The latest eco-friendly home trend involves “family cloth” – a term for using machine washable fabric instead of toilet paper. And family cloth isn’t just for hardcore pro-environmentalists anymore – it’s an earth-friendly living trend that’s catching on quickly among virtually everyone who’s open-minded enough to try this toilet paper alternative.
What is Family Cloth?
The terminology can be a bit deceiving and household that switch to family cloth doesn’t involve a communal bathroom wipe or sharing of any kind when it comes to this toilet paper substitution.
“Family cloth” refers to the practice of using fabric wipes instead of toilet paper. Most often, family cloth enthusiasts will cut up old T-shirts or old Jersey “T-shirt” fabric sheets for use in the bathroom.
The freshly laundered fabric is typically kept in a basket or neatly folded pile within arm’s reach of the toilet. And once soiled, the fabric is placed in a special receptacle alongside the toilet. A covered trash bin typically works the best when it comes to providing a sightly, odour-free receptacle for soiled bathroom cloth. The fabric is then laundered using detergent and bleach, and it’s then ready for another use.
The Benefits of Family Cloth as a Toilet Paper Alternative
Admittedly, Westerners are very attached to their toilet paper, so in the beginning, converting to family cloth can be a difficult sell. But incredibly, most people who are open minded and eco-conscious enough to try family cloth as an alternative to toilet paper wonder why they didn’t switch sooner. The vast majority of people who try this toilet paper substitute never go back to the toilet paper rolls full time.
Kim Cushing, a Boston-area mother of three, recently decided to try family cloth in the bathroom, along with more than a dozen other mothers in her Moms’ Group. And incredibly, all 17 of the moms in Cushing’s group whose families tried cloth in the bathroom said that they will continue to use fabric wipes instead of toilet paper.
“I’m not super ‘green’ or extremely eco-conscious. But I’m open minded so I thought we’d give this a try. It was a difficult sell to the rest of the family in the beginning, but after one or two trips to the bathroom, everyone was sold on family cloth!” Cushing explained, adding, “Everyone agreed that the family cloth is softer and more comfortable than toilet paper and you don’t end up with toilet paper lint or bits left behind.”
Considerations When Switching to Family Cloth
Cushing did offer a word of warning for anyone who’s considering a switch to family cloth as a toilet paper replacement: “You’ll want to go out and buy a set of metal tongs and keep them in the bathroom beside the toilet. For the first few days, I think everyone in the family accidentally threw the fabric into the toilet when they were finished wiping – it’s a difficult habit to break! So you’ll need to fish the fabric out of the toilet and a set of tongs works best.”
Some family cloth users do opt to provide toilet paper to accommodate guests who aren’t comfortable with cloth wipes.
Another advantage of family cloth? “No more clogged toilets! Our kids were always using too much toilet paper and clogging the toilet. This completely eliminates that problem,” Cushing said, concluding, “It’s a bit more laundry, but in all, family cloth beats toilet paper.”