Reusable Toilet Paper: What it is and How to Make the Switch

Many of us make conscientious purchases and lifestyle choices to benefit the environment. We use reusable paper towels, instead of throwing them away. We put our babies in cloth diapers and use menstrual cloths. But what about when we go to the bathroom? Would you consider using reusable toilet paper to protect the environment?

Reusable toilet paper is a product that is taking the bathroom by storm. It is great for the environment, better for your body than disposable toilet paper, and will save you lots of money. Keep reading to learn what this innovative product is and how to make the switch today.

Some of you may just be curious what this is, because of the recent toilet paper shortage in the U.S. Stick with us to the end, you might change the world!

What Is Reusable Toilet Paper?

Reusable toilet paper, also called a family cloth or reusable wipe is a piece of cloth used instead of toilet paper. It is then washed and reused.

How Do I Use Family Cloth?

You can use dry family cloths for urine. For anything else, wet one in the sink or keep a spray bottle next to the toilet filled with water. You can keep a premoistened wipe in a baby wipe container, but they tend to get musty, and it’s just better to store them dry and wet them as needed.

If your toilet is fitted with a bidet, you can use that to clean up after your morning constitutional, then wipe with a dry wipe.

Will It Begin to Smell?

Reusable toilet paper will not stink. You will smell urine before you smell excrement. And if you are washing your wipes every three to four days, the wipes will not have a chance to start smelling.

Using a high-quality cloth diaper holder will give you the assurance that the urine on the cloths is contained well and they don’t let much smell out.

How Do I Wash the Wipes?

It is important to clean and sanitize your reusable wipes. If you opt for flannel wipes, you will not need to add fabric softener to your washing machine. The fabric naturally gets softer the more you wash it. Furthermore, there is no need to use bleach. Urine is sterile. The bacteria from everything else is killed by the hot temperature in the washer and dryer.

If you have a top-load washing machine, you can dump the wipes in the top of the machine without ever having to touch them. You could probably even manage this if you don’t have a top-load washer. To save water, laundry detergent, and power, wash your wipes with the rest of your laundry.

Some people may find it gross to wash their wipes with their laundry. But when your kid had diarrhea, did you just wash the soiled underwear and shorts or did you do a full load of laundry?

The same concept applies here.

What you don’t want to do is wash your wipes with kitchen towels. If you run a cold load of laundry to prevent menstrual stains and then your dryer does not get hot enough, you can cross-contaminate your dishcloths or kitchen hand towels.

If you are concerned about not sterilizing your wipes in your dryer, rinse any menstrual or bloodstains out of your cloths with cold water, first. Then, run your washing machine and dryer at 104 degrees as you normally would.

Is There a Need for Reusable Toilet Paper?

There is absolutely a need for reusable toilet paper. We know this is an odd topic so let’s start by looking at the pros and cons.

Benefits of Using Washable Wipes

Washable wipes are reusable and eco-friendly. If you are creative and handy, you can make them from old t-shirts or bedsheets, which saves you money upfront. They last for years before they need to be replaced, contrary to toilet paper which is a recurring expense. They do not even add to your cost of doing laundry because they can be added to your regular loads of laundry.

One of the biggest benefits of washable wipes is they reduce the amount of water pollution and waste from the paper industry. Furthermore, no forests need to be razed to make these wipes. Besides the benefits to the environment, especially if you make them out of flannel, they are softer and more gentle on your skin.

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How Toilet Paper Affects the Environment

Toilet paper wipes out 27,000 trees a day.

Cutting down trees is catastrophic to the environment. Unlike humans, they breathe carbon dioxide in and breathe oxygen out. Cutting them down takes away the oxygen that we breathe in.

Trees create a cool, humid atmosphere which is a prerequisite for rainfall. When the rain inevitably falls, the trees absorb the water and prevent it from passing over the soil and causing floods. Furthermore, they bear fruit which nourishes our bodies and further sustains our life.

Deforestation takes homes away from wild animals. These species will either go extinct or overrun our neighborhoods. You see so many bunnies, bobcats and raccoons in the suburbs because they were displaced from their homes when trees were cut down to add a new subdivision.

Furthermore, cutting trees down loosens the soil and leads to dangerous landslides. We need to do our part to cut down on the number of trees killed for our convenient modern lives.

Toilet Paper Statistics

According to a recent survey, 69% of people believed toilet paper is the most taken for granted convenience in our modern lives. An astounding 49% of people also indicated they would choose toilet paper as the only necessity they would choose to have on a deserted island.

This is more than the number of people who chose food! Guess we know why the TP shortage happened…

According to the same survey, 61% of people used toilet paper to care for their nose. TP is also used to wipe up small spills (17%), remove makeup (8%), and clean mirrors (7%). Charmin conducted their own survey and determined that 3% of people use toilet paper to clean their children’s face and hands.

