Catherine Winter-Hebert

Family Cloths: Reusable Toilet Wipes, Gross or Great?

filed under: DIY, Recycled Materials
family cloths, toilet paper, cloth diapers, washable wipes, washable diapers, flannel, flannel cotton, handkerchiefs, toilet, bathroom tissue

Image © Henna Lion

It would appear that the pros and cons are pretty much equal. Proponents claim that hemp or bamboo cloths have natural anti-microbial properties and are thus better to use than cotton, but it’s very difficult to get around the mindset that the piece of cloth you’re holding in your hand and are about to wipe yourself with was used for wiping purposes just a few days beforehand — and not necessarily by you. Maybe it’s different if, as in some families, each member had their own color/print cloths so they don’t end up being shared? After all, cloth menstrual pad users don’t mind washing and re-using a pad month after month as it’s their own and isn’t being used by anyone else, but somehow, the idea of washing blood out of a cloth and using it again doesn’t seem to squick people out quite as much as the though of re-using poop-cloths, even if they’re clean. 

In theory, using family cloths seems to be a great idea — they’re eco-friendly, reusable/sustainable, and would save us hundreds of dollars a year — but how many of us would actually go this route? Some people seem to be “okay” with the idea of using the wipes solely for after urinating, but would never consider them for any other use. Others claim that they would use them so long as each family member had their own set of cloths (as the thought of sharing other people’s bum-wipes is just too much for them) and some would just flat-out refuse to even consider trying them out at all. It’s quite possible that we’ve all become so accustomed to the habit of tossing away anything perceived as soiled that we can’t shift gears on this one unless there comes a time when we really have no other choice.

Have any of you used family cloths at home? If you have, what did you think of them?

Lead image via Shutterstock

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  1. Violetmaid November 25, 2014 at 4:52 am

    While my family don’t use cloth wipes, I have a friends who’s family does.
    They all have their own patterned wipes which are washed together, then separated into different patterned (made with same material/pattern as wipes) drawstring bags. These then hang on hooks on the bathroom wall.
    Sadly my family can’t get past the “ick” factor.

  2. MadRecluse July 26, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I’ve been using them for 3 weeks now, and I love them. However, I only use them for urination. I absolutely cannot stomach the idea of using them for #2. No way, gross..IMO. The reason I chose to use cloth is not for environmental reasons – it’s to save money – pure and simple. My cloths are single layer, white. I just bought 2 metres and then used pinker scissors to cut the squares. There is a little fraying when washed, but it’s not too bad and it only happened after the 1st wash. I don’t have a sewing machine and was not going to spend $20 for 20 wipes (plus shipping) from people who sell them online. The pinker scissors cost me triple the price of the flannel, but that’s a small price to pay when considering I’d need about 100 squares to last me a full week. I’ll probably replace the flannel wipes every 6 months – which is a cost of just $13 for 2 metres. All in all, I’m very happy I’ve switched and they feel so much better to use than paper. Oh, and I live alone so there is no sharing (I wouldn’t share these with anyone else).

  3. annetteabu February 28, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    You can get bidets throught Dr Mercola or the company he buys them from. We have one and it works great! :) We love the cloth wipes too! :)

  4. Kay Smith November 6, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Forgot to mention that a good sunning removes almost all stains…especially if you SUN them BEFORE putting in the dryer.

    Have a great echo-friendly day, & thanks for all your efforts for a greener planet.

  5. Kay Smith November 6, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    I’ve been using cloth wipes for over five years & definitely recommend them. I live alone so don”t have the concern of sharing. I got a fabulous deal on baby washcloths…6 per pkg & 4 pkgs for $1. I bought $10 worth. Do the math…that’s a lot of cloths. Trust me…I shared. I think these baby wash cloths are a perfect size & I like that the edges are all secured in binding.

    I use TP for first “rear” wipe & then cloth. I do not soak my cloth – nor did I soak soiled diapers. Cloths are deposited in an open $1 Store basket. I wash only when I’m about to run out of clean cloths, about every 8 – 10 days.

    As I grab a clean cloth I fold it into fourths; after a simple dry, I fold it over & place it on toilet tank & use the clean side as needed next visit.

    On washday all are tossed into washer, one cold wash cycle w/no soap. Next cycle I use regular detergent & hot water & never bleach. Third is just a hot rinse. These are all run on low water level. Toss in dryer on low heat & they’re dry in 10/15 min & piled into the pretty little basket in the bathroom.

  6. Becca Grove-Foster February 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    If I didn’t share laundry facilities that I had to pay cash for I think I would. I doubt my husband would though! it would have to be just me!

  7. joy2b February 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I can see why someone who has cloth diapered would consider this, but unless I smelled bleach, I would be very concerned to see it in use. If they were simply used to dry off, there is some limit on the number of germs, but if they’re used to wipe, you’d have to treat dirty ones like they’re dirtier than raw chicken (salmonilla is killed by hand sanitizer, some common stomach bugs aren’t). You need to use a cleaning method that kills both bacteria and viruses.

    I’m more comfortable with using reusable cloth on infants, who haven’t had the opportunity to pick up stds, utis, or a particularly wide array of gut bacteria. Even there, I’ve learned that it’s important to be strict about immediately and thoroughly washing your hands, and everything you touched on the way to the sink. It only takes one case of norovirus (a really unpleasant stomach bug) to learn why people are reflexively grossed out by feces.

    Gwenny – It’s quite reasonable to install and remove a sprayer on most apartment toilets. If you search for diaper sprayers, you’ll find an array of choices under $50, easily available in the US.

  8. Gwenny February 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    I would personally like a bidet. But they are damned rare in the US. If I ever own a house I will have some sort of water cleansing device . . like the Washlet, which is made in Japan, or some bidet attachment.

  9. Lori Bevilacqua February 22, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I try to be as eco-conscious as possible, but this is drawing the line. I do use recycled tissue and toilet paper. Green Forest is great and recently I discovered some made from sugar cane fiber! It’s pretty incredible.

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