Over the last few years we have fazed out products like paper towels. There simply is no need. We have plenty of rags and towels to do the job. I bought a pack of micro fibre cloths 5 years ago. I cut them into quarters and then hemmed the edges and presto! Scrubby wipes that clean everything from counters to dishes. I know some people would be even more thrifty and use old cut up shirts for rags, but we don’t have heaps of spare clothes that aren’t worn just lying about. We have very little clothes and what we have we wear. I always feel a bit bad that I have so little to donate when there is a clothing drive, but there you go.
Cloth napkins and placemats. I wanted something that was attractive but easy to wash. I made these placemats and matching napkins from a set of curtains I got in a charity shop. They wash up a treat and as I am really messy they are a huge help keeping tomato sauce off my clothes.
Cloth handkerchiefs. My dad was a firm believer and so am I. I prefer coloured ones because we don’t really have any whites--I don’t like to use bleach--and I’ve discovered that I need “man sized” ones. I bought some lovely coloured lacy ones from a charity shop about 6 months ago, but one blow and they’re full, if ya know what I mean. The last time I was in Stevenage I found a pack of coloured ones--purple, striped and plaid for £1. I bought 2 packs and they are perfect. They wash well with dark clothes and will be big enough to deal with the oncoming hay fever season.
Cloth menstrual pads. Okay, technically I am not part of the Princess Menses club since my hysterectomy, but for the 8 years before the surgery I used cloth, washable, reusable pads and I loved it. I was a dedicated tampon user since the age of about 14 and always suffered SEVERE cramps and had periods that went on for up to 8 days. Maybe it was because of the highly irritating bleached product stuck up my sensitive hooha, perhaps? In 2002 I switched to cloth pads and the change was remarkable. Little to no pain--periods shortened to 3-4 days and I never had cramps like that again. Cloth pads are great and easier to use than you think. You soak the used ones in cold water (I used an old teapot I bought at a charity shop) and because blood is heavier than water it all comes out. You can empty the pot into the toilet but if you really want to be an eco queen use it to water your plants. I don’t have plants so it mostly was poured away, but occasionally I brought some to a favourite tree as an offering and once I gave a jar of it away to a friend who wanted to perk up her roses. Then once the pad is soaked free of blood put it into a big container like a bucket with cold water and a few drops of tea tree oil. Empty the bucket water every day then wash with your regular laundry. I washed with towels or clothes--whatever was going. They wash up clean with no staining and are ready to be used again next month. I had a set of about 30--some I bought and some I sewed myself. Now they’re being passed on to a friend who is still in the Princess Menses club. She used cloth nappies (diapers) on her kids and said it seemed no different to when they passed the cloth nappies from the eldest daughter to the youngest. So there. Speaking of which--I think cloth nappies (diapers) are a brilliant idea. It’s not like when your mum had to do it because there were no other choices. They come in bright colours and wash up easily. It is not as gross as you think.
There’s only one paper product I haven’t mentioned yet. Can you guess? Yup, it’s toilet paper. Toilet paper you gasp? That’s right. I’m devoting a whole blog post to the art of wiping yourself with cloth. Stay tuned!