Call me a sucker. When I first found out I was expecting, perhaps within the same hour of letting the future grandparents know, I was checking out suggestions for baby registries and recommended supply lists. Part of my drive to acquire all things Baby came from that age-old desire for new stuff. (Wasn’t it Thoreau who cautioned, “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes”? Clearly, he was never pregnant.)
But an even larger measure of my drive was fueled by fear. I wanted to make sure that I had supplies on hand for every possible contingency – from poop to apocalypse – which turned out some days to be the same thing.
To simplify one of the many “must-have” purchasing decisions when it comes to baby needs, consider making your own baby wipes. I can think of four reasons why you should:
- To control what contacts your baby’s skin
- To save money
- To eliminate trips to the store
- To reduce trash with reusable wipes
What this solution costs for ingredients as shown:
$.09 Dr. Bronner’s Castile Liquid Soap with Organic Oils
$.64 Dr. Bronner’s Organic & Fair Trade Coconut Oil
$.40 Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil.
$.31 Organic Lavender Essential Oil
For the disposable wipes shown (160 wipes on that half roll), add $.67 for each batch.
For the washable wipes shown (a stack of 15), add a one-time cost of $9.45.
These wipes are not just for babies or for bottoms. Keep them on hand to wipe anybody’s sticky hands or messy faces.
Ha! Take that, Baby Marketing Machine!
Special thanks to my niece Alora for her show-stealing cameo!
Wipes Solution Recipe
- 1 ½ c. (360 mL) warm distilled or filtered water
- 1 tsp. (5 mL) Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented Castile Liquid Soap
- 1 ½ Tbsp. (22 mL) Dr. Bronner’s Organic Coconut Oil, warmed to a liquid
- 9 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
- 4 drops Lavender Essential Oil
Add all liquid ingredients to a jar and shake well to combine.
- For Disposable: Place half a paper towel roll in a jar and pour the solution over. After a few minutes, pull the cardboard tube out of the middle. Wipes dispense from the middle.
- For Reusable: Pour solution into a small spray bottle. Spray baby’s bottom, and wipe with a soft cloth. OR Place soft cloths in a container or wipe warmer and pour solution over them.
You may also want to check out my post on Washing Cloth Diapers.
There are so many overwhelming choices for the tea tree oil and the lavender oil, what brand should I use?
HI Margueritie – Go for an organic option that says “pure essential oil.” Yes, there are many on the market, but so long as it’s organic and undiluted, it should be fine.
I just wanted to leave this bit of info for anyone looking for something similar. I’ve been making this recipe for literal years now and from what I’ve experienced it has a fairly long shelf life. As my daughter grew and diaper changes became more infrequent, I didn’t pay attention to how long a batch would be sitting in the spray bottle but NEVER noticed rancidity, discoloration, or anything else indicating it had gone bad. I used fractionated coconut oil and stored in an amber glass spray bottle. Hope this is helpful to someone!
Hi, If I use them for just hand wipes, does it matter which GIY recipes I use? I was going to throw them in a reusable silicone baggie for road trips. I noticed the GIY recipes vary just a little in both of your videos. Thank you!
Hi Mike- The Housecleaning wipes have slightly more soap action, but either recipe would work great for this use!
Hi Lisa – I’m curious how the recipe would change if using grated Dr. Bronner’s bar soap (unscented). Specifically:
(1) how much grated bar soap is needed,
(2) is the coconut oil necessary with bar soap (I know it is for the liquid soap version (per your Feb 19, 2020 response below), but I also know that the bar soap is “superfatted” with hemp seed and jojoba oils while the liquid soap is not superfatted (per your Liquid vs Bar post)…so I’m not sure) and
(3) if yes to (2), how much coconut oil?
I’m moving to plastic-free on bath and body and don’t mind the extra work of grating–and have found that a Microplane grater and warm water works great for dissolving.
Hi Danielle- Great questions! You would need a very small amount of grated bar soap – like ¼ tsp. I think the coconut oil would still be a good addition because it provides lubrication, but feel free to experiment with it to your liking.
Thanks so much for this post! I was very frustrated because I wanted to make my own baby wipes and the recipe I found used witch hazel and aloe vera gel as well Dr. Bronner’s soap and a few other ingredients, but the witch hazel and aloe vera gel both contain phenoxyethanol and add to the cost. I have a couple of questions. How long can I expect the solution to stay fresh on the paper towels at this dilution? Do you recommend to use any natural spray or moisturizer after wiping?
Hi Kate- Depending on the temperature at which these are kept, I would estimate they would stay fresh for about a week. If they are kept warm, or the room is warm, that would shorten the time. For afterwards, using pure coconut oil makes a great moisturizer to prevent chaffing and other irritation.
Hi Lisa, You could solve the problem By using fractionated coconut oil. It does not harden. I purchase mine from Amazon but just noticed my local Walmart now carries it.
