Family Cloth

QOTD: How “green” are you willing to go?

The thought of not using toilet paper has never occurred to me except for when I’m in the woods and use a leaf instead. Avid outdoor-people will totally understand that and not think of me as weird while non-true-campers will probably scratch their heads trying to remember if they’ve ever shook my bare head. At home though? Never! I like toilet paper!

And then today, I randomly came across the topic of “Family Cloth” on a website. At first, I didn’t know what it was, but I was quickly able to use my reasoning abilities to figure it out after the page referenced using it as a replacement for toilet paper. Oh, my! At first, my thoughts were displaced as I processed what this meant. What about hygiene? Would I want to be using something that I knew someone else already had? Or even that I had?

I continued to read, finding out more about this strange (to me) phenomenon that seems to be gaining popularity among the frugal population. Apparently, most people who use Family Cloth only use it after urination and keep toilet paper on hand for anything else. Even families who use cloth exclusively will keep a roll or two of toilet paper in their cupboard in case of visitors (“oh, just pick your favorite piece out of our pile and throw it in the basket when you’re done! My personal favorite is the soft pink flannel with bunnies print!”). Probably a good thing. The used cloths are put into one of those trash cans with the foot-pedal lid, lined with a reusable bag (like the wet bag that we use for our diaper pail, I’m thinking), and then tossed into the diaper or towel laundry every few days. Okay, some people apparently put the used cloths into other things, but I like the idea of discrete and covered, so we’re running with the can idea.

Hygienic? Well, I can’t really see a problem with it if it’s just urine, especially if you’re using hemp or bamboo fabric (anti-microbial, etc.). I do use cloth diapers after all, and that is certainly not a hygiene problem. Frugal? Definitely in the long run. Softer than cheap toilet paper? I’m positive! So…am I willing to take the plunge (okay, bad pun)?

I strive for simplicity, I care about the Earth, and I need to save money. I’m the only female in my house who would be using it, so maybe it wouldn’t be so weird? Maybe it would be! I don’t know if I’m ready to be so green as to have re-usable toilet paper yet, but it’s worth a thought. Here’s the deal, if someone will send me a bunch of Family Cloth to review, I will try it out. I will not give away the used cloths though, so don’t even ask.

Have you ever heard of this before? What do you think—weird, or a good idea?

I found a good example of prices, fabrics, etc. for Family Cloth here.

17 thoughts on “Family Cloth

Add yours

  1. I've heard about it–maybe I was the one who sent you the link to the place you heard about it. I don't know.
    #1) I am all for recycling and leaving the earth better than we found it. I am very against all these religious folk who seem to believe that we don't need to “save the earth” because that's a liberal thing and Jesus is coming soon, anyway. Whatever.
    #2) The people who advocate this seem to believe that it's no different than using cloth diapers. I really think it is, and here's why.
    a) Unless you have multiples, your cloth diapers are used only by one baby. You're not sharing a diaper among multiple members of your family.
    b) It's no secret that baby urine and baby feces is different than older children and adult's. Babies, especially breast fed babies, will have less bacteria and other harmful things excreted from their system, if for no other reason than they have different immune systems and bacteria going in. Babies are not small adults.
    c) You really want all that in your washer?
    d) If you must try something like this out, try cloth menstrual pads. I hear they are pretty good.


  2. Rachel, I love this idea! My husband and I have turned it into a joke with our kids, telling them we're going to do the family cloth…”ugh” they reply! In fact, my 3 year old has been running around screaming to everyone he has soiled the family cloth! Hilarious! But in all honesty, I think this is a great idea. Especially since I've read this, I bought 2-20 rolls of toilet paper @ $11.00 a pop! So thats, mmm..$264 bucks a year so I (and 7 other people) can wipe our bums! I figure if Im doing cloth diapers there really isn't much difference. Especially if you have to strip your diapers like I do in everywash, I really wouldn't concern myself with the above comment b), if you use natural disinfecting/antiseptic oils for your wash like tea tree oil, lavender, peppermint oil, etc.. Oh, and it helps were all eating vegan in our home so no rancid meat/bacteria in that dept! I have tried making wipes from old towels and off cuts from my fabric stash. Suppose the baby bamboo wipes could be used as family cloth as well? I was thinking about sending you some in your package with the diaper and reusable diaper wipes, just so you could give em' a go! Thanks for the post…oh yeah! I do make bamboo cloth menstrual pads too! Will be stocking those in the shop this month.


  3. Ok, I know this is an old post, but I can't keep my mouth shut. Urine is antiseptic! In fact, you can pee on a cut if you're in the wild with no first aid kit. So there's no need to worry about cross-infection or “having all that in your wash.”


  4. commenting on 'all that' in your wash… urine changes into compounds that probably are not all that friendly to bacterial growth… I could be wrong though so don't take my word…

    Seeing as the post is so old, did you try this out? How did it go?


  5. You can get a bidet/diaper sprayer for less than $20 and rinse yourself before wiping. Would it make the idea of family cloth less gross?


  6. I never heard of this before today, but I'm intrigued. My daughter who has lived in the middle east some says she much prefers the totally non-paper method there with the “butt-sprayer” as she calls it. I am intrigued with the family cloth idea, it does seem really simple especially for urine. The combination of the 2 sound ideal.
    The thing that surprised me about your post here was that you were considering BUYING family cloths! A family with kids — you MUST have enough rags to use, no? I have so many rags, I don't know what to do with them all — although now I think I do!


  7. I switched to the Mooncup, washable sanitary towels and organic cotton hankies, so this seemed to be the natural next step. Been using them a few days and really do prefer them to loo roll.

    At the moment we are only using them for wees. As soon as I can get hold of a suitable bum washer we plan in using them as bum towels too. My hubby just loves the term “bum towel”

    I made my own from old clothes that were not good enough for the charity shop and used my overlocker to edge them.

    I would certainly recomend making the switch.


  8. If you're afraid of bacteria, why not just have a bucket of mild bleach water to put the soiled cloths in? That's what I do. I drain the bucket (with gloves on) then wash the Toilet cloths in a small separate wash load. I can't believe much or any bacteria will survive a prolonged bleach water soak.


  9. Hmm. I've heard of this idea a few times. The first time, I thought “Ewww!” but I guess I'm becoming desensitized. Now that we are expecting our first baby, and planning to cloth diaper, this just seems to make sense. I've already been cutting up old flannel sheets for baby wipes. Now I think I'll have to make some more. Then, they can just go in the diaper pail!


  10. Didn't take the time to check if someone else mentioned it, but I have been seriously considering this myself (especially since I recently ran out of tp in the downstairs bathroom and had to get creative until I could grab the roll from upstairs…anyway…) I strongly suggest using family cloths in combination with peri bottles filled with water (and a tad bit of soap and/or essential oil) or if you're lucky enough, a bidet. That should take all of the concern out of it since after cleansing you're really only drying, no different than using a bath towel.


  11. Great someone had mentioned bidets…anyway…in addition I'd suggest cutting up the family's hole-y (or stained) t-shirts and underwear and doing a simple stitch around the edges.


  12. You can use teatree oil to soak wipes in a container with a lid antiseptic and no smell.sopnuts are great to wash them in makes them soft and germ free.soapnuts are great for washing everything and you can compost them afterwards!


  13. Urine can indeed be full of terrible bacteria. Ask any lab tech who runs urine specimens to check for infection.


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