A Week Without Toilet Paper

family cloth (Medium)You might remember a post I did a while back about The Family Cloth, well I finally gathered my courage and gave it a try. Yes people, I went this whole past week without using toilet paper… well, almost completely.

Okay, before you turn your nose up at the idea, hear me out.

When I first read about this notion of using cloth wipes instead of toilet paper, I thought that was pretty hard core frugal! Though intrigued by the idea, I wasn’t sure if it would be for me.

You know me though, I’m down for trying anything once! So, I rounded up all of my baby wash cloths and set them in a basket on the bathroom sink. The idea was for just us girls to use these cloths, and only for wiping after a “tinkle”. I showed Jada the basket of cloths and told her what they were for. I also set a trash can beside the toilet just for these cloths to go in once they had been used.

It wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined! Wiping with a soft cloth was actually much nicer than a wad of linty toilet paper! And now that I’ve tried it, I really don’t understand how it came to be such a taboo.

Since the cloths are quite absorbent, you really only need to use one per “visit”. And it’s not like you soak the whole rag, remember, you are only wiping a drop or two. The cloth hardly gets wet at all.

I was afraid my bathroom was going to stink like urine like my cloth diaper pail does, but since the cloths are barely wet at all after use, they dry out quickly and cause no scent at all!

And washing them is really no big deal. Like I said, it’s not like they are dripping wet, actually quite the opposite. And if the idea of washing cloths that you have wiped with grosses you out, think of it this way: it’s no different than the washcloth you use to clean yourself with in the shower!

So, after seeing how easy this is to do I really don’t see any reason to stop! I wish I knew how much toilet paper we use in a week so I could give you the cost savings, but I’m sure you can imagine. Toilet paper is expensive! This is a great way to save some money, and honestly, it’s not bad at all!

Willing to give it a shot as well? I promise, once you try it you’ll wonder why you never did this before! Now I just need to make more wipes πŸ™‚

About Kendra 1103 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.


  1. Paper diapers were not invented when I had my children, and the mess a baby can make is much worse than a grown up wiping their backsides. I think the eww factor from most men, is because they never had to rinse those dirty diapers in the toilet before throwing them in a bucket awaiting washing day. I never gave a thought to cloth wipes, and because of my small septic tank, I always put my used TP in a trash sack lined can beside the toilet.

  2. I have been putting this move off for so long! But I like your approach. Just start with pee only, not number two. That is do-able! Why didn’t I think of it!? Going to get my wipes out right now. πŸ™‚

  3. I’m so glad I found this. I actually started doing this for myself only basically out of need (only for #1, haha). We do have toilet paper;however some weeks I only have $20-$30 for groceries and I’m sorry but my family needs food more than literally throwing it down the toilet. I’m the biggest “user” of toilet paper, so I’m the only one who does it, but I may start with my 3 year old daughter too. I also converted to baby wash clothes for my baby wipes, I figured I’m doing cloth diapers any way, what’s the difference!! I’m glad I’m not the only one out there doing this, I was embarrassed about it and actually I didn’t even tell my husband. I do make my own cloth pads too and even made some for a friend of mine who is struggling badly financially. Even if we do make more money, I’d rather throw it in the bank then in the trash or toilet!

  4. What about for number two? Are you using these cloths or toilet paper? And if you’re using the cloths, do you just throw them in with the number 1 ones?

  5. I have found that my husbands old white t-shirts work wonderful for this. I cut out squares and serge them on the machine. quick and easy. don’t have a serger? just zig zag on a regular machine then clip slose to the stitching without clipping the stitches. This should cure the raveling issue.

  6. I’m intrigued, but wondering if after washing these in your washing machine – do you disinfect it? What about e.coli and other bacteria that could spread to other clothes? Just wondering your thoughts on that…

    • Keri,

      Uh… no, I don’t disinfect. I wash loads of cloth diapers too, and don’t disinfect. I figure the hot water and soap takes care of the germs, along with the white vinegar in the rinse cycle. I figure, how is that any different from the wash cloth you clean the same areas with in the shower?? You don’t disinfect your washer after washing them, do you? πŸ™‚

  7. I’ve been reading your blog for the last few weeks and have learned A LOT! This is just another one of the things I plan on trying. DH is majorly frugal but this is all new to me and I know since I’m game he will be too. I’ve also got an idea that my diaper genie will make good for the “storing” until I wash them, just minus the plastic bags. DS is just now potty training so if we like it he won’t even know it’s “different.”

  8. Well, after reading the post and all the comments, I think I might have to try this! I am looking for any and every way to reduce my bill at the grocery store!

  9. We’ve been doing this for a couple of months. I bought $10 worth of pre-hemmed baby facecloths (I found that sheets and such cut up just frayed). It’s getting to the point when I blink in surprise when I see people stocking up on “necessities” like toilet paper.

    We usually wash first, using the irri bottle I saved after having our last child, and I wash the cloths by hand every other night.

    That, by the way, also deals with the problem of keeping clean during menstruation. It’s not as if the dry toilet paper actually *cleans*.

  10. I would (and have, when we ran out), and used cloth wipes when mine were little….But, when I just now approached my daughters with this, I got a loud “Ewe, Yuck”….

