Disposable wipes v washable wipes – I’ve done the maths
Do you know how many wipes you throw away during the first 3 years of your baby’s life?
I had no idea either, until I started looking into it.
Ok so some of this is hypothetical and based on assumptions and averages, but bear with me …
If a newborn baby has a nappy change every 3 hours during the day and a couple of times in the night, this equates to approx 8-11 nappy changes in 24 hours. That’s a lot of nappies! And at each change we can use up to 3 wipes for a real bad poop and 1 wipe for a nice easy quick change. Now newborn babies can have 6-8 poops a day, so let’s do a quick bit of maths …
6 poops x 2 wipes = 12 wipes
3 wee’s x 1 wipe = 3 wipes
giving a total of 15 wipes in a 24 hr period
My sister in law has an 8 week old, and tells me that this frequency of dirty nappies can go on for 6 weeks. This gives us a total of 630 wipes in that time period. (I know that we’re advised to use cotton wool and water at first, but lots of people don’t so let’s stick with the wipes scenario).
After about 6 weeks baby’s body settles down into a more ‘normal’ routine and the dirty nappies are less frequent, but still often, so now let’s base our calculations on 6-8 nappy changes in 24 hrs and one of those being a poopy one. Back to our maths …
1 poop x 2 wipes = 2 wipes
7 wee’s x 1 wipe = 7 wipes
giving a total of 9 wipes in 24 hours or 63 wipes in a week.
If we use this figure from 6 weeks to 1 year we use approx:
63 x 4 = 252 wipes in a month
63 x 46 weeks = 2898 wipes plus 630 wipes from the first 6 weeks
giving a total of 3528 wipes in the first year.
But it doesn’t stop there … We often carry on using the wipes up until the babe is around 3 years when they are ready for potty training, so we will base our calculations on 5 nappy changes a day with 1 of them being poopy one, so approx 6 wipes a day x 7 = 42 wipes per week
42 x 4 = 168 wipes per month
168 x 24 months = 4032 wipes use from 1 -3 years!
Ok so let’s quickly tot up the amount we could use in the first 3 years of baby’s life … 3528 in the first year + 4032 in years 1-3 = 7560 wipes. WOW!!
Bear in mind that this doesn’t include all the ones we use to clean up dirty mouths and hands, especially when weaning, and I haven’t taken account of the fact we’d often use a lot more wipes for poonamis!
What is the cost of all these disposable wipes?
Now we all want to know the cost of these wipes. If you buy them in bulk, Aldi wipes work out at 7p each and Pampers 16p each so 7560 wipes can cost us between £52.92 – £120.96.
£40 a year on wipes doesn’t seem too big an outlay – but what about the chemicals that are in the majority of the wipes? Now I’m no chemist so I’m not going to go too deep here but I do know that the manufacturers have to put chemicals into the wipes to stop them from going smelly and mouldy, which happens to everything if it’s left in a damp plastic bag for too long. And have you ever used a baby wipe on intimate parts of your body? They sting!
The most important thing for me though is the volume of wipes that are going to landfill. You probably know by now that wipes contain plastic so may take hundreds of years to break down (leaching toxins into the soil as they go), or may never decompose. Not to mention the plastic packaging the wipes came in.
In 2017 there were 755,042 births in the UK. If we multiply that by the 7560 wipes which are used by every child in the first 3 years of their life that is a LOT of disposable wipes, close to 1 million packs of wipes all going to landfill. We have such a throwaway society now in our country – I’m not sure how much longer we can go on using things once and throwing in the bin (or worse, flushing down the loo!).
This is why I am so passionate about trying to reduce our single use items, even if it’s just by a small amount. If we all do a little bit, it will have a bigger impact on our children’s future.
Our washable wipes are the answer
I have developed our washable wipes, made with soft cotton jersey in colourful designs on one side and bamboo Terry towelling on the other.
Not only are they kinder to babies’ skin because they just use water to clean, but they can be used and washed thousands of times and have a much smaller impact on our environment. And the best bit – they’re much more effective than conventional wipes, especially at tackling those explosive poops!
To start off with, washable wipes do cost a little bit more than disposable wipes, and they’re an upfront cost. But they can be reused many times and for more than one child, they can be passed onto friends and family and can also be used as the child gets bigger for face flannels or bathing.
We recommend that you will need approx 20 wipes to start, but ideally 40 as this will give you enough to use with some in the wash and some drying.
How much will this set you back? Our wipes are £25 for a set of 10 and a matching wet bag (so you can take them out and about with you – we’ve even given you separate zipped pockets for clean and dirty wipes). For top ups, we also sell wipes in packs of 5 for £6 a pack. So if you were to buy 40 wipes and a bag it would cost you £61 and that’s it, the only other small cost to factor in is the cost of washing, which is minimal.
So what are you waiting for? Ditch those boring disposable wipes and buy some fun, funky and colourful wipes that will last many years. You’ll never look back.
Our range of washable wipes and wet bags can be found here