Are reusable wipes worth it?
8 July 2022 | Admin
***This blogpost was updated on 20th September 2022 to take account of Oct price cap rises***
Yes, purely from a monetary perspective, reusable wipes are worth it as they could save the average family up to £30 a month for several years. That’s before even considering the eco-benefits. Disposable wipes can add between £5 and £10 (if you buy ‘premium’ branded wipes) to family shopping trollies every week. Swapping to reusable wipes is better for the planet and with costs of reusable wipes starting from £18 for 25 wipes, they’ll save families hundreds of pounds whilst their child requires wiping - for bums or hands & faces!
The cost of living has spiralled upwards in recent months in the UK. Our local food bank in Newhaven has reported that some families are spending £30 a month on single use baby wipes, which means that they are left short of money for food for their family.
Disposable wipes have increased significantly in price and are suffering from shrinkflation, where the price stays the same, but quantity / weight decreases.
How much do disposable wipes cost per year?
A recent report carried out by DEFRA assumes that children will be in nappies for approximately 2.5 years. Depending on whether they buy branded or non-branded disposable wipes, disposable wipes could cost up to £258.96 per year, or £647.40 for just one child over 2.5 years..
Cost of wipes
Packets per week
Cost over 2.5 years
The ‘average’ family using disposable wipes will use 260 packs of wet wipes over 2.5 years, assuming that they’re getting through two packs of wipes per week. Two packs seems reasonable, especially since over the last 18 months, packs of wipes have gone from holding 72 wipes per pack to 56 or 60 which is ‘shrinkflation’ in action. Families may use more than two packs per week if they continue to use single-use wipes as hands and faces wipes too.
How does shrinkflation impact disposable wipes?
‘The situation when the price of a product stays the same but its size gets smaller’
Shrinkflation is a cunning way of raising prices without actually raising the price of the product you are buying.
Over the last 18 months, disposable wipes brands have steadily reduced the number of wipes per packet. A standard pack of wipes used to contain 72 wipes as standard. Due to shrinkflation, this has been reduced to 56, or 60 if you’re lucky. . It’s a very sneaky trick. Shoppers see the price is staying the same, not realising that per wipe, this equates to a 20% rise in costs.
How much could families save by switching from disposable wipes to reusables?
Families could save between £300 and £600 by switching from disposable to to reusable wipes. Reusable wipes cost from around £18 for 25 reusable wipes, to £50 for a reusable baby wipes kit which which is a great idea if you want everything you need to make switching to reusable wipes easy.
'Love these wipes, rarely need more than one as so easy to clean up with, have had 10 months so far and must have saved a fortune. I hate it when I have to use disposable wipes now, no comparison!' Rachel, Trustpilot
How much does washing reusable wipes cost?
The cost of washing reusable wipes varies depending on the size of washload and energy rating of your washing machine. However because reusable wipes don’t need a separate washload, washing reusable wipes costs just £5 on top of your normal washing costs over the course of a year. That’s based on the following assumptions:
25 wipes which weigh 250g being washed every second day as part of a full 7kg washload
Number of additional washloads annually is 6 (7kg / 250g x 180 washes annually)
Electricity costs (Sept / Oct 2022) 40p per kw. This means a ’D’-rated washing machine will cost from 33p per load, an ‘A’ rated washing machine will cost 24p per load. We have assumed an average of 30p per load
Cost of washing detergent (Arial) is 15p per washload
Washing reusable wipes costs approximately 45p per additional load, so £2.70 per year
How much does drying reusable wipes cost?
The cost of drying reusable wipes varies, depending on how you dry them. Drying 25 reusable wipes are part of a full tumble drying load (7kg - 9kg) every second day for one year costs approximately £6.60 extra per annum. The cost of drying one 9kg load of drying varies depending on type of tumble dryer, from 96p for a heat pump dryer to £2.40 for a vented tumble dryer, average £1.70
Of course, it’s unusual for families to use their tumble dryer all year. In fair weather, many people line or air dry their washing, so this could well be reduced by half, to just £5 per annum.
How many reusable baby wipes do I need?
Most families will need 50 reusable wipes, which is equivalent to two packs of disposable wipes. The cost of this starts from around £37. Generally using reusable wipes for a nappy change means using less wipes, as washable wipes are grippier which makes nappy changing both quicker and easier.
What are the benefits of reusable wipes?
Reusable wipes have the following benefits:
Better for the environment
Easy to use & better at cleaning
Better for baby’s skin as they can be used with just water
We’ve already discussed money saving and how switching to reusable wipes could save families hundreds of pounds. Disposable wet wipes are terrible for the environment. If flushed down the toilet, they pollute our marine environment, creating huge disgusting fatbergs. They’ve even disrupted the course of the Thames. MP Fleur Anderson has raised a motion asking for wet wipes made from plastic to be banned.
Although biodegradable and 'flushable' wipes are better for the environment, they still take up to 12 weeks to break down. That's in prime 'composting' conditions, not sent to landfill in plastic nappy bags!
Reusable wipes are the original plastic free wipes and the best eco-option as they can be washed and reused over and over again.
Are reusable wet wipes easy to use?
Yes, reusable wet wipes are really easy to use. Reusable wipes can simply be used with water, or you can choose to soak them in reusable wipes solutions which range from essential oils to castile soap. You can also use them with wipes or nappy sprays. Soaking the wipes and keeping them ready to use at home is convenient. When out and about, just pop a few into a wetbag, use them and then pop in the washing machine when you get home.
Some people think that disposable wipes are easy and convenient whereas reusable wipes are a hassle. Having used reusable wipes with all 4 of my children, this isn’t true! Unlike disposable wipes, you'll never run out of reusables and have to dash to the corner shop at midnight, or have them dry up in the packet only to be thrown out. Or waste handfuls at a time!
Are reusable baby wipes suitable for sensitive skin?
Yes, reusable wipes are perfect for sensitive skin. Using reusable wipes means you choose exactly what you soak your wipes in to use on your baby’s delicate skin which can be plain water! Many parents swap to reusable wipes after using disposable wipes which causes their child to have nappy rash. Or finding that only one brand of disposable wipes will work for their child, which is often the most expensive ones.
'Game changer for a child with sensitive skin. Not only are we creating less waste and saving money, its so much gentler on their delicate skin.' Pip, Trustpilot
To summarise, yes, reusable wipes are worth it:
We hope this has been helpful for you. If you’d like to find out more information about reusable wipes these articles may be of interest:
About the author:
Helen Rankin is founder of Cheeky Wipes, the original environmentally sustainable baby wipes kit, founded in 2008. Cheeky Wipes were awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise for their sustainable development goals in 2021. Team Cheeky pride themselves on helping people make the switch to reusables EASY, with a range of eco friendly products including period pants and cloth sanitary pads. The Team LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods, providing advice to customers with helpful questionnaires.