Saving Money by Using Cloth

059 by sduggan, on Pix-O-Sphere

Cloth.  Such a simple word.  Only five letters.  But, oh, what a money saver!

Think about all the paper products you use during the day.  How many of them do you throw away once they’ve been used?

Now think about how many of those products could be converted to cloth, washed and reused.

Here’s my list:

paper towels


paper plates

baby wipes

baby diapers

baby bibs

baby changing mats

toilet paper

feminine napkins

table setting by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Making the Switch

Out of this list, several things we already have converted easily to products we do not use and then throw away. For example, we use cloth bibs and baby changing mats that are washable.  Paper plates are easily substituted by real plates that can then be washed and reused.  Napkins aren’t a giant leap to convert from paper to cloth to wash and reuse, but that still leaves a few things on the list.

Feminine napkins, toilet paper, paper towels, baby wipes and baby diapers are still left. I will now explain how our family has reduced the use of these products greatly or completely gotten rid of them in our home.

Baby Diapers – we went to cloth.  It’s cheaper and just as easy to use on the baby.  It rids the baby’s skin from coming into contact with chemicals.  We like it.  It’s not too bad to do an extra load of laundry every now and then for the benefits we receive and wow does it save us some money!

Baby Wipes – we converted over to cloth.  We can make our own solution and soak our little wipes in there and wash them with the baby diapers.  Since the solution we make doesn’t have any chemicals in it, we can use that same wet washcloth for wiping all kinds of baby parts when neeeded!  No need to purchase wipes over and over anymore – we’re saving money!

NOLA2009-4 by agbayliss, on Pix-O-Sphere

Feminine napkins – we went to cloth.  These can wash right in with the baby diapers on wash day.  But even if you’re not washing baby diapers, place the cloth napkins in a basin with cold water and let them sit until wash day.  It’s so nice to have the feel of cloth in such a delicate area than the feel of paper.  Yuck!  Wish I’d made the switch sooner.  Super easy and since you buy (or make) enough to get through one cycle of your period and no more, you’re saving money!

Toilet paper – we, again, went mostly to cloth.  Just keep a little tub (we just use the tubs we were sent home with from the hospital) by the toilet.  Granted, we only use the cloth wipes for patting wet bottoms, not dirty ones, but it’s amazing how much toilet paper it saves to clean up with a cloth wipe – wet or dry – than to use a string of paper toilet tissue.  The wipes get washed on wash day and are then ready for use again.  My family hasn’t converted completely to cloth because we still prefer old fashioned TP for the BIG messes.  But we are saving money with every cloth choice we make – large or small!

Finally, the paper towelpractice using hand towels instead.  Always have a hand towel handy for drying hands.  Have a hand towel handy for drying off the counter, sink  and stove tops.  Having these two hand towels ready and keeping them separate for their special missions has saved us tons of paper towels.  For floor messes, we have less than beautiful rags that are kept in the kitchen and they are perfect for a messy cabinet or floor spill.  We are just careful to keep our wet laundry separate from our dry laundry to prevent molding.  And guess what?  We’re saving money!!

Small choices, a little bit of planning and we can all be more responsible with the money which we’ve been blessed.

How do you use cloth to save money in your home?

About Sherrie Cook

Sherrie is a wife, mother, peer counselor, speaker and author. She enjoys helping fellow moms in their quest for a simple, God-centered home for their natural living families. She notes her (hopefully) helpful hints at The Proverbial Woman.

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  1. HeatherA says:

    There are a myriad of wonderful ideas here and I just wanted to add a few…
    solution to the grease problem –
    1)cloth baby diapers or other CLEAN rags (look for a sale on t-shirts!)designated for that purpose. Wash and dry as usual, who cares if they are stained with bacon grease if bacon grease is all that will ever touch them! Voila
    2)use one of those plastic bag storage things (the kind that are opened on each end that you “load” used bags into the top hole and pull them out of the bottom hole to use)- fill those with rags to be used as you would paper towels.

  2. Victoria says:

    For cutting down on toilet paper, having a bidet is the answer. Of course, In the USA, it is not a common bathroom feature. However, I have always wanted one and when we moved into our house about 20 years ago and had to remodel the bathroom, I asked for one! I love it!

  3. What detergeant do y’all use for your diapers? Could I make my own?

  4. So I just went to the Divacup website and because of this post am considering using one, but I would REALLY like to hear some opions. What are the good and BAD features…is it messy to take out and clean up(for instance in a public place)?

    • Toniette says:

      the Diva cup is FANTASTIC!!!! The first time I used it I was at a conference for 3 days, and not having to carry around a purse full of pads was fabulous! When I’m out, a quick wipe with tp is all it takes to clean it out, and then a wash with soap and water every day or two… no bad features, really… I trimmed the bottom piece with a scissor because it stuck out uncomfortably, but since then I don’t even notice it’s there! Haven’t bought pads or tampons in over 3 years- one of my best purchases ever!!!

      • @Toniette, What about clotting? Sorry that sounds like a weird question, but I am curious! Also, have you replaced it every year like they `suggest`?

