I had just spent a gazillion hours cleaning bathrooms (Boys are gross. The End), when a Buzzfeed article entitled, “What is the Family Cloth and Why Do People Use It? An Explainer” showed up on my newsfeed. Clearly the Universe in all its cosmic humor thought it would be fun to use Facebook to remind me of the horrors I had just witnessed.
For those unenlightened, non-zero-waste-minded folks like me, the family cloth is a “cost-effective, eco-friendly system in which you wipe with cloth wipes instead of toilet paper, and then wash and reuse them for as long as they last.”
The article quoted an unnamed mother of two, who extolled the crapload of benefits of going cloth in the bathroom, from financial savings to eliminating consumer waste. She tells Buzzfeed, “In my mind, buying and using disposable toilet paper was literally flushing money down the toilet!” She does admit to using baby wipes for poop, however, “because toilet paper just doesn’t get the tushy clean enough.”
Some would argue that the cost of the baby wipes, extra water, electricity, and soap required to wash the cloths negates any savings, but she claims laundry is not an issue. “It hasn’t really affected our laundry routines at all. Even a week’s worth of cloth doesn’t add much volume to the load of laundry, so we don’t need to do it more often than we did.”
And stains? What’s a little discoloration when you’re taking care of Mother Earth?
“A stain does not indicate filth,” she states. “If my cloths get stained by menstrual blood and come out of the hot-water-with-bleach wash with reddish or brownish areas of discoloration, I honestly do not care and neither should you.”
I’m sorry. I do care.
But it’s not just about the financial reward. Saving the environment plays a big part in why this family has decided to go TP free. It’s also a choice that has made her feel more “self-sufficient and in-control when it comes to taking care of my family.”
Hey, I’m all for making choices for your family that boost your confidence and make you feel good. You do you, sister! This just isn’t a choice I’ll be making. Ever.
And if you’re sitting there, reading this on your golden throne, silently praising whoever it was that invented toilet paper (thank you Joseph Gayetty), thinking the family cloth is not for you, think again. They are for everybody. No exclusions. At least, according to Ms. Anonymous.
“If you are single, reusable cloth personal wipes are for you. If you have 13 kids, reusable cloth personal wipes are for you. No matter your relationship status, your sex or gender identity, your political affiliation, tax bracket, ethnicity, or religion, reusable cloth personal wipes are delightful and they are for you.”
FOR YOU. Not me. You.
The thing is, she is not alone in her campaign to heal the earth one pee-rag at a time.
The article also quoted blogger Beth Ricci of Red & Honey, who writes, “Some people also like to use it for just #1 and not have to deal with #2. Personally, I love it for both. I find it so much more comfortable and luxurious feeling. I feel cleaner. I also use it for ‘that time of the month’ which is extra-awesome. We ladies tend to feel icky in those days because it’s tough to get totally clean with just paper. With a warm, wet cloth, I feel like I’m actually getting 100% clean.”
Feeling inspired? Etsy has a number of sites that sell family cloths in a variety of appealing fabrics, prints, and patterns.
Look, I’m all for being environmentally conscious and doing my part to help save the planet that we have royally messed up. I have mad respect for people who are so committed to doing what they feel is right for them and the environment in which we live that they willingly give up toilet paper. I do the three R’s. I reduce and reuse. I compost. I recycle cans, plastics, and paper. But recycling cloths that you use to wipe pee and poop? Nope. No-no-no.
I share almost everything with my family. Right down to the last bite of my double chocolate brownie. It’s bad enough that I have to share a bathroom with boys who apparently have yet to master the art of aiming. Which, quite frankly, I never realized was such a specialized skill. So the idea of using communal butt wipes is just too much for me in my post-traumatic-toilet-cleaning-stress state.
I am well aware that you don’t actually share used cloths and that you wash them between uses. But there isn’t water hot enough or bleach bleachy enough to convince me to say, without being under extreme duress, “I’m switching to cloth toilet wipes today!”
Have a burning desire to make the world a better place, starting in your bathroom? There are other options.
Recycled toilet paper. Bidets.
For me? I’ll be sticking with good, old fashioned toilet paper, preferably Purex, with its “pillowy softness you can see and feel” (and flush).