TMI Alert: Cloth Toilet Paper

cloth toilet paper setup
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Because I know you’re all just dying to know how to sustainably clean your nether-regions, I figured I’d update on our excursions into the land of cloth toilet paper (a.k.a My mother thinks I’m crazy).

We’ve expanded! Not only does our master bathroom still have a cloth toilet paper setup, our downstairs/guest bathroom also shares it’s plush wonders with our private blunders. It’s a beautiful thing, this swiping with cottony goodness.

I decided the camoflauge patterned cloth – although aptly colored – was in need of updating if we were to exemplify our enviro-awesomeness with friends and family in the 2nd bathroom. Off to the fabric store and no, I did not talk Cloth Toilet Paper (also know as cloth wipes or family wipes) with the fabric lady, thank you very much. It’s one thing to blab about our crappy crusades with the whole online world. It’s quite another to talk poopy arses face-to-face. Ahem. But I did get a super soft and slightly fuzzy fleece fabric in shades of blue to match our “beach-themed” bathroom. And while I was there I picked up a flannel floral cotton for the master bathroom, just cuz it was prrrty and I’d rather wipe my ::cough:: with a lovely floral print, if you must know.

I purchased about 3/4 yards of each fabric and cut them into squares about 4×4 inches or whatever I eyeballed it to be. The blue fleece didn’t require any sewing but I did a quick stitch around the outside of the other one to prevent excessive fraying. Wash, cut fringe and you’re good to go! Now before I go further, I will say I don’t believe the fleece to be quite as absorbant and wouldn’t go that route again, nor recommend it to others. The flannel cotton, however, is divine.

Now, I also changed our “system”. Before I was using a wet bag for #1 and a bucket with a vinegar/water solution for El Numero DooDoo. Before incorporating the downstairs/guest bathroom into the equation, I nixed the vinegar bucket and found there was no smell or problem washing. But when I started the second bathroom…

See, it turns out (and here comes the *real* TMI Alert) that Justin uses the downstairs bathroom in the mornings before work for his dirty business (the man’s got intestinal clockwork, I tell ya). So, while Zeb and I were using the cloth toilet paper like an environmental hiker (Leave No Trace) and thus having no issue with smell or washing, it was really because Justin wasn’t really involved in the matter yet.

But shortly after adding the regimen to his pot of choice, I went to wash the downstairs bathroom’s TP and was practically assalted – ASSaulted, people! I mean, we eat the same foods! What’s the issue here?? How come my toilet paper receptical is a pleasant walk through a lavendar field while his singes nostril hairs and inflames my olfactory nerve?

His explanation: Apparently when he goes to “drop the kids off at the pool”, there are a few reluctant swimmers. And the only way to take care of Klingons in his opinion is by using abusing my pretty blue cloth toilet paper! Talk about a rank residue (haha resiDOO). At first, I thought it was back to water/vinegar. And maybe a bit more fiber for Justin. Or an electric trimmer, for goodness sakes. Or if that didn’t help, he may have be the only lucky butt o go back to regular recycled toilet paper. Instead we’ve he’s found that rinsing the wipe when necessary prior to placing in the wet bag is all that’s needed.

And all this doesn’t even mention some really demented dogs and their obsession with our wet bag. Sometimes I wonder about me…

cloth toilet paper and bathroom reading
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How To Go Cloth – The Nuts and Bolts:

I’ve moved all the nuts and bolts to my new site; you can find the information here:

Truly Recycled Toilet Paper: Cloth Toilet Paper Facts

Feel free to ask me questions. Or ridicule me by saying you’ll never come to my house. I can take it.

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36 Comments. Leave new

I have to say, I’ve never tried cloth toilet wipes. Well seasoned in the cloth nappy experience, and building and maintaining a compost toilet. We use recycled toilet paper; I think I would probably just throw the fabric into the compost toilet!!
Thanks for keepin it real.
One love,
Atulya

Great post. I drink a lot of water and use the toilet a lot, so using cloth wipes would save a lot for us. I think I’d still use paper for the poo though! I’m always trying to think of ways to cut back on the disposable products in our home.

