Family cloth: would you go toilet paper-free?

April 25 2012 | arielmstallings
That's not a box of tissues on the back of the toilet — that's FAMILY CLOTH! Photo courtesy of Penniless Parenting

Ok, we've talked about all sorts of eco-friendly home hacks, but let's try the final frontier of reusable toiletries: FAMILY CLOTH. The concept is pretty straight-forward: rather than wipe your butt with paper that you then wad up and flush into the septic system, you use small squares of soft fabric that you then wash and reuse.

Aww, lookit this adorable bundle of pre-made Family Cloth wipes for sale on Etsy!

It makes sense, right? People use cloth diapers all the time. What's the difference? You can even do like the folks at Penniless Parenting did here, and make a nice little Kleenex-like dispenser that goes on the back of your toilet tank, and then a nice little hamper with a lid next to the toilet. Line it with an old pillow case that you can lift out and toss in the wash and VOILA: you never even have to SEE the poopy fabric. Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Makes perfect sense, right? Plus, some people claim that you get cleaner — no bits of toilet paper left behind in MY butt crack, no ma'am!

In my head, I say YES. Yes, this makes perfect sense, and I am totally going to hop over to Etsy and buy some adorable Family Cloth wipes and start using them on my butt TODAY! In my head, I am completely on board with Family Cloth.

But somehow, deep in my belly (…in my bowels?) the idea just squicks me out. How clean is clean enough? How many times would I have to run the clothes through the wash to feel ok with it? (Two times, with really hot water?) Then you get into the whole "If it uses that much water, is it REALLY eco-conscious?" debate. Then I'm just like EW SHIT STREAKED FABRIC SITTING NEXT TO MY TOILET GROSS! and clutch at my familiar rolls of toilet paper (so soft, so clean, so flushable) and coo "It'll always be you and me, T.P. Together forever."

Family cloth from etsy seller moocowmomma as seen on offbeat home
Family cloth from etsy seller moocowmomma as seen on offbeat home

I feel like this makes me a eco-weakling and like I'll eventually get over it. I mean, maybe if it was just pee?

But what about you: would you ever consider switching to Family Cloth?

  1. I don't know about Family Cloth… I don't think I would want to used cloths sitting around long enough to accumulate a full load's worth!

    In some parts of the world, people have "bum guns" – little sprayers installed by the toilet to give your bum a spray down after bowel movements. It takes some time to master the perfect spray that gets you clean without creating a giant wet spot all over your clothes, but it could be a good alternative.

    And of course, the tried-and-true eco-friendly approach is a basin of water with a dipper in combination with a hand! Although it sounds "unhygienic," it really isn't when you have soap and hot water to wash up afterward!

      • That's what I've been using in Tanzania! Water is a required part of the cleansing ritual for Muslims (they're required to wash with water and be clean in order to pray) so they're very common in Muslim countries/homes. They're awesome, and actually *quite* nice and refreshing on hot days.

    • My husband and I bought a "bum gun" type bidet about a month ago, and we are LOVING it. It's such a pleasant way to clean yourself, and I definitely feel a lot cleaner using it, too.

      Plus, this style of bidet can double as a diaper-cleaner when we have kids. And to rinse out any particularly yucky things we discover when we do our bimonthly fridge clean-out.

      We're planning on having what basically amounts to very clean versions of family cloths in the bathroom, for the purposes of drying off after using the bidet. But right now we still have most of a Costco Lifetime Supply of Toilet Paper package under our sink, so we haven't been in a huge rush.

    • Waiting too long for a full load is one reason why I haven't made the switch yet. However, when baby comes in the fall it'll be easy to throw the cloths in with the diapers and wipes!
      We'll also likely attach a "bum gun" for cleaning diapers, so we'll see if we can work that into toilet routines for the rest of the household.

    • Actually most toilets in the Middle East, even public ones, have either a bidet or a "bum gun" sprayer to use. Frankly, I think using the sprayer leaves you cleaner than using TP alone. And if you sprayed first and used family cloths afterwards, you'd only be getting water on the family cloths. I'd still wash them in the washer before reusing, but if you're squeamish you can eventually get a washer with a sterilyze function. It's great for baby diapers too.

      Hubby and I bought a sprayer (Hubs grew up in the Middle East so he's used to it) intended to use as a diaper sprayer. We figure that we'll get double use out of it when we have babieezz. πŸ™‚

      • Unfortunately, you can't use the sterilize function on your washer with cloth diapers. The water gets too hot for the PUL fabric and would damage their water-proofness.
        However, you can use eco friendly "bleach" once in a awhile that gets everything squeaky clean!

  2. Like Imba, I was going to suggest a bidet. Apparently there are special toilet seats with bidet sprayer things attached. This would result in using much less toilet paper. It would also use less water than washing those cloths (and no need for any soaps/etc. either.)

    I'm sorry, but I would not use these cloth wipes. Just would not happen. For the most eco-conscious among us, there are probably many, many other things we can improve upon in our daily lives before turning to a washing machine full of poo. But that's just me. More power to anyone who can do this…

  3. I knew a lady who lived in a motorhome part time, and there are certain issues with that (dumping the tanks, paper clogging up the dump tube, etc.) She did this, but ONLY for pee. Poo got regular TP. It kept her from having to dump her tanks as often, and kept them easier to dump with no excess paper. I thought it was pretty smart.

    • Use it just for pee! That's brillant! And I agree with Cat — I would just throw it in the regular wash. I'm not squicky about pee.

      But I still won't do this overall. LOL. TP will be the last thing I give up. You'll have to tear it from my cold dead fingers.

    • I bought some cloths for this purpose about 5 or 6 years ago (these days I would make them myself, I think), with the intention of using them for pee only — which I did for awhile. I threw them in with some of my other wash (doesn't seem like it would be THAT much worse than underpants), though I doubt I'd want to do them if I used them for poo, too. I also lived alone at the time, so I didn't have to try to convince anyone else whether it might be a good idea or not. I haven't used them for their original purpose in awhile — they make very nice, soft hanky substitutes when I'm sick, though (they're flannel). The only reason I haven't used them is because I got lazy about getting them all together after the wash (some ended up in my underwear drawer, some random other places) and putting them back in the bathroom. Every so often I think about putting them into that use again… though I'm married now and not certain how my husband would feel about it (for pee only purposes, he'd probably be fine with it, though).

      They were nice and soft and absorbant to use, though. Toilet paper has been annoying me lately, for various reasons, so this may be the impetus I need to get back to using cloth – at least part time.

  4. I cloth diaper my kid, but for some reason I can't handle the thought of cloth wipes like this for the adults. I realize that doesn't make sense at all, but I just can't reconcile it.

    I will hold hands with my TP (for my bungholio!!) forever.

  5. I'm right there with you, Ariel. I switched to cloth pads because I did the mental, "If cloth is good enough for my baby, it ought to be good enough for me," thing — and it was one of the best personal hygiene decisions I've made. And wouldn't family cloth be great when you're stretched between paychecks and run out of toilet paper? Intellectually, family cloth is brilliant.

    But I just can't shake the squick factor. I'm not bothered by things that have been pooped on, nor am I bothered by small child poop. The second it becomes adult poop that I have to clean, my mind goes NO NO NO NO NO YOU KEEP THAT TO YOURSELF. Which is why I never became a CNA. (True story.)

    I can fall back on "My husband won't go for it" for now, though. Totes not my fault, y'all. >__>; Right now, I just try to do my best to use as little toilet paper as I can. (Also challenging when my potty-training toddler wants to wipe every time he farts.)

  6. I've considered it, and to be honest I'm still considering it. I cloth diaper my kiddo and use cloth wipes with her, I use cloth pads for myself… it really isn't a big step to move to washable "toilet paper". My washer has seen lots of poop through the wash cycle, and cleanliness isn't an issue (even with just one wash). Its more getting over the North American perception of clean that is the big issue for most people.

