Family Cloth — Keeping it Clean

Family Cloth.


Even the name reflects the inherent difficulty of talking about this… invention? Discovery? What do you call it when a bunch of middle-class Americans, paralyzed by environmentalist panic, decide to pretend toilet paper was never invented?

The name actually works in the opposite way from how it was intended. It’s supposed to be a kind of euphemism, a way to refer discreetly to what’s going on here without coming out and saying that your most disgusting bodily process is… shall we say… rubbing noses with those of your whole family. But it actually puts that fact front and center.


Because family cloth is such an… ungraceful… concept, the people who talk about it online try to obscure the fundamental reality by posting pictures of their cloths in a virgin state. As you can see from the family cloth quiz, they even make cloths out of lovely fabrics, kind of like the menstrual pad makers. Not only that, but they create dainty delivery stations for their cloths and post pictures of those online, too.

2012-02-11_09-40-57_709(Go ahead, stick your hand in.)

One poster plans to nestle her cloths in a cute basket.


Here’s a box, built specially by the homemaker of course, lined in pastel gingham.


Never mind that after you’ve made one pass through your stash, the scene on the back of the toilet is not going to be so elegant anymore. It’s going to resemble an army field hospital, only… not red.

Here’s a scheme where the cloths snap together to form a roll.


Just imagine having to sit there snapping them back together after a wash! “I think I know who this was!” “Oh, here’s curry night!”


(A drying station in the basement.)


(Or just let it all hang out.)

Then there’s the problem astutely identified by a poster over at Though she admits “the logistics of family cloth intrigue me,” she identifies another way that family cloth could detract from gracious living. “When we had visitors to our home, would I whip out a fresh roll of toilet paper like special guest towels? Another option would be to put out the least stained pieces of cloth and educate them on how they could leave behind their used wipes for me to deal with later. Awkward? Or totally normal?”
Awkward or totally normal? Somehow those two options don’t cover it. What dichotomy would you choose?

Insane… or totally horrifying?
Repugnant… or totally, “What are those screams coming from the bathroom?”
Bizarre… or totally certain to ensure no one on the block ever drops by for coffee again?

I guess you could just do something like this:
Our poster identifies another problem. You might call it stomach-turning, or totally slapstick:

“I don’t have toddlers any longer, but how would I keep my dog from getting into them?”

“Honey, the dog’s eating last night’s… you know!!”
“He’s eating what?”
“… you know! He was in the BATHROOM?”
“He’s eating the shower curtain?”

Gosh, I sure do love good old T.P.!


10 responses to “Family Cloth — Keeping it Clean

  1. Oh. Dear. God.

    Did their mothers and grandmothers not warn them about the horrific, gruelling work it takes to clean such things? There’s a reason NONE of them do this sort of thing. They have better things to do.

    Not to mention the amount of hot water, detergent, and stain remover that would be required to render these things usable each time. At least toilet paper is fully recyclable!

    P.S. “Curry night” …snork!!

  2. Pingback: Flannel Butt Wipes - Sybermoms Parenting Forum·

  3. When I first heard about this phenomenon over a decade ago (the little squares were called “flannel butt-wipes,” or FBWs, back in the day) I was AGHAST.

    My great-grandmother was not scrubbing flannel butt-wipes with the family laundry, back in the day. My mother spent her early childhood on a farm in Virginia with no electricity or running water (this was in the 1950s, FYI), and they used an outhouse and got their water from a well with a bucket. They wiped their asses with TP, not cloth.

    I lived in Nepal for a semester in college and in that part of the world, the standard is to use water and your left hand. Frankly, I find that a lot less gross than these thing. Bleah.

  4. What gets me is that they’re all made out of new cloth. These people went out and bought fabric so they could literally wipe their ass with it. Don’t they have any old rags or anything?

    • yeah, I didn’t even think of that. I believe what we’re seeing here is owners of $300 sewing machines who have made pairs and pairs of curtains, they’ve made tablecloths, they’ve made little outfits for the toddler, you name it, and they’re just plain out of things to make. And that machine is just sitting there taunting them. So they see a mention of family cloth somewhere online and they’re like, Heyyyy….

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