Are you running low on toilet paper, or maybe you want to reduce your paper waste, Family Cloth may be the option you were looking for.
(Updated March 2020)
Simple living takes many different forms. Clearing the clutter, embracing old-fashioned habits, and reducing waste are all aspects of simple living.
One way to reduce our waste is to switch from disposable products to reusable. That might look like using cloth napkins, cloth diapers, using wool dryer balls, cloth “paper” towels, or cloth feminine care products.
We’ve gone over all of those in our “So Long Disposables, Hello Cloth” series. Now we have come to the final way to reduce our use of disposables.
Today is the day you’ve been waiting for or maybe dreading. Today we are talking about another extra special type of cloth. Drum roll please, today is family cloth day!!!! To put it simply, cloth TP, toilet paper you know the stuff you wipe…..
Yes folks, cloth toilet paper. Today is also the day when some of my family and friends, will think that I have completely lost it. Of course, I waited to broach this topic about it until I am currently visiting said family. Nothing like perfect timing….For those that are curious, no I don’t bring my cloth with me and yes I miss it.
Don’t forget to check out my interview with three of my blogging friends about their experience with family cloth!
How I Got Started
Several years ago I wrote a post on How to Waste Less. One of the topics I discussed was cloth pads. One of my readers commented that she used cloth pads, diapers, and family cloth.
I was sitting around the table with two of my good friends. I asked them what the thought of it. Needless to say, they were grossed out. (Hey there Michelle, yup I caved!) I tried to act like I wasn’t completely intrigued but honestly, deep down I was.
I had already committed to cloth pads and planned to use cloth diapers with my future kids so really it just made sense.
I mulled over it for a couple of years then, after talking to my friend Mare of Just Making Noise, I took the plunge.
I think that is how it is with most new things, we just need a little encouragement.
Family Cloth Essentials
The Nitty Gritty Details
In the US, toilet paper was not widely used until the late 1800s or early 1900s. People used cloth, old Sears Roebucks Magazines, leaves, or whatever they had on hand.
From a health perspective, it just makes sense. Toilet paper is bleached and full of chemicals just like pads and diapers. Some brands even have wax and perfume added.
Cloth, in my opinion, is softer, more luxurious, and cleaner. Some people prefer to wet their cloth. I normally use mine dry. I love that I only have to use one cloth to be clean. When it’s “that time of the month” clean up is so much nicer and gentler on those more sensitive areas.
From a money-saving perspective, it makes sense as well. Think about how much toilet paper you got through in a month. It doesn’t amount of laundry to the wash. I have never heard of anyone washing family cloth by itself. All it is is some tiny cloths added to whatever you were already washing.
From a stewardship perspective, I have read that the average American uses more than 50 lbs of toilet paper per year. That is 50% more than in other Western countries. One tree produces about 100 lbs of toilet paper. Imagine how many trees we use to wipe ourselves in a lifetime!
From convenience’s sake, think about how nice it will be to never have to drive to the store again to by toilet paper last minute when you forgot to pick some up. If for some reason you forgot to wash your family cloth in time cut up another rag or two to tide you over till you can wash your stash.
How To Get Started
Select Your Cloth
You can use just about any kind of cloth you want. If you want/can afford to there are lots of cute family cloths on Etsy. I bought a few packs of baby washcloths and cut up some of my larger washcloths I was using anymore.
You can cut up old shirts, towels, whatever you have on hand. If you have a sewing machine it is nice to hem them but not necessary. You can also make your own from flannel or fleece.
As a single person, I probably keep about 40 on hand, which lasts me about a week before I need to wash them. One of the great things is that I only need to use one square each time.
I keep my clean cloth in a small basket next to the toilet. My guests are welcome to use it if they want but I keep a roll of toilet paper out as well.
I keep a small pail by the toilet and toss my used cloth in it. In Mexico, most people throw toilet paper away because the septic systems are strong enough to handle it. So for me it’s no different. Most people opt for a trash can with a lid or a cloth bag. Since I am going to have a room-mate again this year I switching to a bag.
I wash my family cloth once or twice a week whenever I do a load of towels. Most families who have babies in cloth diapers just throw the family cloth in the wash at the same time.
Most people use prefer to wash on a hot or sanitation cycle. I only have cold water so I just add a little extra white vinegar to the wash to kill bacteria and germs.
Rarely does family cloth stain. The only time I have experienced this is when I wait longer than I should to wash. If it does I’m alright with it, after all, it’s just being used as TP.
How about you? Do you use family cloth? If you don’t would you consider using it?