    Plus, living in a house with 100 year old pipes and hard water, cloth wipes would be nicer to my house and my pocket book (we have to pay someone to come and clear out our pipes once a year or so, with really harsh awful chemicals). We've been told only to use 1ply paper (anything cushier creates big problems in our pipes), so cloth would be so much nicer on my butt. And no harsh chemicals down my toilet would be a big plus.

    The only thing holding us back really is just getting up the gumption to actually do it. Now I'm inspired..I already have cloths ready to go. Might as well just grab a small hamper and put it next to my toilet this weekend. πŸ˜‰

      • Yeah, as you can see from the picture, even the Penniless Parenting folks have TP available for guests.

      • We use these at home, and have for a few months. We have a bin to collect them next to the toilet and wash them every few days, and I have never noticed any odor issues from it, and we just do a single washing cycle with some bleach added in it. They go in with other cleaning rags and stuff like that, usually, and it's never been an issue. It saves SO much money over the longer run. My wife actually made some herself from old cloth we did not need any more, and it is *much* more comfortable/softer to use than any toiler paper I have tried. I'm definitely happy with the switch.

        But we do keep regular paper for guests, as I don't expect everyone to be okay with it πŸ™‚

  7. I would have used cloth diapers if I'd had a kid to use them on, I use a Diva Cup, I use dish towels more often than paper in the kitchen – but yech. I don't think I could do it for anything more than pee.

  8. No, I can't ever imagine doing this. I think it's the reusing something that's been next to someone else's poo that grosses me out. I mean, underwear doesn't always come off at the end of the day smelling fresh from the wash, but we reuse those so maybe if I lived alone I'd consider it. Maybe? I don't know it just seems too gross to me. More power to those who've made it work though. (confession: I sometimes convince myself that it's okay if I don't do the most eco-concious thing because five people elsewhere are doing it and that must balance it out somewhere, right? Probably not.) Also the toilet paper in that picture is hung backwards.

    • "Also the toilet paper in that picture is hung backwards."
      BWAHAHAHAHA I said the same thing to myself when I looked at that picture!!! That's one of my pet peeves.

    • Ha, about the toilet paper being "backwards". My mother always hung the paper this way because when kids or pets hit at it, it doesn't all unroll, and for some reason, the particular TP we use unrolls toward the end of the roll to end up on the floor if hung "right".

  9. I think I'd be cool with it for pee, but for anything else, I'd end up using just… SO much bleach. I had this crazy stomach bug last year that made me even more suspicious of having any sort of bodily anything hanging about too long.

  10. Having made the switch from disposable menstrual pads to reusable ones, I think I actually would be fine with this.

  11. Couldn't use family cloth for poop. Since we talked about this post, though, I've been thinking about using it for peeee! I'm sure I'll take the plunge eventually.

  12. I think the ick factor for me, is that while you get used to cleaning one kids diaper. You're talking about a whole family of BMs. Washing it all out, and reusing ones that someone else has used, seems a little unreal.

    I think it's a multiplication factor. My diva cup is mine alone. I would never ever let anyone else use it- that just starts to get weird, for me.

    • Though, interestingly enough, one CAN purchase a used Diva Cup online. yuck. Like buying a used vibrator, if you ask me.

      • Off topic: depends WHOSE used vibe it was. I'd pay big monay for, say, Kate Winslet's leftovers.

        *slinks perverted self back into the darkness*

      • I remember a friend of mine in college had her first lesbian relationship and bought several $$$ dual partner vibes for them to use together. When they broke up, she wanted to rid herself of anything T____ and her had shared.

        She told me of her plans to sell them online and the thought completely grossed me out. She didn't get it, even after I asked if she would ever buy a vibe used and she immediately replyed "uggg, of course not!"

        I don't think any of them ended up selling (surprise surprise).

  13. Most people who've written about family cloth (that I've read) stick with using it for pee. I haven't made the leap yet because hubby has no use for it (as men tend to do their shake and move on) and it would take too long to get a full laundry load worth, but I definitely plan to start as soon as our baby arrives in September and I'm doing laundry more than 3 times a month anyway.

    • Would you really need a full laundry load worth? It's pee. Am I weird for thinking I'd through them in with towels?

      • No, not that I'd need a full load worth of the cloth – just that I'd need a full load of laundry. I wouldn't want them sitting around for more than a few days, and hubby and I don't seem to go through that much laundry… I don't think?

        • Most washers have a small load cycle. I will use for pee but not BM. I worked in Nursing Homes and they used washable diapers for the whole group of residents. They washed them and used them all from the cart. Everyone used everyone else's. They finally moved to disposable diapers after we told them it was like if we all piled our underware in the floor, washed them, then just picked us out a pair the next day when we came to work….that didn't sit well when we use that comparison.Definately toilet paper for visitors….

          • The answer is yes.

            For even moar awesome cleaning, put in a little baking or washing soda. But the ammonia is actually beneficial.

            Our house is definitely changing over to family cloth once we have:

            a- a baby, which means using cloth diapers
            b- a washing machine. I am NOT washing diapers or family cloth at the laundromat.

        • I had a cat who would pee on my stuff when he was stressed so I started getting enzyme cleaner and vinegar and it totally took cat pee smell out of everything! I've also used it when my daughter had accidents, it breaks down the proteins…that would work beautifully for family cloths

        • As I understand it, the ancient Romans used to collect urine in a cistern and wash laundry in it. Ammonia breaks down oils so the clothes would be cleaner.

          A healthy person's urine is generally sterile, so no problem with using family cloths for urine. Depending on the fabric they're made of, the cloths could be washed with towels, etc. using hot water.

          If you were using the cloths for feces, you would handle it as you would diapers – rinse the biological materials out and wash no less than twice weekly. I know diaper services wash once a week, but they use harsh chemicals and TONS of water.

      • I do use cloth menstrual pads, and after soaking the blood out of them in a pail, I throw them in with my black clothing load! So no, probably not weird. Unless I am also weird.

        I do get 100% recycled FSC-certified TP. That's as far as I think I can go on this one.

        • The thing is, if you have a front loading machine (more energy, water, and soap efficient) there is no such thing as a "small load" setting…

          • My front-loading washer has a sensor that causes it to use less water when there's a smaller load. And it's about 6 or 7 years old by now; I'm sure it's standard technology on newer models.

    • Sort of unrelated, but I had a health teacher in high school who tried to convince us that blow jobs were gross because "girls, boys don't wipe after they pee!" I was absolutely flabbergasted that she thought this was a revelation and somehow a deterrent. I mean, seriously? Minute amounts of dried pee? And swiping it with paper was supposed to improve it?

      We just have the WEIRDEST notions of clean.

      • Hahaha, oh health teachers. Not that blowjobs ARE gross, because duh — they aren't, but if they WERE, I think that would be the last reason I'd come up with. What a wackadoodle.

      • I have to admit there have been times when the thought would suddenly flash into my mind mid-blowjob that "hey, he pees through this!"

        It doesn't stop me, but I do try to think of pretty much anything else.

        • Steven Merchant used to remark that he was extra diligent in shaking if we was on a date, because, hey, she might have her mouth down there later. haha.

          • OT: but I just want to note that the comment stream from this post perfectly encapsulates why I love the Offbeat Empire. I'm laughing myself to tears over here. Thanks!

    • Personally I could never do this. I can barely handle my own poop, let alone someone elses! Plus there's that whole, "Someone has wiped their poop-butt on this" One time my sister took a pair of my underwear to borrow, washed it, then gave them back. I told her to keep 'em. If I can't handle that, I can't handle this.

      I use "green" TP. It's recycled and it's more biodegradable than other brands. So I suppose that counts for something.

      Although, honestly, I want a Japanese toilet. Those things are AMAZING.