  11. A few years back I heard a Doctor advise a person not to use toilet paper. She said, it leaves residue and can contribute to urinary tract infections. She advised to wash thoroughly with water avoiding toilet paper

  12. We have actually been doing this for several years.I always used cloth diapers and saved old clothes for quilt pieces. I cut them into washcloth size squares, hemmed around the edges and started using them. Everyone seemed to complain the toilet paper was to thin, and I was not going to buy expensive stuff, so now the towels get tossed in a bucket of bleach water that sets in the bathroom and each evening they get tossed in my homemade wash machine(5 gallon bucket with a toilet plunger) and rainwater to wash. Extra work, but it saves in the long run. We could run through a pack of 12 rolls of toilet paper in a week.Most definitely a great thing to do.

  13. I’ve lived in Asia for some time and for me the most frugal (and, I believe, most sanitary) way to save on ANY paper/cloth in the toilet is to copy the natives and WASH yourself clean.
    I have a long hose on my showerhead which allows me to direct the water flow to my nether regions.
    I am quite repulsed by the idea of those people who use paper to SMEAR themselves. Admit it… no matter how many times you wipe with paper you cannot remove all traces of waste. Not convinced by the idea? Then think… Don’t you wash yourself “down there” when you bathe or shower? Same idea, except that you clean yourself more often.

    • Sharp Shepherd-

      Actually, it hasn’t increased my laundry expenses at all. I just throw the wipes in with my load of cloth diapers, the same size load I’ve always done. The tiny wipes really don’t add up to much of an addition to the load. So, there is no additional washing cost for me.

  14. I’m just not sure I could do that. I do use the Diva cup, so I guess it can’t be grosser than that. Something to think about, thanks for sharing.

  15. I am doing this in my house and it has cut back our tp usage alot just by me switching. I use gladrags and I love them for that time of the month. I use the cloth anytime in the restroom. You can wash the cloth in a lingerie bag and this helps to keep the cloths organized when going through the washer and dryer.

  16. Hi Kendra –
    Great idea! We go to the grocery store rarely, but the motivating factor to go is usually TP. I’m game for this. My question is though do you wash them in a separate load? I suppose so, but it seems like it would be a very small load of laundry. The kids have outgrown diapers (thankfully!) otherwise I’d just throw them in with the every other day cloth diapers. I’m going to pull out those “baby wipes” baby wash clothes and put them to good use again.
    Thanks for your ideas! Melissa

  17. I use cut up heavy t-shirts from the thrift store. The used ones go into a little trash can with a swing lid. No smell! I even use them for #2. However, I do use TP when I have my period… too messy otherwise.

    Hubby doesn’t participate. Of course, boys don’t need paper for #1, and that’s what I do all day long! He likes the really expensive, super soft, aloe covered paper.

    Once you realize that this is much less ick than washing diapers, adding the used cloths to a regular wash load is no big deal.

    • Hi, you are one of the only people that say they use “family cloth” for #2. Do you put those in the swing lid trash can as well? Can you share more about this? Hope its not too graphic for anyone! How many days will you leave the #2 cloths in there? Do you use a bidet or ire bottle first? My sister dunks the washable baby cloth diapers in the toilet before tossing the aside for washing, but how do you deal with #2 wipes for a child or adult? do you dunk them too?

      • Using a peri bottle (or a squirt bottle) of water before wiping is very helpful. Wetting the wipes is also a good idea for #2. Wash every 1-2 days, storing soiled cloths in a lidded trash can after use. I prefer washing family cloth and baby wipes in a bucket with a plunger washer instead of using the washing machine. Hope that helps!

  18. I started doing this after I read about it on your blog:) I figured, I already use cloth wipes with the kids, why not me and my husband? My husband still doesn’t care for it, he uses toilet paper, but since he’s at work most of the time we only buy toilet paper about once a month. That’s some MAJOR savings at our house. I definetly prefer the wipes to toilet paper. I just wash them like I do cloth diapers:) Glad you gave it a try!

  19. when you put it the way you do, it sounds completely logical, but no one at my house would go for it, but cost savings you better belive, toilet paper is expensive, and we do use alot. the septic tank would be relived of all that “wasteful paper”, pun intended or not!

  20. Kendra,
    I’ve been wanting to try this for some time now, and I just haven’t done it yet!
    I have a stack of old t-shirts that should work perfect for this purpose, that I just need to cut up and put in a basket.

    Thanks for the encouragement, I think I’ll try and start this this week!


  21. I’m totally up for this…except my hubby said that it grossed him out too much!
    I read a blog about a small family that uses only clothes and has one roll of tp for guests and I was amazed at the savings!
    It really is brilliant. She even said that they used them for #2 and it didn’t stink up the bathroom as they washed them everyother day.
    With my kids I think I might be afraid of them accidentally or “accidentally” =) throwing them in the toilet and clogging it up. I bet the baby wash clothes you are using will help if that ever happens as they are smaller and thinner than normal wash clothes!
    Maybe one day I’ll just go ahead and set up the system for me and the kids…those kids go through toilet paper like candy…maybe I should ask them if they are eating it! j/k! =)
    Give us an update someday!

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