This week we are discussing the topic of “family cloth”, and a challenge to our fan base. Family cloth refers to the system of using reuseable wipes in place of toilet paper. WAIT, DON’T RUN AWAY YET! I will admit the first time I heard this idea my face contorted into a mix of disgust, fascination and nausea all at once.
Now, as with most things, there is a wide spectrum of family cloth. On one end you have families who use cloth wipes only for both number 1 and number 2, with no toilet paper in the house.
In the middle you have family cloth users who use cloth wipes for both 1 and 2, but have toilet paper present for guests and if they have a messy job they want to use TP for.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have families who use it only for number 1, and always have toilet paper present for any need or want, and always for number 2. This week my family and I are at that starting point. I honestly don’t know if we will branch beyond that, but I have to give credit to my daughters for the switch! In our house we have 7 people, 6 who use toilet paper. For those of you who have young children, you know that asking them to only use a few sheets for pee-only still results in half the roll going down the drain (literally…). We go through enormous amounts of toilet paper, both wasteful and costly! We ran out for about 12 hours one week, and had to use the baby’s cloth wipes. My girls thought it was heaven, and we are giving this a try.
Now, I have a diaper system going so it is easy for me to wash our wipes daily, if you don’t have diapers, you can accomplish this system with a small wet bag hanging in your bathroom and a little basket of dry cloth wipes. For those who use them for number 2, a thermos of hot or warm water, or running them under the tap is what is usually preferred. I have heard a few objections in my years on natural forums to this system, some being:
1) Ummm…..ew? Well yes, it is odd to think of this with the norm being toilet paper in the US. BUT, if you are using cloth diapers, haven’t you already bucked the trend? You are already in the minority, even if you only use cloth diapers part time.
2) Isn’t that unsanitary? I think if it this way, if I am trusting my baby and toddler’s HUGE bowel movements to get clean in the laundry (which I do or I wouldn’t use them, and I know they are clean because they are odor free-and remember-you can’t hide the smell of poop!) I know that I can trust the cloth wipes to get clean. At this point we only use them for urine removal, I have no doubt that my hot water and Tide powder can do the job. Also, from experience your hands touch nothing compared to toilet paper that shreds and tears, you really keep less on your hands by using a wipe, anything that conveys is gone with a good handwash anyway.
3) Should you be mixing pee and poo from adults to baby’s diapers? Granted there are less potential contaminants in a newborn’s bowel movements than an adults, but you are still completely getting them clean with a good wash routine every time. Also, if you have two in diapers you know you are mixing both “bacterial sources” together as well, your sniff tests you do with diapers will be a good indication of cleanliness on the washed items, because you can’t hide the smell of poop.
Consider taking the challenge, I started with a few dozen Thirsties wipes and a Rumparooz wet bag in the bathroom, right now we are at number 1 only, and will always have toilet paper available. The money savings are immediate, the comfort is evident right away, and less waste is a great benefit as well 🙂
How to wash? Same as diapers, take a peek at our washing advice on that:
Using cloth toilet paper is considered by most to be “weird”, today’s culture wants us to instead use the earth’s resources and make money off of it in the process. There isn’t much money to be made by a company on cloth wipes, they last forever and only need a renewable resource to clean them.
SO, if you want to start being a “weirdo” with me, or if you already are a family cloth user, I welcome you to the Family Cloth Challenge.