Wednesday, February 13, 2008

You wipe your what, with a WHAT?

I've decided to come out of the closet.

Prepare yourself. For you crunchies out there, it's no big deal. However, a lot of my pals are more ... squishy.

Here we go.

My family uses cloth wipes.

For those of you not in the 'crunchy know' - that means that we ditched toilet paper for a much more environmentally friendly idea.

Let's stop for a moment and let a few of you get up off the floor - thinking my whole Diva cup thing was bad enough. It's alright. We'll wait for you.

Okay. Breathe through your nose. You'll be fine.

Back to my post! It was a sunny day in September when I strolled across a Crunchy Chicken. She's a stubborn little thing. Always challenging you to something. So, I got to thinking about it. I got to reading more about it. And I thought (as I often do), "If it's not going to hurt anything, and it might actually HELP something or someone, why not at least try it?"

So, we did. I bought some flannel cotton scraps (a bit of pretty blue with white clouds for the number-onesies, and some cammo print for number-twosies). I sewed them all up (as my husband wrinkled his nose at me and said things like, "You're completely insane," and "You guys have fun, but toilet paper is my friend."). I purchased two clear "shoe box" type containers - one for each bathroom.

Then, we folded up our pretty little cloth wipes on the back of the toilet, and I taught the kids to sprinkle some baking soda in the boxes if they were to have an odor. And we were OFF!

Coming out around the first bend, we all had to make some very personal decisions. First, would we be using them for only #1 jobs, or dare to attempt the #2's? We had a lot of entertaining discussions in those first days. Basically, it's up to the individual, and is usually determined by the ... er ... severity of the #2 situation. Needless to say, we still kept toilet paper on the roll for such cases ... and for company ... and for my husband, who won't touch the silly things.

I didn't tell you all right away because ... well ... I wanted to see if it would "stick" (pardon the disgusting play on words!). It has been four months. It has also been such a NOT big deal and such a non-issue that I actually forgot to post about it.

The bottom line is (heh. bottom. get it.): we love them.

It's flannel. It's soft. It's absorbent. It's a happy thought for my most sensitive of areas. Only once have I ever noticed any sort of odor (and it was a #1 odor - not the dreaded #2 - in four months of constant use - see, it's not so bad!!). The containers were full, and it was time to wash them, anyway. It's a very simple hot water run through the washing machine. I use my own homemade detergent now, and put a little vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser for all my loads. So, ba-bing-bang-BOOM!

My first purchase of scrap flannel cost me about $2, and it made PLENTY of wipes. It's inexpensive. It's easy. It's not gross, like you would assume. It's soft and cuddly. It's worth a shot.

(kick butt photo by Emiliano Spada)


Kim said...

Oh man - I gotta ask - what about umm the lumps? much #2 is ending up in the wash? Do you rinse them in the toilet like you would with diapers? And has anyone accidentally flushed one :)

Ana said...

Man oh man! I bow to you for being so brave. Now let me go mull this over one time, two times, three times, some more...

btw - if you are so inclined, I am having a recipe exchange. No participation necessary if you don't want. Spectators are welcome too!

Heather.PNR said...

We use cloth wipes for our diapering, but it's never occurred to me that they could replace toilet paper. Interesting.

village mama said...

Way to wipe! hee hee

This is the kind of news bit I want to see on the covers of national papers and magazines. I am so tired of reading about A list movie stars and their green cars, green lives blah blah, you never read of them 'doing without' or experimenting with flannel and making detergent.

You rock, oh and your family too!!!

Leann said...

You have no idea how many times in the last week I have been thinking, "I need to e-mail Christine to ask about this." LOL I used flannel pads a few years ago and loved them. I was not a tampon type girl... just never got used to the whole thing and now I don't actually EVAH need them again so...

I also used cloth diapers some along the way around the house with all the kiddos so, naturally, this is something I would actually consider. ;) I know that my hubby is somewhat genetically attached to your hubby in that he thinks I have lost my mind in such matter. He loves me but I see the looks when I mention such things. I also know that the little ones will be more accepting than, say, the teenager.

