How We Ditched the Toilet Paper and Went to Toilet Cloth

Now I have really gone to the crunchy side… I have sworn off buying toilet paper for good! It’s been replaced by the luxurious feel of fleece, and it’s the cutest darn toilet paper I’ve ever seen.

Why ditch the paper? Because reusable toilet paper saves tons of money – for the price of one and a half or two packages of 12 to 24 rolls, you can have reusable cloth toilet paper that lasts for years. Saves the green in your wallet and in the environment. But the best benefit is the luxuriously soft feel of fleece you’ll notice on your bum – seriously, it is SO soft that I have no desire to go back. Toilet paper now feels so scratchy and uncomfortable!

And, just in case you’re wondering, I found it to be MORE effective in doing dirty work than paper as I only need 1 cloth wipe for the small jobs and 1 to 2 for the tougher jobs (aren’t you happy you’re reading this post now? wink, smile).

The most fashionable toilet paper that ever existed!

How to Make the No Sew Toilet Cloth (Family Cloth)

Buy The Fleece
I got really lucky – as our toilet paper supply dwindled, I knew I really had to get to the fabric store or things were gonna get REALLY messy and JoAnn’s was having a sale  – 50% off fleece! I knew I wanted fleece because it is a no sew fabric – I wanted this to be as simple as possible. However, as a green girl, I feel an obligation to share with you that I found out after buying fleece that it is NOT a green fabric – it is made of petrochemicals, takes centuries to break down, and takes more energy to manufacture than cotton. I was so bummed, but the damage had been done, and I really couldn’t afford to spend more on my experiment. However, for you, there is a green alternative! Amazon sells organic bamboo cotton fleece for the same price per yard as JoAnn’s (around $8, plus $4 for shipping, which equals the same amount as JoAnn’s at $12 when it’s not on sale). So you can learn from my mistake and do a lot more green good than me! While you won’t be able to get these super cute patterns, you can buy it in different colors like red, navy and purple.

You could also buy jersey cotton or flannel, both of which are easy to find in organic, but they must be either sewn, or cut with pinking shears so they won’t unravel. UPDATE: one of my readers bought flannel pillowcases from Goodwill and uses those! Great idea because upcyclying is the greenest, cheapest way to go!

How Many Yards Do You Need?
So, I bought 3 yards of my favorite brown-based fleece (I’m sure you have NO idea why I chose brown, do you?) and I’m so glad I did because it does successfully hide the poo and doesn’t stain. I think I way overbought because one yard makes 60, 6-inch square wipes and, for my family (I’m the only girl!), lasted 4 days PLUS filled a container of baby wipes twice! It goes a long way because it is so effective – just 1 one wipe for #1 and one to two for #2. How much you buy will depend on how many girls you have (smile), how many hours a day they are home, and how much fiber all of your family eats (sorta kidding).


Supplies
Scissors or Pinking Shears
Sewing pins or Fabric Marker
Ruler

Cut Your Designer Bum Wipes
I chose to cut my fabric in 6-inch squares because that’s how wide my sewing ruler happens to be – the easier the better. I used the pins to mark the line to cut, or you could just use a fabric marker or crayon just as easily. I didn’t cut perfectly straight, but didn’t really care either, since it’s not like they’re going to be hanging from my window!


I found it to be the easiest if I cut the fleece while folded in half so I was cutting two strips at once. Then, I cut across each strip at 6-inch increments, et voila! They were done. I was finished in about 15 minutes.


Create A System
So, just like any other green change in my life, the way I’ve made it successful for our family is to create a system. It has to be convenient and organized, or it will just fail, because anything green is really a lifestyle change.

So, our system is really quite easy.

I throw the wipes in the small trash can next to the toilet that can be closed (of utmost importance, I’d say!). It’s lined with a wet bag (plastic is fine, too) that can be just taken out and thrown in the washer (wet bag and all) without having to touch any grossness. The wipes sit atop the john within easy reach! There is so little you-know-what actually on the cloth that there is no smell in my can, either.

And I bought a little container from the dollar store for $1 to store them in. Easy!

Washing
We use cloth diapers for Baby Grayson (see my complete cloth diaper guide for more info!), so I throw the wipes in with the diapers to get washed. I wash them in hot water with my green homemade detergent so the chemical content on the arse is low, and use vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser to counteract the ammonia smell from urine (mmm, isn’t that nice?!). When it’s sunny outside, I line dry them because the sun does an amazing job of odor removal. Otherwise, throwing them in the dryer is fine. If you don’t have cloth diapers, I suggest washing them with towels and washcloths.

