How to Make Your Own Baby Wipes

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NOTE: This post was originally part of my Thrifty Tips You Can Use series. It has been updated with more information and better quality photos. For more tips, and links to related posts, please see Raising Baby on a Budget.”

I’ve used this wipes recipe for all of my children, and I absolutely love it! These wipes are very gentle on baby’s sensitive skin, and work much better than the store-bought ones. My husband prefers them because they’re “wetter,” and seem to do a better job of cleaning. The recipe can be altered to use any skin oil or baby bath you like, which is great for babies with allergies or skin sensitivities. One of my children is allergic to mineral oil, so until recently I used coconut oil, which is quite expensive. Bee’s pediatric dermatologist told me that this is unnecessary, because plain vegetable oil is a safe and inexpensive skin lubricant. We’ve actually been using canola oil because that’s what we use for cooking and baking, and there appears to be no difference whatsoever in quality.

To make the wipes, this is what you’ll need:


(1) 4-quart square or round container – (8” H x 7.25” W x 7.25” D)
(Stickers are optional, but I think they’re fun. I just cleaned and redecorated my containers for DJ, because they had girly stickers on them)

½ roll Bounty Select-A-Size paper towels (you MUST use the “super” or “giant” sized roll! If you use a standard roll the wipes will be too wet). I’ve tried many brands of select-a-size paper towels – Viva, Sparkle, Brawny – and I think that Bounty produces the best quality.

2 ½ cups hot water

2 T (tablespoons) baby bath (I use generic)

2 T (tablespoons) baby oil (if your children are sensitive to mineral oil, substitute coconut or vegetable oil)

Cutting board, serrated bread knife, quart-sized measuring cup, measuring spoons

NOTE: I purchased my Rubbermaid cylindrical containers 8 years ago, and they’re now discontinued. A round container like this is nearly impossible to find now. I’ve done extensive research (I even called Rubbermaid) because I like to give these wipes as baby shower gifts, and I’ve found that these 4-quart, square containers from Wal-Mart are an inexpensive alternative.


They cost around $3 for a pack of 2. They aren’t as easy to open and close, but they have more head space, which makes adding the liquids much easier.

To make the wipes:
Cut paper towels in half like this:


My husband does this for me because I’m a pansy.

Place towels in container, cut side down. Mix oil and bath with hot water.

Pour over towels.

Cover, flip upside down. Wait 5 minutes. Remove cardboard tube.


Start wipes from center.

Because these wipes have no chemical additives or preservatives, mold is a possibility, especially in warm weather. Be sure to keep the wipes tightly closed, and store in a cool area, away from direct sunlight. Adding 4 drops of tea tree oil (a natural antiseptic) to the liquid mixture helps deter mold. Interestingly enough, I only had a problem with mold when I was using Huggies unscented baby bath. When I switched back to generic, scented baby bath, my problem went away. I suspect that the small amount of alcohol in perfumed baby bath helps to inhibit mold growth.

For travel, you can just unravel some wipes, fold them up, and put them in your travel container. I’m more inclined to just stuff a big wad of them in a Ziploc bag, because I’m lazy. Also, please remember that these wipes must be thrown away, not flushed, or you’ll have an expensive plumber’s bill, which will completely negate your savings from making them.

It had been a while since I priced Bounty Select-A-Size paper towels so, in the interest of giving you the most accurate information, I checked prices when I was at Wal-Mart yesterday. A 6-pack currently costs $11.64 here, or $1.94 per roll. When you factor in the minimal amount of oil and baby bath, the cost of these wipes is around $1.15 per container. Remember that prices vary by geographic area, so your cost may be more or less than this. I estimate that these homemade wipes save me about $12 per month over the cheapest generic wipes on the market (Parent’s Choice – total crap, in my opinion. Unless you like your baby’s butt to be covered in lint).

Give this recipe a try. You’ll never go back to store-bought.

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Heather is a minimalist in love with a recovering packrat. 7 years ago, she and her husband sold pretty much anything that wasn't nailed down in order to pay off their mortgage, and they've been living happily debt-free ever since. They have 3 hilarious little kids who were conceived with the help of in vitro fertilization, and they haven't had a good night's sleep in the last decade. Heather is an anglophile who loves all things British, and spends her free time looking at real estate listings in Cornwall. Every day, she and her family work toward a simpler, more meaningful life. Some days are awesome, some are disastrous, and you can read about all of them here.