I may also be able to introduce my daughter to those flannel pads when the time comes because she is into the granola lifestyle more like me. Anyway... I am going to do this for me and for her and for anyone else willing to jump on board.

Thanks for links and helps in such matters. I have been dared and I am sticking my tongue to the pole, so to speak... Thanks!!!

Summer said...

It must be a guy thing, Michael won't touch the cloth wipes here either. Though the boys are so used them that Evan actually complains when we go somewhere and have to use paper. He says it's "itchie".

Melissa Markham said...

This is an interesting idea. I can imagine it being soft and comfy, good on the environment and less wasteful of our resources. But I imagine I would have a hard time convincing the rest of my house this. Right now I am on a mission to stock up on bags to get plastic out of our lives!

MommaJen said...

wow - interesting! I have to say I'm with your husband on this one....there are lots of things I'm willing to give up/do with out, but I draw the line on tp! Glad it's working out for your family, though!

Crunchy Chicken said...

village mama - you're so right. I interviewed Ed Begley, Jr. last summer and one of the questions I asked was about whether or not he uses cloth wipes. I figured if there were any celebrity environmental nutballs out there willing to try it, he would be the guy.

Alas, no, he doesn't, claiming it "doesn't sound right for us". Perhaps it's because he's a, well how do I say this nicely? A guy.

Way to go Christine!

The Shan said...

I looked just like that guy in the picture (only with much more hair) the whole time I was reading this. Haha. I just think I'd have to glove up to handle the "wet" container and then we'd have all the glove waist to deal with. There's just no winning for a germaphobe I'm afraid. I'll never forget the day one of my children mentioned getting "poop slobber" on his hand after going to the loo once so now that's how I'm picturing the cammo pile. *glurp*
I like all the green action you are accomplishing but some of it makes me feel a little chartreuse in the end(end, bottom-same joke there). xo

The Shan said...

That's weird. I can spell "chartreuse" but not "waste". Couldn't let it go....

Noah Bear said...

I think that's fantastic, Christine! I've been bringing up the subject about every day for the last two weeks. The amount of TP we go through is insane. And I swear it's all me! I was thinking more about terry cloth - I don't know. It seems it might add the bit of friction you need for a #2. You know? And do you wet the ones for #2's or use dry wipes? Do you rinse them off before dumping in the wash?

I am SO going to do this. DH is not on board, but he's a one-square TP user anyway and does most of his business at work. :-)


The Rudd Family said...

You sure you want to come for a visit? I'm not quite as far along as you! See you soon.

Cammie said...

I have to say that I am not the least bit 'crunchy'! I am chicken, though and I believe I would have to leave the cloth wipes for you and your family!

I am going to start using smart strips, though! Doesn't that count for something?

Christine said...


I don't use a wet soak type of bucket. The wipes go straight into the little boxes we use. When they are full (nothing wet or goopy at all), I walk the boxes to the washing machine and dump everything in without touching any of the actual wipes. I wash out the plastic boxes (with a spray hose and soap - not my hand) and lay them outside to dry while the wipes are being washed. Every once in awhile, I'll either let the boxes go through the hot water wash with the wipes (taking them out before the spin cycle) or I'll run them through the crazy hot cycle on the dishwasher (obviously, by themselves - NOT with dishes). I thought the same thing in the beginning, that there would be some sort of icky touching and soaking and swishing involved. That's just not how we do it. It's really quite fabulous!

NOTE TO ALL FREAKER-OUTER'S: Some people only use wipes for their #1's. When you consider there are three women in my house and we're here A LOT, even that would save a considerable amount of toilet paper.



I keep a water bottle with water and natural oils, for Presh's hair (usually tea tree oil). It's always on the bathroom cabinet, and the PERFECT moistening and moisturizing addition to a #2 wipe. It's about one part oil to ten parts water. I have the softest butt hole in town. ;)

What? TMI?



