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Family Cloths – The Unmentionables

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Family Cloths – The Unmentionables

Postby fastback65 » Tue Sep 29, 2015 3:25 pm

What did they use before toilet paper was invented?

The ancient Romans used a sponge on a stick that was kept in a container holding salt water. Some people used stones (I hope they were smooth!), and others used leaves, shells, grass, cornhusks, fur, bits of clay, and yes, even paper. The Eskimos used snow and tundra moss. Other places used water and one hand. Sailors used the frayed ends of an anchor cable.

The Sears catalog is one of the more famous outhouse provisions, and later people used old phone books. Rags were used in some places, bits of cloth leftover from making clothes, blankets and other fabric related items.

Mass-produced toilet paper in the USA was introduced in 1857, flat sheets that were pre-moistened with aloe (Hmmm…sounds like today’s baby wipes!).

Perforated paper was invented in 1877.

2-ply paper was invented in England in 1942.

The toilet tissue I buy is $14.00 for 20 rolls (the last time I bought a pack, sometime in September of 2012) – I have to buy a specific brand for my septic tank. My family went through about one roll per day. That’s a little over 18 packs a year. That equates to $252.00 per year.
Family Cloths

Frugal websites encourage the use of cloth rags rather than paper towels, cloth diapers rather than paper/plastic, and cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.

But in this day of waste and over-consumption, is there an alternative to toilet paper?

Why, yes, there is!

Family Cloth, Cloth Fresh Wipes, Diaper Wipes – whatever you call them, they’re homemade, re-usable cloths for wiping your nether regions.

What are they made of, and how do you make them…and use them?

Flannel, jersey (t-shirt fabric), terrycloth, and birdseye diaper cloth are the most popular.

If you do not sew, you can buy the pack of 18 washcloths for $4 at WalMart.

If you sew, you can cut up yard sale fabric – old T-shirts, old diapers, or old flannel receiving blankets, and finish the edges so they don’t fray (or not).

Another alternative is to look online. Type “family cloths” in your search engine and you’ll find venders who sell them in various sizes and ply.

However, I sew, so I made my own. I cut one piece of terrycloth and two pieces of flannel 5 x 7 inches, stacked them with the terry on the bottom, and then sewed around the edges, leaving a small hole for turning. I then turned it right-side out and finished the edge, with the terry inside. I like the 3 ply, it is ample for all needs.

I troll yard sales for flannel baby blankets (usually sold in my area from 25 cents to $1.00) and old towels/washcloths, which I also usually get for the same price. You can get about sixteen 5 X 7 pieces out of the flannel, and out of a regular bath sized towel. So basically, for usually less than a dollar, you can make about 8 three-ply cloths.

These cloths fit perfectly in a diaper wipes warmer. The warmer comes with a base “sponge” that must remain wet (I put a drop or two of essential oil on the bottom side down). I then wet about 8 wipes in warm water, wring them out and put them inside the warmer. Viola! Warm, wet wipes that are lightly scented, and help you remain fresh. You can sometimes find diaper wipe warmers at garage sales, and if the sponge is missing, make your own out of the sheets of craft foam ($1.99) from a hobby store. When I do this, I use two layers of foam because it is thin, and put the drops of essential oil in the middle. You can buy the foam in a baby store for $15.00, but I felt that was a bit excessive for a sponge.

I purchased a small, metal step-on trash can with a plastic bucket inside, and use that to put the used wipes in. Once it is full, I dump it in the wash, with a bit of detergent and a little bleach, and wash. The can gets sprayed out with an anti-bacterial such as the original Mr. Clean.

The beauty of this system is that except for the initial use, I never touch the used wipes again (for those squeamish about that sort of thing).

Some people use the cloths dry, and just keep a stack near the toilet. Some people are concerned about using cloth wipes that others may have used, despite washing/bleaching. Color code the wipes so each family member has their own color, if that is a concern.

Whenever I have spare flannel/terry I cut it to the proper size and make some. I have a few family members who are like-minded preppers and were thrilled to receive their own wipes. I casually, but continually make wipes as I get fabric, store them in gallon zipper bags, and put them in my long-term storage, for future use when the TP runs out.
"Never, under any circumstances, ever become a refuge... Die if you must, but die on your home turf with your face to the wind, not in some stinking hellhole 2,000 kilometers away, among people you neither know nor care about." - Ragnar Benson
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