When I first learned that “Family Cloth,” aka reusable toilet paper, was a thing, I was appalled. Gross. Nasty. Backwoods.
But when I started working with David Suzuki’s Queen of Green, coaching families on how to be “greener,” I also started evaluating my own waste footprint. I looked at what was in my trashcan, and, since I had a cold, I noticed it was full of toilet paper. (I don’t buy “facial tissue, we’ve always just used toilet paper for our noses.)
I was already using squares of flannel to wipe Cub’s nose, since I found them much softer and more effective on his sensitive little honker. Why not use reusable hankies for my own nose?
Because it’s gross to wash them? Um, no. Do you know what would be gross? Having to wash a family’s worth of hankies by hand. And generations of women did that. I have the luxury of collecting all my hankies in a wet bag which I can then dump into my washing machine and press a button.
So I started by blowing my nose with squares of flannel cut from old pajama pants. When I found myself out and about, without my luxurious hankies, my nose shuddered at the roughness of disposable tissues, and my hands got dirty since snot passes right on through paper products!
It wasn’t long before I decided to start using my flannel squares to wipe after pee. Look, I wipe my son’s pee and poo with reusable wipes and wash them… why can’t I do the same?
Guess what? I don’t think it’s gross, nasty or backwoods anymore.
I like it because it’s really quite comfy to wipe with cloth (I remember opting for cloth in the tender postpartum phase, after all). I like it because my hands stay dry without having to take a toilet-clogging quantity of TP. I like it because I am very concretely, and at zero cost, making way less waste. (Just because it goes down the toilet doesn’t been it isn’t garbage!)
Here’s my set up:
On our towel rack, which is in front of the toilet, I’ve got my wetbag for used cloths, and an Ikea container that clips onto the rack for the cloths.
I also provide regular toilet paper for guests and for big (aka husband-sized) messes!
I wash the cloths with diapers or with a load of towels, whichever comes first. Now, you can obviously choose more glamorous cloths than my fabric scraps. I am not too fussy about that, but many WAHMs can make you very pretty cloth for your bathroom!
If you’d like more tips on using reusable wipes (but not as “Family Cloth”), check out two of my recent guest posts:
Update, July 2016: I wrote this post almost two years ago, and I have continued to use our family cloth! I also use these cloths to wipe my children’s noses. We’ve moved into a new place, and it has four bathrooms, so I keep my cloths in the two bathrooms the kids and I use most. Yes, there’s still toilet paper for poop and for guests!