How to Discreetly Save Money Using Family Cloths
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How to Discreetly Save Money Using Family Cloths

How to Discreetly Save Money Using Family Cloths.

Family Cloths are a very private way to save money at home. By using cloth to wipe your private areas after using the bathroom you are not only saving money by not using bathroom tissue but you are helping the environment in a small way by eliminating a disposable product from your life.

Four Hesitations About Using Family Cloths

The first hesitation some have is the instant ick factor associated with using cloth and washing it as opposed to using disposable paper. There is not much difference in washing family cloths than dirty underwear--both contain bodily solids and fluids.

The second hesitation is a concern over cleanliness. When wiping with cloth as opposed to paper you are free to use an extra cloth or so if you feel "less than fresh"--just toss it in the wash and you can reuse it. Compare this to regular bathroom tissue--how many children get scolded and conditioned to use less tissue to save money in the family budget? Have you seen the underwear of children conditioned to conserve bathroom tissue? It's not a pretty sight. With family cloths you can encourage your family members to use what is needed to get clean, and even provide a bottle of liquid to help them with the chore!

The third hesitation is the gross-out factor of washing the cloths, but using the proper method you will not have to touch the soiled cloths.

The fourth hesitation is summed up as "What will the neighbors [family, friends] think?" Properly executed, no one will notice that you are using family cloths unless you actually tell them.

How to Begin Using Family Cloths

To actually begin using family cloths very little is needed. The supply list:


Covered bucket or pail


1/4 bleach or vinegar

Squirt of soap

Step One - Preparing the Family Cloth Bucket

Prepare your bucket by filling half full of water and adding 1/4 bleach or vinegar and a splash of soap. Soaking the cloths in this solution will reduce odors and germs as well as allowing the cloths to come cleaner in the wash. If you do not have bleach or vinegar add some borax to the water instead, but bleach is the preferred liquid for it's germ-killing properties. If your bucket is small or large you may want to increase or decrease the amount used. A half ounce of bleach per gallon of water makes a very weak sanitizer solution that is used to clean food preparation surfaces in restaurants. Do not use too much bleach--this will damage your cloths.

Place this bucket in an inconspicuous place within reach of your commode. I use a re-purposed laundry detergent bucket placed between the commode and vanity--my washer and dryer are in my bathroom, so no one notices a container of laundry detergent nearby! This is where you will store the used cloths until washday.

Step Two - Placing the Family Cloths

Place a pile or basket of washcloths within reach of the commode. The reason washcloths are chosen over other fabrics like re-purposed tee-shirts or flannel is simple: camouflage. No one thinks twice about a pile of washcloths in a bathroom, so you can hide these in plain view! Extra cloths can be purchased inexpensively at places like Wal-Mart--in January of 2010 the Southside Paducah Wal-Mart was selling an 18-pack of washcloths in white or a color assortment for $4.

Make sure you keep a roll of bathroom tissue in plain view at all times--this will make you look like you are using bathroom tissue the same as "everyone else."

Step Three - Using the Family Cloths

When you use the restroom grab a washcloth and use it to wipe instead. If you want to get really clean take a re-purposed squirt bottle (a dishwashing liquid or shampoo bottle is perfect) and fill with water and add a couple drops of tea tree oil (antiseptic), a couple drops or olive or mineral oil (skin conditioning - you can even use hair conditioner or lotion here), and a couple drops of liquid soap. Squirt this liquid on your cloth before wiping your private areas to get really clean.

When you are finished wiping place the cloth in the covered bucket, flush the commode and wash your hands.

Step Four - Washing the Family Cloths

Take the bucket and pour it into your washer. Spin the water out of the cloths and wash them in hot water with bleach. Use vinegar instead of fabric softener in the rinse to get them extra clean. Dry well and place the cloths back in use!

Notes about using Family Cloths

Do not use a trash can to store your family cloths in. Someone will invariably toss a nasty piece of trash in there for you to fish out. Marking it as "Do Not Use" will only raise questions from company. Concealment is key. You can place your bucket in a covered wicker basket, or even stash it in the bottom of a laundry hamper--just do not use a trash can or diaper pail unless you are prepared for discovery.

Now go out and save some money!

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Comments (8)

Well, it really is no different than using cloth diapers instead of disposable and saves the expense of putting in a bidet.

You are exactly right Kris!

Good information!

This is interesting. Where I live in Cyprus we cannot flush paper down the loo, we have bathroom bins and baby bags. Having lived in the UK, it took us a little while to get used to this, I also hate putting the bags into the trash, but have to. Wash cloths are something to consider, thanks.

Thank you for your comments Amanda and Glynis!

Interesting article. Family cloths would be cost effective and environmentally friendly.

Although I give you credit for trying to be frugal, this is over the bar. Having actually had cloth diapers and a diaper service for my firstborn, it was the worst case of diaper rash our pediatrician had ever seen - so out with the cloths and in with the pampers. Also, most bathrooms do not have washer and dryers in them; this bucket would stand out like a sore thumb and what if nosey visitors peeked in? Just the thought of it being in there would be a deterrent to use the bathroom. You didn't mention the extra water needed to sanitize the washer after the cloth washing and it would need a good hot rinse and suds rinsing to make sure it was sanitary. After a whole load (no pun intended) of dirty cloths, the washer would need a scrubbing down. Kids come down with stomach flus a lot, and I would think it is not sanitary to leave all that bacteria hanging around for wash day. Sorry, but long live toilet paper. It probably is the same price to buy it than to use all that water & rinsing and sanitizing and bucketing and possible UTI infection medications. You can buy toilet paper at Costco or Walmart for a lot less.

Thank you for reading Marie! True, this is not for everyone, but it is an option that is available for those who choose to try it...