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 It’s been replaced by the luxurious feel of fleece, and it’s the cutest darn toilet paper I’ve ever seen.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
Penny Harris says
Thank you, thank you! I will impliment this for number 1. That would save a lot of trees!
Sara McFall says
That’s a great idea to only use it for number one!
Since my sink is next to my toilet I’d want to rinse the poop. I don’t want chunks of poop in my washer. What are your thoughts on this?
Sara McFall says
Yeah so I would wash it off in the toilet itself after you’ve flushed it. Or get a cloth diaper hose that connects to your toilet to rinse them off first.
BARBARA BAZZOCCHI says
When this whole toilet paper craze started I was laughing to myself remembering all the negative feedback this idea originally received when you first posted. Some things are just so obvious… you were ahead of the times! Stay well.. stay safe.
Sara McFall says
Right? People were laughing then but they’re not laughing now! Though I do understand this is a really out there thing LOL.
I don’t have a washing machine or dryer. Can these be hand-laundered?
Sara McFall says
I wouldn’t – they really need a good cleaning to get the bacteria and smell out! Maybe it would work if you soaked them in hot water?
Get a bidet for cleaning and use the cloth to pat dry! No smell, minimal ick factor, can totally reuse the cloths after letting them air dry (I usually use one/day and launder weekly)
Sara McFall says
Yes, a bidet is a much easier idea!
Robair Victor says
Nov./19/2020 FYI: -Never liked the notion of using Toilet-paper after doing #2 in the commode; –so for the past 50-years i’ve simply used a standard white Washcloth to wipe my butt; –first quickly warming the washcloth with water to feel more comfortable, then rinsing-off soiled washcloth in hot-water (-using liquid-soap if necessary) and scrubbing the washcloth until…. ‘Viola’ –it’s become cleaned pure-white once again!! Am now healthy at age-85 and smile thinking of all the money i’ve saved, -while hygienically getting far cleaner!
Try-it, –You’ll like it! ~R.vH in sanDiego Calif.
Sara McFall says
That’s dedication! How very green and eco-friendly, too.
Deborah Murry says
55 years ago, I spent the summer with my grandparents. They weren’t strict by any means but there was one condition that she really implied. There were always 4 wash cloths hanging on the edge of the bathtub. She told me to NEVER use them. And I didn’t. But one day I accidentally knocked them in the floor, so I picked them up on hung them back on the tub. Later grandma was furious with me for moving them. I asked what the big deal and she had told me. 2 were hers and 2 were grandpas. One for the face and 1 for the privates. At the time I thought that was really disgusting. But she explained that they used well water and had a septic tank. Too much toilet paper the septic would run over. Now that I’m older and wiser I realize just how green eco-friendly they were. Had a 2-acre garden. 30 + chickens and 3 pigs. She would can her veggies and freeze the meat. She also made her own clothes. She was a wonderful woman she taught me to sew and crochet. She even got me a job working with her packing tobacco. I am truly blessed. Love and miss her so much.