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!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Cloth wipes - doin' it on the cheap

Don't forget to wipe!When I first cooked up the idea for the Cloth Wipe Challenge back in June, I did a lot of researching online into what constituted the best wipes, what were people's favorites, etc.

There are a lot of vendors and stay at home moms out there sewing up some really nice cloth wipes (usually referred to as "family cloth" to differentiate it from baby cloth wipes). I didn't want to throw down $50 - $100 on butt wipes, particularly since I wasn't sure I was even going to go through with it. Nor did I want to only buy a couple and run out and turn my business into a big laundry ordeal.

So, what did I do? Well you have a couple options for cheapo cloth wipes. Some people take old t-shirts and rip them into strips. The claim is that they don't fray and you are reusing something. I guess there can be joy in wiping with an old concert, marathon or convention t-shirt. "Hey, I remember cramping up on mile 18!" The concern I had with the t-shirts (besides that I already had donated all the ones I didn't want anymore), was the thinness factor. Generally, old t-shirts tend to be threadbare and I really didn't want to have my fingers poking through, if you know what I mean.

So, I went to Joann's Fabrics. There I found some really inexpensive fabric remnants. They are 100% cotton flannel of suitable thickness and are ohhhhhhh so comfy. I spent, maybe, $6. I marked the squares into 8" x 8" squares using my kid's sidewalk chalk, but you can use whatever you want. I then cut the squares using pinking shears to prevent fraying. I managed to get about 50 cloth wipes out of the deal.

What would I do differently next time? Well, the cloth wipes do fray a little bit, but I don't care and I really don't think they fray enough to warrant sewing or surging the edges. I would also make them a little smaller. If I were using them for #2, the 8" x 8" would be perfect, but it's just too much cloth for a little dab o' pee. Maybe 6" x 6" would be great.

The other thing I would recommend is that if you are planning on using cloth wipes for multiple family members, is to get everyone their own fabric print. So, if you feel squeamish out wiping your butt with something your husband went to town with after that trip to the Mexican restaurant you can rest assured that you have nothing to even consider. Or, if you want to use a color system for #1 versus #2, that would be fun. If you are lucky you might just find remnants in the appropriate colors: yellow for pee and brown for poop. No, I'm just kidding, that's too boring!

As for using baby washcloths - that probably would work if you had some lying about and didn't want to spend any extra money. But others have found them to be too small, too thin and (actually) too scratchy.

Next up on the cloth wipe challenge posts: putting the whole system together (for you detail oriented people)!


Theresa said...

Thanks for all the info, Crunchy, you may still convince me to at least try cloth wipes for #1 anyway. I'm mulling it over. Not sure why I'm having such a tissue issue.

PS - I have nominated you for an award - feel free to drop my my blog to check it out :)

Anonymous said...

For #1, I have been using cut-up squares of an old worn (but not threadbare!) hand towel. I just picked up another couple of worn bath towels in the same color to add to my wipe collection.

Pros: cheap, soft, absorbent
Cons: edges fray

With this new batch, I'm going to try zigzagging the edges quickly to see if it helps. I don't own pinking shears and keep forgetting to check when I'm at thrift stores.

Nina in Wisconsin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
QT said...

Sorry about the deletion- I used a different login that is just for my family blogs!

Anyway, thanks for researching this and for all the info. I am still on the fence about #1, not from a grossness perspective, but from a time perspective.

Crunchy Chicken said...

qt - I have found that, since I just huck the #1's in the wash with everything else, it doesn't require any extra time. If you use a mesh bag, you can hang it on the TP roll holder next to the roll and, if you want, you can just throw the whole bag with wipes in the washer.

I take them out to maximize cleaning action, but I've read about people who just leave them in the bag (kind of like a lingerie bag).

Rechelle said...

Well Crunchy - I give you the unique blog award of the day. Surely you are the only person on the planet blogging about flannel fabric remnant butt wipes from JoAnns. Congratulations.

Isle Dance said...

I'm in temporary living quarters that do not allow for the materials or space to make these myself right now, so ordering unbleached certified organic cotton flannel wipes was right up my alley. I just rec'd my Imse Vimse cloth wipes (link on and I'm pleasantly surprised. They are soft, not too thin, not too thick and so elegantly cute (originally intended for a Swedish baby bum). Fold in half or quarters for bathroom wiping. Keep fully open for handi-wiping. I am now embarrassed that I'd not already started using these for handi-wipes. Thanks again for this jump start.

April said...

Just catching up on your blog and man oh man...I don't know about this. My first thought is how the heck would I break the reflex of throwing the cloth in the toilette? I know we would be calling in the septic guy within a week if we tried this.

Anyway, you are a much braver woman than I. For some reason this bit of information is just.....just.....just I don't know.

ST said...

Teehee, this quote made me giggle: "Or, if you want to use a color system for #1 versus #2, that would be fun."

Re the challenge, I somehow feel that being the daughter of an infectious disease consultant, and a 1st year med student, this is somehow going again some ingrained hygiene of mine... My other concern - wouldn't your bathroom start to smell like pee? Ugh!

Anyways, good luck to you guys out there who participate in the challenge!

Anonymous said...

This is super fantastic! We love new ways to reduce our impact. Heard about you through Jen, who boldly accepted your challenge.

Hygiene, shmygiene. I stopped being squeamish about, oh, pretty much everything after my first labor and delivery! Lol.

How many yards of fabric did you use for your project? I don't want to buy too much.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, Crunchy is NOT the only blogger on the Web blogging about butt wipes made from flannel remnants at Jo-Ann!

Two months in, I like the system a lot and our bathroom does *not* smell like pee. My wipes are about 4x4" and they are fine.

Unknown said...

Oh I hate flannel wipes. I mean I do use cloth wipes and they're flannel on one side and knit terry on the other. The flannel is great for #1 but #2? Forget it. Oddly enough, in my internet searches, 1-ply flannel seems to be the standard. It's sad. If people use those, they may never stick with cloth wipes at all. I know my friend tried it and went back to TP due to the "smear factor" of flannel.

The only ones I'll buy or sell have terry on the flip side :-)

Tree Huggin Momma said...

For the smell factor, you would treat it the same as with cloth diapers. You have a small container (preferably with a well fitted lid) add a smal amount of water with vinegar to that container and toss your used wipes in. Then at the end of the day take them into the laundry room, drain the container and rinse it (preferably with grey water) and then start again. I then rinse in a bucket of grey water all my wipes and leave them for the next wash load, or since I usually have one wash load every other day, I throw them in.
I am not a #2 cloth person, I just can't do it, but I use them for #1 as does DD#1, but DD#2 isn't quite ready for that.
DH will never be ready for this, despite the fact he has to have Charmin Butt wipes to feel fresh. I keep telling him, after using TP just take a cotton wipe out o the box (I repurposed an old tissue box) and wet it down.