I have read so many “recipes” for personal wipes that call for Castile Soap. I finally have found a Castile Soap expert, so I ask this question to you: Why is there no need to rinse? Can you explain?
Hi Amy- A common question. It all comes down to dilution and the presence of water. Water is attracted to one end of the soap molecule. Oil and grime are attracted to the other. As you wipe surfaces, the soap molecules are going to grab the dirt/grime. The water molecule is going to grab the dirt molecule. The wipe is going to pick all that up.
Great recipe! Just wondering how long the solution will stay good for in a spray bottle? I know with other recipes you have to be careful with getting a musty smell. Thank you!
Hi Meghan- I have found the All-Purpose Spray, whether made with Castile Soap or Sal Suds, lasts at least a month, probably longer but I run out of it. If it is smelling “off” to you, then dump and remake. If you go through it rather slowly, make smaller batches so it doesn’t sit around.
Hola, para salir a pasear o viajes llevas la toallitas reutilizables para limpiar a tu bebé? Que envases usas para guardar tus toallitas reutilizables cuando sales?
Hola Martha… ¡Muy buena pregunta! Las toallitas reutilizables son ideales para usar cuando salgas. Las puedes guardar en una bolsa plastica reutilizable… simplemete enjuage la bolsa regularmente.
Hi Martha – Excellent question! The GIY Baby wipes are great for on-the-go use. You can keep them in a reusable plastic pouch that you rinse out regularly.
can you use this recipe using CLOTH wipes instead of paper towels?
Hi Ann- When using reusable wipes, place soft cloths in a container or wipe warmer and pour solution over them. Or, pour the solution into a small spray bottle, spray baby’s bottom, and wipe with a soft cloth.
Can you use the peppermint scents dr Bronners soap?
Hi Jamie- Since the peppermint has such a tingly/cooling sensation, I would not choose this for baby wipes. I think the sensation could startle and upset them. If you are planning on using these wipes on older children or yourself, the Peppermint Castile will work fine.
Thank you! They will be for older children mostly for hands 🙂 1 year and over
It’s all I have right now but have unscented on the way!
Is the coconut oil necessary? It’s seldom warm enough in our home for the coconut oil to be in a liquid state. I’m wanting to put this in a small spray bottle and use it as needed for freshening up. Also, any tips on getting the pH down to the natural pH of skin? Thanks!
Hi Cheri- You do need an oil. Olive oil would be a good alternative. There’s no way to get the pH down, unless you leave the soap out of it. While pH matters some to skin, it’s not as much as you might think. Here’s a blog post with more on pH and the skin: https://www.lisabronner.com/skin-health-ph-and-dr-bronners-soap/
If you want to use coconut oil and are concerned about the liquid state, you can purchase fractionated coconut oil which is liquid to begin with and never turns to a solid. Not sure, however, if it is organic or what processes it has to go through to remain liquid.
Hi Leanne – Yep, the fractionated coconut oil has a much lower melting point than virgin coconut oil. Fractionated oil contains only certain (i.e. a “fraction”) of the fatty acids of the whole oil. It’s missing the lauric acid, which is the primary fatty acid in coconut oil, and has a much higher melting point. Lauric acid contains many of the health benefits associated with coconut oil, but it’s also what makes the coconut oil solid. The fractionating process is done through cooling and heating, capturing the different oils as they melt or harden at different temperatures.
hi Lisa thanks for the recipe. Can I use it for dog wipes as well? I don’t want to use disposable ones as they are not eco friendly. And for this recipe, do I need to rinse? Thanks!
Hi Kate- Yes, you sure can! There’s no need to rinse.
Great recipe! I’m new to using cloth wipes and don’t have any EOs. Is it possible just to use Dr. Bronners tea tree soap? Is there enough tea tree in the soap to keep mildew at bay or will I need to add tea tree EO as well? Thanks so much!
Hi Caroline- You don’t have to add the essential oil, but make just enough to use up in a week so the wipes stay fresh.
Just made some wipes using the Castile soap recipe. I found 2 tbsp of Castile soap and 2 tbsp of oil to be too much – it actually started to lather as I was wiping, and then left baby’s skin (and my hands) feeling a little greasy. Next time I’ll just use 1 tbsp of each. Otherwise great recipe using cheap “ingredients” that I already had on hand!
Hi Katie- It’s great that you gave this a try! With any of my recipes, use my numbers as a starting point and feel free to customize to your liking.
That’s a lot more than the recipe calls for-probably the reason for your problems.
Just leaving something I came across
“Chemicals in lavender and tea tree oil appear to be hormone disruptors”
More studies need to be done but I think for the meantime I’m going to just stay away from Lavender and Tea Tree Oil. Better to be safe than sorry.
