Cloth Toilet Paper

Posted by Mrs Money on September 5th, 2008

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Personally I believe frugality and “going green” go hand in hand. For example, when you replace your conventional light bulbs with CFL (compact fluorescent lamps), you are saving money in the long run because they use a lot less electricity than your regular light bulbs and last a heck of a lot longer too. The other day I was reading a message board, and the issue of “family cloth” came up. If your first thought was “what in the heck is family cloth?”, then you were thinking along the same lines as me.

Family cloth, also known as cloth wipes, is basically reusable cloth toilet paper.  They are 4″ x 6″ squares of fabric, mostly flannel or cotton, that you use to wipe yourself with.  When you’re done, you put them in a “wetbag” and then wait until you are ready to do laundry. When you have enough to launder, you throw them in your washing machine on hot with a little baking soda if you choose. You get bonus points if you use laundry detergent you made yourself.

When I heard of this, I immediately was disgusted. Who would want to do something like this? You would be surprised. Many people liked the idea because they were not only saving money, but they were saving the environment as well.  Personally I can’t bear the thought of wiping myself with cloth after “#2″ and then having to wash it, but to each their own.  Many people use cloth wipes on their babies, so why not do it for adults as well?  Here are the pros and cons that I’ve come up with:

Pros:

  • You save money from not having to buy toilet paper.
  • You help save the environment from chopping down more trees.
  • You aren’t using bleached paper on your “private” parts.
  • It’s more comfortable.
  • If you run out of toilet paper, you can cut up an old t shirt and use that.

Cons:

  • Is it really sanitary?
  • Can you get past the fact that you are going to reuse the cloth you just wiped yourself with?
  • What about when you have company over, do you just hide your cloth?

What is your opinion on family cloth?

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40 Responses to “Cloth Toilet Paper”


  1. Todd A says:

    I’m almost nauseated from that idea. Going green is one thing, but doesn’t most toilet paper biodegrade anyway? I’m sure it saves money, but that’s money I can throw down the toilet with no problem.

    Yikes !

    [Reply]

  2. Mrs Money says:

    Todd- I know!! I just thought it was a really interesting topic and I thought I’d get other peoples’ opinions too. :)

    [Reply]

  3. Grant says:

    Um…. Thanks but no thanks.

    I’d use leaves before reusing and washing cloths.

    [Reply]

  4. You have to weigh up the benefits to the environment. Yes less trees will be cut down, but on the other hadn, there is going to be a lot more electricity used for all those hot washes.

    [Reply]

  5. J says:

    Well just to let you know Muslim have astenga bottles, that is we keep a bottle of water, or watering can near the potty and wash ourselves after we do our business and I dry of with TP. I think its a lot more sanitary. I am American so I do like TP but the wipes thing sound perfect for us I mean we’re just drying off, and when diarrhea is a factor, my 4 year old has a bout currently, we can chuck the cloths if need be. I like it.

    [Reply]

  6. Mrs Money says:

    J- that’s very interesting. I think it’s a great idea for those who want to take it on! :)

    [Reply]

  7. Cairsten says:

    Y’know, once you get past the initial squick factor, this isn’t so different from using cloth pads for menstruation or cloth diapers for babies. In fact, there’s probably less ick about this than diapering — you’re not actually defecating into the wipe, and you can keep water on hand to rinse off first. And, I guess, extra bonus points if you knitted your own cloths. ;)

    [Reply]

  8. Mrs Money says:

    Cairsten- It doesn’t really bother me that badly. I could do it if my husband wasn’t freaked out by it!

    [Reply]

  9. Adrienne says:

    It’s not nearly as bad as you think. I use cloth dipes and wipes with my daughter, and I find this to be no different. I don’t request my hubby and son use it –still use TP for #2 — but it cuts down on waste at our house a lot. And I just toss in with the dipes (after pt’ing they’ll go in with the baking soda/vinegar cleaning towels)

    [Reply]

  10. Mrs Money says:

    Adrienne- I am totally fine with the idea. I think it’s not bad if you properly wash them. It’s definitely not for everyone though! :)

    [Reply]

  11. Sue says:

    I’ve mostly used cloths for menstruation for the past few years. The manufactured products cause me to itch terribly.

    So nothing is too shocking really.

    [Reply]

  12. Mrs Money says:

    Sue- Cloth pads are something I’m looking into now. Good to know they work well!

    [Reply]

  13. Regina says:

    If you are looking into cloth pads… have you thought about using a menstrual cup? I bought one a few months ago after the recommendation of a friend. Took me a while to get past the “EWW” factor but now it doesn’t bother me at all. In fact… I love it! So much cheaper, better for you (No bleached cotton) and much, much better for the environment. Just know in advance that there is a learning curve but it is really worth it!

    [Reply]

  14. Mrs Money says:

    Regina- I actually do have a Diva cup and have used it but didn’t fall in love with it. I have a Keeper coming soon and can’t wait to try that out!

    http://ultimatemoneyblog.com/alternative-menstrual-products-frugal-and-green

    Here’s my post about my take on alternative menstrual products; eg. cloth pads and menstrual cups!

    [Reply]

  15. Regina says:

    Sorry I missed that post. I’m new to your website and I’m still having a lot of fun exploring it! Keep up the good work!!!

    [Reply]

  16. Rebecca R says:

    I heard of cloth pads about 2 years ago and I love them. I have a heavy flow and they work great for me. I don’t use any tampons anymore. I found a great work at home mom who makes cloth pads and diapers. Google: Primnproperbaby . You can get any size (I use long pads.)