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66 comments… add one

  1. Anonymous January 22, 2008, 11:37 pm

    Wow, that is great! I don’t have babies anymore but we still buy baby wipes for other uses (wiping faces for example). I think I may try this. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Ariane Benefit January 23, 2008, 2:21 pm

    Thanks so much for visiting my site and leaving a comment. I’m so glad to discover your blog – I love it!!! I’m going to borrow your 10 things I need and don’t need to be happy…and I’ll link back to you when I do. All the best!

    Reply
  3. Stacey August 16, 2008, 1:45 am

    I make these wipes the exact same way with the Walmart container. It is so fun to find someone else out there with similar ideas!! Saves me so much money and I prefer them to store bought wipes. I also cloth diaper as my husband is a law student. People probably think I am crazy but I think the savings are worth it. I LOVE your schedule ideas and the binder. I am such a list type of person and was thrilled to find your “outline” that I can use! Thank you for taking the time to put all of this info on here. I think it helps stay at home moms to have a schedule to stay on top of things more.

    Reply
  4. JChester November 27, 2011, 8:35 pm

    Cool! Can’t wait to try this!

    Reply
  5. Mgarneau December 6, 2011, 2:49 pm

    Just found your site nice.  I made these for 3 kids getting ready for the 4th.
     Make Lysol wipes for the rest of the messes — 2 cups H2O 2Tbl Lysol

    Reply
  6. cafeladolcevita63 December 11, 2011, 8:29 pm

    You are so amazingly smart.  Thanks for this great tip!

    Reply
  7. Dielle December 12, 2011, 8:22 pm

    I was given the directions and all the ingredients for this as a gift when I was expecting my oldest.  It turned out to be not just thrifty but necessary when we figured out that she was allergic to pretty much any pre-made wipe on the market.  She has super sensitive skin still at 13.  I made these for my first 3 kids, but got out of the habit when they stopped making the Bounty Rinse and Reuse paper towels that didn’t stick to themselves.  We’re almost past wipes stage now that my youngest is potty training.  But I might still give it a try again.  I’d forgotten about these, thanks for the post (and whoever pinned it on Pinterest).

    Reply
  8. Kelly Lester January 3, 2012, 6:23 am

    Fabulous info! Thanks for all the details and specific info so that they’ll come out right :)

    Reply
  9. Lana January 16, 2012, 3:51 am

    The Dollar Tree has round plastic containers with screw on lids…for $1.00

    Reply
  10. Mellat January 18, 2012, 6:49 pm

    I have also found that the large tubs of pretzel sticks that you can get at ALDI’s (and I am sure elsewhere) are the perfect size for these wipes. The ones from Wal-mart don’t stand up too well to kids getting ahold of them.

    Reply
    1. Karen April 9, 2013, 4:42 pm

      I use those also and 1 tablespoon of vinegar helps deter the mold.

      Reply
  11. Nnphilip January 25, 2012, 10:21 pm

    i just found your site. what a lifesaver! i have been looking for recipes to make my own baby wipes and this is the best i have found and love the pictures! i made a batch last night and they are wonderful. i used a 96oz oxiclean bucket with lid for my container. 1/2 a roll fits perfectly and no leaks when i turned it over with my solution. i used my electric knife to cut the roll in half. i used the 2 1/2 cups hot water, 2Tbs burts bees baby wash, 2Tbs burts bees baby oil, and a few drops of tea tree oil. they smell so good and are just the perfect wetness. i wonder if the solution would work for using baby washcloths instead of paper towels. maybe put the solutions in a spray bottle??? you do laundry anyway right. and saving on paper towels is ‘green.’ just a thought…thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Shoshana Jackson February 22, 2013, 7:52 pm

      I also cloth-diaper at home and have a similar system without the paper waste. I use an old formula tub with a flip-top lid, put in about a tablespoon of baby wash and then fill with water (I’ve read recently that if I were to add the soap later I wouldn’t get so many suds…). I have a basket of the cheapest “baby washcloths” I could find at my big box store. I think I got 12 cloths for something obscene like $3.00. These are little terrycloths that are much thinner than regular washcloths and are a smooth knit on one side. It’s great because I can use the terry side for hard-to-clean messes and the smooth side if Baby D’s bottom is sore. Best part is: EVERYTHING gets chucked into the diaper bin to wash! No waste!

      Reply
  12. Geokimmcdonald January 28, 2012, 11:24 am

    Ohh! I wish I would have known how to do this when ynkids were little! So cool. I am storing this idea away for when I’m grandma or nana!!

    Reply
  13. Deb February 3, 2012, 3:59 pm

    Quick question – does this recipe make enough liquid to do 2 containers with a half roll in each?  I only want to use one container at a time so do I need to only make half the recipe to go over only one half of a roll?  Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Anonymous February 3, 2012, 4:59 pm

      Nope, the recipe is only for a half roll of paper towels.