I’ve been amazed at how easy it’s been to transition to cloth and how much more I like it. Another thing checked off my green list!

This post was featured on three different sites! Thank you!!
Get Schooled Saturdays at Too Much Time
Tiny Tip Tuesday at Nature’s Nurture
Super Link Party at Earning My Cape

This designer toilet paper post is being shared at:
Happy Hour Fridays at Happy Hour Projects
Fantabulous Fridays at Little Becky Homecky
Get Schooled Saturdays at Too Much Time
Pin It to Win It Wednesdays at Cheap Crafty Mama
Tiny Tip Tuesday at Nature’s Nurture
Super Link Party at Earning My Cape
Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable

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About Sara McFall

Sara is the owner and founder of My Merry Messy Life, which started in 2011 as a way to chronicle her journey to a natural, chemical-free lifestyle and to share her passions of mothering, real food, homeschooling and crochet. She is a mama to three precious and energetic little boys and wife to a university professor who loves to sing, dance ballet and ballroom, and live simply and naturally.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I starting replacing paper with cut up old washclothes a while back. Yours is a great idea…so pretty! Thanx.

    • That’s a great idea! You’re doing the MOST good by reusing old clothes.

      • Hi!
        I think these bum wipes are the greatest idea! We have a portable bidet on our toilet that really helps make #2 mostly a dry off. Also…what about having a covered bucket for the wipes, filled with water and Borax for soaking them until you wash? Sort of like soaking baby diapers before washing them. Your site and contribution to a greener world is fantastic! Love it!!!

        • Bidets are such a great idea – why don’t we have more of them in the US? I had no idea you actually didn’t even need TP with a bidet. Genius! And you have a very good idea to have a bucket with water and Borax – that would work well to keep smell down and stains out. My mom used to do that when we were kids with her cloth diapers, but used bleach and not borax.

          • As part of our religious practices we use a bidet and it is amazing! Some of my friends think its weird but I feel like I’m showering every time I use the restroom! Plus if you think of all the waste you are eliminating with TP it really goes a loooong way!

  2. love this idea!

  3. YOU ROCK! I am featuring you next week- I already decided because this is so awesome. We did cloth diapers and I have been thinking (to myself) why don’t we use those wipes for ourselves now? I was just concerned about #2 on the cloths and I guess there isn’t usually too much to contend with anyway. I rinsed out dirty diapers in the toilet, I guess I could handle this too! You have inspired me:)

    • Oh thank you so much! That makes me so happy :o)! To inspire another is the best compliment I could ever receive. Switching to cloth has been so easy, especially since we’re already cloth diapering, so I’m sure it’ll work for you, too! Yeah, if you can rinse out nasty poopey diapers in the toilet, you CAN handle anything! 🙂

  4. I’m so happy to find your blog! I love sewing, but wish I knew how to crochet. My sister is a ninja at it, but I somehow didn’t inherit that gene. It’ll be fun to watch your projects.

  5. I’ve read about paper free potties before, and I was greatly intrigued. It really looks like a great idea. I doubt my husband will go for it. But, hey, even if it’s just one of us, that will cut down on a lot!

  6. The first time I ever heard of this (about a year ago) I was shocked! lol
    I am seeing it so much more lately!
    Thanks for linking with my Super Link Party! 🙂

  7. Anonymous says:

    We have been using cloth for about a year now and love it! I found some flannel pillowcases at Goodwill that work great!

  8. Good on. I love your colourful wipes. I use wipes as well. I love them to. Though I only use them for number 1s but I may move onto number 2s at some stage.
    http://www.nzecochick.com/2011/10/cloth-toilet-paper.html

  9. Very interesting.. New follower can’t wait for more awesome posts 🙂

  10. Y’know. I think that’s pretty dang cool. I don’t have children (yet), but I’d like to try cloth diapering. I think the idea of fleece on my bum seems very comfortable and soft. And throwing the whole bag in the wash seems easy enough.

  11. I love this idea. I just started blogging, but I’m featuring this idea with a link to this page on Monday as one of my favorite pins on Pinterest, I hope that’s okay! It will be up on June 25 @ planprepareprovide.blogspot.com (I’m so new I don’t have a domain name yet).