Hi Vanessa- It’s great to be aware of the potency of essential oils, which can bring great benefit if used well and potential harm if misused. The concern about Tea Tree Oil and Lavender Oil disrupting hormones has been around for a while and is based on a 2007 article that was largely repudiated by follow-up studies. Here is a good overview of the response to the early study: https://earthmamaorganics.com/blog/how-lavender-and-tea-tree-became-labeled-as-endocrine-disruptors/. Studies to date have not found that these oils, or more accurately, the chemicals in them, affect hormones. The FDA does not regulate the essential oil market as closely as it does medications, but it does label many essential oils as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) when used as directed. The EOs used in our soaps are at 2%, a low concentration, which are then further diluted by water during use, and rinsed off. Exposure to the skin is quite minimal. Even in the studies that red-flagged these EOs, they were studies at a high concentration and in “leave-on” applications, which added up to a far higher exposure. As you point out, continued research is needed, especially in light of the growing use of and interest in EOs. I’ll continue to keep an eye on this.
We found that hospital supply dry wipes are excellent for homemade disposable baby wipes – we used the Medline brand but I’m sure other hospital brands work well too. They are softer, thicker, and larger than regular baby wipes, almost as strong as cloth, and cheap to buy in bulk on Amazon. We moistened them with just plain water, and kept them in a Munchkin wipe warmer. We also kept a bottle of water on hand for when extra wetness was needed.
Hello, I’m due in September 2020 and was wondering if and which essentials oils I could substitute tea tree oil and lavender for? I’m allergic to tea tree oil and don’t quite like the smell of lavender, but the antibacterial properties of tea tree oil sound like a must. Is there any other essential oils safe for baby use that are antibacterial?
Hi Nahimana – First off, congratulations! The Tea Tree or Lavender essential oil in this formulation is not crucial. You could leave it out. While there are many claims out there for other essential oils with antibacterial power, I am not as familiar with them. Perhaps someone with more background on them can comment here?
Hi Lisa – Very helpful post! Do you recommend a certain brand of paper towels for making the disposable wipes? That’s soft, durable, no bleaches, etc. you know 🙂 Thanks!
Hi Niki – I used Kirkland’s brand paper towels, but any high quality paper towel would work. Have fun making them!
The Container Store sells a glass container w/seal for $14. It’s 11″ x 3.5″. A standard paper towel roll is approx 11″ long. The diameter depends on what thickness you want.
I found a similar glass jar at a garage sale for $2! I made these with recycled ‘brown’ paper towels. They are made without chlorine bleach, and they seem a bit stronger to me. They turned out great!
Thanks, Lisa! Your niece is a cutie — and blessed to be born into such a conscious family.
Hi Ellie – Thanks sharing your finds!
Great GIY option, thanks! Jennifer, look at either a big box store like Costco and purchase some food such as artichokes or pickles that is sold in a large glass jar. Or search amazon. I found these two large glass jars by anchor online. https://www.amazon.com/Anchor-Hocking-1-Gallon-Heritage-Hill/dp/B01EIJ0P6W/ref=sr_1_24?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1537543042&sr=1-24&keywords=large+glass+storage+containers+with+lids
It’s great to make your own green wipes and green cleaners! Love Dr. Bronner’s products!
I’ve always wanted to make my own wipes but was always curious about putting DIY wipes into a wipes warmer. Would they dry out or maintain their moisture?
Hi Rachel – If the wipes are not being used very quickly they might dry out. A homemade wipe solution doesn’t keep as well as commercial wipes do, so only prepare enough at a time to make one batch of wipes. You can also add a little bit of the solution or some distilled water to add moisture back into the wipes.
I made baby wipes for our son and he never had a diaper rash! I used lavender Bronner Castile soap and skipped additional essential oils. I am now expecting another baby and can not wait to have these wipes on hand! They work great for washing up tiny faces, hands and bums, and I used them on my own face – they work great at removing eye makeup. My only issue was sourcing the container to hold it all. Mine have disappeared and the dollar store no longer carries round, plastic tubs. Do you have a link or suggestion as to where I can begin looking for a container? Perhaps I should consider investing in a baby wipe warmer and try the reuseable cloths, but would still like to have a portable option of the paper towel wipes. Thank you!
Hi Jennifer – I’m glad the wipes worked so well for your son! A large container is key. In the video I am using a pickle jar. A shop that sells picking supplies might have a good large jar for wipes. Enjoy your newest little one!
After searching seven stores, and numerous hours of online searching, I found a marvelous container to use when I am camping and need something both quick-access and non-breakable. Consider this 3-canister set of round Oxo Pop Containers, which I found at Crate and Barrel. https://www.crateandbarrel.com/3-piece-oxo-pop-round-containers-with-lids-set/s677381
Thank you so much for sharing. I am just wondering if the tea tree oil and lavender oil is necessary for the wipe? Thank you
Hi Feny – You can use any kind of essential oil or none at all.