      • My aunt has a Toto and it blew my mind/ass a few years ago — those things are SO FUCKING COOL. Too expensive to be realistic for most of us (my aunt's was wholesale from an interior designer friend) but still: SO freaking amazing. Your butt will never be the same after you've had a remote controlled butt shower and then a heated blow dry.

        • Ok, is it weird that I am now fantasizing about this? I don't think I need a new car, I think I need one of these….

        • Man, sounds like I missed out when I went to Japan and was too chicken to use the Toto properly. I was afraid it would splash up on my clothes and I'd have a wet stripe up the back of my shirt! For future reference–does this happen?

  14. Back in the old days, everyone had their own cloth in the out house and it was your responsibility to keep your out house cloth clean. If it wasn't hanging on your nail then you couldn't steal someone elses and you were screwed. I think I like the idea of everyone having their own rag and taking care of it for themselves. How many times can you poop and pee at home in a day? That's how many cloths you need, make 'em dirty, then clean 'em and start over. I think I'd want to be doubley "anal" and have one color for #1 and one color for #2. πŸ™‚

    • all my older relative who used outhouses have never spoken of cloths. They all claim that they used torn out pages from the Eaton's catalogue.

      • When I was a kid, I spent a couple of weeks at my family's farmstead in southern Sweden. The farm didn't have running water and we had to use an outhouse. Unless you brought your own TP, you just ripped a page out of an old news paper or old styled magazine. Exactly like your older relative mentioned.

        • Jax might be talking about older than your oldest relatives–like, rural 1800s and earlier. I know there was a very historically inaccurate TV show that portrayed this… Prairie House, or something? Back in the day/place where magazines and newspapers weren't abundant.

  15. We LOVE our family cloth and even get irritated when we have to use paper in other locations…it seriously does not do as good of a job. For us, cloth diapers allowed us to enter the family cloth scene by realizing that it is A: simple to do and B: sanitary. We simply keep a "wet bag" by the potty, when it is full dump it into the washer w/ my pads or other household cloth…do a pre-rinse/wash w/ no detergent, then a full on wash w detergent and an extra rinse at the end. Then pop everything into the dryer. Easy peasy and so much more environmentally friendly than TP,disposable menstrual pads, paper towels etc. My hubby has his BS in both zoology and microbiology (he is super microbe conscious) soooo if he can hang w/ it and deems it "sanitary"…most everyone can get on board. I think it is more a mental block than an actual issue of cross-contamination or general sanitation.

    • Totally 100% agree that it's a mental block. I really want to get on board, and my own intellect is like DUDE SERIOUSLY, GET OVER IT: IT'S REALLY SMART.

  16. I told my husband literally minutes before seeing this post in my reader that we need to switch to family cloth already. We use cloth diapers and I use cloth pads and I don't know when the last time a paper towel was in our house.. It just makes sense that we'd switch over to family cloth.

    • I used family cloth for a while and I liked it so much more than toilet paper. Our sink is right in front of our toilet so it was easy to wet the cloth before wiping. It was soft and nice, way better than even the expensive TP. I want to get back into it, I just need to get a wetbag for the bathroom and make some more wipes.

      • I think I would definitely need to get a spray bottle. We have a water closet with no sink, just a good old toilet, so water isn't handy.

        Did you use different colours for different family members? I was honestly just going to use what we have made, which is mostly off white. It all gets washed together, I guess I'm just not too worried about it all.

  17. I want to get a sprayer, and I have some flannel sheets to cut up for this, but I have the can for the and I'm all set mentally to make the switch. We wash a load of towels at least once or twice a week, so I have no problem throwing a lingerie bag full of wipes in with them.

    But then, I switched to cloth pads 6 years ago. It has taken me this long to mentally prepare for this switch, and part of that process was accepting that I will, indeed, be cloth diapering my future children. I don't really care what anyone else in the family does, although I suspect my Other Half will probably get on board eventually. He's gotten pretty good about humoring me on these types of things and at least giving them a try.

  18. Since we are already cloth diapering this is not a huge stretch for me. I would just wash them with my cloth diapers, since those are covered in poop and pee too. Hubby has a harder time coming to terms with this thought, but like I say to him, if you were out of tp would you rather use a wash cloth or nothing.

  19. I consider myself an eco-friendly person for the most part… but I would rather single-handedly end the earth with my wastefulness than have a bucket of poopy rags in my house (let alone my WASHER, where I WASH MY CLOTHES. Nevermind that I don't currently use hot water washes very often, and I never use bleach, and both would have to become regular parts of life if you were washing shitrags.)

    I can see how it might be easier to swallow if you've already done the cloth diapering thing… but still. I'm a total babyphobe who finds baby poop super gross and even *I* know that adult poop is still way grosser somehow. (And luckily I don't want kids, because I'd never make it through cloth diapering either.)

    • A, I think you and I are secretly the same person. I just can't get there, and if all the other reasons I don't want children suddenly disappeared there'd still be the obstacle of knowing that somewhere, somehow, I'd have to change a diaper. I have cats and a dog and that doesn't bother me…but the WIPING and the DIAPERING just…ewwww. Skeevy.

      As a side note, I'm not sure if anyone's already said this or not (I left the page and came back so I think I missed something in the comments), but I know a couple people were saying their biggest problem was with sharing them. Why not color code them? Husband gets blue, you get pink, etc? I mean, if that's your biggest beef, color coding should be an easy way to make sure your poop cloth is yours alone. πŸ™‚

  20. Maybe if you were only eating raw this could work well. Much less squick factor to contend with then! But I still would like to see a factoid on washing laundry vs. toilet paper usage for the environment.

    As for bidets, I got to try one on my honeymoon, and I only wish they were more common here!

  21. Yes! I am all for it, although pee only for me so far. I just throw my wipes in the babies cloth diaper bucket. I don't know what I'll do when he toilet trains…

    My husband is not on board, but is fine with whatever I choose to do in the bathroom πŸ˜‰

  22. From reading these comments I think the ideal solution would be having a bidet to rinse off the poo and then use the cloth to dry after. Of course only cloth for pee. I'd also want a garbage can with a tight seal with a foot release and durable wet bag. This would of course be best for a family who does laundry daily. Just toss the family cloths into the napkin/dish towel/hand towel/diaper load and wash em up. I mean, we put our underwear (even the more heavily soiled ones from our oops moments) in with our regular clothes loads, there is no reason to think that putting family cloth with other cloth cleaning items wouldn't be sanitary. I do know that human poop stains pretty bad and with cloth diapering after solid foods you have to rinse the diaper before you wash it. This is why rinsing with a bidet first seems more appropriate. However a bidet by itself seems no more comfortable than peeing and attempting to drip dry without toilet paper.

  23. NOPE. As long as you can get toilet paper made from recycled paper and it's still cheap (Come on, you can't tell me that cheap toilet paper costs that much more than running load of these through the wash with hot water and soap) I will stay on the toilet paper train. I am eco concious but there is no was I'm keeping shitty cloth in my bathroom! what about the squick fctor for guests alone!?

    • That's a good point, if I went into someone's bathroom and realized that that stack of (clean) rags on the toilet meant that the hamper next to the toilet was full of nasty ones, I'd probably gag a bit. And if you don't notice, and go to throw away a tissue in the wrong bin or something…..aaahhhhh!!

      (I also can't quite believe that it wouldn't smell like poo all the time, even with a tight lid. Our compost bin has a lid, but it's still stanky when it's full, and always lets out a belch of rotten air whenever you open it momentarily.)

      • Anecdote: In Greece, you can't flush toilet paper, you have to put it in bins beside the toilet and then throw it away later. Often, these bins do not have lids.

        So, I'm in Greece, during August, and I'm thinking: you've got to be joking! It's a hundred degrees outside, and there are about 15 of us sharing two bathrooms… it's going to smell awful!