Go girl. The world needs more people with open minds, like you. :D

We’ve been using cloth for almost a year (for urine only). Now, I actually DREAD having to tinkle anywhere else but at home! I love cloth!(We use disposable wet wipes for #2.)

vegancowgirl
May 25, 2009 5:02 am

Love this post – packed with totally practical info. Love it.

Tara! Awesome follow-up on your cloth TP adventure. Your details about Justin were hilarious. (I find myself asking the same questions about why if we have the same diet do we have different smells?)

A minor issue for me is that the vinegar/water solution is STILL stinky when I go to do laundry. Like, in a really weird way. What sort of ratio of vinegar to water are you using, roughly? Maybe I don’t have mine right.

:D

TheOrganicSister
May 26, 2009 10:39 am

Laura, I’m not sure. I just guessed. Sometimes it worked well; other times…not so much. We don’t use it now and I prefer it that way. They clean just as well as if someone had an “oopsy poopsy” (i.e. “sharted”) in their pants.

That was a bit poo much!

The Hershey Highway shall be paved with recycled t-shirts…

Nice tutorial; informative and also hilarious at times! :-)

I made cloth wipes for my children when they were in diapers, and a few are still hanging around. Sometimes we use them if we run out of TP and it’s actually very nice to use the cloth. You are talking me into sewing more for everyone. (Here are my wipes – still going strong over 3 years later! http://kelly.hogaboom.org/?p=1116)

Oh and I don’t really think it’s “TMI” to talk practically about bathroom stuff – not any more TMI than talking about food prep or cleaning floors!

Thanks for an informative post! (oh and the use of the word “shart” is a bonus)

http://kelly.hogaboom.org/?p=1116

Well, the part that has me questioning is what you wash the wipes with… I think I’d be a bit concerned about just throwing them into the washing machine along with anything and everything. I mean, most folks that use cloth diapers don’t just wash them along with everything else. Particularly if you’re using cloth wipes for #2, there’s a lot of illness and contamination to be had from fecal matter. I think I’d be real careful about this…

TheOrganicSister
July 23, 2009 9:31 am

Ellen, the only things we don’t wash with are things like dishcloths, napkins, etc. Washing cloth diapers is much different and are generally washed alone because of the amount of fecal matter involved in a soiled diaper as opposed to a wipe, as well as the sheer amount of diapers that easily fill a load on their own. Honestly, there is so little on the wipes, it’s no worse than washing a child’s underoo’s after a potty training accident. Washing with hot water on a heavier cycle with a good detergent takes care of any concerns. And as I mentioned, urine is sterile.

P.S. If you’re worried about germs, better stop brushing your teeth. Every bacterial study done on our toothbrushes, no matter how they are cared for or where they are kept between brushing, has shown more fecal matter on them than on anything else in the house! Eep! Guess our immune systems are stronger than we give them credit for!

So what about during menstrual cycles? Just toss the bloody ones in with the cloth pads I guess? (We use those already so no big.) I’m borrowing my MIL’s pinking shears on Monday and am going to attack some of the old clothes! It’s time!

Re cloth diapers, my son only uses one diaper a day (night) now. So I pre-rinse it by hand into a bucket – use the diluted urine on my garden, free nitrogen! – and then wash it with a regular load. All of the dried diapers go into the diaper pail and when it’s full I do a second wash on them (which is really probably unnecessary, but then I gas dry them so they’ll be softer than line dried).

Julia (Color Me Green)
August 17, 2009 7:48 am

do you have a washing machine in your home? it’s a schlep for me to take my laundry to the laundromat so i only do laundry every few weeks and that’s one of the reasons why i’d be hesitant to try this – bc i’d have to deal with the pain of the laundromat more often.

TheOrganicSister
August 17, 2009 9:17 am

Julia, we do have a washing machine. Yes, not having one would be considerably more difficult. We usually wash weekly but have gone longer. I’m sure if you did a pre-rinse after use or a soak, going longer wouldn’t be impossible. But it’s certainly not ideal.