      Reply
      1. Lauren May 4, 2012, 8:24 pm

        So do i take half a roll and cut that in half or one roll out of the pack and cut it in half?

        Reply
  14. Guest February 22, 2012, 6:39 pm

    I have found a round container that is close to the Rubbermaid one’s above at the Dollar General Store.  They come with 5 sizes total and run around $5. Also, Walmart has a generic brand of baby wipes that come in a round container that is a perfect size and has a pull through hole in the middle to make getting the wipes quick and easy.

    Reply
  15. Vikip March 3, 2012, 4:51 am

    if you’t cut up a couple of tshirts and make cloth wipes, you can save even more (and the earth will thank you too!) this is what I did (30 years ago) and what my son & his wife are doing now for my grandson after using the wipes, they go in the diaper pail and get soaked & washed along with the cloth diapers. using an old (OLD!) tshirt brings the cost to about $.05 PER MONTH! we don’t buy paper towels any more… too many forests are being destroyed! just my $.02!

    Reply
  16. Abbie (Five days... 5 ways) March 13, 2012, 1:46 pm

    This is great! I am referencing this tute in a post on making do with things you have around the house.

    Would love for you to stop by for a visit and check it out! : )

    Reply
  17. Abbie (Five days... 5 ways) March 13, 2012, 1:46 pm

    Reply
  18. Tabbatha March 25, 2012, 8:06 pm

    So glad i found this my little one is allergic to the preservatives in store bought baby wipes (they actually make his skin bleed its very sad) His pediatrician said to make my own using his baby wash but that recipe is to wet. Is the water mixture per half roll or the whole roll?? 

    Reply
  19. Kmallan March 31, 2012, 8:13 pm

    Thanks for your post.  I just started making my own wipes since I really don’t use them that often anymore I hated spending the money on the store bought ones!!!  I just noticed mold in my container so threw them out in a panic and then was relieved to find your post and suggestion to add tee tree oil to prevent mold!! I’m on my way to get some and make more wipes!!!  THANK YOU!!!

    Reply
  20. Carollee More April 7, 2012, 1:03 am

    this is wonderful  i know the kids theses days dont know  really how to save mony  but if given  a roll andmhad them try them  against the  other they would see that  theres money to save   now if only  you could come up with flushable  ones like cottonel

    Reply
  21. Robin April 12, 2012, 4:31 am

    i know this is an old post, but pinterest is sending so many people here i thought i’d just add some info.  tea tree oil is a hormone/endocrine interrupter as is lavender, which was suggested by one of the commenters.  parents may wish to do some research before using these ingredients on children. 

    Reply
    1. Karen March 26, 2013, 2:29 pm

      Thank you so much for the heads-up about tea tree oil! I had it down on my grocery list until I read your post. I want to be as natural and chemical free as possible, and would have never known about this if not for you. Thanks again!!

      Reply
    2. Moriah March 18, 2014, 8:39 pm

      at what concentration is tee tree oil and lavender hormone/endocrine interrupters, what are your sources and if true does it apply to topical uses as well as ingestion? I drink lavender tea, lavender is in herbs de provence seasoning etc. etc. while “Baby wipes” contain who knows what. BTW ya’ll the wipes themselves are made of plastic fibers and I have seen those fiber s floating around in the air after using the commercial wipes so I highly recommend cloth or sources that are known such as paper or bamboo though they still may release little fibers into the air which contribute to developing asthma or Lord knows what other lung ailments many years later).

      Reply
  22. Bonnie Way April 16, 2012, 7:28 pm

    This is a great idea!  Thanks so much.  :)

    Reply
  23. Casswa79 June 15, 2012, 4:30 pm

    Good reciepe, thank you for sharing :)  I made the first batch just as stated but didn’t like the “feel” of the bounty (i’ve been pampered too much with the store bought wipes). So i did a second batch with a roll of Viva, and you are correct about the “wetness’ factor, i didn’t add all of the mixture, saving it in a bottle for the next batch.  The viva roll def measures up to the “cloth-like” texture of a wipe but the downside, mixed with the reciepe, they STINK! lol! not bad just not a pleasing smell as with the Bounty roll. Oh well, i’m wiping a babys dirty behind so… ;)  thank again for posting!

    Reply
  24. Jsmith22277 July 1, 2012, 12:04 am

    I was wondering if the 2 T soap and baby oil was tbsp or tsp..I just want to be sure that I make them right! Thanks in advance for your answer!

