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Living Without Toilet Paper?!

by Amelia on December 11, 2008
category: Humor/Random,Potty time,Practical Tips

As someone who likes to live Green (I have much higher hopes that I will one day do much better than I currently am doing), I was recently challenged to try a new way of living.  Going paperless.  That’s right, no disposable papers in the house.  Wipes, toilet paper, diapers, paper towels, kleenex, napkins, menstral pads and tampons….But one thing at a time.  It is overwhelming to try and do it all at once.

 We have pretty much been paper towel-less for a few years because we were given 2 bags of  microfiber cloths from Sams.  I pretty much use those for EVERYTHING.  The only thing I use paper towels for is to make bacon in the microwave.  It was an easy transition for us.  I also started using the Diva Cup a few years ago and have enjoyed that.  Disposable menstral pads drive me crazy and irritate my skin and I don’t like the idea of using chemical products “up there.” I haven’t tried cloth menstral pads yet but I would like to try them as a back up to the Diva Cup.

 We have posted before about cloth diapers and the benefits but there are many other things we also can do to reduce our waste. I realize that this post will probably elicit verbal noises from you while you read it but it should make for an interesting, and hopefully not revolting read for you. 



I recently read a post from another blogger who has decided to cut down on her toilet paper use by using cloth wipes instead.  

She is just using the wipes for pee and not poop.  As I was enjoying my time on the internet I went down some bunny trails to other bloggers who have also written ab

out going toilet paper-less.  One woman has a great post about what her family does and how her toilet paper-less system works (a lovely basket that holds clean pee wipes, a wipes warmer for clean poop wipes, and a dirty wipes bag).  She does keep a roll of paper t.p. on hand for guests who feel uncomfortable using the cloth wipes.    

 I have to admit, I was inspired.  Why use scratchy toilet paper when you can use soft flannel or cotton?  Why pay for something that can be washed and reused? I can use a small trash can with a lid to put the dirty cloth wipes in between washes. I could probably get a wipes warmer from Freecycle or Craig’s List. I think cloth wipes are more effecient no matter where you are wiping. I use fewer cloth wipes than disposable wipes when changing a dirty diaper.  It might take a bit to get over the whole big kid/grown up poop thing…but how much different is it than using cloth diapers and wipes on babies and toddlers?  Not much, really.  And I have seen a lot of poop over the past 5 years. 

 We already use cloth diapers so what is a few more wipes to the laundry?   Making your own cloth wipes for baby bums or your own is not very expensive at all.  All you need is some soft flannel from the fabric store and a sewing machine.  You can read about how to make your own here and here.  The latter tells you how you can make your own by reusing all those extra flannel receiving blankets you got from your baby showers.   I am not much of a sew-er but I can definitely do that!

 When I told my husband about my new inspiration he gave me “that look” that said, WHAT?!  Really?  And then he said, “Um, can we talk about this later?  I think I need a little more time to digest another crunchy idea of yours.” So, he’s digesting and I am formulating how many wipes I think I will need to supply our family bathroom habits.  I don’t know how much toilet paper your kids use but now that mine wipe themselves, we go through toilet paper like crazy and I am not too fond of jammed toilets.  I’m all for saving pennies–and time not spent unclogging the toilet.  

 My thought it that it might be a little extra laundry but the “nether-regions” of my family will appreciate the softness of the cloth toilet paper and I will enjoy not spending so much money on toilet paper at the store.  Just for fun, I also came across this: The Biffy.  When my husband saw that you could have your own personal toilet bidet he said,  ”No way are we getting one of those!” I don’t see myself purchasing a Biffy anytime soon. 


So, any thoughts?  Anyone want to join me in the change over from toilet paper to cloth toilet wipes? Tell us if it grosses you out or if you think it is something you might consider doing!    

