I know, you've heard me say it over and over, cloth diapers, cloth menstrual pads, cloth this and that and everything else. But today I just want to take a couple of minutes to mention some easy switches that anybody can make (most of them are even ick-free!).
Paper towels --> wash rags. I saw a paper towel ad the other day which boasted that the pt in question could be rinsed out in the sink and re-used, "just like cloth!" and I thought, um, why not just use cloth?! Old t-shirts/sweatshirts, cheap washcloths, or cut up raggedy old towels all make great rags for wiping up messes. I use a dishcloth (ie, a kitchen cloth with the squares/stripes in it) for messes on counters or tables, and I use rags for messes on floors. If it's a mess that would potentially lead to contamination (such as raw meat juice) then I rinse out the cloth in hot water, and take it straight to the laundry. I keep a little tub next to my washing machine for holding wet/dirty cloths until wash day. I wash them in their own little load on HOT, and voila, they're all clean again!
I do have paper towels in my house, and they get used for one thing: greasy foods. That's it. One roll lasts positively ages!
Disinfecting wipes --> see paper towels Sure, spray a little something on them if you want, but really, washable is good!
Napkins --> washcloths
Diaper wipes --> cloth wipes. If you are already washing cloth diapers, then cloth wipes are a logical choice, because you can just drop them in the pail with the diapers! Scraps of flannel, velour, sherpa, birdseye, or terrycloth can easily be serged, zig-zagged, or hemmed to become nice soft baby wipes. Some folks use those thin little "baby washcloths" or cut up old flannel receiving blankets. My mom had a set of washclothes that were designated for diaper duty. Wanna know my favorite thing about using cloth wipes? When I'm ready to use them, I just run them under a little warm water in the sink--warm baby bum!
Kleenex --> cloth nose wipers. Some people do folded handkerchiefs or hankies, but I have always hated the idea of blowing my nose multiple times into the same cloth, and especially of carrying around the slimy snotty cloth in between! My solution? Single-use cloth kleenex! use it once, then drop it in the wash! I took an old t-shirt that was getting holes on the edges, and cut it roughly into squares of about 6x6in (some are as large as 8x8--I didn't measure, I just cut!) They don't fray, so there's no need to hem them or anything--just cut and go! I keep them in a wicker basket on the back of the toilet, and the used ones go in a mesh lingerie bag by the laundry hamper. (On laundry day I just zip it shut, the whole thing goes in the wash--no touching snot! When it's done I just dump the fresh clean cloths back in the basket!)
(you'll notice that I have two baskets--one is for nose-wipes, one is for bum-wipes...they are color coded, so nothing ever gets wiped in the wrong place) (the white hose there is my diaper sprayer) The most beautiful thing about using old t-shirts is that if a wipe ever gets truly nasty, well, I don't feel bad about throwing it away. ☺
Disposable Baby Washclothes --> normal washcloths I just have to ask, does anyone really use the disposable already-have-soap-in-them baby washcloths? Are they insane?!
and here's the grand finale, but please at least read through my explanation before you roll your eyes and declare me insane!
Toilet paper --> bum-wipes (aka "family cloth") First of all, I already have a diaper pail, so anything that would end up on my cloth is the same as what would already be in that pail... Second, I don't use them to wipe so much as to dry...I use a little sprayer like this to wash myself, and then the cloth dries me off. Trust me, it keeps me so much cleaner than that papery stuff, no bits left behind or any of that...and oh, it saves a small fortune too!