    Reply
  25. Becki July 10, 2012, 4:12 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! Just a tip to everyone, check your baby products (and your adult ones) at 
    http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ to find out what hidden hazards could be in them. 

    Reply
  26. Denise July 16, 2012, 2:04 pm

    I was searching for round containers as well to no avail. I used a large Folgers coffee container because it was just the right size, plastic, and has a convenient handle. I used a black paint pen to black out the label, leaving a block print of what was inside. I’m going to get a paint pen to write the name more clearly, then spray a finish so it doesn’t come off. I’m going to spray paint the entire thing with paint used for plastic once I get to the paint store. Worth it for me because I’m also making window wipes and cleaning wipes so I definitely don’t want to mix up my containers!

    Reply
  27. Faeryfire721 July 25, 2012, 4:48 pm

    Can this solution be used with cloth wipes?

    Reply
  28. Jan August 2, 2012, 9:20 pm

    I found round lidded containers at Dollar Tree for a dollar each. The lids are colored, and the containers are plain, so you could add stickers if you want.

    Reply
  29. Lizzielou13 August 10, 2012, 2:36 am

    I use dr bronners to make my hand soap and to make my dish soap…love it. Good idea to use t for wipes

    Reply
  30. Julie September 10, 2012, 10:59 pm

    Does it have to be baby bath? Or can I use baby shampoo?

    Reply
  31. kelczup September 14, 2012, 12:37 pm

    I have a daycare and have been making my own wipes for about 16 yrs, I use a little less of the soap and oil but the major thing I do differently is I boil the water for at least 2 minutes let it cool and then mix. that may help any mildew problems

    Reply
  32. Lauren October 22, 2012, 5:14 pm

    I am doing this tonight… and I have those same ol’ rubbermaid containers! YAY! I

    Reply
  33. Karli November 25, 2012, 8:03 am

    Didn’t have any baby oil but I did have a bottle of massage and bath oil. As i’m using these on a two year old I’m not worried about her skins being super sensitive. The smell is fabulous. I used the Aldi paper towel and it’s working well (although a bit stiffer than the wipes I normally use). There was a lot of water left in the bottom of the jar that hadn’t soaked up, so I just tipped the excess off. Sooooo pleased with the result.

    Reply
  34. Emily December 5, 2012, 9:43 pm

    Thanks for posting this idea!! I have always hated wiping my baby’s skin with all of the chemical garbage that is in baby wipes. I used coconut oil, Dr. Bronner’s almond soap instead of baby wash, and then added in a few drops of Vitamin E oil. Vitamin E is a natural preservative–I use it in my homemade lotions, and I think it will work great with the wipes. I’ll let you know if it works! Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. Brittney January 16, 2013, 3:54 am

      I understand this was from a while ago but how did those ingredients work for you? I use all three of them and wanted to see if you loved them for wipes. Also are you still using them. Thank you so much

      Reply
  35. Rebecca Evans January 9, 2013, 3:07 am

    Thanks so much for the recipe for babywipes! I’ll try these and get back with you and let you know how I like them.

    Reply
  36. Kathy McDaniel January 31, 2013, 2:55 pm

    Wow thank you! What a great way to save money Thank you So much.

    Reply
  37. mercedes February 4, 2013, 2:27 am

    this will be my first time using this….. i hope i love it as much as other do

    Reply
  38. Mindy February 7, 2013, 1:50 am

    Just wondering….is the mixture enough for one roll or only half of it?

    Reply
    1. Heather February 7, 2013, 2:17 am

      The liquid mixture is for just half a roll of paper towels.

      Reply
  39. Sara February 23, 2013, 5:23 am

    Are you referring to tablespoons or teaspoons?

    Reply
    1. Heather February 23, 2013, 7:17 pm

      T used to be a standard abbreviation for tablespoon in recipes, and t was for teaspoon. Some people may not know this, so I’ve adjusted the post accordingly. So the answer to your question is: tablespoons.

      Reply
      1. Sara February 24, 2013, 1:11 am

        Thank you so much! I’m looking forward to making this tonight. My son has very sensitive skin so I’m hoping this is the answer!!! Thanks

        Reply
  40. chris March 5, 2013, 7:02 pm

    Great idea!had a cple tubs of wipes that went dry n this worked perfect to wet em back up!good to c people out ther that are handy like this!

