What is Family Cloth?

Family Cloth is the replacing of traditional toilet paper with cloth alternatives. 


Yep, instead of using up a roll of toilet paper a day (like is possible in our household of eight), you can wipe with cloth.

Why on Earth would I use cloth?
*  It's reusable.
*  It's comfy and doesn't leave annoying lint.
*  It stands up to serious wiping!
*  You can use it wet or dry.
*  It saves trees.
*  It's purty!

(wipes set by Holden's Landing)
Midnight Wipe & Mit Set - Holden's Landing
Here's how it works in my family.  It's not a topic most people are willing to discuss, but here goes. 

I'm honestly the only one in my family that is willing to use cloth full time.  My husband is not willing, and for what he uses toilet paper for, I'm fine with that!  My kids will use cloth if I remind them, or if we're out of paper.  And I'm a little worried they will forget and flush it.  Been there, done that.

Here are the not-so-gory details:

We keep our cloth diaper pail in the bathroom.  I use cloth wipes on my baby, so it wasn't a huge stretch for me to switch to family cloth.  I keep a basket of cheap terry baby washcloths (most of which I found on clearance at Target!) on the bathroom counter.  I use mine dry, and then just throw it in the pail.  Some people will use a special container, an old ice cream bucket with a lid, a hanging wetbag, etc.  There are many options.

(Yes, this is my actual diaper pail!)
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One concern is the smell.  To be honest, it's not terribly noticeable.  If you wash them every other day or so, there's not much time for an odor to form.  If you keep them in a lidded container, or a zippered wetbag, there should be no smell at all, if washed often enough.

(wetbag by Sweet Slings, LLC)
How do you to wash them?  If you don't use cloth diapers but are interested in family cloth, you can just toss them into the washer from whatever container you are using, wash them with a load of towels on hot, and you are done!  If you do use cloth diapers, it's easy to just dump them in with the diapers and wash together.  You can be very discreet, by keeping them in a pretty basket on the back of the toilet, or under the sink.  For a wet wipe option, you can keep a squirt bottle of plain water next to the toilet, as well, and you are ready to go. 

(Here's my set-up -- easy peasy)
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If you are concerned about the environment, there's really not much more impact in using cloth that in just washing your regular laundry.  Say you use 10 wipes a day for a week, that's still less than a load of laundry, and you would likely throw them in with other laundry every other day or so, anyway.  As for money savings, we go through a good 6-7 rolls of tp a week (at $1 a roll, that adds up) and now we are down to 4 or so.  I hope to keep chipping away at my family's reserve to use cloth more, because that's $2-3 dollars a week we are saving so far, which equals over a hundred dollars a year!  If we switched over entirely, we could save literally $350 a year just in toilet paper that will be flushed into our sewers, anyway. 

There are so many cloth alternatives, too!   Flannel, Terry, and Organic bamboo velour are popular choices, but you can use any absorbent cloth.  100% cotton is good, and washes very nicely.  Flannel is great and is cheap, and once it's been cut and washed a few times, it doesn't unravel too much.  You could easily serge or sew two peices together for extra strength.  My wipes are a mixture of terry baby cloths, flannel and OBV.  Very comfy and soft, and pretty in my little basket!

For a quick and easy baby cloth wipes solution recipe (that also works great for the rest of us) you can use:

1 1/2 cups of water
mix in a squirt of baby shampoo
a drop or two of your favorite essential oil (I use tea tree oil)
pour over a pile of folded wipes in a wipes container.  I use an old plastic one I got with some disposable wipes, and it's the perfect size for a stack of the terry or flannel cloths folded in half. 

We have noticed a big drop in toilet paper usage since I've been using cloth.  I have used fewer disposable baby wipes, as well, and I feel very good about that. Even if I'm the only one in my family that makes the choice to use cloth, every little bit helps!

contributed by Shannon of Gillyweeds

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