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Oh lord! Is this what we’ve come to? Well, maybe. Whether it’s used in a crisis situation or as a part of your sustainable home, let’s talk about “How to Make and Use Cloth Toilet Paper”.
You may have heard “cloth toilet paper” referred to as the “Family cloth”.
That term disgusts me.
It’s the reason I didn’t try cloth toilet paper sooner.
So, clear your head of any bias and hear me out.
With the exception of the Chinese, who have records of using something like toilet paper around the 6th century, toilet paper as we know it has only been around for about 100 years.
So what did people wipe their back-ends with for the centuries that preceded that?
Well, it’s not pretty.
Leaves. Rocks. Grass. Ferns. Dried corn cobs. Fruit skins. None of it sounds good!
My point is that humanity has been dealing with the subject of wiping their bum for centuries now, without the luxury of using what we call “toilet paper”.
Cloth Toilet Paper vs. Cloth Diapers
When my babies were small, I used cloth diapers.
At the time, they didn’t have the super-groovy diapers that they have now. All that was available were the white, cotton rectangle diapers.
I used to bring those primitive diapers home and take them to my sewing machine. With some modification, I made my own custom diapers that performed well. This saved us a tremendous amount of money and kept hundreds of disposable diapers out of landfills.
For wipes, I cut up old wash cloths and t-shirts. Putting them in an old wipes box, I made my own solution by combining a little bit of organic baby shampoo with water.
As I changed diapers throughout the day, I scraped the excess poo into the toilet and then put the soiled diapers in a 5-gallon bucket (with lid) filled about half-way with water and a little bleach. Once I realized that the bleach was aging my diapers faster than I cared for, I switched to a few squirts of dish soap instead. It worked just fine.
At the end of the day, I took my bucket downstairs and dumped the entire contents into my washer.
I ran the rinse cycle first, followed by a hot water wash with regular detergent, with a little Oxy-clean. To dry, I hung them up on an inside line in my basement and then folded them in the morning.
The care of cloth toilet paper would be MUCH EASIER than dealing with cloth diapers!
- Cloth toilet paper is a fraction of the fabric volume of a cloth diaper.
- The entire contents of a cloth diaper must be dealt with, while cloth toilet paper only has “wiped” material on it.
- Cloth toilet paper doesn’t take up much space, like cloth diapers, so it requires a smaller container.
- Much less capacity for odor!
Using Cloth Toilet Paper in times of Crisis!
In times of crisis, whether it be a worldwide pandemic or a job loss within the family, cloth toilet paper makes sense.
Toilet paper shortages are inevitable during certain crises.
It boggles my mind that people are all stressed out about finding toilet paper at the store, rather than focusing their energy on food/water/medicine! After all, toilet paper cannot sustain life.
When money is tight, for goodness sakes, use your money for food and medicine! Toilet paper is NOT that important!
Save the disposable toilet paper for when company comes over. It’s rude to impose your “cloth” routine on company.
Using Cloth Toilet Paper to Save the Environment
If you’re like me, doing away with disposable paper products is a priority in our homes. Have you ever given any thought to just how wasteful the making of toilet paper is for our environment?
According to Charmin, consumers on average use 8.6 sheets per trip to the bathroom. That’s a total of 57 sheets per day and an annual total of 20,805 sheets. There are 230 million adults in the U.S., each averaging a roll and a half per week. Since each roll of toilet paper averages about .5 a pound of paper, that’s about 40 pounds of TP per year.
That equals 4.6 million tons of TP used each year. And that’s just from adults. To take the calculation even further, if all U.S. adults used only Charmin toilet paper or the like (aka “virgin fiber” with 0% recycled content or post-consumer waste), the environmental cost is approximately (not including the issues with Dioxin):
- 78.2 million trees
- 1.35 million tons of air pollution
- 32 trillion gallons of water
- 2.1 trillion gallons of oil
- 18.75 trillion Kilowatt hours of energy
Using Cloth Toilet Paper as Part of a Sustainable Home
For me, removing yet another disposable paper product from my home feels great!
Over the years, I’ve implemented cloth napkins in our kitchen, as well as using cloth kitchen towels instead of paper towels. We also make and use cloth gift bags, instead of toxic (and expensive!) wrapping paper.
This is just the next logical step!
How to get a Cloth Toilet Paper System Going
There are several ways to get your cloth toilet paper system going.
For the easiest method, you can simply use baby wash clothes. You can unwrap the package, wash and begin to use right away.
To save money, you could simply cut up t-shirts, flannel shirts or older towels or wash cloths. All of these will serve just fine as cloth toilet paper.
How Big Should My Pieces Be?
It’s a matter of personal opinion.
Some folks like the 5 1/2″x 5 1/2″ size, similar to the size of a baby wash cloth. I prefer a larger square of 8″x8″. It’s completely up to you.
When cutting up t-shirt or flannel shirts, keep in mind that your toilet paper pieces do not have to be perfectly square! Use what you have on hand and don’t get hung up on perfection. You can always switch things up later.
I decided that I didn’t want to spend any money on creating my cloth toilet paper.
I had quite a bit of leftover flannel from another project, and I decided to use that. Besides, flannel gets softer the more you wash it!
Set your machine on the zig-zag stitch and sew around the edges of your cloth. If you have access to a serger, that would work even better!
It only takes a few minutes to sew each piece, soon you’ll have a stack just like this!
Once your cloth toilet paper is complete, you’ll need a small container or basket to put your cloth toilet paper in. Keep this near your toilet.
Finally, you’ll need a disposal container of some kind. Many people use a “touch free” trash container. Others may use some container with a lid. It doesn’t really matter, do it as you see fit or can afford right now. I’m re-purposing an old candy container that I used for change, NOW it’s my cloth toilet paper dispenser!
How to Wash Your Cloth Toilet Paper
I wash my cloth toilet paper separate from other laundry, in hot water with 1 cup of bleach. You can hang them to dry or use your dryer. Fold and re-use!