        But it really didn't. I think, ultimately, there's not normally that much poo on the toilet paper you flush, so there's not much to get smelly. Even after a whole weekend's worth of toilet paper gathering there, it was fine. Go figure.

        • At my place of business we have a lot of employees who are not originally from the US. In the bathrooms, there is a sign that says not to put used toilet paper in the trash can, but rather to flush it. For the longest time I have been thinking "what sicko would leave their poo in the can??"
          And I now realize how ignorant I have been of the perfectly logical scenarios of pooping in other countries. Wow. Thanks for the info!

  24. Here's the icky thing, unless I am on my period, I do not wipe after I pee. Its a waste. I spend enough time on the toilet anyways checking facebook, reading or playing a video game that I drip dry. As for my but, that makes up for all the tp I save from not wiping.

  25. Nope. I have friends that use family cloth and it doesn't bother me, but it's outside of my comfort zone πŸ™‚

    I tried to tell my husband about it and his eyes were about to pop out of his head. He didn't even say a word….. I don't think I've ever rendered him speechless before!

  26. This is one I really feel the need to weigh in on. We've been VERY slowly (in my opinion) working toward going as paperless as possible.

    Right now we've got cloth napkins & use cloths in the kitchen as paper towels/ "sponges"/ hand towels.

    I switched to the Diva Cup & am working on cloth pads as well (mostly for those days when my cramps just won't allow for anything but pads). So far, so good, yeah?

    My next adventure is going to be handkerchiefs. Less gross than family cloth–sort of the next step on the spectrum.

    The thing is there's only 2 of us for now, & we have to wait for a full load of laundry to accumulate. We use all white cloth napkins & almost all white rags in the kitchen, so we're adding to our smallest load (whites) in hopes that it'll accumulate more regularly.

    BUT… my husband still doesn't change the dang kitchen rags frequently enough (I am CONSTANTLY realizing how nasty the rag near the sink is & going, "WHY is he USING this?!! HOW is anything getting CLEAN?!?").

    I know he'd want to do loads of family cloth every freaking day of the week *IF* I could ever get him on board with it (as the Magic 8-Ball would say: Outlook Not So Good). Except at this rate, we'd NEVER accumulate things fast enough.

    Plus, there IS that squick-factor– no matter how bizarre. WHY is it different than baby poop?

    And then there's the baby poop discussion:
    We're both leaning, once again, toward being pretty close to pretty sure that we want to invite baby poop into our lives… *EVENTUALLY.* We're 24 & 22. We don't feel the need to rush. BUT, I've basically already decided that cloth diapering & cloth diaper wipes with homemade solution will be the method in our house. Cloth diapers rule these days. I've seen the math worked out: it's TONS cheaper AND it's more eco-friendly. Plus, we make our own laundry soap now (thanks, Offbeat Home!), so we're frugal in that respect as well.

    So, it's looking like this for us:

    –Already cloth napkin-ing
    –Diva cup happening
    –making own laundry soap

    –Work on frequency of rag changing
    –cloth pads
    –cloth diapers in 5-10 years when we're ready to do that
    –cloth wipes w/ homemade solution
    –Family cloth!?

    I figure by the time we amass all of these cloth things that need washing, plus add to the population of people using all this stuff, plus we'll be ridiculously desensitized to the amount of poop in our lives. If we just start doing it when the baby starts doing it, there'll be so much poop involved that we'll barely notice how gross it is anymore.

    And that's my theory. I'll get back to you in 5-10 years if it fails because grown-up poop is gross. lol

    • I'm not sure I'd want to wash the napkins/dishrags in the load with the diapers/family cloths :-/ Even if it ends up perfectly sanitary… poo stains. And stains mean there are tiny particles left behind. And you'll KNOW that. Ack.

    • Handkerchiefs! They're the best, for real. I've been using handkerchiefs since I got back from Japan, because everyone there uses them and they are SO CUTE OMFG. Everyone else in my group was running around buying clothes and stuff, and I ended up with a giant collection of adorable handkerchiefs.

      And it turns out, there's a lot of random times in the day where you need scrap cloth and there usually isn't any. Spilled your coffee? Water ring on the wooden table? Forgot a napkin? No paper towels/air dryers in the public bathroom? Got a cut and don't want to drip blood all the way to the bandaids? These things used to happen to me all the time, and now I don't even notice, 'cause I always have a cloth.

      My favorites are the terry cloth ones, because they're great for sweat and tears and drying your hands (if you haven't used it for other stuff already, obviously) as well as sneezing and stuff. I have three Totoro-themed handkerchiefs and they're the best ever. I mean, look at this:

      So good.

  27. I used to use cloth diapers on my kids, but we had a diaper service that washed the diapers in scaldingly hot water that was much hotter than what anybody has in a private home. I'm not convinced that most homes can get their water hot enough to sanitize diapers or family cloths at home.
    I'm sticking to flushable wet wipes. (Now available in large quantities at Costco in their Kirkland brand.)

    • You could always boil water in a kettle, although you'd probably need multiple loads. Alternatively I've never used it so I don't know for sure it's right but my washing machine has a 90 degree celcius setting. To get it much hotter than that you'll need pressure to stop it boiling, but I would have thought 90 degrees would be enough for killing most things.

  28. I use cloth for pee, but can't get past the whole BLEARGH factor for poo. I did use cloth dipes for my kiddo, but paid a diaper service to pick up the gnarly ones and wash/sterilse them for me. Because… bleah. No. Anyway. I have a nifty glazed ceramic pot that I line with a cloth drawstring bag sitting next to the toilet to gather them in. I wash my cloths with towels (not kitchen ones though), and use a strong vinegar solution in that load. The vinegar seems to kill any unwanted smells or whatever. Haven't had any problems with this system so far (been doing it for a year or so).

  29. For the sake of laundromat karma (if I don't do it, neither will the person using the machine before me….please, universe?), I'm gonna say nooooooo. πŸ˜›

  30. When I first read this, my initial reaction was: Eeeeeekkkkkk! Maybe if I lived alone, but not with the both of us!
    But the more I think about it the more it makes sense. We use wet rags to clean up after a bedroom session and sometimes, if it's been raunchy, that means cleaning up more than just his contributions so we're basically doing it already. And yes the rags do get stained, but we're careful and I've never had a problem in the microbe department. So if we colour coded I don't think I'd have a huge problem with this, the big question would be storage of used ones in the bathroom and that is entirely dependent on the size and shape of your bathroom and your container. And then there's getting the SO to think along these lines and go along with it which is a whole other ball of wax.

  31. Truthfully I really want to convert to cloth in many areas of our lives, but it is really hard to get the habit rolling. Our son is now 8+ months and my diapering with cloth failed miserably (just didn't have the system set up ahead of time and our second hand dipes leaked…).

    I would be okay with rinsing with a sprayer/bidet type setup, then wiping with cloth. Many people have mentioned stains, and I know that sun drying gets baby poop stains out, so does it work for adult ones too? Color coding would be necessary for us, as we don't share undies, lol.

    But come on, I guess many people probably don't want to admit that they are wearing the same undies they put on this morning (cloth), despite numerous trips to the toilet and TP wiping that doesn't get you as clean as washing with water anyway… >_> and that doesn't even touch on bodily functions such as gas or leaks.

    I believe this year I will try this. I do a laundry load almost every day as a request of my husband (he works in healthcare and we have to sanitize his clothes frequently). We make our own laundry soap that works great too. And HE machines save on water, not just electricity, so we really are doing the environment a favor instead of flushing that TP.

    Finally, those of you who feel secure with "green" or recycled TP need to consider that the manufacturing/recycling of said product takes chemicals, machinery, and water, and produces byproduct in general. It is all some kind of exchange in the bigger picture.

