“Old school” wipes: damp washcloth in a plastic bag

Sharon’s (dad’s) hack is convenient, saves money, and minimizes paper waste:

This is a hack I’m borrowing from my dad, a 70’s single parent. Before the advent of disposable wipes, he would carry with him a damp washcloth in a plastic bag for wiping food off of faces, cleaning up sticky hands, random spills on clothing or even the occasional runny nose. When we went on vacation recently with my 22 month-old son, grandpa’s “old school wipes” were a godsend—I even added a squirt of antibacterial gel for good measure when the situation warranted it (like not having access to a soap and water to wash my own hands after a poopy diaper change). In retrospect, it was actually a pretty “green” alternative to wasting wipe after wipe, as I often find myself doing.

Related: Baby washcloths as “green” mealtime napkins


  1. says

    That is so weird! I didn’t remember this until reading this post, but my dad always did the exact same thing when I was a kid. It was especially handy on camping trips and long car rides.

    Excellent Tip from the Past. :)

  2. rowe says

    I always pack dry washcloths and then squirt water from my son’s drinking water cup on one when I need a wet napkin. I think that saves the extra step of preparing a wet washcloth beforehand and and also ensures that you won’t be wetting a washcloth unnecessarity.

  3. Anonymous says

    We use cloth diapers, so I quickly got REALLY tired of picking the used disposable wipes out of the dirty diapers before throwing them in the wash. We started filling our wipes warmer with wet baby washcloths, and also carry them in a little waterproof bag in the diaper bag. I’ve also found it makes cleaning everything much easier when you have a washcloth instead of a wetwipe.

  4. flynn says

    If you need to carry a bunch or are using them as wipes, the baby washcloths can be a little thick. One of those flannel baby blankets chopped into rectangles with pinking shears (to prevent raveling) makes a very skinny, soft wipe that stacks by the jillions in a washable plastic box.

  5. says

    Many cloth diapering parents opt to use cloth wipes as well. I agree — they’re a godsend! I much rather use my reusables than buy box after box of disposable wipes.

  6. barb says

    Do the wet cloths mildew if you don’t add a little alcohol or something to the water? I like the idea of wetting the cloths as needed. We keep emergency water in the van anyway. I have soap w/ my wash rags, just in case I need to wash my (very oily) face while I’m out.