Homes

The pros and cons of using reusable cloth wipes instead of toilet paper

Would you introduce them at your place?

We all need to do our bit to look after and preserve our environment. But would your environmentally-friendly actions extend to using reusable toilet cloths?

The use of 'reusuable family cloth' in place of toilet paper is reportedly on the rise, with one advocate on Buzzfeed, who wished to remain anonymous, explaining:

"In my mind, buying and using disposable toilet paper was literally flushing money down the toilet!"

She said, "Over the years, I've developed a real distaste for single-use items... because it started to feel really disrespectful of our planet's resources. We compost food scraps, we recycle... We only own one car... walk or take public transportation as often as possible. We avoid disposable items... I mend and repair when I can... We participate in freecycling, micro gift economies, and curb scavenging...

"Using a family cloth was just the next logical step in our family's efforts to conserve and reduce our carbon footprint."

The disposable cloth can be bought at a number of outlets - one such is Etsy, where it comes in a variety of colour and pattern options and retails for NZ$13.79 for a pack of five wipes, for example. But according to the anonymous Buzzfeed woman, many people make their own:

"Some families use old T-shirts or pajamas to make their family cloth. We happened to not have enough of those... So I went to the fabric store and found white flannel with teeny pastel dots..."

Reusable wash cloths from Etsy.
Reusable wash cloths from Etsy.

Many have taken to social media to screw their noses up at the idea, including Chrissy Teigen, who simply replied "AHHHH" to another's comment, "The idea of reusable toilet paper makes me want to die."

But the anonymous Buzzfeed advocate has strong arguments for its use:

"If you're wondering, 'Why would you want to reuse something that you wipe your genitals with?', I'd answer this question with my own question: 'Do you throw away your underpants after each use?'" she asks.

She claimed that it hadn't affected her laundry routine at all. "Even a week's worth of cloth doesn't add much volume to the load of laundry, so we don't need to do it more often than we did."

She clarified that the family owns "dozens" of cloths. They keep a container of clean cloths in the bathroom and a hamper for dirty cloths.

She also said they only use the cloths after urinating - baby wipes, which are then put in the rubbish, are used for number twos.

"The ultimate goal is to attach bidets to our toilets, and then use that to cleanse after a poop and then, yes, to use the cloths to pat dry."

Some have questioned whether the cost to the environment comes instead from the extra washing generated by using cloths:

"Like how are u really saving if you're having to wash them in a wash machine? Thats like extra soap, water, so doesn't it end up being same cost or more for toilet paper and wipes??"

Another point that wouldn't sit well with many is that the anonymous woman washes her family cloths in her normal family wash "with all our other white linens (bath linens, kitchen linens, bed linens etc.)". She said she uses the hot setting and adds bleach.

Personally, we would at least put them in a separate wash.

So, has she convinced you? Would you use reusable family cloths at your place?