  32. While the logical part of me knows that germs are everywhere in a bathroom (seriously, don't even think about your toothbrush right now or you'll gag) the less logical part of me thinks that I just wouldn't want to do anything to increase the possible spread of serious bacteria. For example, my husband was diagnosed with c. diff after he had some surgery, but it took 3 hospital stays and extensive testing to figure it out. I know that c. diff is everywhere, but if I can avoid leaving it sitting around my bathroom, then that's the option I'm going with. The fact is that so many of us are carrying around so much bacteria that _can_ become problematic for someone even a little immunocompromised – young children, old people, sick people, etc.

    You're likely pooping out MRSA, or c. diff, or some unknown virus – do you really want other members of your family wiping themselves with that same rag, no matter if it's been washed on hot? I suppose that you could color code, or only use for pee, but honestly, I have to believe that buying earth-friendly TP and only using a little bit would come out even given the increased washing and/or bleach.

  33. We use family cloth. There's two of us (both girls) using it and we also chuck them in the laundry with nappies, and towels we use instead of cat litter. Just all goes on a very hot wash (with home-made washing powder of course!).

    We only use it for pee, we always have toilet paper to hand for poos! And also make sure we have enough paper in for when we have visitors (we don't expect them to use the cloth, obviously!).

    My partner actually made us a couple of little mini wetbags – so there's always a spare one for when the other is in the wash. We probably wash 1-2 times a week and you can kind of turn the wetbag inside out inside the machine and not even have to touch the cloths!

    The cloths themselves – we just bought a few cheapo packets of washcloths, cut each one in 4 and sewed them round the edges to minimise fraying.

    We also do use cloth nappies (as mentioned), cloth wipes, cloth pads, kitchen reusable wipes / napkins (instead of kitchen paper) so this was only really the next obvious step.

    Been doing it probably about 2 years now. Can't see why we'd ever change back. I feel much cleaner using cloth somehow and actually resent having to use paper when using a loo elsewhere!!

      • Hi Fiona….I'm Carly's partner. We have been using towels for cat litter for a couple of weeks now.

        We use old tea towels, cut up old beach towels and old muslins. Usually only change it once a day in the morning. I pick the poo off the towel with a shame-on-me plastic bag – I want to get in the habit of picking it up with toilet paper and putting it in the toilet. The used towels get put in a black bag (if we continue this long term I'll prob make a wet bag that can be thrown in the washing machine with the dirty towels).

        We usually wash the towels once or twice a week. We put them on a hot wash and usually throw other things in with them like more towels, cloths, etc.

        One down side is that we have to lock our cats in the living room at night (one can open doors and the other chooses to race around the house like a lunatic at 2am, both of these activities wake us and our daughter). Our living room is a large open plan living/dining room, so it can get a bit smelly because the tray is left in the middle of the room. It usually sits in a little nook in our kitchen so we don't get much smell from it out there.

        I definitely want to keep doing it, not sure about how money it's saving what with the extra washing vs the cost of cat litter but it's better for our fluffy ones and for the environment (no chemicals or whatever else they add to cat litter, just our own towels washed in home made washing detergent)

        Wow, that was a ramble.

  34. I use cloth menstrual pads, and I use family cloth for pee (TMI: I use wet wipes for poop, because I have a chronic disease and I poop a lot, and my bum gets sore). I live alone in a small apartment with a very small washer/dryer, so I use a large wet bag (like for cloth diapers) and it fills up fast enough that I wash it in time. I used to have chronic UTIs and yeast infections, and I haven't had a single one since I started using family cloth. I love it. I bought mine at the lunapad store. I like that I can use it for anything–cleaning up spills, kleenex when I'm sick, etc.

    Even if I only use it for pee, I figure it saves paper and money. I still buy toilet paper, but it lasts longer, and I never run out, because I always have family cloth around.

  35. Okay, so TMI warning.

    I once spent 3 months on an Outward Bound trip. It was loads of fun.

    If you leave your pee rag to dry in the sun between uses, it doesn't smell. Even if it's a week between resupplies. (The two caveats: One, I'm not talking "shove your nose into it" doesn't smell. Two, after six weeks with no showering you get used to smelling… very human.)

    And yes, there are many things you can wipe with that aren't toilet paper. However, after three months of evaluating sticks for poop-wiping capabilities….. well, I always have room in the budget for TP. (The fancy quilted kind even!)

  36. I have two more words for everyone: FLUSHABLE WIPES!

    I think I would stick with my wipes for my butt, and maybe switch my TP use (for #1) to Family Cloth.

    • That is what I found, too. If there are intestinal 'malfunctions' so to speak, I do use paper just because it's not worth it getting super messy. But normal bowel movements usually leave very, very little to actually wipe.

    • And if your GI tract ISN'T working properly, no toilet paper in the world will get you clean without rubbing you raw. No paper is that soft. I'll choose grossness over interminable suffering any day.

  37. "Then you get into the whole "If it uses that much water, is it REALLY eco-conscious?" debate. "

    I took a course in Product Life Cycle Analysis while doing my B.Sc in Environmental and Resource Science where we addressed the issue of cloth vs. disposable diapers, which is quite comparable.

    Basically, there is no way to determine which approach is over all "the best". Both choices have environmental costs, but comparing the two is like apples and oranges.

    Therefore, it makes sense to look at your local situation. If you live somewhere where there are water use issues (for example, anywhere that draws water from the Colorado River) then toilet paper might be a better option.

  38. I can honestly say I don't feel the need to go paper free in that area. Cloth diapers? Sure. Toilet paper is easily biodegradable though so I feel no guilt flushing it.

    • It's not just where it ends up, it's also how it gets there, and where it comes from. It takes resources to manufacture TP, and it takes resources to run water processing plants to clean the water.

        • I meant having to filter out solids (clumps of paper) from the water being processed, I assume that takes more steps than merely filtering particles and sanitizing the water.

      • You are so right ! it takes gas to cut the trees , haul them , coal to run the electricity ,then chemicals to soften and bleach the TP , plastic chemicals to wrap the tp in etc .all of this chemical processing has to be processed out of the water to be safe for people and the environment .. but sadly companies don't always do this ! Then the tp getting into the water via flushing causes more filtration and more ways to use up chemicals ie bleach to kill germs . Problem with cloth is sanitation and water resources to grow cotton are astronomical and the detergents to wash cloth get into the water supply .. but if you use cloth you save the tp and extra chemical processes .If your a super hippy you could go supper green and use leaves or a smooth stone for wiping !

  39. I use cloth for pee, as well as cloth pads (and am working on learning to use a diva cup). I made cloths by cutting in half a bunch of extra washcloths I had.

    They really don't smell, and pee is basically sterile, so it's not a sanitary issue to save them up til you have a full load.

    Using for #2 isn't something I think I can do though. If/when I have kids, I'd want to do cloth diapering, but that would be a queasy-ness issue too.

  40. Here's what I'm thinking…I wash my face with a washcloth. It could have been the one my husband previously used to wash his butt. Its clean. It looks clean, smells clean, generally doesn't ever bother me…yep, I could totally do family cloths…

  41. Nope, not for me. I don't think I will be cloth-diapering, either. No matter how eco-friendly it is supposed to be.

    (My sister tried cloth-diapering, and her duaghter actively refused the cloth diapers. What does this say about the kid? She's one trashy chick. ^^ )

  42. I don't think I could do this. Mainly because of the storage factor. There's only 2 of us here, we're both out of the house most of the time and I'm pretty sure there is no way in hell my husband would even consider it.

    Based on the amount of toilet paper we use it'd take at least a month to collect enough of these to fill the machine. And I'm not really sure washing a load of laundry on high heat with bleach or another disinfectant every month is really better than using an equivilent amount of recycled, biodegradable toilet paper.

    I could throw them in with other stuff so they're not sitting around as long but then thats even more hot, chemical filled washes when most of it won't need that.

    If you can get enough people in one home on board it'd probably reach a tipping point where it would be more eco friendly but for us I can't see the benefits outweighing the downsides.

