Yes. I’m quite serious.
We don’t use toilet paper.
I can’t remember the day we gave up using toilet paper, sometime in 2013. The transition for us was quite easy. Transition to what? To reusable, washable cloth wipes. We had two kids in cloth nappies and were using cloth wipes on them. It made sense for us to make the switch too.
First, let me share what bothers me about toilet paper. When:
• The layers stick together and they end up out of alignment.
• The roll squashes and thumps around the holder.
• The holder squeaks and it seems like the loudest noise when you have a newborn in the house.
• Your finger breaks through the paper.
I asked my Facebook fans to estimate what they spent on toilet paper. The estimates went right up to over $400 a year. For most people, toilet paper is an essential disposable item. But it’s not essential for us and I’m happy to spend that money on other things. Keep your receipts for a few months and note how much you spend on loo paper. Average this out to an annual amount and it really adds up.
So, how does it work?
We set up the cloth wipes in a pile, and have a container of water with a few drops of essential oil in it. Once we have finished our business, we grab a dry wipe, dip it in the water, squeeze out the excess then wipe with it. In 99% of instances, we only need one wipe per loo visit. After wiping, we put the wipe in the nappy bucket. With a 14 month old in cloth nappies, I wash the soiled nappies and wipes every 2 days. My stainless steel nappy bucket has a drawstring bag liner and I take that to the laundry and toss them into the front loader on a 2-hour cold water cycle. The nappies and wipes are hung on the clothesline and the sun works magic on naturally bleaching out stains (if any) and sanitising. I use a detergent recommended for cloth nappies. Just like cloth nappies, there is no soaking in water and I never use fabric softener or added stain removers like bleach or a Napisan type product.
Along with a willingness to change you’ll also need, cloth wipes, a water container, nappy bucket (or large wet bag), washing machine and a clothes line.
Our kids are not newborns anymore, so we keep the nappy bucket in our bathroom next to the toilet. We can reach the wipes and the nappy bucket when sitting on the loo. I change the wipes water every couple of days.
There are cloth wipes systems available, such as the Apikali system, that include cloth wipes, containers, mesh bags, wet bags and essential oils. You can buy the bits separately, but the kits can be a good starting point for parents new to this. Read my review of the Apikali cloth wipes system here.
We have become so accustomed to using cloth wipes we tend to forget that other people visiting us will be looking for loo paper. We recently had friends over for a BBQ. And just after they arrived, hubby whispers to me ‘do we have toilet paper?’
Although we have instructions for using the wipes written up, we do keep some toilet paper on hand for guests.
I have a number of cloth wipes differing in fabric, colour and size. I find the best size is about 20cm square, and dark colours are good. To gauge how many you’ll need I’d suggest you estimate one wipe per loo visit, potty use or nappy change over a 2-3 day period.
I saw a segment on Dr Oz once about toilet habits. His medical suggestion was that toilet paper is too harsh and can contribute to haemorrhoids. Pregnant women and mothers are prone to them. Using a cloth wipe is nothing like using a baby wipe. A cloth wipe leaves you so refreshed you’ll feel like you’ve had a shower down there and the coverage is quite something.
Although I still use toilet paper at my office job, I pack cloth wipes if out and about with the kids. I use a small wet bag with two zips. I pre moisten a few cloth wipes and pop a clean cloth nappy in the wetbag. Not only is this wetbag great for kids in cloth nappies, it would be perfect if you were using cloth wipes for hands and faces. You may have heard recent reports about the chemicals in disposable wet wipes and the problems they can cause on babies bits and parents hands. I’ve heard stories of babies breaking out in rashes when their faces were cleaned with disposable baby wipes.
There are many mainstream reusable products such as water bottles, cloth nappies, baking mats etc. Then there are less visible items such as menstrual products. Have you ever considered an alternative to toilet paper? The first few days were a challenge because many years of a wiping and dropping action were a habitual process hard to change. The tough part for us was changing what to do with our hands and where the wipes ended up. Luckily, my mind was the easiest to change.
The resources to set up the family to make the switch are minimal. Families that have kids in cloth nappies probably have everything they need on hand already.
Critical success factors
All adults in the household must want to change.
Wash nappies/wipes every 2 days.
When thinking about poo – use the motto ‘just deal with it’.
Always use moistened cloth wipes. Even for a wee.
If you abide by the ‘if it’s yellow – let it mellow’ rule then you may end up with a lot of loo paper in the bowl in-between flushes (especially with high frequency visits when pregnant or nursing). Using cloth means the toilet paper doesn’t pile up in the bowl.
Save up to approx. $5 a week on loo paper.
Save loo paper manufacturing resources (and freight/marketing etc).
Less chance of blockages.
Flush less = save water.
You can even make your own wipes and save more.
You’ll need to buy wipes if you are not able to make them. Initial outlay approx $50-$80.
You need a system for usage and washing. People with kids in cloth nappies may find the adjustment easy.
It’s a good idea to have conventional loo paper available for guests.
Be prepared to fish out a dropped cloth wipe. This may occur in the transition period.
Making the change
Expect a two-week transition period. Set a date for change. Have all resources ready. On the change day remove the loo paper from roll. You may put some within reach but far enough away that it prompts you to use the cloth wipes.
So there you go. Using cloth wipes instead of toilet paper represents an eco choice, for sure. But I promise, when you compare a cloth wipe to toilet paper, it’s like using a polystyrene cup to drink an expensive red wine. It seems perfectly acceptable if you have never used anything better.
~ ~ ~ Update ~ ~ ~
Since posting this review, Apikali have been working on making a transition like ours even easier. They have used their Swipes baby wipes kits and made a few alterations. The result – toilet paper free kits. There are a few options to suit different household situations and plenty of information that should help answer any remaining questions you may have. We have been proud to provide our input to Apikali so they could bring this product to you.