Switching from toilet paper to toilet cloth, or family cloth, is easier than you might think. It's also really good for the environment as it saves on paper! Here's how my family did it.
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 It's been replaced by the luxurious feel of fleece, and it's the cutest darn toilet paper I've ever seen.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 Toilet Paper?
In short, because it's good for the environment and your wallet.
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).
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.
Organic Hemp Fleece or Cotton is Better for the Environment
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 cotton hemp fleece! 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).
- Scissors or Pinking Shears
- Sewing pins or Fabric Marker
- Sewing ruler or regular ruler
- 1 yard of organic cotton hemp fleece or organic flannel, or fleece from the fabric store
- Optional: Bidet sprayer attachment – this makes it easier to clean your wipes before putting in the trash can.
- Small trash can with lid to keep next to your toilet (I highly recommend one with a step-on button so you don't have to touch the lid to drop in your wipes)
How to 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!
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 on the sanitizing cycle 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!
Pros and Cons
One way to make this more doable is to only use the wipes for number 1 (pee) and to continue using toilet paper or baby wipes for number 2 (poo).
- Cheaper than toilet paper
- Softer and more luxurious than toilet paper
- Easy to do when you're using cloth diapers
- Can be messy
- Can be smelly
- The concept seems gross!
- More laundry