I know I got your attention! I know you are asking, “what is family cloth?” Keep reading!
I did it. I really did it. Woohooo!!!
I made the switch to family cloth.
And, ya know what? It hasn’t been too terrible.
Actually, it’s been pretty rad.
I’ve been on this journey of self-sufficiency and frugality for a while, but the idea of family cloth came with a lot of mixed emotions.
Saving money by not buying toilet paper: awesome. Saving trees by not buying toilet paper: awesome. Protecting our nether regions from harmful chemicals found in over-processed toilet paper: awesome. Saving the environment from toilet paper pollution: awesome.
But… (pun slightly intended)
Storing soiled family cloths until I have enough to wash: oy.
Smelling soiled family cloths: oh boy.
Handling soiled family cloths before washing: gag!
Honestly, those were my biggest concerns: storing, smelling, and handling.
I have not had any issues. Seriously.
My family of 4 (2 adults and 2 little girls) has been using family cloth religiously for over a month. This are really great tips for frugal living!
Here’s the process:
I had a bunch of flannel material in the attic (but you could use anything: old washcloths or cut up t-shirts, look around at thrift stores for fabrics, ask yer grammy for her leftover quiltin’ scraps, or even buy fabric if you want to. I’m all about saving $$$ anywhere and everywhere I can, so my old fabric was my first and only real choice).
I laid the fabric out on the living room floor. From 3 different patterns of flannel, I had about 20 yards in total. I got out my pinking shears and went to town squares cutting until my fingers felt like they were going to fall off. I really recommend using pinking shears because they help cut down on the edges fraying. The family cloth squares will still fray for the first few washes, but they should stop over time. You can always sew the edges of the squares to eliminate fraying altogether, but I am not good with a sewing machine just yet, so I stuck to the shears!
The squares were all about 7″ x 7″, but they were not all the exact same size. I was just winging it when I cut them apart. No need to be too precise.
I cut a lot of squares. A LOT.
I wanted enough squares that I only have to wash them about once per week. I estimate that I have about 200-250 squares.
Storing the clean flannel family cloth squares is easy! They are placed in a little basket behind my toilet. I bought the basket at the Dollar Tree for $1. Actually, I have another basket just like this in my master bathroom as well.
Because my girls are little, I place some family cloth down lower for them throughout the day, just to make it easier for them to reach. It just so happens that I place the family cloth on my toilet paper holder.
Okay, calm down!
Yes, I still have toilet paper in the bathroom.
I do not expect my guests to use family cloth. Well, I mean, they could if they want to, but honestly, they don’t. No biggie. But it’s cool that they see my family cloth, we chat about it, and they leave with the idea that either I’m a complete hippie- yes, I do smell like patchouli, or that family cloth might be something they incorporate in their own home- which is totally awesome if they do!
So, what to do after we’ve gone number 2?!
LOL. After we’ve gone to the bathroom (number 1 or number 2), we take the family cloth and place it in a wet/dry bag behind the bathroom door. I already had one of these bags from cloth diapering my babies. If you don’t have one, that’s okay. When I was at the Dollar Tree I picked up a large container with a lid, just in case. You could use a bucket, an empty gallon-size ice cream container, etc.
About once per week I take the wet/dry bag and dump the contents directly into my washer. I also wash the wet/dry bag. For my washer, I do a mini load in cold water and a tiny bit of laundry detergent (homemade detergent, for us). Then, I put the load in the dryer and dry it accordingly. Ta-da!
Yes, I have an extra load of laundry every week, but it is a super small load, and my girls are the ones that flatten all the cloths and put them away. They are such great helpers around the house!
P.S. storing the family cloth in an old wipes container (like this) is super handy, too! Check the images up top to learn how to fold them to fit into the wipe boxes.
I did have a chat with the girls that they must NEVER flush a family cloth down the drain. And IF they ever accidentally drop one in the toilet, to just yell for help. Only 1 family cloth has ever been dropped in the toilet, and I was able to retrieve it promptly.
I can honestly say that bathroom never stinks, and I don’t even keep my wet/dry bag zipped the entire way.
My husband likes the switch because he used to use a lot of toilet to get that “clean” feeling, whereas just 1 dampened family cloth achieves the same desire.
Family cloth would also be beneficial for someone who suffers from hemorrhoids. It is so much gentler than toilet paper.
All in all, it has been an easy transition. It’s awesome to save money. Awesomer to save trees. And it’s awesomest to keep nasty chemicals awesome from our who-ha’s.
Family cloth: will you be next?
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Happy Homesteading! (:
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