This post is part of my series, “Kickin’ It Old Skool: Why and How We Are Old-Fashioned” or KIOS for short. If you’re new to the series, please read my disclaimer before continuing on. I’m keeping a table of contents to this series here so you can see what I’ve already written about and what more there is to come.
Warning: This post contains content related to bodily functions. If you’d rather not start your weekend this way, you may want to stop reading now.
First, a word about labels: Generally, using cloth wipes for toilet paper is called, “family cloth” and using cloth pads instead of disposable pads for menstruation is called, “mama cloth”. I think those labels are unfortunate because they imply that you have to be in a family (whatever that means) and/or be a mama to use them. This is clearly not true. Any person can use cloth wipes and any woman who needs pads can use cloth pads. I’ve decided to use these labels in this post for lack of better terms but know that I would prefer to be more inclusive!
While we’re talking about things that generally happen in the bathroom (such as infrequent flushing), it seemed appropriate to also discuss our minimal use of toilet paper. As you may have read in this post about cloth wipes, Ellie and I also use cloth wipes when we’re at home, rather than paper toilet paper. Toilet paper is part of the fun for Ellie when using a strange bathroom! Our toilet paper use has dropped dramatically, which is a nice help for the budget. The hardest part for me about using cloth wipes is simply remembering to use them. We keep a stack of them on the back of the toilet but have used toilet paper for 30+ years, my hand just moves automatically to the paper roll. Finally, after about a year, I’m getting to where I rarely pull off paper without meaning too.
Just be careful not to put the cloth wipes into the toilet!
Several years ago, I started using unbleached, organic cotton, environmentally-friendly feminine hygiene products when I was menstruating. I didn’t like the idea of putting bleached anything right next to my body (particularly because we had stopped using bleach to clean our house around the same time). If you still want to use disposable products, then using something like this is definitely a great alternative.
Just before Mark was born, a very kind friend gave me several reusable cloth pads, intended for menstruation. For no reason, I’d never really considered using “mama cloth” but thought, “why not?” After Mark was born, the softness of the pads made my post-partum recovery that much nicer and easier and I became a convert. For me, it makes sense. We try not to use disposable paper products or basically anything disposable that has a workable reusable alternative. Mama cloth is a logical step for me and I’m not sure why I didn’t take it sooner!
About cloth wipes:
This post is a great “introduction” to using cloth wipes instead of toilet paper. Her three main reasons for using cloth wipes are ours as well: it’s frugal, it’s earth-friendly, and it’s more effective and feels better than paper. (That same site has several posts on the topic.)
About washing: We wash our cloth wipes with our cloth diapers that we use on Mark. When I wasn’t washing cloth diapers (after Ellie stopped wearing diapers and before Mark came), I gave them a rinse by themselves (to get them relatively clean) and then washed them with our towels and other laundry.
About what to do with the wipes once they’ve been used: We keep a trash can in our bathroom, with a cloth bag inside of it. We throw them in there once we’ve used them. It’s the same place we put Mark’s dirty diapers.
Don’t they smell once you’ve used them and before you wash them? Remarkably, no. I was worried about that myself when we first started using them but that’s never been a problem. The diapers do smell sometimes, particularly if it’s very hot and humid and the bathroom door gets closed for too long. But just the wipes by themselves never smell bad.
Also, see my post here for instructions on how to make your own wipes.
About mama cloth:
About washing: During my post-partum recovery, I just washed them with our wipes and will continue to do so.
Where to get them: This post has links to lots of other places online for directions on how to make your own. If you don’t want to do that, here’s a post with a review of four different mama cloth companies. And, of course, there are literally thousands of options on Etsy.
Soon, look for a guest post on the wonders of the Diva Cup, a reusable tampon alternative!