Go girl! We switched to cloth wipes in 2005—would never, ever go back to scratchy and expensive paper. I wash our cloth in a separate load—with cloth pads too when the time is right. It feels SO good not to be a slave to purchasing ANY paper products anymore :)

OMG! This is good stuff. It;s almost 1am and I’m laughing out loud to myself. I’ve recently introduced the idea to my husband who turned his nose up to it. Yeah, if we switch to cloth we’ll all be turning our noses up to HIM b/c I think he’s got the same issue as your man! LOL! I love the line “I mean, we eat the same foods!” We’ll eventually switch to cloth I’m sure b/c I am very convincing about these things ;) We do cloth diapers for our babies and if you ask me wiping with cloth is way less gross. We have a spray nozzle attatched to our toilet so that you can spray diapers. But it’s great as a bidet too! Anyway, thanks for this post…good stuff!

I just started with cloth wipes recently and LOVE it!!! I have hated toilet paper for years and the only alternative I found was wet wipes which are expensive! Now I can use cloth for #1 and wet wipes for #2 and I dont have to touch that stupid toilet paper roll again!!!

I’ve been doing cloth tp for about 3 months now but only part time for #1. I haven’t told BF yet we don’t live together…lol. I’m sure he’d be on board. I live in an apartment so I don’t have a washer in my unit. Seeing as I only use it for #1 & as stated urine is sterile. I use the cloth let then lay it over the edge of my laundry basket so it is totally dry before it goes in. I then wash them when I do my laundry once a week. I NEVER have an ordour issure both DS & BF have senistive noses & trust me if they smelled anything they would let me know.

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful chuckles I got while reading your blog. It made a “sensitive” subject a lot more friendly. I have decided that our household (consisting of hubby, me and our 1 year old son) is going to go cloth. We already cloth diaper our son and use cloth wipes for his little bum so why not ours?
Thanks again :-)

I think this is a hilarious post. I thought I’d never try it, but after considering how crappy (pardon the pun) it is to cut down perfectly great trees just to wipe a bum on, I decided to give it a go for a week. My fiancee and I cut up an old towel. At first, I felt really ridiculous and weird. I realize that it’s normal for new ideas and practices to feel uncomfortable at first, so I stayed with it. After a week, we were at my mom’s and used her traditional toilet paper. Compared to our super thick, super soft towel wipes, the toilet paper was really thin and scratchy. I mean, it felt (and still feels) less hygienic because your fingers are so close. Plus, I realized we use lots more paper just because it’s so thin. And hasn’t everyone had a “breakthrough” episode at some point? Ew. So we ended up sticking with our towel wipes. We did try cotton flannel (which we use for tissues), but compared to the towel, it was too thin. However, we have a very great system. At the time we started this experiment, we ran out of household cleaning wipes that were in a tall plastic bin (which we bought before our major eco-overhall and will never get again). So, we tore off the label and now have a very discreet little white container (with easy snap lid) next to the white trash can. Our wipes are in a beautifully decorated box (with lid) that sits on the back of the toilet. When it’s time to do laundry, we open the lid of the container and all the wipes fall into the washer without us ever having to touch or mess with them at all. This is a very easy and hygienic way to do things. We wash them separately in hot water. The only thing about using old towels is that you have to finish the edges somehow because they fray in the wash.
Even if this seems crazy to you, try it for a week and see how it goes. You just never know. I thought there was no way I would do this.
However, now I’ve found a better solution. It’s called a washlet. It’s like a bidet (I don’t know what the difference is). But basically, it washes with warm water, has a heated toilet seat, and even an air-dryer. 60% of people in Japan use them, and they are in the richy rich hotels in the US, including the W hotel in New York. We don’t have one yet, but when we get our house (in an apartment now), that’s what we’ll use. No extra laundry! Yea

Melanie

I cut up an old pair of PJ pants and got going on my own reusable cloths. I used cotton mentstrual pads too. I love it!

We have been using cloth wipes for a couple years now…starting at the same time that we were using cloth diapers with our youngest daughter. We use cotton flannel cut 6″x12″. I used two layers, and then used the serger around the edges. We just toss them in the old diaper pail (small stainless steel trashcan with lid)…we don’t soak them in the diaper pail. We wash them alone, or with hankies…starting with a soak load, then regular wash load on hot water with regular detergent. We love them!