  43. Like a lot of other folks, I think I could try this for pee, but the mental block re: poo is too much for me!

    And, obviously, I would keep some disposable TP around just in case/for guests. I use cloth towels in my kitchen but I keep some paper towels for backup, too. Sometimes you need something you can throw away (or you're gonna have to toss the occasional cloth, life is messy)!

  44. I share a lot of the same concerns as everyone else, but also..the name "family cloth" is super weirding me out right now. Why is it called that??? It's the weirdest euphemism ever!

    • A commenter up-thread explained that back in the ol' days, each member of the family had their own cloth. Makes sense that this could then become "family cloth." No idea if this is true, but it makes sense to me.

      • My dad's family had an outhouse, so did my Nana and my great grands on that side back in the day (Yes, we're Appalachian Americans) and nobody used any cloth hanging on a nail. They used newspaper and catalog pages, with a bucket of sawdust and lime that you sprinkled down the hole afterwards for your leavins. I'm not saying that it never happened anywhere, just that it probably wasn't common. I agree that the term "family cloth" somehow skeeves me out even more than the idea of a hamper full of dookie rags in my bathroom does.

        I use cloth for cleaning, and we try to not be wasteful, and I would LOVE a bidet, but without a bidet I don't see this being an option we could use. My old washer does not get hot enough and I do not use bleach, so I'd always be worried that some nast was slipping through the cracks…

    • I mentioned it to my husband and he agreed- He said the mental block was all about the name. He suggested "your very own person ass-rag" instead

  45. I've wanted to switch to family cloth for a while. I cloth diaper my daughter (though my older one is in pull ups at night time–haven't found cloth ones that fit her well enough to not have leaks πŸ™ ), use mama cloth and a diva cup for myself, and am working on getting rid of the paper towels and paper napkins in the house (I had gotten rid of them for a while, but the hubs got pissy at me and that's the first thing he did, went out and bought some, then I got lazy again–we were paper free for like 3 months though, hehe). My husband freaks at the idea of family cloth, though, so I'd end up instituting it while he was deployed so he'd come home to a done deal, with the option to use TP for himself. I've talked to enough people who have done it–including one friend who gets easily squicked out by potty stuff–and I'm convinced I could handle it.

  46. I'm adding to the "pee only" commenter list.I actually did a version of this for a month or two last year. My partner and I were sleeping in an unplumbed outbuilding on a country property. We went inside for everything else, but sometimes it is 3am and you have to pee and staggering the hundred yards to the house is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN without a terrible pee based accident and/or falling into a groundhog hole. So we peed outside. Now you female types may know where I am at here. I only have penis envy when it comes to peeing outside. People with male plumbing can just shake and be done with it, but people with female plumbing, well…I have a little song: "No matter how you wiggle, no matter how you dance, the last two drops always end up in your pants" Not fun when it's 3am and snowing! So I gathered up a big pile of worn out socks and used those to make the outdoor pee excursions much more pleasant. because urine is mostly water anyway, it was no problem to wash those out and reuse them. Not gross, and they can even get a first rinse-out with the hose if you're really freaked out.

  47. As someone else mentioned, I think you have to have your own washer/dryer for this… I'd feel pretty weird washing such intimate articles at a laundromat. Or by hand (bleh).

  48. My family and I used this system for quite a while and LOVED it! After that, some living situation things changed and we've been using TP again, but I really miss the cloth. It was simple, worked SO well for bum cleaning, and was of course eco-friendly. I'm looking forward to getting back to it! I just made my own wipes out of ollder and fraying towels, t-shirts, etc. The lightweight terry fabric (kitchen-rag-like material) seemed to be everyones favorite, followed by the inside of light hoodies (i sewed two pieces together so both sides were the hoodie inside material.)

  49. Ok, so, takeaways from the comments:

    1. First get a bidet/bum gun.
    2. Start taking fiber supplements and upping my probiotics intake.
    3. Start using "family cloth"!

    If we did 1 and 2, I'm sure we could do 3. But until then…. maybe I should work on decreasing my paper towel usage first….

  50. I've been in a recovery care center in Costa Rica now for several weeks healing after surgery. The recovery center is actually a ranch on the edge of the rainforest, volcano right outside my window. So, while the electricity is 99% and there is wifi and running water a plenty, the plumbing is something else to be considered.

    The ranch provides toilet paper, but they ask residents to please not flush the paper. There's a special rubbish bin in the bathroom into which one is encouraged to deposit used paper. At first, I was pretty squeamish about the idea. Mostly, my hesitancy was rolled up into my own acknowledged OCD issues. The idea of having paper, even just pee paper, sitting there in a basket … just sitting there. Well, no.

    Walking into the bathroom the first time, considering the quandary of respect for my hosts, their property, and my need to be far away from biological dilemmas, I was at a loss about what to do. I wanted to honor my host's septic system, but I also have certain criteria and conditioning in mind when it comes to personal hygiene. I'm the sort who not only uses toilet paper, I use too much. I also am Charmin Freshmates key demographic. I always follow up my routine with a baby wipe because I am loath to the idea of ever having a "smell". (note: I said Freshmates, but I actually buy the cheapest baby wipes because they're cheaper.)

    Cue Western showdown music: Confronting the toilet for the first time in a stand-off I surely could not win, I suddenly realized, "Hey, now, wait a minute, there's a sink right there at my elbow!" So, I tossed a washcloth into the sink and ran the hot water over it before having a sit-down. As soon as I , ahem, finished my business, I grabbed the warm, wet washcloth and tidied up. I then tossed the washcloth back into the sink while I re-situated myself. As soon as I was all put back together, I immediately washed the washcloth with antibacterial soap. Heck, I'm washing my hands anyway, right? I wrung out the washcloth and hung it up for the next go-round, already clean! The next time, I did it again… and again… and again. I have to say, I've never felt cleaner and I plan to take this idea back home with me, not only because I do feel cleaner, but also because it saves me money and I hope to never deal with a clogged toilet ever again.

  51. We (two of us) have a sprayer attached to the toilet (the "bum gun" that was referenced earlier), and we have our own individual cloths that we use to dry ourselves after. We wash them every other day or so, with regular towels. We've been using it for about 4 years now (after a trip to India where the dipper + water left us feeling MUCH cleaner than TP), and it's awesome. We keep TP in the house for guests, though.

    I can't get down with the family towels without water first, though. That just feels icky to me.

  52. I poop at least twice a day, and I use two or three biodegradable wet wipes per poop. I tend to wrap these in some normal TP/a biodegradable nappy sack and stick them in with the usual household waste rather than flush them so they don't go all clumpy. These cloths appear to be the same sort of size as a wet wipe, so I'd end up with minimum four poopy cloths hanging about after a day, and a good six or seven pee cloths. That's 20 cloths for two days, which would probably merit a wash, more if i lived with someone else, at least double if there's a babby around. That's doing a load of laundry every other day.

    I can't help but think that's a) a whole bunch worse for the environment and b) inevitably HUGELY expensive?

    Bum guns are definitely the way forward, however. Although if I got one I'd just spend hours washing my gross bits every day. So refreshing!

    • Keep in mind, you probably wouldn't use two per number-two.

      I have 110 cloths (I folded a queen flannel sheet in half, made 6x6inch squares and sewed the two layers together around each square), and I use about half of my stash a week. That includes using them when I am out and about. That's for just me, and I have a pretty active bathroom life. That's all I'm saying about that lol.

