Tuesday, February 22, 2011

EYCC: Decreasing Tree Products Part II

After 2 weeks of regular use I am still as enamored with cloth TP as I was the first day. My only issue with it so far is the name Family Wipes that seems to have taken a hold on the web. I prefer Toilet Cloth (TC) or just Cloth Wipes. Whatever you call it, it is definitely not for everyone. I have read lots about it and those who actually try it LOVE it and those opposed are VERY opposed. What I will do here is summarize two of the main issues with TC and how I have gotten around it. I will also share some of what I have learned along the way.
Our collection in a cute basket.

A lot of comments from those opposed that get posted are about:
  1. Smell and
  2. Diseases
One thing I am definitely not interested in is a smelly bathroom. Many people put their used wipes into a garbage can with a lid for later washing. Assuring everyone that there is no smell or only a smell when you open the lid. Others use a vinegar and tea tree oil solution in their can to "kill" the diseases and quash the smell but leaving a vinegary solution mixed with...in a can for a couple of days...definitely not up my alley. So I have come up with what I think is a good solution for this issue. I have decided to wash my wipes with my hands after every use! You are supposed to wash your hands anyways after you go just in case you got any on you, so why not wash your wipe(s) too! Did you know that 92% of Americans say they wash their hands after going to the bathroom but only 78% of women and 66% of men actually do (ew!)! If everyone used my TC method, they would all wash their hands!

With the exception of Hepatitis A and E, all of the diseases transmitted via the fecal-oral route can be prevented with proper sanitation (keeping food and fecal matter separate and drinking treated water) and hand washing. So if the simple act of washing your hands with soap kills the diseases transmitted via bowel movements, why would this be any different for TC? The simple fact is washing your TC with soap and water whether it is boiling or not will kill everything on them the same way it kills the bacteria and viruses on your hands when you wash them. Except Hep A and E which can be killed by using bleach. So unless you have Hep A or E, washing your wipes with your hands also addresses disease transmission. Since you are washing your own wipe(s) you won't be exposed to anything that is not already in your body!
TP Line for drying after washing.

This is also helps to protect the people who actually do our laundry. Since we don't actually have a washing machine, pre-washing our wipes keeps them from encountering anything they weren't expecting. It also keeps them from being exposed any bacteria whether they are harmful or not. Humans naturally have bacteria, fungi and protozoa in our digestive tract that help us digest our food but they also suppress the growth of pathogenic microbes, boost our gut's immune system, play a key role in gut metabolism, mediate the synthesis of vitamins and are known to play a role in preventing allergies and inflammatory bowel syndrome. But not everyone's gut flora is the same and although it may not be harmful, it is best to keep them to yourself. However, if you do find yourself with Hepatitis A or E, you should take every precaution necessary to not spread it to anyone, including family members, so it might be best to discontinue the use of cloth wipes until you are no longer contagious and talk to your Dr. about it.
Diagram from: http://www.customprobiotics.com/about_probiotics.htm

We settled on washing our wipes with soap and warm water under the bathtub tap (not on full blast!) after every use and hanging them on our makeshift line in front of the window to dry. We opted for the tub to keep them away from things like toothbrushes. We also toss them in the laundry once a week to get that extra dryer fluffiness. This system works really well! We always have a clean and fluffy supply of soft TC!
I had the stomach flu (or Gasteroenteritis...which is not actually related to influenza, so calling it a flu is a misnomer) last week so I really put the wipes to the test! We all know the SF can make things a little messier than normal...in this case you may just want to jump right in the shower and skip the wipe altogether! This works on a normal day but when you have the SF, 20 showers a day isn't great for your skin or the water supply! Alternatively, a quick rinse of your wipe before a thorough soaping goes a long way. I also have to add...there is nothing like a fleece wipe to keep your behind happy in a heavy use situation! No more irritation or stuck on paper bits.

Finally, there is the issue of guests. We definitely don't want to impose our ways on anyone, so we have kept a role of paper in the bathroom for our guests. I still have to think about how to deal with guests who would like to try using TC. Perhaps a separate "guest" pile and line? It will definitely need more thought. I would love any comments in the whole TC issue and any suggestions on methods and guests would be much appreciated!

This initiative has been a great success. We have eliminated the use of toilet paper, which was our #1 use of paper products, and we are loving it! :)

1 comment:

  1. i am so impressed Alli!!! Congrats and it sounds like you have found a great strategy for you. I agree, we're all a little too paranoid- hand washing is a great defense. :)