    Reply
  41. Amanda March 21, 2013, 7:17 pm

    Thanks so much! I started using homemade wipes about a month ago and we love love love them! 1/2 of a roll lasts us almost 2 weeks…I use 2 T coconut oil and 2 T Live Clean baby soap (from Walgreens). It smells amazing! We got our wipe container from Walmart, it was 3 different sizes to a pack for $5.. the largest one is what we use :)

    Reply
  42. Erin March 22, 2013, 11:03 pm

    AWESOME tutorial! I wish I had seen this 12 years ago! These aren’t just for babies, either — my daughter prefers to use wipes to this day for #2′s, so I will be making some of these when we run out of the ones I bought at Costco! (It might seem strange that a kid likes to use wipes, but she just says that using TP she doesn’t feel “clean”, and she has a good point, and she’s not alone in that — there are a number of non-baby wipes on the market these days in the toilet paper aisle, and they cost about 4-6x what baby wipes cost!)

    Anyway, again, thank you very much for this! And such a great idea for a baby shower! :)

    Reply
  43. Shaina March 25, 2013, 1:14 pm

    I’ve been using these for my baby for a couple months now to save money and really like them, as do my husband and father. My mother thinks she’s allergic to regular baby wipes because they make her hands break out, but she has no problem with these and requests I make them whenever she watches her granddaughter.

    Reply
  44. Kristen March 30, 2013, 11:23 am

    Thank you for this! My husband laughed at me and was super skeptical, but after using them for the first time he said he likes them so much better than the store bought wipes. My little guy hasn’t had a single diaper rash or irritation since we started making these :)

    Reply
  45. Laura April 18, 2013, 3:34 pm

    Great idea! Although I seem to remember researching tea tree oil when I was a nanny and found that it had been linked to abnormal breast tissue growth in pre-pubescent boys.

    Reply
  46. Tanya May 2, 2013, 5:11 am

    I totally love this!!! We have been using this since our baby was born and they are fantastic! We couldn’t find a container either but by chance tried a 920g Red Plastic Folgers Coffee and it fits perfectly!! We also cut a cross in the lid and it works better than any other disposable wipes we have used! Also so gentle on baby….we wipe all her messes with the wipes:)

    Reply
  47. Donna May 11, 2013, 6:10 am

    I live in th UK and can not get hold of the Bounty paper towels you refer to. Are there any alternatives?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Heather May 13, 2013, 3:44 pm

      Viva also works, if you can get them.

      Reply
  48. Irene May 21, 2013, 1:56 pm

    I have been looking for a recipe for homemade wipes since my son was born because he is having sensitive skin and he sometimes cries because the store bought wipes seem to hurt his but.

    As I am from Europe and don’t get all the ingredients here I had to adapt the recipe:
    One bucket that was formerly filled with yoghurt from Aldi,
    1/2 roll Bounty (we don’t get giant sized rolls here)
    380 ml hot water
    2 hubs Hipp babybath
    1 spool almond oil.

    I really think that they turned out great. I will not use the store bought version again and I will spread the recipe to other moms.

    Reply
  49. NANCY July 3, 2013, 11:04 am

    GREAT IDEA. I raise dogs and use baby wipes to clean the puppies little butts. Can’t wait to make some today, THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    Reply
  50. ashlynn September 30, 2013, 9:42 pm

    The last time I looked Aldi sells Bounty paper towels (not sure of the absorbancy &Ii do believe it was an 8 pack) then went 2 Wal-Mart and Aldi was $2-$4 cheaper. I have made 2 batches (1 roll) & can’t wait to keep doing it.

    Reply
  51. Angela November 5, 2013, 8:11 pm

    I bookmarked this website a while ago and now am looking back over it. I love this idea and with a new baby on the way, due May 16th of 2014, I am looking for any way possible to save some money. Wipes are something that you go through so quickly it will be nice not to have to spend $15 or more a month on them.

    Reply
  52. Jacqueline November 6, 2013, 8:07 pm

    Quick question – after I flip back over and remove the cardboard tube, should I leave the container open for a little while to let the condensation from the hot water evaporate, or do you just go ahead and put the top on and leave it?

    Reply
    1. Heather November 7, 2013, 2:48 pm

      I don’t think it matters. I’ve always just put the top on right away.

      Reply
  53. linda norris January 3, 2014, 4:05 am

    If you use distilled water it won’t mold. I am 68 and don’t have babies around but I am never without these.

    Reply
  54. Lisa August 21, 2014, 10:07 pm

    Making your own wipes has many benefits: it can help avoid ingredient allergies, reduce ones exposures to chemicals as well as being economical and easy. If you worry about bacteria forming bc there arent any preservatives, make a small batch of solution, fold towels into a ziplock bag, pour the solution in the bag and take on the go. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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