      Anyway, half of my stash fills the little tiny lidded trash bin I use for them, and they don't smell funky sitting around for a week. Sometimes I feel I need more than the dry flannel, and so I have a spray bottle of homemade baby wipe solution (for a 12 oz bottle: 1 tbs your choice of liquid soap, 1 tbs mineral/any kind of oil, 1 tbs witch hazel which is totally optional for most people, a couple drops of essential oil if you want, fill the rest with either distilled water or boiled & cooled water). That being used for 1/3 of visits or so means that the bin smells like soapy lavender and nothing else. I sprayed a clean wipe and put it in a freshly cleaned bin for two days without adding more at one point, and it smelled exactly the same when I got back to it. Don't really know why I did that. I think I was just testing to see if it was gross? Anyway because I talk about using them I figured I would test it for science lol.

      For washing: I soak the wipes overnight in a pail that came with cat litter. Any pail that's twice the size of your dirty wipes bin will do. Pour in the amount of laundry soap for one load of laundry, a scoop of oxy-clean or store-brand equivalent (it's peroxide in a solid state rather than a liquid one, you can use a half cup of hydrogen peroxide if you want), then the wipes, then hot water. I mush it around with a plunger (because they often get folded in use before going to the can), and let it soak overnight. Wash the next day with towels in hot water, just dump the entire tub of water and all right into the machine, and since it has the soap already they're all clean clean clean. I've had no issues with them not getting clean this way (if you put them in a lingerie bag, they don't always unfold, which can be an issue with popcorn. *ahem*). No problems with odors on them or the other towels or anything, either. I don't use fabric softener, and I haven't noticed any issues with the towels or the wipes being water repellant from the oil in the spray which was something I was concerned about happening.

      I do spray the bin with vinegar when I empty it, maybe once a month or so since my partner usually soaks the wipes and I know he doesn't spray it. Not because it actually has had any issues, mostly because OCD and trying to prevent issues before they crop up.

      Uh yeah so there ya go… gosh now that I've typed all that out I feel like I should have put it in as a submission but uhh… yeah. Probably best to just be buried here at the end of the comment section where the only people who will see it are people who are really interested or morbidly curious!

  53. My husband is from India, and after moving in with him, I found out he never uses toilet paper… NEVER! I was shocked.
    Even after I traveled to India, it took me a long time to feel comfortable with using water only to clean after the toilet.

    I am looking to install one of these "bum guns" because I prefer that set-up best. My husband prefers a simple cup of water though.

    No offense, but I do not like the family cloth idea. With the array of easy-to-install bidets out there, water seems like the better alternative. Perhaps you could use the family cloth for drying after using the bidet.
    I would love to see an article on bidets for the bathroom. The whole concept is still little offbeat for Westerners.

    • I'm from the U.S. and I can't imagine using a bidet. The thought of water blasting up my butt sounds so uncomfortable. And how do you tell if you've missed a spot?

      • It is actually very similar to taking a shower, except you don't have to take all your clothes off. You can adjust the water pressure so that it isn't spraying you too hard.

        As for knowing how you're clean, I would recommend trying the bidet a few times, and then using TP afterward. You can see if you're clean or not. After a few tries, it becomes intuitive and you know when you're clean.

  54. My sister's family switched to cloth a while back. She had a ton of old t-shirts, so she cut those suckers up and used them. She used a stainless steel bowl to hold the used ones and the smell was very low even though there wasn't a lid or other form of deodorizer – and come to think of it, I never smelled poop, just slightly ammonia-y urine.

    Speaking of, and this may have already been mentioned – be cautious in going the "wash with bleach" route for cleaning them. Urea converts to ammonia which when combined with bleach converts to chloramine. Advice from a lady who once thought to clean a litter box with bleach. However, hot water will clean it.

  55. Honestly? I'd rather use my hand. Surely this is much more hygienic than having buckets of crap-covered cloth hanging around and then… going in the washing machine???

  56. Did it. Love it. Not going back.

    We used cloth diapers & wipes for the babies. It was a natural switch. We chopped up the receiving blankets, sewed them up and voila! Free toilet wipes for life.

    They're more durable, more comfortable, and cuter. Also, no plastic wrapping, no cardboard tubes, no cutting down trees just to wipe my bum.

    We use them for all types of bathroom icks, though we do keep conventional in the house for company.

    As far as getting a full load, our entire house is cloth so we wash our cleaning rags, any sheets my toddler had an accident on, and the wipes on a HOT, HEAVY SOILED but no soap pre- or quick-wash. It gets nearly all the gunk out, then I just top up the load with towels, etc to get a full one and wash as usual. I do this only once or twice a week. If there should be any lingering stains, throw them up on the line outside and they are good as new. We have been doing this for nearly three years.

  57. Am I the only one thinking the bathroom would REEK until it's time to do laundry? I mean think about it. Even if it's just pee, it's going to stink. You can smell when a kid wets his pants and he's in it for a few minutes. Can you imagine how it would smell being there all day? And that's if you accumulate enough to wash daily! Sounds like a nice alternative (I'd much rather wipe with a soft cloth than crumbly paper), but not with how much it would stink.

    • We use the small-sized wet bags, like you might have anyway if you use cloth diapers while out. We used it like a liner for a small, lidded trash can that sat next to the toilet. The waterproof bag keeps in the wet and the smell.

    • It hasn't stunk for me, and I have an open plastic ice cream bucket in my shower that I keep my used cloths in. No smell which really surprises me. Today is the 3rd day and still no smell. I have a very sensitive nose and so does mom and the occasion she goes into my bathroom she doesn't notice anything. I am far happier using cloth and much healthier too! I am apparently allergic to the chemicals in paper products which caused ulceration of my labia and perineum and that is healing very quickly since switching to cloth! It is no longer very painful to use the restroom, or clean myself. So for me, this was a necessity.

  58. as a friend pointed out recently, if you get shit on your hands, do you prefer to wipe it off with paper (or cloth) or do you wash your hands…

    • True, washing is the most effective way to remove that from your skin, but we use cloth so we don't have to jump in the shower every time we use the bathroom. We still wash our hands with soap and water after using the bathroom. Yes we have poopy and urinated cloth to wash but at least we don't have to shower 3-5 times daily. So that removes the vast amount of water used, which is eco-friendly itself.

      If you were referring to a bidet and using soap with that, sure, that's great, but for those of us who prefer not to have to use soap so freakishly often and the expense that goes along with it, using cloth wipes is far more useful and less costly. πŸ™‚

  59. Oh Lord.. NO. Just, no. I work in a hospital and I can't wrap my head around this idea.
    I can't stand the thought of letting dirty ones hang out in a hamper, and, after they have festered for a while, then tossing them into my washer.

    Hot water or no…
    Oh the GERMS! Oh the HORROR! Oh the nasty diseases!
    There is not enought Lysol in the world….

    • We live with germs on and in us day in day out. So what that you have a germ cloth (or 10) hanging out in a "hamper" even though I would put them separately from other dirty clothes…)?? I use a small ice cream bucket (the plastic kind) to put them before they are washed. I am allergic to the chemicals used in paper products, and I have found that switching to cloth that I wash with my own soap (pure castile soap) and rinse with ACV my privates are healing quickly! No more severe pain, no more ulcerated labia, no more broken skin, bleeding, stinging from my perineum and anus. I am so much happier using cloth! It's healthier for me, too! So there are germs everywhere, just because you work in a hospital doesn't mean that the amount of germs in your home anywhere equates to the amounts and TYPES of germs in your home. I think it's best to think "outside the box" when it comes to our health and well being. It's worked for me!

  60. No TP for me but everyone else in the house uses it. I wash and feel a lot cleaner than rubbing with dry paper. :\

  61. Lol I was already wiping my baby's cloth diapered butt with cloth wipes. I was already sewing "momma cloth" for myself and my eldest. I just sewed some more cloth wipes and we've been using them ever since. For EVERYTHING poo included. They are SO soft and so NOT TEAR-ABLE!!! And you can wet them in the sink like a baby wipe when needed. I just throw them in the bucket and wash when I wash dipes (which is sooner now as we run out of wipes before I run out of dipes) I'll NEVER go back to paper. Paper SUCKS!!!! πŸ™‚

  62. I am completely intrigued by this concept. Does anyone know of a good material to use that DOES NOT need to have the edges sewn? Something that will not fray in the wash.
    And I have a question… What in the world is a Diva Cup???

