Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cloth wipes - the good, the bad and the stinky

Don't forget to wipe!The Cloth Wipe Challenge is coming up soon and one of the big concerns is hygiene, so I wanted to discuss some of the issues and misconceptions that usually come up with using cloth wipes instead of toilet paper.

When I was doing research into using cloth wipes, one thing I repeatedly read was that some people assumed that you are reusing wipes. In other words, using the same dirty cloth multiple times - e.g. on separate occasions. Now, I don't know how this idea came into being, it's just as disturbing as the fact that some people think recycled toilet paper is made from used toilet paper. So, I thought I'd clear this one up first and foremost - you use each wipe once and then they get washed.

I want to break down the use of cloth wipes for urine versus poop because they can be treated a little differently. (By the way, I'm going to just go with "poop" instead of stool, defecant, excrement, scat or any other of your favorite terms.)

First of all, if you plan on using cloth wipes for #1 (urine only), it is in my opinion that your risk of spreading disease is fairly minimal. Urine itself is sterile. Of course, you are also touching parts of your anatomy that are not sterile. It all comes down to your comfort level.

Some people soak all their used wipes in a solution containing some sort of antiseptic - tea tree oil is popular. Others just place their used cloth wipes in a mesh bag that gets plenty of air. I have found that the amount of urine on the wipe is actually pretty minimal so things dry out quickly. Then just wash the #1 wipes in hot water. If you're still paranoid about bacteria, follow washing information for #2.

If you plan on using cloth wipes for #2 (poop), then you're going to have to invest in a system to ensure that you don't have problems with two things that make most people cringe: stink and bacteria.

Now, if you have ever dealt with cloth diapers, then you are already equipped (at least mentally) to deal with adding your own poopy cloth wipes to the system (or resurrecting a system). Actually, I would say that since you are wiping, rather than "collecting", it's a whole lot less messy than dealing with cloth diapers.

Most people keep a lidded container or wet bag in the bathroom, throw the wipes in and then wash in hot water. Again, you can keep a soaking solution in the container to help keep odor down. If you're really concerned about bacteria you can do a baking soda pre-rinse and add vinegar to the rinse cycle. If you are planning on keeping a "dry" bucket, some people will add baking soda to the bucket to keep odor down and then wash the container out with vinegar every few days. Just make sure if you do a load of laundry with #2 wipes that you don't include kitchen towels, napkins, etc.

For some of you, I'm sure I probably didn't cover everything here to satisfy all your questions. If you've never dealt with cloth diapers you can read up on how to store and wash them over at Diaper Pin and adapt some of the ideas for your cloth wipes. And feel free to ask questions!

The next cloth wipe challenge post: how to make your own cloth wipes without spending a fortune. This is a challenge and I know you don't want to plunk down $100 on handcrafted custom wipes if this is just an experiment for you, so I'll share what I did to get started.

16 comments:

Susanne said...

I'm looking forward to the next post about this because this has been my main stumbling point so far. (And the fact that I threw away the bucket with a lid I used to store soiled cloth diapers in.

(People really thought they were supposed to use each wipe several times? Yuck.)

Kim said...

Hi. I wrote a post about dealing with the cloths yesterday. I thought it might help to see how other families deal with the cloths. I like my system because no body has to touch the cloths once they enter the bucket. It helps take out the "ick" factor.

Kim

Anonymous said...

This is where you could reuse all those baby washcloths.....at least for the #1s.....
cant wait to see the next post.

QT said...

I was thinking about the baby washcloths myself. I am waiting to read more details.

I can't believe people thought they were supposed to use the dirty wipes more than once!!

Ashley said...

um. i live in an apartment and only do laundry 1 or 2 times a month. is it still okay to use wipes for #1 if they have to sit around that long? i've been using luna pads and not washing them right away...that's seemed to be okay. let me know what you guys think!! thanks :)

Crunchy Chicken said...

ashley - letting the #1's sit around a while shouldn't be a problem if you are using some sort of mesh bag so they can air out and not get moldy. I had a bunch that I didn't get time to wash before I went on vacation and they were fine going for the two weeks or so. You could always give it a try and see what happens?

barefoot gardener said...

You know, my first thought on this whole thing was "UGH!". But now you have me thinking about it, and.....maybe.

Crunchy Chicken said...

barefoot gardener - I totally had the same reaction. But then I started thinking too and it's not that far off from cloth diapers. And, frankly, if you're just doing it for #1, it's pretty easy peasy.

Polly said...

I've been using cloth for #1s and just this week "graduated" to #2s.

I use small cloth pads made from squares of flanelette folded over and zig-zagged around the edge to stop fraying. I try to use as little water as possible so I put the cloths in a dry bucket and hand wash them every morning with a couple of drops of teatree oil and add vinegar to the rinse water. Mostly they are sun dried.

We still use TP because the other half of this household won't even contemplate the thought of cloth.

kitty said...

Why is it that men are so squeamish about cloth TP?! Lucky for us they are minimal users. This idea has been percolating in my mind for quite a while and I think this post is providing the final push I need to get going. Thanks crunchy chicken! I felt the same way about diva cups and vermicomposting, and now they give me the warm fuzzies each time I think about them.

I am going to start out slow and try it for #1 at home, and then hopefully "graduate" to full-time use. I use a hand-crank laundry device (called wonderwash) instead of a washing machine and air dry my clothes in my apt (no sun unfortunately) so I'm not sure yet how comfortable I am about using it for #2.

One more thing, I'm a microbiologist, and I honestly don't see any concerns whatsoever about sanitation using cloth TP. I think hot, hot water and/or drying in a machine or out in the sun should easily do the trick for bacteria from #2. Cold water is fine for #1. In fact, if cloth TP is really a better wiper as most say, it should be more sanitary than paper.

Emerald Moon said...

If you have had a baby, you probably know what a "peri bottle is". If so, fill one of those with water and leave it on the back of the toilet to use before the cloth wipe. That way, the cloth wipe is really just for drying, not cleaning. I've heard the analogy that you would not just wipe your dinner dishes with a dry tissue and then put them back in the cupboard, so why not give your personal hygiene the same thorough cleansing. Makes sense to me and we find it especially useful for my toddler for whom wiping is like wrestling a greased pig.

Raw Vegan Mama said...

Ok -- I am in. I hated cloth diapers, but I will give this a try! :)

RVM

barefoot gardener said...

I juts have to say...

I think Emerald Moon hit on it! This takes all the ick factor out for me. I even vaguely remember having a similar thought after Little Sprout was born.

Crunchy Chicken said...

I was using a peri bottle for a while and then just got lazy and started skipping it. But it definitely helps make the "leap" into cloth :)

iloveupstate.com said...

I had never heard the word "scat" before. I am so totally adding this to my everday vocabulary!

Anonymous said...

why is it that I've cloth diapered three kids, use cloth pads, and can't bring myself to even think about using cloth for #2s??? I'm working on it.....

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