  12. brilliant! I don’t know if I could sell my family on it, but I’ve pinned it to try!

  13. Thanks for sharing this at Tiny Tip Tuesday, Sara! I’ve been putting this off for sooo long and your awesome picture tutorial really helped give me a little push. I had just recently heard that using fleece would be the easiest since it’s no-sew (I don’t have a sewing machine), so I’m excited to try this 🙂

  14. Congratulations! You won the most clicked on feature in last week’s Super Link Party!
    This earns you a Featured Guest spot in my sidebar for the week!
    Come on by when you get the chance and grab your Featured button.
    I hope you link up to this week’s party, too! 🙂
    http://earning-my-cape.blogspot.com/2012/06/super-link-party-7.html

  15. Congratulations on your earth-friendly lifestyle change!

    Another option for no-sew wipes is worn-out cotton knit garments like T-shirts and underpants. They don’t ravel and can be VERY soft. (It depends on the quality of the fabric–some become softer as they wear out while others get a little scratchy.) They make great handkerchiefs too. In the bathroom I use them just for pee, which really cuts down on the hygienic and odor concerns of cloth TP while still cutting TP use approximately in half.

    • Great suggestions, Becca! I like how you use the cloth for just pee. I could see that being a lot more doable for most people because a lot are grossed out by using it for #2. And repurposing old clothes like that is a great idea, too! Even more green.

  16. I was just wondering, how it affect your washer. After washing the toilet clothes, do you run the washer with some kind of disinfectant? Will there be any messy things left in the washer?

    • Anonymous says:

      Love the green living recipes on your blog! I’m with Ms. B on this one, though. Is this sanitary? Adult feces are laden with bacteria. How do you sanitize your washing machine and the bum wipes?

    • Great questions – I use hydrogen peroxide in the wash (I put it in the bleach compartment and fill it to the top) and use vinegar in the fabric softener compartment. Both of which are natural disinfectants and help the drum clean. Also, if you have a washer with a sanitizing or steam cycle, I would use that, too. Hanging them out in the sun helps also, but is a pain with all the little cloths! I hope that answers your question!

  17. Ive used a hand held water spray in the toilet while renting a house of an Asian family. I would prefer to use that any day and then wipe it dry with a cloth. Don’t find the idea of washing adult toilet clothes anyway exciting. Feel very accomplished after doing the usual household chores; cant take on any more cleaning tasks. Water is the best!

  18. How about Water…Just use a mug :)…The way Humans did 10,000 years…and even now in many countries!

  19. I have done this, and no, the “smell” isn’t really a problem. I just wanted to mention something here that many livestock people know: Sunshine is a natural sanitizer. Good job on mentioning hanging items outside whenever possible! I also use my “rags” (old T-shirts that have been cut into squares) for nose tissue-such savings and already so soft. Kudos to all others who aren’t afraid to “go back” to better ways!
    Love your site.

  20. I just can’t even begin to imagine doing this although I do think it is a great idea. How do you handle guests? I am sure many have never thought of doing this. I am still squeemish on using them and then placing into my washer.
    I have no idea what a “wet bag” is or where I would get one.

    I find your site extremely helpful .

    • That’s a great question, Chris. I do not ask my guests to use the cloth :). I always keep a package of toilet paper in the house and one in the guest bathroom so they don’t have to use it. A wet bag is basically a waterproof bag. You could just as easily use a plastic grocery store bag to line your trash can, and then dump the contents in the washer. Another option, since you’re squeamish :), is to just use the cloth for pee, and not for the messy stuff. That’ll still save you some money and trees!

  21. Not sure I would be interested 😉
    But we do plan to cloth diaper someday and I made flannel cloths for paper towels and I love them. The only thing I use the paper on is for greasy stuff.
    Kendra @ A Proverbs 31 Wife recently posted..Being Good Stewards with What God has GivenMy Profile

    • Hi Kendra! Great to have you over here :). Toilet cloth isn’t for everyone, but it’s amazingly easy and has just become habit around here, like we’ve always done it. Funny how that works. Here is my cloth diapering guide once you get to that point!

