We’re all about reusables here in the GladRags office, and you’d be hard pressed to find a disposable item (whether a paper tissue, plastic water bottle, or a tampon) in any of our purses or bags. But there is one final frontier for even the most die-hard reusable advocates…. TOILET PAPER.
A lot of folks refer to reusable toilet paper as “family cloth” but I have to say, I’m not a fan. The name is a spin-off of “mama cloth,” a term used for cloth pads (versus cloth diapers). I’ve never loved the phrase “mama cloth” because menstruation isn’t just for mamas! So for the purpose of this blog post, we’ll skip using the phrase family cloth and instead use the much classier terms: “pee wipes” and “poo wipes.”
Okay, so we’re clear on the terminology (you can’t get much more straightforward than “pee wipes,” honestly), how about the concept? It makes sense, especially to those familiar with the concepts of cloth diapering and reusable menstrual products: why waste paper when you could use cloth? Excessive toilet paper waste is expensive, wasteful, and can cause septic system problems. So sure, I can see why using cloth wipes makes sense.
In fact, I actually tried to use pee wipes for a while. I thought about poo wipes, but I just… couldn’t. In small part because it squicked me out, but largely because I share a few very old, awful washing machines with my neighbors and it seemed rude. I figured my pee was sterile and no one would be the wiser… and they wouldn’t have known, if I hadn’t loudly proclaimed to all of them “guess what I’m trying now!!!”
My pee wipes set up was pretty similar to most people: I had a little basket full of cloths (they were GladRags inserts, the perfect size!) next to the toilet, along with a small wet bag. Initially, I had to train myself not to drop the inserts right into the toilet, but it was a pretty quick learning curve. I washed the inserts as needed, but the cost of my coin-op laundry added up quickly and it was kind of a pain compared to washing my cloth pads once a month.
My verdict: I’d totally go back to pee wipes in the future, if I had my own washer and dryer. I’m still unsure about poo, which I’m totally okay with.
We asked our Facebook community about reusable toilet paper and got some great responses! Here’s a small sampling what our followers had to say:
“I use family cloth for myself (pee only) and you would be shocked at how much tp we save!! Instead of going through 3-4 rolls a week, we only go through 1 or 2 at the most.” – Allie
“9 years and counting! There’s a basket of cloth in front of the toilet and when they are used they go in a basket on the side of the toilet. They are washed in hot with an extra rinse (because my washer has a setting. I’ve made the wipes from flannel (old sheets, old pajama pants, flannel fabric, sometimes old towels but they never last, etc) for these 9 years.” – Amanda
“I haven’t had any stains. If there’s a lot of “residue” they get treated like poopy diapers, which is they get scrubbed in the toilet with a toilet brush to get it off first before they get thrown into the pail. Washing (since they are washed with the diapers) entails a prewash with a little bit of a detergent and then a heavy duty wash with a full cap.” – Robin
“We use family cloth. Started out with cloth diapering, then cloth wipes, then family cloth. WE LOVE IT! Just use the wipes and toss them in with the diaper laundry and we are good to go. When we don’t have anyone in diapers anymore we will continue. It is so much nice for our skin, better for the environment, and saves a ton of money on toilet paper. Give it a try if you are skeptical. You will be amazed at how nice it is.” – Tricia
“Yes we do!! And I hate “going” away from home because of it. We have baby washcloths as wipes, kept under the sink, and they go right in a wet bag (left over from our cloth diaper days). I wash on hot with towels.” – Amy
“I don’t use tp OR cloth — I use my bidet, and I adore it! Clean water beats wiping with anything every time. They are cheap and easy to install, they go right in your existing toilet and hook up to either hot or cold water sources. Flip of a switch, and fresh, clean water rinses away all excrement from your privates and you are cleaner than if you wiped, because there are no smears left behind anywhere. I wish bidet toilets were mandatory in all toilets everywhere! I hate having to use restrooms in public or at other peoples’ houses now!” – Josie
“I usually use paper but I’ve got the wipes set up and wet on the back of the toilet for anyone to use. Ironically I use them most often for #2 and I see most don’t. Ha!” – Sam
“My daughter and I have used it for years, love it! I keep a basket on the back of the toilet with clothes wipes stacked in it, and a small wetbag hangs from the toilet paper holder. I wash on hot when the bag gets full. Saves so much TP!” – Julea
What do you think? Have you tried it?