27 Responses to Living Without Toilet Paper?!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Brittany
    December 11, 2008 @ 9:50 am

    Hmmm…aside from the uncomfortable thought of trying to keep my dog out of the dirty basket, after thinking about this, I would have to research it. I mean, TP essentially dissolves rather quickly, unlike wipes or diapers, so I don’t know that I could lump it into the same catagory. Plus, I would have to weigh it against the added energy and water use of washing the cloth wipes, which, at least to me, and mind you, I have in no way researched this and may totally be wrong, may end up being more harmful than using TP which seems to biodegrate rather quickly.

    But hey, I am always on board for no more clogged toilets:)

  • Comment by Sharon M
    December 11, 2008 @ 10:04 am

    My reaction is similar to your husband’s. The diaper thing I can handle b/c there is an obvious cost benefit, but I don’t know about the TP thing… I’ll think about it. It’s an interesting idea, I will admit :)

  • Comment by Dawn
    December 11, 2008 @ 10:32 am

    If I was a guest and went into a bathroom to see cloth wipes as an option for myself, I would be stunned. Does it gross you out to consider washing cloth wipes of guests?

    We get the cheapest TP there is, 1 ply, it lasts forever. I buy a 4-roll pack of TP about once a month, if that often.

  • Comment by Amelia
    December 11, 2008 @ 10:47 am

    It does have a little bit of a gross out factor to wash guests poop off-not pee–but I guess I trust my washing skills. I wouldn’t expect guests to use the cloth ones. They would have the option of using paper.

    Dawn–wait till both your kids are wiping themselves! I think your toilet paper runs will increase :) We are about to have a training session on how much toilet paper you need to wipe your bum. They need to learn the “folding technique” not the grab a HUGE wad and use it once technique.

    Brittany–that is a good point about water and energy usage for washing the reusables–I am curious about how much water, trees, and energy it takes to make all the toilet paper we use too.

  • Comment by Amelia
    December 11, 2008 @ 10:48 am

    Dawn, I meant “they” as in my own kids, by the way :)

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Jessica
    December 11, 2008 @ 11:57 am

    I am not sure if I could do this. It does sound great, but I wonder which method really is more eco-friendly. You would be using a constant electricity stream for the wipe warmer, plus all the water and energy put in to washing them. But I would have to weigh that with how fast, or slow, TP biodegrades, and where in fact it is flushed to exactly. But it is a good idea.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Jenny
    December 11, 2008 @ 2:22 pm

    part of me thinks it is a great idea, and the wipes can be thrown right in with diapers. but i think the efficiency of it will diminish once all your babies are out of dipers because then you’ll have to add another wash just for all your wipes (which means extra hot water, energy for the washer, dryer, etc).
    to keep more trees alive, we buy the economy pack of TP made from recycled paper which when you compare prices is only a tad more expensive than the economy pack of other brands. and it lasts us about 2 months. i admit i only have one wiping himself but we do talk lots about how to wipe, folding the paper rather than using a big handful, etc.

  • Comment by Amanda
    December 11, 2008 @ 11:40 pm

    Amelia, I love reading your ideas. I definitely agree that this would be better for your tush!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Mardi
    December 13, 2008 @ 4:26 am

    We just use a bidet. Nice and simple and clean. No wipes are necessary, I mean they don’t use any wipes in most of the eastern world. And they remain clean and sanitary “down there”.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Smalltowngirl
    December 13, 2008 @ 9:58 pm

    Hmmmm I am not sure I could do this! I really would like to see if washing/cleaning them is better for environment than the little tp we use. That would be an interesting study!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Margie Cain
    December 17, 2008 @ 3:48 pm

    Hello all… I used to make my own flannel wipes and use them for changing cloth diapers and did so for many years… it was definitely worth it! I never thought about using it long term in my bathroom right now though… and would be afraid someone would accidently flush one!!! THAT would cost even more if we had a bad clog in a sewage line!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Carey
    December 23, 2008 @ 11:05 am

    Are you crazy? Seriously? Do you really think that your not using toilet paper will change the world? I’m sorry but this really sounds brainwashed. And also unsanitary.

  • Comment by Amelia
    December 23, 2008 @ 12:34 pm


    I have to disagree that I am crazy or brainwashed. Just thinking a little outside the box :) .