  22. I love your site so much! I am with one of the previous posters that I can not even fathom doing this though, and getting my family on board would be practically impossible. I have been loving the “no-poo” shampoo and ACV conditioner and got one of my daughters to give it a whirl, but the other wouldn’t go for it. When I mentioned making my deodorant, EVERYONE… hubby included… told me I was going way too far! lol. I think that I am just moving a little too fast for them 🙂

  23. I’m just starting to potty-train my daughter. If we were to switch to toilet cloth, do you think it will be difficult to train/explain the difference when we’re not at home? Any suggestions for how to go about this?

    • Good question, Leslie! Never thought of that before. In our house, there was never any confusion, but we have boys who hardly ever have to wipe! However, I think you would just tell your daughter that at home, you use cloth, but everywhere else, you use paper. Maybe make a comparison to something else that you only do at home that you do not do in public? Hope that’ll work!

  24. How does it handle “that time of the month”? Any rinsing/toilet dunking need done prior to stirring before washing?

  25. Kerry Cameron says:

    I’m thinking my household may need to be trying this soon 😉

  26. Hi! I’ve never heard of doing this before – very intrigued. But I do have one logistical question – Do your guests use this, too, or do you provide paper tp in case they’re uncomfortable with it??

  27. Hi Sara, I was just wondering if you’ve tried this with wet cloths? My fiance used to use wet wipes before we lived together and would probably be more apt to try it if they were damp cloths. How woukd you go about doing that?

  28. I read one of the comments here that they use cloth paper towels except for greasy stuff. There’s a pin floating around Pinterest where you mix Dawn dish soap and hydrogen peroxide with a little baking soda. This.stuff.WORKS!! It gets out greasy stains that you think are set in! I’ve had it work wonders on long set in armpit stains! And even blood stains!! I wouldn’t hesitate to use it on a grease stained cloth towel at all!!
    As for the fleece not being green…what if you find a decent fleece blanket at Goodwill!? Cut it up and you have just up cycled/recycled it for a new purpose!!

  29. I have never heard of cloth toilet paper but it makes so much sense! I cloth diapered both of my babies (now 10 and 6) and it was work but I am so glad I did it! My daughter hates toilet paper so, I buy flushable wet wipes for her so I bet she would be on board with this system. I don’t know about the boys in the house but she and I use the most anyway. It’s just such a change of habit and the extra laundry will be a challenge in our house. I am VERY seriously considering this for us. Thank you for all the info and thanks for the comments from others. I read them all to get a more complete picture. 🙂

    • You are brave, Kyla! I did it for a while, but must admit, we no longer do it because the laundry after having child #3 was just too much for me to handle. I couldn’t keep up! But I enjoyed it while we did it and loved that I didn’t buy TP anymore.

  30. I’ve been using old flannel sheets for paper towels for over a year now, hadn’t thought of using for tp. Great idea. Our stockpile of tp is about to run out so instead of buying more I’ll give this a try. I think my hubby will be on board too especially if its softer than tp. Thanks for the tip and all your great suggestions.

  31. So what do you do when #2 gets um, messy, and leaves residue more than just marks? Do you rinse it somehow? Is this easy for kids to use and then understand paper tp?

    • Great questions, Kelly! This is a messy subject, isn’t it! Haha! So, yes, if it’s quite messy, you might have to rinse it off in the toilet, or just throw it away. I have all boys so they rarely use TP or toilet cloth as it is, so they have no problem going back and forth.

  32. If you don’t have access to a bidet, get a squeeze bottle and keep near toilet… Like the ones we women get after having a baby. Just fill with water before going and then squirt to your hearts content. Wiping will be mostly consist of just drying off.

  33. I think this is a great idea. Just wondering what you do for the ‘guest’ bathroom? Do you explain the process to guests ahead of time?

  34. Does the fleece really absorb the wetness when you wipe? I’m slowing trying to come into the world of natural and reusable products. I’ve read that fleece is often used as backing for cloth sanitary pads because it helps repel the wetness and flannel is more absorptive. The thickness of fleece seems like it would be nice so it would soak through to your fingers though!

  35. We use family cloth for number 1s in our house (and with 3 women we have saved alot of tp). Have tried the fleece, but not a fan as it doesn’t absorb well. I cut up some old jersey tshirts (no sewing involved) and they work awesome, absorb well, give you that dry feeling, don’t hang onto odours. Being thinner you can fit more in the basket. We just use a zipper wet bag with a handle on the back of our toilet door to put dirties in until wash day.

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