Plastic Free July Day 27: Cloth Wipes and DIY Lotion

cloth baby wipes

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Wipes are an essential as soon as you have children, every parents need them on hand. That’s why disposable wipes have become so popular, not only for kids: it’s a booming industry that grows 6-7% each year. But this is a terrible product for the environment, city sewers and our health. The UK is even considering a ban on wet wipes.


wet wipes clog sewer systems

  • Most wet wipes, standard and eco-friendly, are not recyclable and not compostable, as they are made of synthetic fibers: just like all single use plastics, they will pile up in landfills forever... or in the sewer system. There are a couple of compostable options but always check with your local waste management company as standards vary from one city to another.
  • Many people think they can flush wipes down the toilet, because of misleading marketing from manufacturers. As a result, they clog wastewater treatment facilities: it costs U.S. utilities up to $1 billion annually, according to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies
  • In yesterday’s blog post I wrote that 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown away every year. People use disposable wipes when they change their babies diapers and for emergency cleanups, at home and when they are out. How many billions of wipes does that make? And I’m only talking babies wipes here...
  • Just like diapers, standard wipes are most of the time loaded with toxic ingredients: fragrances, paraben, phenoxyethanol and more. Make sure to read the ingredients list before purchasing.


reusable baby cloth wipes

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I didn’t do cloth diapers with my kids but I was the master of cloth wipes!

With my first born I started by using lots and lots of disposable cottons to change her diapers. I quickly realized it was very expensive. I came across reusable wipes online, I was curious to try. After a few days I was convinced!

I’m a french mom, both my girls were born in France. Over there, we don’t use wet wipes to change diapers, we use “liniment”, a natural lotion that looks like a thick cream. That’s why we use lots of disposable cotton squares and no wet wipes.

There are many cloth wipes online now, like these ones in organic cotton.

I definitely recommend using natural fibers like bamboo and organic cotton, flannel and terry being the most popular types of fabric. You’ll find many on Etsy.

Another recommendation: if you choose printed wipes, ask the maker how the fabric was dyed. Personally, I always prefer unbleached wipes without dyes, just like cloth diapers.

Instead of buying new you can also purchase some fabric and sew a set. Just make sure the store owner knows how the fabric was made and that it’s truly eco-friendly.

Cloth wipes routine

Keep a stack on the changing table (20 is a good amount). When it's diaper time, put some lotion on them (“french” recipe in the next part), clean your baby’s cute bottom and place the wipe in a bucket. If it’s too soiled, rinse it and put it in your next laundry. Easy peasy.

When you are going out, bring a wet bag with you for the dirty cloth wipes. You’ll wash them when you come back home.


baby cloth wipes and liniment oleo calcaire lotion


This baby lotion is just fantastic: it cleans and moisturizes, you don’t need to rinse it. Because it’s made from oils, it protects really well babies very sensitive skin between each diaper change. I used it for years with my daughters, from the day they were born and they rarely had rashes. At that time I didn’t know it was possible to make it, so I used to buy from organic brands in plastic bottles unfortunately. I could have saved lots of money and avoided lots of plastic!

Over the years, I also discovered liniment was an excellent face paints and makeup remover!! That’s why most of my reusable wipes now have bright colored dots :-)

I haven’t used liniment for a while now that my daughters are older, but since I had planned to write this post, I found a recipe online (from a french website) and I made my first one! Here’s the recipe.

liniment recipe baby diaper change lotion


Some people don't like olive oil smell, that's why you can replace it or mix it with sunflower oil. 

Vitamin E is a natural preservative. If you use the lotion to change diapers, you don’t really need this ingredient, as you’ll probably make one batch a month or more.

Beeswax or candelilla wax (vegan version)  can be added to make the lotion thicker. Without it, the lotion is biphasic, it’s not a problem, you just have to shake it before use.

Essential oil: a great addition if you’re going to use the lotion as a makeup remover, but I wouldn’t use it on babies, I’d stick to the unscented version.

A more fancy version: replace 100ml of olive oil by 70ml of sunflower oil, 15ml of coconut oil, 5ml of shea butter, 5ml of beeswax and 5ml of vitamin E.

Where did I find the ingredients?

Oils were already in my kitchen, in glass bottles

I bought the beeswax in bulk in Berkeley, at Lhasa Karnak Herb Company

Limewater (food grade or cosmetic grade only): for this 1st test, because I was in a rush, I bought a bottle of limewater on Amazon. It came in a 500 ml plastic bottle, I can make 5 batches with it, it’s a lot of lotion. I’m still looking for a plastic-free option; I'll probably be able to find one online.

If you decide to try it, leave me a message, let me know what you think about it!

Happy plastic-free diaper changing!!



Look for an all natural version in a glass container or a metal tin, or make your own. This product is excellent for grown-ups boo-boos as well!


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