We started GRASP with three young children aged 3 and under. It’s been a whirlwind ride and most days it’s pretty exhausting. And while there are always ways you could make your life easier with a bit of TV here and skipping their teeth brushing there, doing it right with daily routines can be knackering.
Arguably the most tiring routine of them all is mealtimes. Mealtimes can be difficult for all sorts of reasons – we’ll leave that for the weaning consultants and dieticians to dive into – but one thing that’s always been a pain is the clean up of mealtime mess. Three times a day for meals, plus snacks really can be a nightmare by the time you get to the evening. And all that mess can really dissuade you from encouraging your baby to feed themselves more as they grow up.
We’ve tried to make a concerted effort as parents to help our kids learn to feed themselves as soon as possible. That started with baby-led weaning and a lot of finger food and then quickly developed into encouraging our kids to use spoons and forks for themselves. We strongly advocate for this to help babies learn to enjoy a variety of foods and textures. But it definitely comes at the cost of more mess.
Cleaning up a child that’s fed themselves is a lot more tricky than one who has had everything off a spoon that you’ve given them. So the daily meal time mess clean-up is largely self-inflicted for us. Now, there are some great solutions out there to help catch the food that ends up on the floor. But in terms of cleaning up your toddler’s face and hands, there’s not ever been much out there to help.
For a while we just made do with wet wipes to clean up after meal times. They’re convenient and we had plenty on hand from changing nappies. But wipes don’t work well (more on this below) and more importantly, they are a pain for kids to use.
We wanted a solution that would clean up better than traditional wet wipes, but also a way to help our kids learn to clean up themselves in the same way that we were encouraging them to feed themselves. That’s why we invented Mushi cloths to make meal time clean up easy and to empower kids to join in and take care of their own clean up routine.
Wet wipes are great for lots of reasons – that’s why we use 11 billion of them in the UK each year. But while they’re convenient and portable and disposable, they’re not especially good at removing muck and food from hands and faces.
It’s different for nappy area clean-ups because the soap or cleaning agent that wipes carry is an important part of helping urine and feces that might otherwise cause nappy rash. But when it comes to hands and faces, those same cleaning agents aren’t doing much to get rid of food from sticky hands and cheeks.
Wet wipes effectively are made of fibres (90% of time that’s plastic) designed to absorb the cleaning agent, but nothing more. The fibres themselves don’t do much without a good bit of rubbing and careful wrapping and scooping of the wipe to get rid of the mess.
Put that in a child’s hand and it’s next to useless. You end up with a tight ball of a wipe that’s doing nothing to actually distribute the soap that will help breakdown the food particles, let alone swooping that food or mess into the wipe to remove it from the skin.
The other major issue we faced with three kids, is that we felt guilty about how much waste came with cleaning up our kids. There was already enough waste from nappies and baby toiletries that came in tiny bottles made of plastic. Add on top of that the several wipes you needed to clean hands and faces for each child at each mealtime and the mountain (yes, literally a mountain in landfill) of waste seemed pretty outrageous.
Wet wipes are typically made from plastic, come packaged in plastic and are immediately disposable. They’re designed as a convenient solution for effectively carrying around skincare without needing a bottle, a water supply and a cloth or sponge with you. They are a great travel solution for kids and the push towards wipes made from bio-degradable materials and more sustainable fibres like bamboo certainly help.
But in the home, with access to running water from a tap, there really can be no excuse for using wipes for something as basic as cleaning up after mealtimes. The application of skincare products found in wet wipes isn’t really needed for wiping up food from hands and cheeks (we're probably all guilty of applying too much skincare to our kids skin anyway), and disposing of anything that you could otherwise put in the washing machine that you might run multiple times a week feels unnecessarily wasteful.
The solution to this meal time mess needed to be sustainable and it needed to work in the hands of our little ones. We wanted something that would give us as parents time-back, while also empowering our kids. Those are the values that underpin GRASP and are at the heart of all our products.
So Mushi cloths are the product of that desire to have a wipe or a cloth that really did remove muck and food from faces, hands and table tops without much fuss. In fact, we ended up making it so much more straightforward to remove food and muck from toddler’s faces that they can actually clean their own hands and faces post mealtime.
The Mushi microfibre cloth though not like traditional wipes. Rather than relying on a cleaning agent or soap as with traditional wipes, microfibre cloths like our Mushi cloths use millions of fibres to naturally attract muck and dirt to the cloth (something called van der Waals forces) that absorb muck rather than break it down with chemicals.
Those microfibres swell when wet under the running tap and when applied to the skin and rubbed, they easily lift and trap food particles from the skin, and into the cloth. The microfibres make it easy to give the cloth to a kid and have them clean themselves up without much fuss. Young toddlers might need a helping hand at the end, but as they grow, Mushi makes it easy for kids to learn how to clean up after themselves.
Using Mushi cloths to clean up starts with giving them a cloth that you have already soaked and wrung out at the sink. This means your child now has a damp cloth that they can start using to rub their face.
Kids’ instinct will be to scrunch tightly but rub lightly. That’s fine with Mushi cloths because even minimal contact with the skin is enough for Mush’s Lift & Trap microfibres to start absorbing food and muck into the cloth.
Allow your kid to practice rubbing across their whole face. Encourage them to use 2 hands on the cloth if they need to apply more pressure to stubborn bits of muck or food. Give them a time limit on how long they have to practice cleaning themselves for and once that time is up, step in to give extra support – applying a bit more pressure to the cloth or guiding your kid’s hand to help sweep up any last bits of food or muck into the cloth.
- Ditch the wet wipes
- Rinse a Mushi microfibre cloth under luke warm water and then wring out
- Give damp cloth to your child and point out where they need to wipe – starting with cheeks and chin
- For younger toddlers, help guide their hand and apply any extra pressure to remove food from cheeks until they’re used to what it feels like to successfully wipe
- Once cheeks are done, encourage your child to wrap a hand one-at-a-time in the cloth and rub, or alternatively just rub the cloth between their 2 hands.
- Once clean, re-rinse the cloth and leave to dry for the next meal time / day’s usage.
- One the cloth is particularly stained (Mushi cloths are 20cm 20cm and double-sided so should last at least a day) you can pop them in your next washing cycle to clean them.
Grasp is all about empowering kids, so tools like Mushi are at the heart of what we would like kids to be able to do using our products. We believe that kids are capable of much more than we give them opportunity to do and in return they build better skills and develop better habits that will benefit them hugely as they grow up.