Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cloth wipes - the benefits

Don't forget to wipe!Yesterday, I did a wrap-up on how to implement using cloth wipes during the Cloth Wipe Challenge. Today, I thought I'd review the benefits of using cloth for those of you still wondering why we are bothering to go through all this when TP is aplenty and readily available.

1. Cost - Outside of the initial investment in wipes (see my doin' it on the cheap post), the costs beyond that are for a container to put the wipes in and whatever cleaning agent you use. If you are washing them with other stuff, the amount of detergent used over the course of a year is pretty small. On the other hand, toilet paper is expensive, especially if you are springing for 100% recycled toilet paper.

2. Comfort - OMG, I cannot even describe how much more comfortable it is to wipe using 100% cotton flannel than even the softest of Charminy TPs. Now compare that to the relative scratchitude of recycled toilet papers. Enough said.

3. Environment - This is the big one so I've broken it down.
a. Energy - Yes, washing cloth wipes does require some extra energy in your washing machine, but unless you are using a million wipes a week, there's no way you're going to fill up your machine. So just throw them in with your other stuff. #1 wipes can go in with anything (except maybe kitchen towels) and #2 wipes can go in with towels or the like. They don't take up much space. Really.

b. Water - Again, washing cloth wipes requires some water, but if you're throwing them in with a load of other stuff, it's fairly negligible.

Compare the minimal energy and water usage at home with how much water and energy is used in the production of toilet paper. It's a pretty water and energy intensive process. Even recycled toilet paper uses a lot more of both than what your using with cloth wipes.

c. Natural Resources - If you're not using recycled toilet paper, the amount of trees saved is equivalent to that little pile of cloth you have at the end of the day. Add into both regular or recycled TP extra waste in processing. Plus, don't forget the other natural resources used like water and energy (minus whatever went into making the cloth, amortized over time). You can also throw in the harm caused by whatever chemicals are used in the processing (most likely bleach).

So, the benefits are: you win with cost savings and comfort (with minimal extra work) and the environment wins every time you wipe!


Frisky said...

i didn't consider the comfort factor. maybe we should start thinking of cloth tp as a luxury. a status symbol!

Anonymous said...

Using cloth encourages me to let the yellow mellow, which saves flushing water too.

Chile said...

Comfort? Yeah, maybe with flannel. Some of us went ultracheap and cut up an old terry cloth towel. Remember how scratchy terry gets when line-dried? Yeah....

Ok, I'm stretchin' the truth here. While I do line-dry, I tumble everything on the air setting for 5 minutes while wet and again when dry. You'd never know they were line-dried. That wet tumble makes a huge difference.

Oh, and danica? Switch to a portapottie (for #1 only) and save even more water! You can dump it in your regular toilet when full. :)

Anonymous said...

"throwing them in with a load of other stuff" ???? NOOOOOOOO!

Anonymous said...

i'm curious, what do you do about guests? do you have them use the cloths too or to you keep tp handy for company?

Crunchy Chicken said...

angela - I'm the only one doing this in our house, so there's TP in every bathroom. Most people that are all cloth keep TP available for guests.

Some just provide cloth and leave a little note what to do, but I think that's pushing it a bit.

Anonymous said...

Some more questions: What do you do to keep the container clean? Do you use some type of liner? We are renters and do our laundry only once a week in shared machines--would this be practical to do only once a week? It seems like there might be some mildew/bacteria/odor problems in the container after long term use.

I have an old flannel sheet that I've been keeping around, not wanting to throw it away... I think I need some more encouragement...

Isle Dance said...

I feel like a green Martha Stewart already, washing, hang-drying and folding my new little Imse Vimse unbleached organic cotton flannel cloth wipes into their own little color-coded stacks. This is fun. :)

Crunchy Chicken said...

anonymous - you can probably clean it out with whatever cleanser you like. You could use something like baking soda and vinegar, or whatever your favorite cleanser (that disinfects) is.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear some of the more experienced Cloth TPers expand on the stink factor. Here are some of the things I'd love to know about your setup:
1) Have your used cloths ever smelled? How did you solve this?

2) What do you use for a used cloth receptacle? Do you think that ventilation works better than sealing in the air?

3) Do you use cloth for #1 and #2 (how old am I?)

4) Do you use any additional factors (baking soda, vinegar, tea tree oil, etc?) to keep the odor down?

5) Just for kicks, do your spouses/partners/kids/roomates us them too?

Message to everyone else: Being on eco-blogs makes me feel like I'm not crazy to care. I can't even finish saying "compost toilet" before peoples eyes are bulging out of their heads. So thanks!

To Crunchy Chicken: Thanks for putting in the daily effort to keep this blog going, even when you may not feel like it. I read it everyday with my morning coffee at home and it's a great way to start the day.

Anonymous said...

People seem concerned about the smell issue, but remember, you aren't peeing INTO the cloth, it's just for wiping. Men don't even bother after urinating and let their boxers soak up the drippings. Yikes.

If you rinse with a peri bottle and blot dry, there really isn't anything but water on the wipe. We throw them straight into the washer since we wash cloth diapers daily anyhow. Honestly, it's not a big deal, just try it a few times a day and you will soon feel guilty when you reach for the big wad of TP!

Anonymous said...

Cloth wipes are awesome!!! Every time we are behind on the wash or camping or away from home----we MISS our wipes! Nothing gets you as clean---and it only takes one or two wipes. We have been using them for about 2 years and our whole family uses them---2 guys, 2 gals! We keep TP for the guests---but some of our friends do use our cloth :) We use the pretty, designer toilet brush cannisters from Target---very elegant and really, noone would guess that they contain used wipes and not the icky brush! We just recently went camping---and it drilled home to us just how much we HATE TP----really, half the roll to get "cloth clean"---what a waste (and ouch!) I am thrilled to see this Cloth Wipe/no TP challenge---be careful though---you will fall in LOVE with cloth! KT

Anonymous said...

Try washing with soap nuts! (see I'm cloth diapering my baby so this seems like a natural next step.