Parenting · Pontifications · Product Reviews · Rants · Twins

Diaper Wipes vs. Reusable Wash Cloths


While other parents adore disposable baby wipes, I am just happy we have good ole wash cloths. And I say that without pretense — I’m not advocating for saving the world one shit-rag at a time or whatever. If you’re a mom like me than you’re at least not alone out there, I guess is what I’m getting at. Sometimes the most convenient things, at least for some of us, are a little less convenient than the throw away style the 21st century may champion. And we aren’t all just homogenous parenting folks…

What prompted this post was that I see and hear people get a little weirded out that I don’t use disposable wipes. I get cute preachings about how wonderful baby wipes are and even people proselytizing like I’m truly missing out on one of the great parenting conveniences. In addition, I see tons of rave reviews on the topic of disposable diaper wipes – even amid the fear-driven throng of bacteria ridden wipe outrages. Disposable wipes are championed and cheered on by moms at all four corners. Sure, I am happy they find these products really amazing. That’s great. For them. But I wonder, sometimes, if it’s less about a real analysis of re-usable vs. disposable baby wipes or just the popular perception based on a lot of love for the most used current product. That’s kind of a market strategy in general.

I’ve even found ‘conflicted’ people who are disingenuous about their like of cloth wipes because they tout a granola lifestyle that advocating for such a thing as disposable wipes would be hypocritical. But some of those moms love their disposable wipes. In reality, convenience is based on how we really live, why we live that way, and a lot of other personal whatnots — not just the ideology we like to think we’re living. But even if you opt to know the name and life-story of every animal and plant you consume, your kids can’t have food coloring and your meta-analysis of you and your family’s carbon footprint keeps you awake at night, you still might hate cloth wipes… as much as a Hummer-driving-carpool mom with a lot on her plate might find cloth wipes absolutely amazing verses disposable… yet very few of such people might be honest about how they really feel. If it goes against the grain it’s hard to digest… especially if what we think is right is something different than we thought at first blush (and I’m talking about more than wipes here, too).

For me, I am slightly conflicted. I feel like I’m over here emulating my own mother as a still avid fan of reusable wash cloths and some water, and, if necessary, some mild-ass soap. And, yes, as a kid we hated the wash cloth but only because she was a crazy lady with them. If you sniffled, even 50 yards out, she assumed you had a snot gobbler and she was going to wipe your face until it was RAW to make sure no boogers were present. I had a huge complex about blowing my nose until I was older because of that. At least now I ‘get’ why she had a wash cloth in her bag all day, every day — little kid faces can become gross deposit zones for dirt, food, boogers, and… everything. I’m just less passionate about the torture unless it’s pre or post a meal, and/or we’re going in public. Also, unlike my mom, I don’t pre-wet them and put them in a plastic bag, I just carry a bag and a bottle of water or my Camelbak (yes, we do buy bottled water but we live on well water that’s high in sodium and other mineral content).

A simple wet cloth works better, faster, stronger and are, ultimately, less of a burden for my family.


Now, I want to stress that have nothing against  other people loving diaper wipes, I’m not sanctomommying your choices here. For us, the fact they cost roughly $20-$40 a month with twins to supply us with more garbage was a big ‘nope’ factor — we were on a screwed tight budget. And sometimes still are. I successfully cloth diaper the girls beyond 7-8 months (after which we were burnt the fuck out — not just with the diapers but with construction, not having a dishwasher without a name, and all the other chores we didn’t get to handle with having preemies — AND our money finally loosened up so, yeah, disposable diapers were fine), but we never stopped using our reusable wipes. Ever. In the NICU we’d never used pre-made wipes, either, we used sterile water on little woven gauze pads. When we finally came home from baby-jail, people had been amazingly generous and gave us disposable wipes at my baby-shower, but after we ran out of those in the first couple of weeks home I have never had the urgent need to buy more.

I just didn’t like them. And I sincerely wanted to like them. But I just didn’t.

My rationale stemmed from a lot of experiences that year. I had, had no issue with water and a little gauze in the NICU, although both me and the nurses seemed to go through a ton of them to get the job done, just like with any disposable wipe. Yet, with the premade disposables, after using a wipe I’d have to end with a wet washcloth to rinse my kids’ rear ends or risk their butts going cherry red and raw. Once the wipes were gone, we only had butt-rash during teething periods (and, I know, they say that doesn’t correlate scientifically but whenever — my kids teething meant I was going to need to deal with raw diaper rash that would miraculously clear after the tooth popped through — that’s how it’s been) . This was true even when we used their nightly disposables. In addition to the fact my hands were dry-cracked and (sometimes) bloodied from doing so many dishes and constantly using alcohol hand sanitizers (we didn’t have a dishwasher at the time), well, everything pretty much burnt my hands to touch and disposable wipes were one of the worst. Using hand sanitizer was the actual worst, I should note. I wasn’t into it. Tacking on the reality it took a handful of disposables to do the same job a nice piece of terry-cloth could pick up, and I wasn’t as enchanted as I thought I would be. I mean, it took TONS of disposable wipes to get a mass-event diaper cleaned up. A task that, at most, three wash cloths could handle.

I’ll probably never be ‘sold’ on wipes like that. But I am content in what money we did save and how we’ve gotten through the wipe scenerio. I can’t wait until my kids can use the toilet themselves… and our bidet…

I know we like to champion the awesomeness of mommy likenesses but the reality is that not everything in parenting will work with or for you like it does for everyone else or even like you perceive. And there is something to be said about the old-fashioned or ‘analogue’ methodologies that might work for you.

Well, maybe not that extreme… unless it’s your thing. 🙂


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