Similarly, Kimberly-Clark conducted a survey and discovered that people commonly use toilet paper to cover toilet seats and clean glasses.

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More Toilet Paper Statistics

It takes 71.48 visits to the restroom to use a roll of toilet paper. According to Charmin, a standard roll of bath tissue lasts an average of five days in the most-used bathroom in the house. Consumers use an average of 8.6 sheets per trip to the restroom, or 57 sheets daily. This works out to an incredible 20,805 sheets annually.

Disadvantages of Using Washable Wipes

Few of us balk at the idea of putting our babies in cloth diapers. However, we initially think it is gross to use reusable toilet paper for ourselves. This is a fairly large hurdle for us to get over.

They also need frequent laundering. This can be inconvenient if you live in an apartment with the laundry room in the basement or you have to leave the complex to do the laundry.

Some stains may not be removed in the wash. Even though they will be clean, they may start to look grungy over time. You must be careful to wash your washable wipes properly. Otherwise, you may experience cross-contamination if you are ill or have a yeast infection.

If you drop your washable wipes in the toilet, you must fish them out so the toilet does not become clogged. Finally, there is a textural difference that may take a few days to get over.

Information on How to Find or Make Reusable Toilet Paper

You can purchase family cloths online from sites such as Etsy or a wholesale site, you can also get them on Amazon. Otherwise, you can make your own washable wipes. To make your own reusable wipes, go down to the nearest arts and crafts store and pick out a couple of yards of flannel. Bath towels, cotton shirts, and flannel sheets and pillowcases also work well.

Do not sew the wipes in double layers. This will be too thick for most situations. Rather, cut the fabric into 5″x7″ rectangles using pinking shears to prevent the edges from fraying. If you really need two-ply wipes, fold the wipe in half.

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Any menstrual stains should be washed in cold water. Everything else should be washed in hot water. If you are concerned about long-term staining, buy black fabric.

One of the best things about making your own washable wipes is they are completely customizable. Maybe you are concerned about menstrual stains so you make your wipes out of black flannel. If your daughter likes pink, you can repurpose a pink hand towel for her. If your son is into green, you can make him green wipes.

This also helps with the psychological factor of not knowing who used these wipes a few days ago. Think about it. You may use a cloth menstrual pad for months on end, but would you use one your friend used last week? Probably not.

How Many Wipes do I Need?

Keep three to four days’ worth of wipes on hand. Females will need more wipes than males. We recommend having around 100 wipes on hand for a family of six or 50 wipes for a family of three. Wash the used wipes at the end of the third day so they are clean on the fourth day. The more wipes you have on hand, the less frustrated you will be by how frequently you do laundry.

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Where Should I Store the Clean Wipes?

You can store your family’s reusable toilet paper anywhere you want.

From a drawer beside the toilet if you have one, to a cute box or basket on the back of the toilet. You can store them in a drawstring bag hanging from the toilet paper holder. Some people re-purpose a tub of baby wipes and leave them on the tank of the toilet.

What About the Used Wipes?

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We recommend a diaper pail. If you do not have one, you can purchase a small trash can with a swinging lid from Family Dollar or Dollar General. Otherwise, you can use a “wet bag” which is designed for dirty diapers.

If you do your laundry in your home, you may find it useful to use a small mesh laundry bag. This way, you can collect all the bags from the bathrooms and dump them in the washing machine without anyone outside your family seeing the wipes.

Do not store used wipes in a solution of water and bleach or baking soda. Several decades ago, people commonly disposed of soiled diapers in a pail with liquid, but this actually creates a breeding ground for bacteria.

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Conclusion

Reusable toilet paper may seem gross at first, but it is no different than cloth diapers which are socially acceptable and even encouraged. There are pros and cons to using this product. But at the end of the day, they are better for your body and much better for the environment.

Americans alone kill 7 million trees for the convenience of toilet paper.

When these felled trees are not replaced, this puts an enormous strain on the environment. Trees provide animals with homes, prevent landslides and floods, and breathe out oxygen which we need to breathe. Furthermore, they breathe in a great deal of the carbon dioxide that we put out, provide us with food, and create the ideal atmosphere for rainfall.

You can purchase reusable toilet paper online through Etsy or wholesale stores. However, if you have a pair of pinking shears, you can make your own. Remember, you are just using these washable wipes to wipe yourself. They do not have to be perfect rectangles in the exact size of a wipe.

Store them in a cute container near your toilet and store dirty wipes in a dry diaper pail. You can put a small bag in the diaper pail if you do not want your used wipes to touch the can. To prevent odor, wash your reusable wipes every three to four days.

Remember, we only get one planet. Do your part to save it.

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Bailey Longhurst
 

I am amazed every day by the beauty that this world provides for us and think it is important to preserve it! Taking care of ourselves and our earth is crucial and I want to help people discover new ways to do both. Publishing for Green and Growing is a unique way that I can get my message across, and I hope you all enjoy what we write about!

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