We’ve been cloth diapering since about a week after our daughter came home from the hospital. I know cloth diapers aren’t for everyone, but we knew from the beginning it was something we wanted to tackle. When I was pregnant, I spent hours researching different types of diapers, creams, wipes, and wipe solution. All my hours of research paid off, because we are super happy with our cloth diapering system.
I’ve written in-depth about the cloth diapers we used (BumGenius Freetime all-in-one diapers exclusively), but this post is covering the flannel wipes that we used for years. For some reason, for me, cloth wipes seemed like more of a mental roadblock to overcome than the diapers themselves. But I was absolutely sold after using them the first time! They clean better than the disposable wipes we’ve used. They are easy on soft baby bums. They wash up beautifully. And I love that I never have to buy packs of wipes.
What’s the best fabric to use for fabric wipes?
There are a lot of different cloth wipes you can use. Some people buy specially made, two-ply, bamboo, gold-plated, hand-sewn, organic wipes for like $10 a pop. I am not one of those people. I went the simple route and made my own single-ply flannel wipes. I purchased flannel fabric, but you can also upcycle old flannel sheets, pillowcases, receiving blankets, pajamas, or shirts. I like flannel because it is very soft, washes well, and it does a great job of cleaning. Plus, I can tell you after using these wipes for cloth diapering for 3+ years—it holds up beautifully. Our original set of cloth wipes were still in great shape when our daughter got out of diapers.
Should I do one-ply wipes or two-ply wipes?
I prefer two-ply wipes for cleaning, but for bum-wiping, I think one-ply wipes are the best bet. They are still soft and absorbent, but they also thin enough that I can easily stack the wipes in our wipe warmer to come out one at a time. This doesn’t seem like a big deal until you have a wiggly baby covered in poop on the changing table and you need to quickly, and easily grab wipes.
How do I make flannel baby wipes?
Flannel wipes are an absolute breeze to make, it’s really just two steps (with an extra third step that is purely aesthetic).
Step 1: Cut your Wipes
The size of the wipe is up to you, but for easy folding and fitting in containers that are meant for disposable wipes, I went with a standard eight-inch square. Cut out as many wipes as you think you’ll need. We’ve worked with a set of 36 for one baby for months but ended up adding an extra 20 once she got a little older and we needed to clean up non-diapering messes, too. You can get about 20 eight-inch square wipes from one yard of 40″ wide flannel.
You can cut the fabric using regular scissors, but a rotary cutter, mat, and clear ruler set makes quick work of it!
Step 2: Round the corners of the wipes (optional)
You could leave the corners as right-angles, or you can do what I did and round the corners. Personally, I find the rounded corners easier to sew (no stopping, pivoting, and starting again). Plus, they look cute, and I think they pull out of the wipes container a little easier.
To round the corners, I just took each wipe, folded it into quarters, and used a sharp pair of scissors to round the corners. You could be more precise about it and trace around a small bowl using a fabric marking pen, but I figure these are just bum wipes. They certainly don’t need to be perfect.
Step 3: Finish the edges
Since these wipes are going to be washed frequently, you need to finish the edges to make sure they don’t unravel. You can do this easily and quickly if you have a serger available to you, but many folks don’t, so here are two other options:
Finish using pinking shears
You can make these no-sew flannel baby wipes by using pinking shears to cut around the edge of the wipes. The pinking pattern helps keep the wipes from unraveling—although it’s not quite as sturdy as sewing the edges.
Finish using the overlock stitch on your sewing machine
Most sewing machines have an overlock stitch (or a few different overlock stitches). Check your manual. If you don’t have an overlock stitch, you can also use a standard zig-zag stitch. My machine also comes with an overlock foot, which makes it easier to line up right at the edge of the wipe, but it definitely isn’t a necessity. Our goal here is to get the stitch to wrap right around the edge of the fabric to “seal” it closed.
I stitch all the way around the wipe—making sure to stitch back and forth at the beginning and end to really secure the thread. This whole process takes me about 30 seconds.
And then…it’s done. That’s it! I can make a few dozen of these wipes per hour, no problem.
Do I need to do anything special when I was these wipes?
When you go to wash them the first time, the edges will ravel a bit, but it ends up giving the wipes a nice frayed look. Our wipes have gone through the washer a bajillion times (approximately), and we haven’t had a single one unravel. They still look great! Just like you would with cloth diapers, make sure to wash them using the hot/sanitize setting on your washer, and make sure to wash them separately from other laundry to keep everything sanitary.
What’s the best solution to use with these wipes?
We tested a bunch of different wipes solutions over our cloth diapering years, and our favorite wipes solutions was this Diaper Lotion Potion concentrate. Because we live in a hot and humid area, wipes did tend to get a little mildewy in the summer, so we added 2-3 drops of tea tree essential oil to the mix every time we made it stop mildew.
What’s the best wipes container to use with these wipes?
We originally went with this wipe container, and it’s great (works wonderfully with these flannel wipes), but we quickly realized that cold wipes would shock our baby awake in the middle of the night. Cold wipes turned middle-of-the-night diaper changes into scream fests! So we invested in this wipe warmer, and there were no more tears during diaper changes! We love, love, love that wipe warmer (and it’s totally something I thought was a ridiculous purchase pre-baby).
Can I give these flannel wipes as a gift?
These flannel wipes make a wonderful homemade baby gift! If you want to gift them, just either stack or roll them nicely, and tie them with a pretty ribbon. You could even throw in a bottle of my favorite wipe solution and cloth-diaper friendly rash stick for a really easy, thoughtful, and affordable gift.