    I agree that cloth toilet paper is a different idea and would make many people cringe. I disagree that it is unsanitary. And rest assured that if you ever came to my house you would not have to use any cloth wipes for your own toileting needs. It isn’t for everyone.

    I think the point about using cloth products is that one person’s contribution to living a little greener makes a difference. If everyone did *some* things to live green then it would make an impact on the earth. If one person in the world recycled then no, it wouldn’t make a significant impact but if millions did then yes, it makes a big difference.

  • Comment by Amanda
    December 23, 2008 @ 12:55 pm

    I would also like to point out that other parts of the world don’t use toilet paper. I don’t think it is weird. Cloth does have some advantages on being kinder to the tooshie. :)

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Carey
    December 24, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

    I agree that if you have a bidet it isn’t a big deal. But trust me, the impact on the environment, however well intentioned is next to zilch. You’re using water (hopefully hot to kill bacteria) to wash the cloths. You’re not saving anything here. And as far as cloth vs. disposable diapers there are plenty of comparison studies that says disposable has less impact on the environment.

  • Comment by Amelia
    December 24, 2008 @ 6:05 pm

    Carey–Could you post a link to the comparison studies? That’d be great!

    I still don’t think you can deny that soft cloth vs. paper still feels better on the tushie.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Rebecca Rivera
    January 19, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

    Hello! To save money I have been using all cloth all year! I love using cloth toilet paper. It is so easy and so much nicer on my skin. I had an old fleece that I cut up which is the best, but we also have cut up t-shirts as well. I keep a bucket with some cold water and a small bit of soap in shower and we throw the dirty ones in. When I wash my towels I add the cloth toilet paper, so it does not require an extra load of laundry. I usually hang outside to dry (the sun kills all germs.) Or if it is snowing or raining I will use dryer which also kills germs.

    As for it not being sanitary we have not been sick at all this year (myself and my two boys ages 11 & 5.) Also sometimes my boys have accidents in there underwear, I don’t throw away underwear I just wash.

    I do keep a roll of regular toilet paper for guests. But I would not mind washing there toilet paper if they used the cloth. I never touch the dirty stuff, I just dump most of the water out and throw in laundry.

    It has saved us buying toilet paper all year (I had a case of 12 rolls when I started in 2007 or early 2008 and we still have 6 rolls of that left.) I figure that has saved us about $50 this year (we went through a roll or two a week in our house.) But it has saved many trees from being distroyed and a few old shirts, etc from ending up in landfills. It is a win win.

    I appluad you for trying it and blogging about it!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by DebtFREEk
    January 26, 2009 @ 1:42 pm

    Amelia…awesome post!

    I recently created a new blog that is a journal of my adventures to become debt free using biblical principles. I write a “tip of the week” every Monday. This week I wrote about cutting back on the use of paper products and found your blog post very informative & helpful, so I linked to this article there.

    Thanks Amelia…& please check out my post here!

  • Gravatar April 11, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

    [...] knows, after reading this post from Amelia at TheMomCrowd maybe I’ll even start using clothe toilet paper!  I’ll keep you posted [...]

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Katherine
    May 24, 2009 @ 10:11 pm

    Amelia I totally agree with you that these would be more comfortable to use, and more environmentally friendly. I thought about doing this a year or two ago, but never got around to making the wipes. I now have an old flannel sheet that is about to become my wipes stash in the next week or so. The sewing machine is up and just raring to go. Thanks for inspiring me to get going on this again! I can’t wait to try this out.

    It may not be for everyone, but if enough of us do it, we can at least save some trees, and I’ll be washing mine with my other laundry, so I don’t think it will have much impact (especially since I have a HE washer, and use biodegradable soap).

