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My Cloth Reusable Baby Wipes Feel Rough: What Can I Do?


Updated 19th December 2023

You've made the switch to ditch disposable baby wipes, congratulations!  But a couple of months in and your wipes are starting to feel rough and crusty. Nooooooo!

I feel your pain! We also live in a hard water area in the South of England, and limescale build up can cause your towels to feel rough very quickly. The same goes for washable wipes.

This doesn't happen in quite the same way to our bamboo cloth baby wipes (which are a bamboo / cotton mix) or microfibre wipes or bamboo plush wipes.

And whilst you need a bit of grip for poo, rough wipes isn't fun for baby bums or hands & faces. Cotton or organic cotton wipes are just the best washable baby wipes for poo, so if you've found your wipes are starting to feel rough, what can you do?

Don't give up and switch back to disposable wet wipes. Here's our top tips to soften reusable wipes and nappies:

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1. Use a magnoball in your washing machine

Because I have eczema, I don't use fabric conditioner in my washing and try to avoid chemicals that could irritate my skin.  For a long time I avoided washing powder too, thinking ecoeggs or similar were a more eco friendly option too.

That's until I realised that eco products just weren't getting my kids stained school polo shirts clean. I swapped to Aldi Bio Powder and have never looked back!

Instead of fabric conditioner, I use an ecozone magnoball which uses magnets to prevent and remove limescale build up. It goes straight into the washing machine along with the clothing, dirty wipes or cloth nappies.

I find that my clothes come out of the washing machine feeling much softer. Jeans don't have that 'crunchiness' that you get if you don't use fabric conditioner.

Some people miss the fragrance of fabric conditioner but I always find them too fragranced - each to their own I guess.

"The wipes surpassed expectations. We've used bamboo cheeky wipes for our daughter's nappy changes and separate ones for her face and hands. They're soft, durable and have saved us a fortune." Nikki, Trustpilot

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2. Use fabric softener to soften washable wipes

If you're washing Cheeky Wipes with your clothes or bedding, just use fabric softener. Our wipes are soaked before use so it won't make any difference to their absorbency. Obviously, we don't recommend this with reusable nappies.

3. Try white vinegar

One of the MANY uses of white vinegar is as a descaler, the acid of the vinegar counteracts the alkali of the limescale. Just wash reusable baby wipes and anything else feeling crusty with a capful of white vinegar in the final rinse and that should leave your clothes soft without stinking like a fish and chip shop!

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4. Use a tumble dryer

If you've got a tumble dryer, this will fluff up the fibres of your wipes, leaving them feeling softer, but won't remove the limescale obviously. A quick tumble dry is a good option in combination with any of the above ideas though.

5. Leave your wipes out on the line in the rain....

Great excuse if like me you're a bit lazy and when it rains you tend to leave the clothes out there until they dry again! Our rain is mildly acidic here, so acts in the same way as vinegar in softening your clothes. 

Other Top Tips for Washing Reusable Wipes & Nappies

Open the mesh bag, nappy bag or wet bag when you place it in the washing machine. This is so that the wipes come out of the bag and can be properly agitated.

Sometimes it's necessary to do a strip wash on reusable wipes or nappies. We've got a really worthwhile blogpost which explains how to strip wash nappies (without damaging them). It's well worth a read as there's so much crack pot advice out there advising to bleach nappies!

"Quick delivery and advice on washing on the website has worked perfectly. No bright yellow baby poo stains at all!" Jake via Trustpilot

As always, if you've got any ideas to share we'd love to hear them?  If you found this article interesting, you may also enjoy:

Can Baby Wipes Cause Eczema

5 Tips for making reusable wipes easy

Help my washable wipes are falling apart




About the author: Helen Rankin is a Mum of 4, who founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. 

The Cheeky customer services team love helping educate customers to make the switch to reusables.  They just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long! The Company was recognised for their hard work in developing environmentally friendly products with the Queens Award in Enterprise for Sustainable Development in 2021.  


Christine Hague
23 February 2014  |  4:28

Strip washed my nappies recently and threw the wipes in too. They came out much softer!

23 February 2014  |  6:50

What did you do to strip wash your nappies - there are so many different ways?