    So the switch to an all cloth house came sometime after, yes even cloth toilet paper. It is not really gross. I cut up old t-shirts and fleece. I throw in a bucket in my shower and wash everyother day (usually with my towels and sheets.) My 6 year old also uses cloth toilet paper, my 11 year old will not try. Now I don’t even like using paper as the cloth is so soft. I keep sevength generation disosable for my oldest son & guests.

    If you can’t stomach family cloth try using recycled toilet paper. Sevength generation is soft and made from recycled paper, so more trees are not cut down. Buy in bulk on amazon and get free shipping, so the cost is about the same as regular toilet paper.

    I enjoy your blog!

    [Reply]

  17. Mrs Money says:

    Hi Rebecca! Thanks so much for your nice comment. I’ve actually made my own cloth pads and love them! I’m also a big fan of the Keeper now too. It’s amazing! I have used cloth toilet paper for pee and it doesn’t bother me one bit. Like you said, it’s so much softer. Thanks so much for your nice words!

    [Reply]

  18. Okay, I’m just dying to know. In your post on August 10th, 2009 My Neighbors Think We’re Hippies, you mention the little cloths that the teenage neighbor boy asks you about. In this post that you link (which is from September 2008), you didn’t seem to be much enamored with the idea… but it sounds like from your August 10th post that you finally got comfortable with the idea, if you are now hanging them up to dry outdoors and getting questions about them. LOL. I have to admit my first reaction was EWWWWW!! But it sure seems like we use a ton of TP at our house… so… are you now using cloth TP?

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Well. I decided to give it a try. I have tried it for #1 and #2, and the #2 thing was a little much for me, so I decided to go with just #1. I guess I was paranoid about germs and the stink and then I’d wash them by themselves so I felt like that was wasting water, energy, and time, and that was no good. I cut up t shirts to use for hankies (LOVE LOVE LOVE them!) and then I made some flannel cloth wipes. They are fantastic. You should give it a try. The pee thing doesn’t bother me AT ALL! Let me know if you have any more questions. I’d be happy to help!

    [Reply]

  19. mspriss says:

    I am getting into cloth toilet paper.. cloth menstrual pads, cloth diapers, cloth everything… I wash it with my own homemade laundry detergent with vinegar added as a germ killer. I use super hot water. and I LOVE it!! :)

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Awesome! I am so glad to hear of one more person that loves it!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment!

    [Reply]

  20. I also use cloth toilet paper. Or rather, family cloth.
    I cloth diaper and am in the process of switching to cloth pads (I’m nursing with no period so haven’t had a chance to use my 3 pads that I have. I have material to sew more as needed.). I haven’t been able to convince my husband yet to use family cloth, but I use a ton of toilet paper because I like feeling clean and dry so just MY cutting down on toilet paper makes a big difference. I’m using cloth to wipe my 2 year old son after he uses the toilet. Hopefully daddy will change his mind about them and start using them as well.
    http://www.PennilessParenting.com

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Penniless Parenting- Awesome! That’s great. I feel like cutting mine down makes a big difference too so that’s fantastic. Thanks for letting me know you do it too!

    xoxo,
    Mrs. Money

    [Reply]

  21. Annie says:

    I decided to try family cloths after a plumbing mishap destroyed several rolls of bathroom tissue–I could not get over the thought that if I had been using cloth I could have washed instead of tossed and saved that money!

    I keep a covered bucket of sanitizer water by my commode to place the cloths in when used. So far I have no complaints and I actually feel like I can get cleaner without wasting. I haven’t tried them on #2 yet though. To wash I plan to dump the bucket in the washer, spin it out then run a pre-wash. A bit of bleach and some vinegar should sanitize them well enough–it does for diapers and diapers get MUCH dirtier! Great post!

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Annie- That stinks! I think that will definitely get them clean. I don’t use bleach and mine are fine. :) Let me know if you have any questions!

    [Reply]

  22. Annie says:

    Thanks Mrs. Money!

    [Reply]

  23. smitty says:

    I LOVE THIS.

    I have been using cloth TP (cut up T shirts) for years.
    Keep it up!

    [Reply]

    KarenLeah Reply:

    I just started with cloth wipes. I made mine out of some flannel I wasn’t using. I hadn’t thought of tee shirts. What a great use for worn out or torn shirts!

    [Reply]

  24. KarenLeah says:

    I just started using cloth wipes about a week ago. Right now I am just using them for #1 and what a difference in the amount of TP we are NOT going through! I can’t believe it. I made my cloth wipes out of flannel that I was going to use to make a quilt but after 4 years I assume the quilt will never be so….cloth wipes it is! I love them! Between the softness and the fact that they don’t rip apart like TP…..where have they been all my life?!?!?! :)

    [Reply]

  25. britt says:

    I use cloth T.P.
    I like to think of myself as a pretty sanitary person too.
    Here’s how I do it:
    I cut up a few old tee’s. I place the clean wipes in a basket on the back of my toilet. I don’t fold them, takes too much time. I have a lingerie bag hanging next to my toilet. The dirty ones go here. I only use for pee. Laundry time, I just zip up the bag and throw it in a hot wash cycle. Never had any problems with odor. Oh, and white vinegar sanitizes. So throw a cup in the wash cycle if you’re really concerned =)

    [Reply]

  26. Me says:

    What do you think they used before toilet paper was invented in 1857? And! They were handwashing back then. HA!!

    At least we have a high efficiency washers with super hot water.

    No ick factor here.

    [Reply]


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