  • Gravatar
    Comment by recycle_compostgeek
    June 3, 2009 @ 8:02 am

    thanks Amelia for this post on a subject I kinda had to figure out for myself.
    I’ve been simply using wash cloths in an alternate color (beige or tan) than what we use in the shower (blue & green). they already existed and didn’t need to be sewn, although I like the feel & texture of flannel. my wife uses cloth menstrual pads from an outfit in Portland, OR called GladRags made from flannel.
    I simply dampen my “bung towel”, as I call it, with warm water before I sit to “go poopy.” after use, I wash it then & there leaning over into the tub & hang to dry in the shower. problem solved. have had absolutely ill effects from this practice and I’m a pretty neat freak.
    when I’m away from home & using a public washroom (if I don’t have my travel bung-towel in my pack which involves more work, time & effort with a Ziploc baggie, etc.), I dampen a couple of paper hand towels before going into the stall. then use one set of about 4-5 toilet paper squares tri-folded & then wash with the paper hand towels, folding as needed. once wet and if you don’t cram them into the bowl, they won’t clog the plumbing. clogs will only occur when there’s too much stuff, like gobs & gobs of toilet paper, in the bowl trying to go down all at once. so, actually it’s best to start the flush, let part of the refuse go down and then add the toilet paper or paper hand towels… when there’s more force to the water flow.
    unfortunately too many people in “civilized” society have the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality with what goes down any drain, be it sink, toilet, tub or storm drain.
    this planet is smaller than we think, and there’s an awful lot of us.
    all the best,

  • Gravatar
    Comment by eric
    February 27, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

    The Biffy is intriguing; I would definitely try that.

    Bacon in the microwave? NO WAY!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Max
    April 28, 2012 @ 5:13 am

    I came across this website because I was desperate, as I have no toilet paper right now, but there’s some cool ideas in there, just asking doesn’t it feel dirty to wash these clothes you use to wipe? I mean even if it’s a mechanical washer that does it I would feel pretty bad for the washer.. And would not use it for anything else.

    Anyway, besides that, I don’t see any clothes I could use nearby… hum…

    Oh well I’ll go for the unconfortable water wash… Poor hands

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Pilar
    June 24, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

    Regarding Carey’s comment:
    If you’re crazy then I’m crazy too because I had the TP cloth idea and then googled it and there you were! :) Thank you for taking the time to post about the TP. If no one did anything in the world because they didn’t think they’d make a difference (because it’s one person and one small thing), then THAT would be crazy. I acknowledge you for the difference you’re making in the world! One cloth TP at a time :) And sure, people may have a suggestion that might be better (or not), but at least you had the courage to speak up and do something. That’s a start and a contribution! And don’t take that crazy comment personally, they thought Einstein was crazy :) You GO gurl!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by liz
    July 31, 2012 @ 7:13 am

    I just use pre-made baby washcloths that I left over from when my baby was an infant (I have seen them 4 for $1at Dollar Tree) but I could use more, so I am ISO leftover fabric around the house. I made a spray cleansing solution from a drop of castile soap in water, which can be sprayed on me or the washcloths. I use these for pee only . I just soak mine (in my homemade laundry soap) before washing then toss in with all the other wash, so there is no extra load. ALSO fuzzbunz makes wonderful menstrual pads. They are so soft and comfortable and miraculously come out bright white after washing

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Steph
    September 6, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

    LOVE this idea. My husband will NEVER go for it, but as I am the only female in the house, and the boys are still both under 4, I’m the only one who uses much anyway. Perhaps hubby will be brought over by the softness factor :D

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Erica
    March 3, 2013 @ 7:25 am

    While it sounds do-able, I have to tell you I have some experience with this in the home of an older, somewhat eccentric friend (a dear one). He had traveled much around the world, especially in Latin America, and he determined that toilet paper was unnecessary and detrimental to his septic system, which he never had serviced. Any guest that arrived was required to put wipes into a basket in the same way he had seen done in Guatemala and Mexico. The result was a bathroom that smelled of poop and pee at all times, even when there was nothing in the basket. Eventually, the entire home smelled this way, exactly as if there was a trash can of diaper wipes in there, which really never stops smelling no matter how well it is covered (baby wipes should NEVER go down the toilet, by the way!) So, while I am all for finding green techniques, be aware that even if you can’t smell it, guests may be able to. If you choose to go this route, pay extra attention to the process. Not so sure that the latex gloves needed to handle it all on laundry day is all that environmental either! Just some thoughts…

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