We do have a roll of recycled TP on hand when less adventurous visitors come over :)

I started doing this several months ago, but strictly for #1. The experiment evolved to using a squirt bottle with water & a couple drops of lavendar essential oil for a quick wash. Now, I just have a hand towel that hangs over the bath tub that gets changed out every couple of days. I live alone & boyfriend has no clue. Some things are better kept to myself. I also use the laundromat & hang my laundry on the line.

I kept track of the TP usage & one roll lasted for 5 1/2 weeks. I also swiched to cloth napkins several years ago. I use newspaper for things like draining bacon.

i’ve been using cloth wipes for several years now and cringe whenever i have to use paper in public restrooms and friends’ houses although i have recruited a few to start using wipes themselves. :)

greg refuses to use them so it’s mainly myself and my youngest 2 kids. my 2nd child will use them if tp is gone….

My gynecologist suggested using a toilet seat bidet (washlet) and I found one with heated water for around $100 through eBay. You wash your nether regions several times a day, so you are cleaner than ever and yet it uses less water than paper production. I like it so much that I took a job once just because they had one in the bathroom.

You can also rig one with a hose and dish sprayer, and a 2 way valve coming off of your toilet’s water supply for about $20. And to get the water to room temperature, rout it through a jug that sits on the floor. Or go for the fancy Japanese versions that cost a mint and blow you dry.

I’ve seen inexpensive versions on Muslim sites- google Wudu supplies. There are also Japanese and Korean suppliers, usually heated. No laundry, no poo smell and clean nether regions.

Thanks for the clue about what Wudu means, one of the buildings I teach in has a designated area for it next to the toilets and I’ve always been curious what it is!

I’ve used cloth for a while now, 2 years, maybe even 3. I love it. I don’t notice any smell at all. I have a wet bag hanging on the back of the bathroom door. I totally understand what you mean about husband’s eating the same food but not the same results. He thinks the whole idea is gross and won’t have any part of it. Oh and I wash my cloth with the whites which is usually just underwear.

Kathi

OMG, this made me laugh sooo hard! I had to wait for my eyes to stop watering to continue reading past: “when he drops the kids off at the pool…”
I could totally go cloth for #1, no way my peeps will follow though. Your family are troopers!

I am surprised to find that most users of family cloth have dry stacks in their bathrooms. Personally I am going to be treating the family cloth the same way as the diaper wipes. Well heck, for that matter, all wipes will be interchangable. The plan is to cut them to fit into wipe warmers. I have an outlet right next to the toilet, perfect! There are recipes for wipe solutions easily found online and made with accesible ingredients. Now to hit ebay for wipe warmers!

Cassandra Midnight
April 21, 2011 9:42 pm

I love this!

Still cloth on the road?

Thank you SO MUCH! Most people won’t talk about it, and then we’re left wandering around, going, “But, does it WORK? How gross is it, really?” And this after cloth diapers. I may just give the family a little nudge in that direction. They’re pretty crunchy inclined.

I wonder if my partner would go for this… Maybe he would, if I told him it would save us money. He is forever horrified by how much toilet paper his house now needs since me, a girl, moved in lol.

What is the water/vinegar solution? I mean, what are the quantities of vinegar to water?
Is there really no bad smell left in the toilet from the wipes sitting there?
Lol it’s not some rank mess in a bucket when it comes time to putting it in the washing machine? I guess I’m imagining mess of the baby diaper proportion.

I may just have to mention this to the partner and see what he says!
:) Loved reading your post, I had never heard of this before! And I feel like I usually hear about these kind of things. I guess I’m getting out of touch now that I’m living away from my eco-minded sister.

I don’t have a surger to keep edges of flannel from fraying. Do the pinking shears work to stop fraying?

I’m switching to cloth for #1, because I believe even the 7th Gen. toilet paper is causing irritation + bladder infection-like symptoms, which started exactly when I started using their 2-ply paper wrapped rolls. Of course, I can’t prove it but did research online + found that recycled TP not using chlorine bleach can contain bacteria + BPAs, which are linked to “gyn problems”.

Thanks for any help you can give.

Beth

TheOrganicSister
August 29, 2011 9:01 am

Hi Beth, you will have SOME fraying but not much at all. I used pinking sheers on mine (flannel is best!) and have been using them for awhile without anything more than a light fringe around the edge.

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