experiments in frugality disaster number one

September 17th, 2007

Experiments in Frugality: Disaster Number One

So, I decided to make my own baby wipes. My daughter, who is 10 months old, is still fully in diapers, and my son, who recently turned three, is in the midst of potty training and we still have him in diapers/pull-ups a portion of the time. I spend what seems like an insane amount of money each month on diapers and wipes for the two of them, so I had this bright idea to make my own baby wipes. Other people do it, why not me?

There are numerous recipes out there on the internet, and I picked a fairly simple one. Saw a roll of paper towels in half (the short way, I think… no one really specified), mix water, a little baby oil, and a little baby soap in a pan, and soak the towels in it. Then take the cardboard roll out of the middle and put the towels in an old baby wipes container and Wa La! Done. Okay… that sounds easy. Except I’m still not sure which way I am supposed to cut the paper towels. But we’ll give it a whirl.

Well, I don’t actually have baby oil on hand, so I bought a huge bottle on my weekly shopping trip. Not that I needed a huge bottle…but apparently huge is what you get when you want baby oil. Has no one heard of travel sized? So far this already cost me as much as a package of baby wipes so it better work.

I came home and set up my system. I sawed the paper towels in half with a bread knife… not the easiest of tasks and I got little paper towel fluff all over my kitchen, and then I mixed the warm water , baby oil, and baby soap in a pan and plopped the paper towels in it. A few minutes later, I flipped them over and soaked some more. By this time they were pretty wet, so I found the end of the roll of paper towels, pulled it out a little, and plopped them in the plastic container with the hole in the middle placed horizontally.

When I pulled on the paper towel end…. it ripped off and the roll didn’t budge. Well…. oops. That can’t be how to dispense them. I thought about it for a while, then turned the roll so it was sitting with the hole in the middle vertically. The roll was now too big for the container. Well… hmm again. I was using a standard wipes container, and I used a fairly average roll of paper towels. So I squished them down a bit until they fit and again found the end of the roll. I pulled… and it worked! So I put the lid on the container…. and now they didn’t work. The roll just got stuck. At this point I pondered having a drink.

After studying it for a while, I came up with the bright idea of pulling the towels out of the center of the roll. And… Wa La again! it worked. Even with the lid on. Feeling quite accomplished, I called it a day.

The next day, when getting my son out of the car after preschool I realized he had a… smell emanating from him. A chance to try out the new baby wipes! Well that was the first mistake. I am going to try out an untested method on a 3-year-old’s dirty diaper? Not the brightest of ideas. But it was my idea, and I went with it. I stripped my son down and pulled out a wipe. Except… the wipe didn’t separate from the next one along the towel perforation very well, and it was WET. Very, very wet. A very wet paper towel and smushy poop… not the best combination. In fact, I might put it in the top ten of worst combinations. Right after pickles and ice cream. I had nowhere to squeeze out the wipe but back into the container of wipes, which didn’t work very well, because the next wipe was even wetter and harder to separate and my son was starting to squirm and protest.

Five minutes later, a lot of poop all over the place, and a 10 month old who had taken advantage of the craziness and discovered the stair gate was accidentally left open and climbed the stairs (very successfully and was playing in her brother’s room when I found her, after I’d almost had a heart attack figuring out where she’d gone)… well, the homemade baby wipes had gotten a F- grade from me. I am not blaming the baby wipes recipe. I take full responsibility for being useless at this type of endeavor.

So I rescued the baby and cleaned the rug and thought about how I might salvage this whole mess.

I decided the biggest problem was the wet. I left the container open overnight to let some water evaporate, but when I got up the next morning, they still seemed very soggy. I then had the bright idea of wringing them out over the sink. This would get rid of some of the soap and baby oil too, and I was hoping to retain those (you add a very small amount, after all) but, I was willing to commit acts of desperation at this point. So wring them out I did. The morning diaper changes went okay, but they only involved pee. And I still could not get the wipes to separate well.

Then there was more poop. And I came prepared. I had some commercially-made wipes as backup. And this time, it went much better, but still, I could not get the wipes to separate, and I had to squeeze out each wipe before use. And the wipes seem ginormous. But no one escaped up the stairs and no poop got on the floor.

