Cloth for All: Could You Give Up Toilet Paper?

Image via Flickr/ Wilson Hui

As I was perusing the interwebs the other day, I found an article about a family that decided to try an experiment by ditching toilet paper for a year and trying reusable cloth squares to clean up after their business affairs. This isn't an entirely new thing for people to do — we here at EverydayFamily published a similar article about this same topic a little while back — but it was thought provoking for me. 

As I read these, two things stuck out to me: 1) people were saving upwards of $100 or $200, and 2) you've got to clean those cursed cloths! I'm still doing the college thing, so I am in dire need to save a couple bucks here and there. But for me, cloth isn't in the works. I personally just try to handle business matters in public bathrooms. The one-ply toilet paper is very similar to sandpaper and does tear me to pieces, but hey, it's free.

And we're all about free, right?

But that doesn't answer the question of what to do for the home setting. Babies that are still in diapers typically don't stroll down the street to the nearest 7-Eleven to relieve themselves, so there needs to be a solution for life in the home. Of course, many who cloth diaper also use cloth wipes, but even that meets with skepticism, as seen in the comments on this Facebook post on reusable baby wipes.

{ MORE: The Diaper Wars }

Personally, wiping the behinds of little kids with cloths doesn't seem too bad to me. I mean, babies seem to poop all up their backs quite often, and I don't think people think twice about cleaning the onesie, and then using it a second time. Poop was caked into the fibers of the onesie, the onesie was thrown into the washer, the onesie is used again. No problems whatsoever. But once the concept of adults and older kids using cloths instead of paper, that's where I think it gets a little bit messy. (Pun intended.)

We older people have so much more potency in fecal discharge than little kids do, so these cloth wipes are going to be taking a beating. Poops are bigger, wipes are higher in number, and our diets are a little more diverse than that of a little kid, so in order to get these cloths clean, we're going to have to beat the crap out of them. (Once again, pun intended.)

{ MORE: 10 Tips for Moms Thinking About Cloth Diapering }


The article from the Deseret News suggested to store the soiled cloths in a dry basket or a basket that is filled with a vinegar and water solution. Do you know how often it was suggested to wash the rags? Every two to three days!

Now, I don't know about you, but having the reprehensible smell of human poop mixed with vinegar that has sat around and fermented for a couple of days makes me a little nauseated.

Am I just ignorant, or is toilet paper here to stay? Or what about bidets? Should those become commonplace in the States? 

What do you think?

Cloth for All: Could You Give Up Toilet Paper?

Jace Whatcott is a self-diagnosed introvert who loves crossword puzzles, golf, and reading. Despite being a male contributor—one of the few on this particular website—he is not in unfamiliar territory. Because he is an English major, 90% of his classmates are females, so he’s not too worried about being a fish out of water. One of his favorite things to do is to raid local thrift stores for used books. He’s always looking for something to read, or for something to put on his endless to-r ... More

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  1. Sabrina says:

    I have tried to give up toilet paper but it was not cost effective, left me feeling unclean, and risked me catching a uti.

  2. TaKeisha says:

    I agree with you Karen, I worked on Cardiac PCU and we used white washcloths and towels and they were much faster than using wipes. I would toss the soiled washcloth or towel in the dirty laundry hamper when I was finished and move on to the next task. I don’t prefer to go without tissue, but if I had too it really wouldn’t bother me. And I would not let soiled linens sit in a bucket of vinegar either, I would wash them daily.

  3. David says:

    To say “give up” implies you are going to have to use something else not as good but in fact using water to get clean at the toilet is 10X better and healthier than wiping with toilet paper and the best way to do this is with a Hand Bidet Sprayer. Cleaner, Greener, Better.

  4. Destiny says:

    I couldn’t do the cloth, but I think baby wipes should be for everyone. Cleans up the mess faster.

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  6. mommy nhoj says:

    Yay! I won’t buy the idea of using cloth over toilet paper. I’ll go for bidet (and then toilet paper afterwards) or in the absence of bidet, get some baby wipes if needed. The idea of keeping the soiled cloth for 3 days makes my stomach up-side down! 😐

    • karen says:

      I worked as an RN for thirty-eight years. Thirty of those were taking care of newborns which a warm soapy washcloth was much faster than using twenty wipes on those first Bm’s. Wipes just kind of slide around on that stuff. But believe me a lot of crap is cleaned up for adults using white washcloths and they go right in the laundry with everything else. They almost always came back clean and white. And who says you can’t wash them every day? And a two year old still in diapers is every bit as stinky as an adult and diaper pails usually sat around a few days. You put a lid on it. This way of doing things isn’t new. Women used to reuse their menstrual clothes too. We sure are wimpy these days.

      • mommy nhoj says:

        I do remember my mother used absorbent cloth during her period then. I personally prefer using dipper and water to clean down there followed by tissue to dry it.

        Yes, I agree that this way of doing thing isn’t new but I am just reacting on the article’s suggestion to wash it every 2-3 days. That part, yes could be modified. But personally I don’t like it.

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