Prepare Your Butts: Family Cloth, Or Reusable Toilet Paper, Is Coming

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
Midsection Of Woman Sitting On Toilet Seat
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With all the people hoarding all the toilet paper, and everyone scared to leave their house to buy more, the dreaded day will come: you will run out of toilet paper. It’s coming, folks. With the BBC reporting that social distancing may be needed for “most of the year,” meaning that we’ll be hoarding the TP and afraid to go shopping until, oh, maybe Halloween, it’s time to look reality in the face. You will need reusable toilet paper.

You will run out. And you will be using what the hippies call family cloth.

Stop cringing. Stop freaking. Keep reading. And pay attention, because you’re going to be there, friends and neighbors.

What is Family Cloth? Simple: Reusable Toilet Paper.

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Stop freaking out. People use cloth diapers all the time. They wash them in regular washing machines. The rest of their clothes are not horrifically tainted with poo. You’ll be cool. You don’t have to use leaves or the Sears and Roebuck catalog, peeps. Just make reusable toilet paper.

When I did it, I had a freaking ton of pre-sewn diaper wipes we used (or rather that I used; my husband refused to participate) that were already made out of T-shirt fabric. I recommend a double-sewn piece of T-shirt fabric, about 5×7 inches. Frugal Living NW used T-shirt or flannel material, but says if she had to do it over again, she’d just buy reusable baby wipes off Amazon.

Get the reusable toilet paper while it’s hot, people. If it’s fit to wipe a baby’s butt, it’s certainly fit to wipe yours.

Frugal Living NW recommends that, doing wash every three to four days, for a family of six, you need about 100 wipes. Unless, of course, your family includes my kids, which means you need to triple that number. I just kept mine next to the toilet. On the side of the counter. Not really a lot of rocket science to this reusable toilet paper thing, people.

Okay. But How Do You USE IT?

You do it like this.

You don’t need reusable toilet paper to be wet for pee. Dry as usual.

Everyone else when it comes to number two: wet them in the sink. I mean, you know if number two is going to happen before you sit down, amiright? So take the initiative and wet it beforehand. Maybe you’re a double-wiper. If that’s the case, wet two.

Post-wiping: you’re going to want to store those bad boys.

You have several options for storing reusable toilet paper, which might sound a little off-putting at first. We’re going to assume that buying a dedicated trash can is off-limits because hey, you’re in social distancing mode, and you can’t go out to buy toilet paper, much less a new trash can. You can put them in a dedicated disposable trash bag, and pull the strings. Since you’re washing every three days or so, believe me: nothing will smell (and weirdly, the pee will smell first, trust me; I’ve been there, done that).

However, if you’re short on toilet paper, you may also be short on trash bags. Because, y’know, shortages. Other options include plastic grocery bags, Ziploc bags, or wow, be really creative and repurpose an old flower pot with a “lid” of aluminum foil or plastic wrap! We are getting clever these days, aren’t we?

Whatever you do, don’t store them in water. This is actually dangerous for small children (drowning hazard), and breeds bacteria, which is counterproductive.

How to Wash Them

Anna Shvets/Pexels

Your washer likely has a sanitary setting. Use it.

No, seriously, to wash your reusable toilet paper, first give it a good soak in the washing machine for 15-20 minutes. Then run it on a sanitary cycle with bleach. Don’t have a sanitary cycle? I recommend two hot-as-it-will-go hot water cycles with bleach, which is probably overkill, followed by an empty washer cycle with bleach, also overkill, but I assume you’re losing your mind at the idea of doing this in the first place, and it’ll make you feel better.

Your reusable toilet paper is now clean. Do a happy dance and put it in the dryer.

There are other alternatives. Some people like to keep a spray bottle next to the toilet to wet the wipes before number 2; that’s what I always did, and I always preferred it that way. My washer has a sanitary cycle; I was always washing with cloth diapers and hence never used bleach for fear of damaging my diaper covers (nothing ever smelled like poop, only laundry detergent). I never ran an extra cycle, because of said sanitary cycle, and again: nothing ever smelled like poop.

You can use the same garbage bag you used before, but it will begin to smell like pee, so I’d recommend a new one every cycle.

Scrub out that flower pot, folks.

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