Would You Use Reusable Toilet Paper?

You think I’m totally gross, right? I know, I get it. “Wait, reusable WHAT?” is probably how your thought process went.

When I first heard the term “family cloth,” it conjured up such a lovely image, like a warm snuggly blanket that’s big enough for the whole family. But no. It’s actually when you use cloth toilet paper, and then put it through the wash, and then use it again. Which is, you know … different.

My initial reaction was the same as most people’s – something along the lines of, “Ew, gross!” But then my second thought was – “Well, wait. Maybe that kinda makes sense?” See, I was raised by hippies – all burning sage and dancing drum circles in dry river beds and the like – so I guess my psyche is primed for that outside-the-norm, super-green lifestyle sort of stuff. For those with a more conventional bent, please just bear with me a moment.

Much like forgoing traditional roofing for a living roof, the concept is alarming at first (our cultural conditioning does run deep), but really, it’s actually just a matter of common sense. We don’t wear disposable underwear, right? And we do accept cloth diapers for babies, and many of those cloth-diapering parents choose to use cloth wipes as well. Some people even use cloth menstrual pads. Each of these are sociopolitical decisions, which factor in issues like finances, environmental impact, and individual values.

For me, this one was an eco-conscious no-brainer … once I’d wrapped my brain around the concept, that is. I mean, of course! Cloth can be washed and used again and again. It’s less resource-intensive, it keeps tons and tons of waste out of landfills and waterways, and, bottom line, the “reusable” model is always a more sustainable choice than the “disposable” alternative.

Just think about toilet paper: Made from trees. Chemically-treated for “sanitation,” and bleached for “beauty.” Stark white antiseptic. Wrapped in plastic. Mass-produced in factories. Shipped across continents. Endlessly.

Then think about family cloth. Homemade. Cut from an old cotton sheet, a flannel shirt, a terry cloth towel. All up-cycled. And so soft. Washable. Reusable. Again and again and again.

For me, my choice was pretty clear.

And with that, I was off. I cut up a stack of my husband’s old shirts, using pinking sheers so the edges wouldn’t fray. I displayed my cloth wipes neatly arranged, in a basket atop the back of the toilet. Some people choose to keep their cloth in a easy-to-reach drawer, or a covered container. It’s really just a matter of preference.

To be clear, I use my wipes for #1 only. This helps keep things cleaner and I don’t worry quite as much about germs. I drop my used wipes in a lidded plastic wastebasket next to the toilet. When it’s full, I take them downstairs to the wash, and clean them well.

Since I only use wipes for #1, I always have toilet paper available. It’s great for guests, and my husband. No one else ever has to deal with my wipes. Nobody, not even my Portland plumber, knows what’s going on.

In the end … well, may I be blunt? I mean, the environment is awesome and all, but honestly? Cloth really just feels better. I’ll take warm soft cotton over scratchy paper any day. Maybe I’m just a born-and-bred hippie like that.



12 Disposable Items to Dispose of for Good
Regular vs. Recycled Toilet Paper
Bidet in a Bottle – A Handheld Backside Cleanser

By Sayward Rebhal, Networx

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Ujivenelson Ujivenelson
Ujivenelson Ujivenelsonabout a year ago

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Mark F.
Mark F.2 years ago

Clean with water... you simple can not beat that fresh clean feeling which gives you confidence throughout the day.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago

hmm, i use toilet paper made from recycled paper.

a reuseable cloth for # 1 is interesting but i think i'll need a steribucket (like the ones they have for babies).

Marianne Good
Past Member 2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Kate F.
Kate F.2 years ago

When I did missionary work overseas, most of the time there was no toilet paper available, but there was always water. Once I got used to it, I found it to be much cleaner than the toilet paper method. Since then I have been using water and I still feel cleaner - I think it's the best way to go.

Lepidopter Phoenyx

I've used cloth for both urine and feces for a while now. My sink is right next to my toilet and to wipe my butt, I wet a cloth in the sink, clean myself, and drop it into the bucket of soapy water I keep next to the toilet. The bucket has a lid so that the dog doesn't knock it over.
It gets dumped into the washer every few days and washed just like everything else - cold water, no bleach.

Candace Dace-Randle

i've used cloth for number one off and on. honestly, i think it's okay. don't know why some people are screaming about it. if you don't want to do it, that's fine. just don't attack other people for having different opinions and value systems. live and let live, people!

Frances Darcy
Frances Darcy2 years ago

I think I will stay with the paper.

Tanya W.
Tanya W.2 years ago


John Ditchman
John Ditchman2 years ago

Sorry, I have to draw the line somewhere. My TP is and will remain single-use.