Lessons learned from this:

  • Never try a new wipe of any kind of poop out of a three year old. Or really, any poop. Experiment with pee.
  • Use less water. Or squeeze them out. Or let them dry for a week. Something.
  • Try “choose-a-size” paper towels instead of the standard ones. I think the size of the wipes will be more like the commerically-made ones.
  • Always latch the gate on the stairs. This is just common sense.

I’m thinking about trying it again. My spouse is afraid to use them, but I’ve always been the adventurous type. I have a half roll of paper towels left and all that baby oil, and I hate to waste things

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22 Responses to “Experiments in Frugality: Disaster Number One”

  1. Very funny post.

    Well I wouldn’t blame you for giving up but I’m sure Edison’s first light bulb wasn’t a resounding success either so just keep at it (if you are really keen).


  2. Funny post! I wouldn’t stick with the home-made baby wipes either.

  3. Oh goodness!

    I’m glad you’re still up for another try…I’d probably have given up. Good luck!

  4. I’ve tried them too. Blech! The solution that I found that worked for us is to use the baby oil/soap/water mix, but with cloth wipes (wash cloths etc). Put the mix into a squirt or spray bottle, and then wet each wipe individually. But then again we use cloth diapers, so washing the wipes with the diapers isn’t an issue. You could maybe try the same system but with paper towels.

  5. I suck at stuff like this, so I’ve finally learned to not even try it. I believe there are two kinds of people – handy/crafty and not. I’m definitely in the ‘not’ category.

  6. I didn’t like the paper ones either. I ended up buying some flannel and cutting them into wide strips, putting them in the wipe box with the cleaning solution and washing the wipes with diapers (but with towels before I started w/the cloth dipes)

    The flannel will fray, but you pay such a small amount for a yard of it, who cares if you have to throw it away after a year. I also use the stripped flannel for hankies. When my kids get sick (all the time) they use the flannel strips instead of klenexx. I wash them with the towels and they don’t get a chapped nose.

  7. Oh, I’ve done the homemade wipes before, and I loved them! You’ve got to spend a *little* more on paper towels, and I made mine in an upright rubbermaid container, so the hole faces up (btw, you are cutting them right) and once you get them started, they come out the middle quite easily. I can’t find it now, but when I was making them, I found the greatest website with step by step instructions and pictures, which makes an AMAZING difference! You can totally do this!

  8. @FourPillars – I think I might try again. We’ll see. My spouse thinks I am wacko for considering it.

    @SavingDiva – I’m waffling about trying again or not. that half roll of towels looks funny in my pantry though.

    @Mrs. Micah – Well I have plenty of time to give up still, I haven’t done it again yet lol.

    @Kelly – when I had my first I wanted to cloth diaper and my spouse said he would never change a diaper if we did. So we didn’t. He’s a wuss. lol

    @KMC – I am sort of crafty in a scrapbooky way but not in this way at ALL. lol

    @Paula – those flannels sound good! I may try that. especially for stuffy noses.

    @Sara – I will look for pictures. I did buy good towels I bought Viva which is what I found recommended… well, we’ll see. I may persevere lol

  9. PT – no offence but I think I’ll have to side with your husband on that one :)

    If you do try again – I’ll be looking for another post on it! This stuff is great.


  10. Love it. I actually laughted out load on this one.
    I am going to post part of this on my blog. I hope it can bring u some traffic.

  11. I’m visiting by way of the carnival and this just made my day. I laughed so hard. The things we do to save some money.

  12. Glad it amused y’all :) it amuses me too… now heh.

  13. Hi, I found a method that works great at home. (I splash out and use the cheap store bought ones when we are out and about). I use Chux superwipes (that’s what they’re called in Australia). Cut them to a size that suits. I cut in half and then half again, but it’s up to you. Into a sealable plastic container I add about a cup of water; 3 drops lavender essential oil (don’t overdo it); a quick splash of baby oil and quick splash of baby shampoo. Mix and add your wipes. When you’re done just throw them in the wash. If they’ve just been immunised or wormed – put them in the bin. This has saved us heaps over the years.


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