    • A Diva Cup is a cleanable, reusable, medical-grade silicone cup that you place inside your vagina to catch your menstrual flow. You remove it about 2x daily and dump the contents into the toilet, rinse it and put it back in. There are many menstrual cups on the market across the world these days and I purchased one called the Lunette cup. I haven't yet used mine during a period but it seems like it would work great!

    • My whole life was tied up in "stomach issues" or "bathroom issues" as I call it. I have eliminated foods and additives I found to be the cause of them (all allergic responses for me) and my bathroom issues are pretty fixed for now. I do still have diarrhea due to a medication I am on to heal my gut of candidiasis, but switching to cloth has been an amazing adventure! Even with the diarrhea it appears to be MUCH LESS on the cloth than on the TP! It's crazy! And you can always rinse it out in the tub or a bucket before putting it in the wet bag or trash can (specifically for the used family cloth) or wherever you would put them for your own bathroom. I have been doing that on the occasion I have a messy one. It might help your stomach problems to use them. The gastrointestinal tract starts at your lips and ends at your anus. It's all connected. Perhaps you are having an issue simply due to the chemicals in toilet paper and related products?

  63. I am surprised that throughout all of the comments only one person uses fabric and places that used fabric in the household waste. We already place our shit in potable water as opposed to composting toilets to close the nutrient cycle as nature intended. No need to place our shit rags in potable water as well, and use extracted gas or coal fired electricity to heat this potable water.

    I am about to begin using cut up non synthetic materials and throwing them out with the trash. Hell they come once a week anyway and I can never fill up that giant container. I will wet the material first, which seems like the best option for my comfort and health. If I was living in a more rural area, I would start a compost pile specially for these items.

    • Might as well flush your rags too. It'd save you trouble. Where do you think regular toilet paper winds up? Barscreens pull up large objects (toilet paper, fecal matter, bicycle handle bars) and it ends up filling up the landfills. From my POV, reusable toilet rags are great. And if you do not like using potable water, get a grey water system or a toilet with a sink on the back that fills the bowl (costs about $1,000 right now but it's a great investment).

      • I agree with your mood here. It is all about "trouble" isn't it? The ick factor, the washing, the possibly touching used rags, etc. I am allergic to chemically treated paper products like toilet paper and paper towels and only just figured out why my private area was raw and bleeding and super painful. I switched to cloth 3 days ago and wham my bits are healing!! I am not keen on the idea of washing them but I think for now I will hand wash them in a bucket and add ACV to the rinse portion. I really have no other choice and that is what gave me the push to do it. I did not want to use recycled and non bleached TP because I tried it before and it left bits everywhere, worse than non-recycled TP and was thin and just didn't have the cleaning factor I needed. Plus the whole chemicals in the recycled paper such as BPA and other cancer-causing agents put me off of them completely. I'm sticking to cloth I wash myself with soap I know doesn't harm me. It may be a little more water per week used, but I needed this for my health and sanity.

  64. I am really sorry, They used cloth diapers on us when we were small. As I grew up, I saw how it is with little one and those cloths. To Clean them was the hard part. No thank you. I love the toilet paper. Companies are more environmentally conscience that what they used to be. Not totally there but baby steps.

  65. Something no one mentions when this topic comes up: I have very old pipes, and after the second $200 visit from the plumber to unclog TOILET PAPER from my pipes (and I am a single woman living alone. I don't shit THAT much; this is a pipe problem), I made the switch because I didn't have another option short of replacing all the pipes, and I definitely can't afford that. It takes some getting used to, but I use cloth menstrual pads, and have helped cloth diaper my niece, so it's really not that big a deal. I wouldn't probably do it if I didn't have to, but oh well.

    • I can understand your hesitation. I really was like "NO WAY" when I saw an episode or two of the frugal show on TV a year or so ago but now that I HAD to switch due to apparently a giant allergy to the chemicals used in TP and paper towels I am loving it! It feels so luxurious and actually leaves me much cleaner than paper ever did. Since I have "bathroom issues" on occasion I do wet one of the cloths to make sure there is nothing left there and it does an amazing job! I will no longer have to buy baby wipes (Seventh Generation – no chlorine) as One wipe that is damp works better than the baby wipes where I would have to use multiple wipes to make sure no residue was left back there! I am sold on this and even though I only just started 3 days ago I can see the huge upside in using them instead of paper products. I can't tell you how good I feel getting rid of that allergen for me. I rarely now touch paper towels and only use hand towels now.

      We have a puppy so picking up doggy doo from indoors I will have to use a paper product but that is rare these days. Go cloth, for the win!!

  66. I had to switch to family cloth as I realized that my whoo-ha has been so very sore, sore enough to bleed all the time (not from my vaginal canal but my labia and perineum! I saw I had eczema on my right thigh right on and above the knee and figured it out that I put my hand with the TP on my right knee as I readjust it in my hand before I wipe. I said enough is enough and after reading a lot about family cloth I found 2 receiving blankets I had that were very soft and perfect for this and cut them up and started using them right away. This is now my 3rd day (technically less than 3 days due to starting at night) and my bits are healing dramatically! My perineum is no longer raw and doesn't sting when I sit down on the toilet or even feel sore when I wipe with family cloth. And my front part is much less sore and is no longer bleeding. It is healing all because I switched to family cloth.

    Yes, the poopy aspect of it is kinda gross, but if I had to choose between chronically raw, sore, bleeding nether regions and pain that goes along with it or washing a small bucket of soiled cloth every few days or once a week, I'd go with the cloth every time. I plan on hand-washing my cloth at first to see how often I need to wash them as I am the only one in my family using them. I don't go through a lot of them, so I will get a bucket and get super hot water from my bath faucet and put it in there an pour in a good amount of my liquid castile soap and use a clean plunger to plunge away at them. Rinse and repeat. Rinse finally with some ACV (allergic to white vinegar) and rinse then hang or tumble dry. For me, I have no choice but to use family cloth now that I've found it. Thank you, Lord! *muah*

  67. Hmm… Seems like a pretty great idea to me. Realistically, it's not unlike folks that cloth-diaper their babies and, unlike babies, we don't have to keep the used material next to our skin until such time as we get our moms to change us. LOL! *shudder* Ugh… bad mental image.

    Anyway, this is actually something I'd consider doing, provided that I could convince my soon-to-be husband. The lack of little, paper leftovers might do the trick… *giggle*

  68. I've been tempted since we cloth diaper our little guy .. but the poop factor grosses me out and getting the ammonia smell out is super tough with hard water and only if you use a good detergent and hot water . I am also terrible at washing my towels and counter dishwashing cloths . Maybe if I didn't live in a dessert and got my bidet sprayer to work for getting poop off I'd try it .Hubbies kinda willing to try it .. only if bidet works . For now toilet paper and I are necessary allies .

  69. My grandma used the family cloth when she was alive. I was squeamish to use it so snuck the tp. Now, with 6 of us in the house and the septic tank not being able to keep up, I have started using them even thou the rest are against it. It really doesn't bother me to use the family cloths, for 1 or 2. I just discretely put them in a hidden cloth bag and wash them with the rags. I don't even think the others know I am doing this.

  70. Once upon a time, I tore up an old towel and used it as pee rags. They were scratchy so I tore up an old flannel shirt, much better. I had a small garbage pail with lid beside the toilet just for these and Luna Pads. I did some sort of laundry often enough that it worked out. Honestly though, I wish the US got on board with bidets. Once I moved to an apt without onsite laundry, my system fell apart. Taking a cab to a laundromat once a week or less with a bunch of pee rags was too much for me.

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