.
8. Sew along the bottom edges of both the main fabric and lining rectangles. Leave a small opening (a couple of inches wide) in the center of the lining seam. You will be using this opening to turn the dispenser right side out at the end.
9. Line up the new seams with the zipper as shown in the picture.
10. Make yourself a strap by placing your cloth strips together, right sides facing each other, and sewing along the edges and one end of your cloth strips, forming a tube. Flip the tube right side out and stitch around the edges, if you like.
11. The side where the zipper sits when closed is the side where you will want to attach your strap. Fold your strap into a loop with the right sides facing outward. Slip it between the zipper and the new seam of the main fabric with the open ends of the loop facing that side.
12. Having left ½ inch on either side of the fabric unsewn, you can pull the lining fabric aside and have better access to the other layers. Sew across those layers, including the zipper, the open ends of the strap and the two layers of your main fabric.
13. Now sew across the lining fabric edges on the same side. You will NOT be including the zipper or any of the main fabric this time.
14. Repeat on the other side; begin by sewing the zipper together with the main fabric. You do NOT want to sew the loop of the strap into this seam this time; it should remain inside the layers of your main fabric.
15. Sew up the last side of the lining layers. BEFORE YOU DO THIS STEP, though, open the zipper at least half way open! (If you don’t open the zipper, you won’t be able to turn your dispenser right side out!)
16. To make the dispenser boxy so that it is cute and can stand up on its own, you have to sew and cut off the four corners of both the main fabric and the lining. To do so, fold the fabric as shown in the picture.
17. Draw a line across the first corner, sew a seam across that line, and then cut off the excess fabric. Repeat on all other 7 corners, making sure to measure and draw your line in the same place for each one. I used the corner that I had already cut off as a sort of template.
18. Now, through the opening that you left in your lining, pull the dispenser right side out!!
19. Hand sew the small opening in your lining closed, and you are finished!
How to Use:
To use the wipes dispenser, fold your wipes so that they will pop up on their own. Once you have a stack of wipes ready, put them into your dispenser and pull the top wipe out of the zipper opening. You can now close the zipper most of the way, leaving a small opening for pulling out your wipes.
As you pull each wipe out, the next wipe will follow in its place, ready for you to use it!!
I keep a spray bottle of homemade wipes solution next to my dispenser for use with my cloth wipes. This is what I use:
Homemade Cloth Wipes Solution
- 2 cups water
- 1 TB organic oil (I used coconut oil in the summer (when liquid), and have also tried argan Oil and olive oil)
- 1 TB liquid soap or gentle bath gel
- A few drops of essential oil can be added optionally (where to purchase therapeutic grade essential oils).
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Mix together all of your ingredients in a spray bottle. Done!
How about you?
Do you use cloth wipes? How do you store them? And what do you use for a solution? Share with us in the comments below.