Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How to make cloth wipes

I continue to think a lot about how we can reduce the amount of waste our household generates. The boys can be generous with their use of toilet paper, and even when TP use is modest per, um, application, the total does add up over time.

I also continue to think about how we can live more simply, which for me, includes having less stuff. So, I'd been wondering about that stash of soft, flannel baby receiving blankets in the bottom drawer. Certainly, I could donate them. Or, they'd also make a great material with which to test the cloth wipe concept...!

The fabric: My sewing assistant, T, helped me smooth out and measure the receiving blanket on our "cutting mat," the living room carpet:

The size: What size is good for wipes? We decided to try 8" x 6" rectangles. Perfect! We were able to cut 16 pieces:

Hemming: I knew that, on their own, the edges would fray. For the cleanest edge, I could have sewn two fabric layers together, right sides together, and then turned the rectangle inside out. A simple zigzag around the edges would have achieved a similar goal. But, these are "just" wipes! A little fraying wouldn't be a problem...

Never mind that I've had this lovely Husqvarna sewing machince for eight+ years. I'd never tried out all of the fancy stitches. With nothing to lose, my assistant and I tried out stitches with abandon!

Action!: While I "steered" the needle across the fabric, my trusty assistant manned the foot pedal:

The wipes: Here's a sampling of our finished product:

The presentation: A little basket in the bathroom for storing the wipes would be nice. Or, you could use a glass napkin holder to do the job:

Update, August 17, 2007:

  • As expected, the edges are doing some fraying. This is ok.
  • The 8"x6" size is very convenient.
  • I'm planning on sewing up a second batch for our other bathrooms. I think I may try the cleaner hemming method (for 4"x6" wipes, as I'll fold the fabric rectangles in half), just to see how that works out for us.
  • We've washed the used wipes (we've only used them for #1) right along with our other laundry -- no presoaking or any other special treatment -- and they've come out beautifully.


  1. I think this is a great idea. We use reusable cloth wipes for our babe in diapers but it's never occurred to me to use them for us. Thanks for the idea.

  2. I bought some cloth wipes before my daughter was born. I didn't start using them for myself until she was about a year old. I've finally convinced my husband to use them at least part of the time and now we're running out of wipes too fast, so I'm making a supplemental stash. I found your blog while looking for some simple instructions. I hope you don't mind that I linked your instructions in my latest blog entry entitled :Reduce, Reuse, Recycling Tips