The Family Cloth

A few months ago we started using the "family cloth".  What's that you say?
Well, it basically means using cloth wipes instead of toilet paper.  Better for the environment, better for your pocket book and better for your butt!

Seriously though...

The thought first crossed my mind almost 5 years ago when F was born.  We were using cloth diapers and cloth wipes and it was like a light went off.  Duh!  We could use cloth wipes too.
I never really got around to doing it (blame it on being over the moon about my first little one).
I thought about it again when E came along...but never actually tried it.

Then I came across an article online calling it the "family cloth" and I said yes!  Now's the time.

I found some old fabric, old T shirts, and old cloth diapers and cut them into little squares.

Placed them in a cute basket.

Put a bucket next to the toilet.  When baby #3 comes and we get all set up with our cloth diapering systems, we'll probably just keep the container in the bathroom and have it do double duty.  But for now we use this lovely bucket.

And we were all set!!

The girls were thrilled.  They loved it.

Papa...not so much.  In fact the first few weeks were really rough for him.  He was not making the transition easy.  Maybe it was the huge wad of cloth that got flushed during week 2 and clogged our toilet (we only have 1 bathroom).  It worked out fine!!  My neighbor is a plumber and retreived the wipes E had flushed using a special toilet snake. bad.  I hadn't thought of that.  Well it hasn't happened again, but I recommend keeping a pair of tongs next to the toilet in case one gets thrown in by mistake.
He's fine with it now mostly because it doesn't really affect him since we only use them for #1.  Yes, don't worry friends, we still keep toilet paper in the restroom for #2 and for guests. We're not that hard core about it. :)
Back to my 3 major points (that is if you're still reading this post...not thinking I'm insane):
  • It's better for the environment because where-as "virgin" toilet paper is a renewable resource (growing trees) and paper companies generally keep up huge forests to meet their demands, it's still taking trees and land away from people and animals as well as producing a huge carbon footprint with all the machines needed to cut the trees, transport the materials and create the actual toilet paper.  Then there's the chemicals that go in to making it all nice and white, soft, fluffy etc...  Lots of chemicals people...not just bleach.  If you have the time/patience/interest I recommend reading this european study that was done on the chemicals found in toilet paper. Are there worse items out there for the environment?  Yes.  Do I think my families' choice to use cloth wipes will change the world or the business of making toilet paper?  No.  In the spirit of baby steps and doing everything we can to leave this world a little bit better for our children...I am happy with the our decision.

  • It's better for your pocketbook for obvious reasons.  Even though we still buy toilet paper, we've cut our usage down to probably 1/3 of what we were using before.  Toilet paper would fly off the roll in our house with 3 potty trained girls (yes, I am potty trained).  I felt like I was constantly buying the stuff.  I think I buy toilet paper maybe once a month now.  Yay!

  • It's better for your bottom for some of the same environmental reasons...the chemicals.  Most of us are not that sensitive, but little E would occasionally have a red bottom ever since she started using the big girl potty.  Not diaper rash or anything, just irritation.  That's completely gone now!

Anyhow...this post is probably just "too much information", but a few friends that were over asked about it and I want my midwife to stop using the wipe bucket as a trashcan!  Ha ha!  Sorry's for my wipes!

What do you think?  You going to give it a go?  How about for Earth Day?!?!

Picture found here.


  1. I just watched "no impact man" last night, what a great film! That family got rid of toilet paper too :)
    Your system is really quite cute. I really like the basket on the top of the toilet. Did you sew the edges of the fabric?

  2. oh thank GOD you only use it for #1! Now I don't think you're that insane :) When I thought at first you were using it for both I nearly threw up in my mouth haha! But seriously, quite an ambitious and bold step. you should be proud of yourselves!

  3. We thought about this for a long time, but we haven't made the switch yet. We still use recycled toilet paper. Another option we are considering is a bidet. When we went to Mexico in Janurary, there was one in the bathroom. It really does the job well, and saves on toilet paper.

  4. Kirsten - no, that would be more work! I just cut the fabric with pinking shears. Knit cotton won't unravel. Terry cloth or the like would need to be sewn... I haven't seen that film yet, need to check it out!
    Andrea - REally?!?! I'm sorry for grossing you out. hee hee.
    Veronica - Bidet's freak me out....they tickle! :) What brand of recycled toilet paper do you use? The ones we tried were SO scratchy!! Cloth is soft....

  5. ok I do think you are insane! But sense it is totally my brand of crazy I love it!!!! We use cloth menstrual pads why not cloth potty wipes? I wonder how my family would do with this!

  6. I think i just wrote sense instead of since! ackkkk tired mama brain:(

  7. Add me to the insane side as I use cloth toilet wipes at my place for #1. I just recycle what I have around old terry towels, flannel pj's, & even have some of my son's old socks cut up. i don't hem anything & have been using all for about 6 months now & haven't had issues with fraying. I use let air dry & then just throw them in with my regular laundry & wash once a week. my boyfriend & son don't notice any smell. they are GREAT!! i also use cloth menstral pads & the instead cup. cloth is AWESOME!!!

  8. Can't wait to tell my mom about this one... she has a septic tank and is always all over us about the amount of toilet paper we use... there is a sign in her bathroom saying '3 squares for No1, 6 squares for No 2!' She'll love this!!
    Blessings and magic.

  9. Magiconions - Ha ha! Love the sign. Yes, my grandma never used toilet paper either, she's on a septic tank too.
    maltagirl - Give it a'll love it!
    Stacey - my girls like seeing their old stained clothes as wipes...funny! :)

  10. T-SHIRTS! We have been delaying our switch because we coulnt decide which material to use. T-shirts are perfect!

  11. Same as you...I heard about this a while back and forgot all about it. I'm going to do it, especially since I'd be the only one doing it and I'm washing dipes every two days anyway. Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. We do this Laura, except we too had some flush issues, so we stopped. Feeling the need to pick it up again! Although, we were so "hard core" we did do for #2 but DH was a bit not so into that lol. thanks for the inspiration to start back up! xo Jayna

  13. How delightful to find your blog and this post. I too have been toying with making this switch. It hardly seems like a biggy as we're using cloth diapers, cloth wipes, and cloth menstrual pads. But that "flush" issue troubles me. Lots of little ones here who are liable to forget.

    Still deliberating...


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