family cloths

I’m feeling brave today.

I’m ready to let you know about my new ‘luxury’ product. Welcome to the world of the ‘family cloth’. That’s the name given to these special items in certain online communities. They’re basically just rags I’ve taken to using instead of toilet paper (just for wees at the moment – still got some serviettes coming in as donations so haven’t needed to go any further yet (see my ‘bare necessities’ post)).

I know it probably sounds pretty gross to some people. I admit, I was a bit surprised by the idea when I first came across them a few months ago when looking at my options if I ran out of a supply of second hand serviettes. I started using them here in Byron and have found them to be a delight! They are soft and oh so tender on my nether regions.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • cut an old sheet/towel or, in my case, an old pillow case into strips or squares – my favourite size is about 15 x 15 cms
  • store next to toilet in a small bucket or bin (use a lid if you’re a bit modest like me)
  • use as needed and then toss into a nearby receptacle which has some soapy water in it – I wash my hands under the bath tap above my bucket so that I use the handwashing water to push the cloth down and clean my hands at the same time
  • every day or two, wash the cloths with the soapy water and rinse well (it’s not good to have soap residue on any part of your body let alone these sensitive parts)
  • I am aiming to rinse them in boiling water every few washes and/or hang them in direct sunlight to dry as a means of sterilising them periodically (I’m washing them in cold water most of the time to save energy)
  • hang your family cloths somewhere private to dry and repeat

I don’t believe contamination is an issue as I’m the only one using mine. Apparently, where they are used by more than one person in a household, it helps if each person has their own. By using different cloth with different patterns it’s easy to keep each person’s cloths separate (and maybe each person would wash their own cloths as well).

I have so far found these to be a great substitute for toilet paper and I have not had any unfortunate smells in the bathroom, as one might expect. Urine is not too difficult a thing to deal with, especially if you’re hydrated well enough.

I was thinking about other impacts the other day though. I realised that I am washing these every other day, probably using between 3 and 5 litres of water each time (I could use less if I’m careful). This increases my personal consumption of water, here, at the house. At least that was my concern until I did a bit of research on the production of recycled toilet paper. Now, I’m feeling OK about it. My next option, a bidet-type of setup (a squirty recycled tomato sauce bottle filled with water), uses some water and I would still want to wipe my butt to keep it dry so would use cloths anyway and need to wash them.

Please, reader, don’t be troubled by my seeming overthinking of these things. It doesn’t hurt my brain at all. This is the kind of thinking I am engaged in a lot at the moment while adjusting to new conditions. It might seem a bit over the top, but I get a kick out of finding new, or rather, reinventing old, ways of doing the things that I used to take for granted.

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19 thoughts on “family cloths

  1. I think this is a stroke of genius! I mean, we use cloth diapers when our children were little, rinsed them, then soaked in a diaper pail prior to washing! Makes a lot of sense! Thank you for the suggestion! It will come in handy in this part of the Appalachian Mountains!

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    1. Great! I’m glad you will be able to make use of this tip. I don’t know why I wasn’t doing this before – it does make total sense and it feels good (environmentally and physically)!

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    1. Hi Luiza. I’m looking after a friend’s house at the moment. She is overseas. The house has solar power during the day so I try to do water-intensive and energy intensive things during the day and use rain water collected by the roof. My friend and her husband don’t usually pay for the power here because currently, in Australia, if you have solar on your house, any excess solar power produced goes into the power grid and you get paid a bit of money for it. This house uses very little power so there is not usually a bill to pay. I hope that makes sense and answers your question. Cheers, Jo

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    1. Hi Joao, I grow food and help others to grow food. I have clothes and shoes from before and sometimes swap with people. I don’t have paid employment so don’t pay taxes. I have been housesitting for a friend and before that I lived in a little shack I built on a friend’s farm that they can now use themselves. I hope that answers your question. There is more written about this in other blog posts. Thanks, Jo

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  2. Dear face. I like to repurpose everything still has utility, so you can save money in every way, thus contributing with nature. But reading your blog, I realized that night, I go to sleep much earlier than I am used to, because I’m night owl and wake up early, too, for saving electricity. Thank you for inspiring me. Success.

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    1. Hi Marcio. I only use the internet when at friends’ places or at the local library. Just as I did when I had money. Best of luck with your endeavours and thanks for your support, Jo

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  3. Eres valiente¡ Mas, eres Mujer¡ y eso me animo a escribirte. Quien suscribe, soy de un país de America del Sur, pequeño y con pocos habitantes. Uruguay. Tu coraje para tomar la decisión de vivir sin dinero, es de una persona que se tiene la confianza de enfrentar las dificultades, aun aquellas que no se conocen. Mi saludo calido y un abrazo que te envuelva cuando te sientas con poco abrigo.

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