I'm coming, and wiping my big white rear with your toilet paper ... and I'm going to love every minute of it!



Every little bit helps! Baby steps. Ten years ago this very idea would have sent me reeling.


Squishy, that's what I am. I will just continue to read your blog and be entertained, then go hug on my Charmin. I applaud you, though.

I just thought about your flannel pieces accidentally getting mixed with other scraps and going into a quilt or something. I cringed.

Abby said...

Delurking to say that I thought about this very subject this morning. Do you also use them when Aunt Flo comes to visit? ;)

sarah true said...

did you cloth diaper your babies? I have a 3month old and want to try it. let me know your experience.

CC said...

forgot to add... I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!!!!!

Tracy said...

OK, I was wondering about this concept just yesterday. Whoa! Seriously, I want to come hang out at your house and learn by example how you do all these great things! In so many ways, I feel like we've moved back in 10 years in so many environmental ways, but you are WAY ahead of, well, most everyone. And you live just up the road! Way to go!

Sheri said...

I think it's super cool. We started doing it about 6 months ago for #1 and it's been so easy. I just had to remember in the middle of the night not to toss the cloths into the toilet. The toilet paper that we save from just the two girls is amazing!

Christine said...


I use a Diva cup (see link in my post). However, I do occasionally use a wipe in an instance where I might normally need a light pantyliner.



I never did cloth diapers. I've gone crunchy in phases, and my kids were clean and dry before I hit this point. Although, I have friends who do. Check out Summer's blog:



I'll pay you later! ;)



Maybe I should start holding classes in my living room! ha!

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog today and I love it! I never thought to use cloth wipes for myself/hubby. We use cloth diapers and wipes and LOVE them. I also use the diva cup and love it as well. One question, do you wash them the same way as cloth diapers? Thanks for the tip!

Christine said...


I put them in the wash, and run it on hot water. I put in my homemade laundry detergent and sprinkle some baking soda on them. When it fills up, I usually let them soak about a half hour, and then let it finish running.

A lot of people that do cloth diapers, just do them however they're already doing the diapers!

Lawree said...

uh-huh... but with all that hot water, and washing machine/dish washer use aren't you using extra resources and thereby defeating the purpose of going natural to save the planet? Is a bit of unbleached, "recycled material", biodegradable TP really more harmful overall than extra hot cycles on the washer? Now if you were using a scrub board.... :-) (just saying)

Christine said...

Good thought, Lawree, but the research has been done and the answer is a resounding, "Nopers!"

Especially when you consider that I only do one extra-small load of hot laundry a week (everything - EVERYTHING else in my house is washed in cold), which I already do with all of my cleaning rags - now I add the wipes. People that use cloth diapers are already doing it, as well.

So, good point, but one that has already been considered by the green community, in general. It's the lesser of two evils!

Paul said...

Label me squishy! I'm with Miguel!!!!!!

Beth said...

Wow! I never would have thought about doing this in a million years. I may have nightmares tonight! :0

More power to you and your family!

Georgia said...

I think this is hysterical. I have some friends who might be interested in this type of thing. I am definitely adding you to my blogroll.

Capturing Today said...

We love our cloth wipes and wouldn't even think of going back to TP. With 3 little girls - one just being potty trained in the last two weeks - we have saved a ton on wasted paper. And, it is so much softer it is incredible. We keep ours in a little mesh laundry bag in the bathroom and then wash on hot with a little vinegar and oxy just like I did my cloth diapers. We started as part of Crunchy Chicken's challenge last June and have continued to stick with it. Congrats!

The Random Muse said...

I'm thinking about trying to make a few of these with some of my scrap flannel, so I was wondering what they look like. What dimensions? How many layers? Edges rough finished, hemmed, sewed inside of the layers ... ? Also, do you just use flannel, or do you layer with other fabrics?


Christine said...

Just cotton flannel for us. About 6" x 6", then I fold over and hem the edges.