Monday, November 28, 2011

Cloth Toilet "Paper"

In preparation for this post about cloth toilet "paper", I thought I'd read up a little bit on mainstream toilet paper for comparison.  I discovered some very unsettling facts from The Toilet Paper Encyclopedia.  In fact, I was shocked.

On average, consumers use 8.6 sheets per trip – a total of 57 sheets per day. That’s an annual total of 20,805 sheets!

According to Charmin customers, the number of days a standard roll of bath tissue usually lasts in the most-used bathrooms in the house is five.

I have now been using cloth toilet paper I made at home for months (though only for number one incidents).  I have yet to find a downside.  Making them was quick and simple.  I used baby wash cloths, so they are nice and soft.  Washing them is not a big deal.  Most importantly, I am happy knowing I am helping the environment.

Baby wash cloths cut into quarters.

Zip zag stitch across the 2 open edges.

Store in the bathroom.

Here is a more  uplifting statistic I found to end on:

Tossing all the toilet paper in America would save 15 million trees, 17.3 terawatts of electricity, and more than 473 billion gallons of water annually.

I have to say it's worth it.  After looking into it more as well, I found that some families are choosing to put bidets in their homes to eliminate the need for toilet paper all together.  I think I'd be a little uncertain trying one of those for the first time, but they all sounded really pleased with their decision.


  1. In man of the foreign countries I've visited you don't flush toilet paper anyways, you put it in a little trashcan by the toilet. This is a great idea

  2. Hey thing you might want to add to this post is how you store the cloths once they are used, how often you do a load of "paper", and do you wash them seprately. This is an idea that is really simple and I have heard of, but for some reason, I just haven't done it. I agree...#1 sessions only!

  3. Oh Grace! You are really challenging me on these ideas! I totally get it, it's just... well, y'know ;-)

    Question: what happens when you have company? They get to use tp right? Not sure I would want to be washing everyone elses wipes too!

    Here's what I always wonder with these issues: if we compare the energy used to produce/ship/sell the cloth and then the energy used to launder them, how does that compare with the energy used to product toilet paper? Then there's the waste issue (although biodegradable is an option), the chemicals to bleach the regular tp most people buy (again unbleached exists), the trees used. But there's also the growing of the cotton... well you get the idea.

    I am always interested in how it all works out if you go right back to the source and take in the total picture. Not saying reusable cloths won't win - they likely do - but I am always curious by how much in the end. I would love to learn more on that topic. It's kind of overwhelming to even think about how to factor everything in!

    Great post though - got me thinking again ;-)

  4. Woohoo! Loving this discussion. Let's see...

    I store the used cloths in an old metal, round ice chest I got at the Sally Anne. Coolest, cheapest container I could find that wasn't see through and had a lid. I keep it beside the toilet.

    I have more than enough cloths for a week. I wash what's in the bucket weekly usually with the load of towels/dish cloths, but I have put them in with our clothes before as well.

    I have toilet paper on the roll in the bathroom, so company I assume uses that. Though I would be thrilled if someone told me they used a cloth, haha.

    I do wonder about those comparisons a lot too, Lisa! I think that in the long run reusable always beats out disposable. Especially since I am washing them with a load I do anyways, there isn't any added water or energy to wash them. If bamboo cloths were used it would be even better because that's sustainable.

    Brad is currently reading, and I am going to afterwards as well, "How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything." I think that will really help me understand and be able to better compare factors such as shipping and those things. There are definitely a lot of different aspects to consider and decide what is more of a priority than others.

    I hope that was helpful!

  5. How funny!! I picked up the book "How Bad Are Banana's?" a couple of weeks ago! I am just finishing some library books that will soon need to be returned and then I plan on reading it!

    I was thinking cloths that are unbleached and not dyed would be good. I hadn't thought about bamboo, but yes, that would be a good choice. Of course you also have to use what's readily available and affordable right?

  6. I've been using family cloth for a while now, too, and I like it. Since my son is diapered, we keep the wipes in the bathroom, handy to be wet down for a diaper change and also for any bathroom visitors. My husband thinks it is gross and I'm sure embarrassed, I'm not sure how to convince him that it isn't so bad.

  7. Hey! Another great book to read is cradle to cradle. I had to read it in school and it really opens your eyes!

  8. Do you use the cloths for poo or just for urine? I don't think this would ever fly in our house. I have been known to just drip dry like when I'm camping and to let my underpants catch what may be left behind, but that's urine only.

  9. @Amanda on Maui
    Haha! Just urine. That way it doesn't effect my husband anyways. And when we have kids, it will just be normal.

  10. I favor washing my crack instead of wiping it anyway. So much more hygenic! Check out those toilets that have the shower and drier built in. Quite amazing and feels soooooooo clean.

  11. Oops, my url is not with www.

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  13. How many cloths do you have? We cloth diaper but my oldest just potty trained so we have lots of cloth diaper wipes that could just find a new life in the bathroom and then get washed with the cloth diapers for the little one. I'll have to give it a try for a bit.

  14. To the anonymous poster, I would think the carbon footprint of cloth wipes would be zero if you were upcycling from existing sources.

  15. Woah. I thought I was pretty radical for not flushing every time I use the toilet. But this is beyond my thinking. I kinda want to try it though.

    I'm new to your site and I definitely live in a super conservative rural area of the Midwest. Most of my lifestyle is so contrary to the norm around here I've just gotten used to being that weirdo. It's fun.

    Thanks for the inspiration to keep on living the simple efficient lifestyle!

  16. neat idea.
    I don;t think my roommates would go for it. I bet the cloths could be made from pre-used fabrics to take away their impact. If something has a hole, don't throw it out, make it into TP! interesting idea.
    I think that it is pretty brave

  17. Cut up old T-shirts - preferably white ones. Recycle.