Did you know that toilet paper is a controversial subject in different cultures all around the world? The west embraces the use of these recyclable papers to clean up after a visit to the toilet while Eastern cultures prefer to use water to sanitize. The group that washes swear that it is more hygienic and cleans more effectively while those who wipe appreciate the fact that it is more convenient and modern. In 2019 alone, an estimated 322 million Americans used toilet paper.
But with the coming of reusable toilet paper, the question is now who would dare to use these tissues? Wouldn’t it be better to just use water? Reusable toilet paper is actually cloth diapers presented in strips. They are also known as family cloths, cloth wipes, upcycled toilet paper and un-toilet paper.
Why Use Reusable Toilet Paper
No direct contact with waste
Reusable toilet paper meets the same need recyclable tissue papers do. They are used to wipe off urine and poo. This ensures that unlike water your hand doesn’t come into direct contact with the waste you are cleaning.
They are reusable
This toilet paper can be laundered after use and used again. After using a strip you can wash it immediately or place in a hamper to wash later. So you do not have to worry about disposing of paper in the sewer drains that results in clogging of the pipes.
They make financial sense
You do not have to buy reusable toilet paper. You can easily make the strips you need from old t-shirts or clothes that you don’t need. All you need to do is to cut the strips into sizes that you are comfortable with.
Gentle on the skin
Cloth is less abrasive on the skin. This makes it gentle on the delicate regions they interact with. They also don’t have chemicals. But to make sure the cloths are comfortable for use on such sensitive regions, choose soft materials.
The Best Practice When Using Reusable Toilet Paper
After using the cloth it is best to place it in a dedicated container for this specific purpose. The most recommended container is a pail that is lined with a plastic bag. If you do choose to not use a plastic bag then put some water mixed with antibacterial solutions like peroxide or vinegar. Only keep the soiled cloths in the pail for 12 hours to avoid smelly contents.
Once the cloths are in the pail do not agitate them. If you are traveling with your reusable toilet paper, consider using sealable bags that will hold the soiled cloths to contain any contaminants like E.coli.
As mentioned before, it is best not to leave the cloths in the receptacle for long. Wear gloves dedicated to only this task when handling the cloth like during washing. Make sure you are careful when removing the gloves to avoid cross contamination. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Do not sort through the soiled cloths because this increases the chances of bacteria being left on surfaces like the floor or bathroom walls and counters.
How you wash the soiled cloths will determine whether you end up with an occurrence of E.coli poisoning or not. You need to wash the cloths in high temperatures in order to kill this and other bacteria that typically live in the poo on the cloths. These bacteria can cause a horrible stomach upset and make you very ill.
The problem is that most people load up their washing machines with other cloths right after washing their contaminated reusable toilet strips. Unfortunately, when this happens, the bacteria that is left in the washing machine contaminates the new batch of laundry and leaves you and your loved ones susceptible to falling ill.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is reusable toilet paper environmentally friendly?
This is the argument that has been used to promote the use of reusable toilet paper by environmental enthusiasts. But there are two sides to the arguments. When you consider the number of trees cut down to manufacture regular toilet paper then this is definitely the more eco-friendly option.
However, laundering the cloths may use more water, detergent and bleach to ensure the strips are clean and sanitary for use. Water wastage and the use of environmentally unfriendly elements like bleach and detergent reintroduce pollution to the environment perhaps even worse than cutting down some trees to make recyclable toilet paper.
- How safe is reusable toilet paper?
The biggest concern about the safety of reusable toilet paper lies in the potential of cross contamination from the cloths to other places and items in the house. Where the cloths are stored is a haven for bacteria found in the rectum. Once you place the cloths inside your washing machine you have transferred the bacteria into the appliance. This is because everything that the used cloth touches becomes contaminated and if you use the strips to wipe poo, the pathogens in the feces are transferred to your hands.
You in turn touch faucets, surfaces, utensils and food. The bacteria can easily spread in this way. Unfortunately, most people using these cloths do not have a cleaning protocol to protect themselves from this sequence of events. Bleach can help the situation but you need to make sure that the clothes are thoroughly bleached and the water used to wash them is heated to the best temperature that kills off pathogens like E.coli.
After washing the strips you may need to go over the entire machine and wipe it thoroughly using bleach. And this additional cleaning process uses extra water and soap throwing out the argument for environmental friendliness and waste management.
Also, because they are used by all members of the family, they can turn out to be even less hygienic compared to recyclable toilet paper.
- What are the alternatives to reusable toilet paper?
If you are concerned about the environment, water may be the best alternative to reusable toilet paper. Here is why
– Water cleans the waste off leaving you clean and refreshed without messy cloths to clean afterwards.
– Water is safe on all types of skin and gentle as well
– It leaves no after smell
– It reduces the chances of cross contamination
– Water is more readily available in bathrooms at home
– It reduces the chances of infection especially after child birth, sexual intercourse, and conditions like candidiasis.
Drawbacks of water
– Water is messy so when you have cleaned up your bathroom floor is wet and disorganized
– You need to use water in a bathroom with a drain
– Water is not always present in some public restrooms
Recyclable Toilet Paper
Recyclable toilet paper is still the popular option for most people when they visit the toilet. This is because it disintegrates easily and passes through the sewer system easily compared to other options like flushable wipes. Here is why this option is worth considering
– Just like reusable toilet paper, this option avoids contact with your poo and urine
– Toilet paper is more accessible everywhere you go from public restrooms to the grocery store
– The paper is also portable so you can carry it in your bag
– The toilet doesn’t leave the bathroom untidy and messy
Drawbacks of toilet paper
– It can stick to genital hair and leave a terrible smell after wiping
– The chemicals used in the manufacture of toilet paper can be irritating to your private parts causing conditions like rectal itching
– Toilet paper can be less gentle causing an anal fissure
Would You Dare?
For most people who prefer not to use reusable toilet paper the reason is extremely simple: They find the cloths unhygienic. Sometimes not all stains can be removed from the cloth resulting in a gross looking cloth over time. And would you share the same cloth with a loved one who just left the bathroom?
These are the questions you have to contend with when you are deciding whether to choose reusable toilet paper. If you do decide that this is the route for you then you can purchase reusable toilet paper from retailers like Etsy among others.
Those who argue for reusable toilet paper cite the fact that one tree produces only 100 pounds of toilet paper meaning a lot of trees have to be cut down for the global needs to be met. Considering the fact that an estimated 83 million rolls are produced per day, they make a great argument for leaning towards a more environmentally sustainable solution.
Also, the cost of manufacturing toilet paper is increasing more and more making the process less sustainable.
Every culture and country has their own approach to waste management and the best approach to cleaning up after nature calls. While the majority prefer the convenience of recyclable toilet paper, it is impossible to deny the movement towards even more environmentally friendly options like the reusable toilet paper and use of water.
Perhaps using reusable toilet paper is the middle ground for the East’s and the West’s argument on sanitization.