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Why do my cloth wipes smell funky all the time? What am I doing wrong?
This is really legitimate question and issue. Many moms make the switch from disposable wipes to cloth wipes and assume that they can just wet some cloth wipes and put them in a plastic wipes container. This is not the case.
You might not realize that those supposedly "gentle" disposable wipes were actually soaked in a special solution which contains preservatives and chemicals designed to keep those wipes from molding and getting funky.
Although disposable wipes do contain water, they also contain detergents, humectants, fragrances and preservatives.
The detergents most commonly used are known as amphoteric surfactants, similar to those found in baby shampoos. Sodium diamphoacetate and coco phosphatidyl PG-dimonium chloride are primary surfactants used in wipes.Source: http://www.enotes.com/how-products-encyclopedia/baby-wipes
Humectants such as propylene glycol and glycerine are added to prevent premature drying of the solution and contribute to skin moisturization. In addition, some formulas incorporate oils such as mineral oil, lanolin, or silicones that help to soften skin. Thickeners, such as cellulose derivatives like hydroxymethyl cellulose, control the viscosity of the finished product and keep it the right consistency.
Other ingredients include preservatives, such as methyl and propyl paraben, to ensure the solution does not support microbial growth. Fragrance is usually added to increase consumer appeal and to help over-come body odors, but fragrance-free products are also offered. Featured ingredients may also be added to increase consumer appeal.
The solution is to use a cloth wipes solution or water if you prefer, and pre-moisten just enough wipes for the day. Another method is to keep your solution in a spray or squirt bottle and then simply wet the wipes as you go about your day. You'll also want to keep an eye on the ingredients of your wipe solution because sometimes even those can go bad when kept too long.
In a nutshell, without all those extra ingredients, you can expect your wet cloth wipes to act just as your wet washcloths or wet towels will act, they'll get funky when left moist for more than a day.