        • @Monica, I have far fewer clots using a cup than I did using tampons. When there is a clot, it is just there in the cup and pours out along with everything else.

          I have had the same Diva Cup for 5 years. Previously I used the same Keeper (natural rubber) for almost 7 years. No problems. I think they have to tell you to replace it annually because of FDA requirements or something.

  5. We use cloth for almost everything, but not in the bathroom. I don’t think I could get my husband, and thus my children, to go for that. We have always used cloth napkins, etc. I do usually have one roll of paper towels on hand that I use to grease my bread pans. I do have a couple of cloth napkins set aside for this purpose as well, but I confess I like the paper towels for that.

  6. Tressey says:

    I’d like to hear more about the where and the how on the feminine napkins. Do the keep the world from seeing red? Are you keep captive at home are are you just as active if using store brought?

    • @Tressey, They need to be changed a little more frequently, but going out isn’t an issue, at least for me. I haven’t had any more leakage issues than I ever had using store bought.

      • @Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home, So how do you handle changing outside the home? I work all day and just can’t see myself taking a bag to the bathroom each time to change. If I were home all day, I’d love to use feminine cloths.

        • @Carmen, I just keep a small ziploc bag in my purse and bring my purse along with me. But then, that’s what I normally do when I need to change a pad, regardless of what kind it is. When I get home, the pads just go straight in the wash or the dirty pail.

    • Here is lots of detail on reusable feminine gear. I work outside the home and prefer to use my cup during the day, but when I have used cloth pads and needed to change in a public restroom, I brought along a zippered nylon bag (supposed to be a make-up bag). I have pads with wings that snap; you can fold the pad into a cute packet and snap the wings around to hold it closed, so even if the used ones are resting against the clean ones, they are pretty well contained, especially those that have a waterproof outer layer (which I highly recommend if you have heavy flow).

  7. When we needed to trim our budget a couple of years ago, napkins and paper towels were one of the first things to go. We still buy some diapers (for child care only), but use mainly cloth. I’m working up my courage for the feminine napkins–it’s on my to-do list for the summer. That will just leave TP, and I’m not sure I can convince the family on that one–I do love your comprimise of using them just for wet usage.

  8. Wow, a lot of great suggestions as the other ladies already posted! Never heard of cloth TP or cotton balls.
    I was surprised you didn’t mention the good old handkerchief instead of tissues.

    I thought my sister in law was crazy but years ago, she started using wet wash cloths at the table instead of napkins. Just one or two for the whole family of 7.

    As far as grease, I use a metal strainer/colander over a glass or ceramic bowl , (just not plastic) when I cook most meats. After the grease hardens in the bowl, I scrape it out and throw it away. My dad uses left over jars with lids and recycles the bacon grease for his famous biscuits.

    I was wondering with all the soaking and washing these cloths is anyone making their own laundry soap? I found a recipe a few months ago, but haven’t tried it yet.


  9. Wow, some really great ideas! I do all of what you posted except for the TP – I can’t bring myself to do that…yet. Like others I also use cloth nursing pads (if you know of any breastfeeding moms, you should totally recommend this to them or buy some for a shower gift. I don’t know how much disposable nursing pads cost but it can’t be cheap!). For those of you still holding on to paper napkins or paper towels, you can at least compost them when you’re done :)

  10. We’ve switched over to cloth in our house a little over a year ago. It’s just my husband and I so it really wasn’t that difficult. I know a lot of people have stated that they use cloth toilet paper but only for #1. As a person who uses them for everything, #1 and #2. We haven’t bought toilet paper in over a year. It’s not that big of a deal or as bad you might think. Get a plastic tub w/ a lid, throw them in there until time to wash and then wash them in hot water. About once a month, usually during a wash cycle, I spray the tub with vinegar and let it dry.

    My husbands WAS NOT excited about switching to cloth wipes. I didn’t ease him in, I told him what I wanted to do, let him ponder over it and then made the switch. He’s actually really hates using “real” toilet paper now. Just take the plunge guy, you can do it!

  11. We use cloth napkins, dish rags and cloth towels. No little ones yet but clother diapers and wipes are already in the planning. I might have to make me some toilet papers for me only. I would have to hide them as the hubby would call me really crazy.

  12. We rarely use paper towels. I bought a bunch of microfibre cloths and they work great – no streaking on windows, and they’re very absorbent for cleaning up the many, many messes that my toddler and preschooler make in a day. I had switched to cloth diapers but had to switch back when I returned to work as I just couldn’t keep up with the laundry. When I scaled back at work I tried to use the cloth on my daughter, but she got very upset and demanded a disposable! I haven’t tried since but maybe it’s time to give it another go. I switched to a Diva Cup + washable cloth menstrual pads, and that’s working pretty well. There’s a bit of a learning curve to the Cup, but my ladyparts like the cloth better. This post is a good reminder to try the cloth wipes again, and I would also be game to try the cloth TP (though I think my husband would be too squeamish). I think the biggest paper ‘waste’ at our house is from my kids’ colouring, but I’m not about to deny them that!


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