SitRep: operation Cloth Wipes and operation Shampoo Bar

Pardon the geeky terminology – I just watched the season premiere of Battlestar Galactica last night (awesome show, and I generally hate TV so take heed!). If you are going to ban cable from your home (which we have happily done for 4 years now) you at least need one tech-savvy person in the family…’nuff said!

wipesSo I’m going to update you readers on two projects that are underway. First, I have started using my cloth wipes in place of toilet paper. I was able to tally up our pre-wipe TP usage to roughly 10 rolls per month so it will be interesting to see how using cloth for “#1” will affect that number. Daughter has decided to opt out of my little project, but I still hope to see a significant drop in TP consumption. My parents and inlaws think I’m crazy, but at least it’s a laughing sort of crazy and not a “you’re ruining the children” kind of crazy! Here is what I have learned from using the wipes for one week now:

1) They do feel softer and nicer than TP.

2) The wiping action is quite different and takes some getting used to. All my life I’ve wiped and dropped, but now I have to pull the wipe out of the area, which was a little awkward at first. Locating the wipe bag on the right side of the toilet (being that I’m right-handed) would make the motion even more smooth. But right now I don’t have anywhere to hang my wet bag on the right side (taking notes for our future home!).

3) I made them too small and am having to use 2 at once. Yes, I wash my hands after using the toilet but that doesn’t mean I like getting my hands wet when I wipe. The next batch I make will be much bigger and I’ll fold them like a handkerchief. Currently they are about 4 cm square so I’ll aim for 8 cm x 8 cm (I have some lovely donated soft, gorgeous flannel waiting for that!).

4) I’m happy to report that my peri-bottle rinse idea appears to be unnecessary. I have been using them for seven days now without rinsing myself and there is no smell from the wipes (from my son missing the toilet when he pees, yes there is urine smell, but not from my wipes bag!). I am using an old Bummis size small wet bag from when we used cloth diapers and it’s working just fine. Eventually I’d like to find a lidded basket I can use to make it all look more aesthetically pleasing. I keep my wipes in a basket on the bathroom counter beside the toilet.

5) There is definitely a difference between that first pee of the day, and later pees. In terms of “letting the yellow mellow” I am flushing after me and the kids have done our morning pees (Husband prefers the other bathroom), and then it’s good until someone does #2. We are saving water and there is no urine smell because the later-in-the-day pees really don’t smell much at all (thus most of the wipes in the bag aren’t smelly, cutting down on overall odor).

I’m definitely going to keep this up as it is reducing our consumption and allowing us to reduce water usage. Win-win!

shampoobarbrushOn to section 2 of this report, an update on using natural shampoo bars instead of bottled, commercial liquid shampoo. Can I just tell you that I am LOVING my hair! Here’s what I’ve learned since we started using the bar two months ago (and yes, we are still on the same bar!):

1) For me at least, the vinegar rinse definitely acts as a conditioner/detangler of sorts, although even on the day I forgot to use it my hair was far more manageable than it ever was without using conditioner with conventional shampoo. I don’t even rinse the vinegar out anymore – I have a spray bottle in the shower of diluted vinegar and I just spray it on after shampooing and that’s it. And no, I don’t smell like a salad.

2) My hair feels wonderful!

3) I do notice that the day after shampooing it is more oily than it would be a day after using the bottled stuff. However, this is not the same kind of “oily”. The hair still looks great, it doesn’t have that greasy, dirty limp look to it. There is still body. And it then stays at this level of oiliness for another couple of days, whereas with the old stuff I would have to wash by then because it just looked greasy. I think what I’m seeing is the natural oils in my hair, which my old shampoo completely stripped.

4) Can I just say for the umpteenth time that I’m still amazed every day that my hair can look and feel so good with NO conditioner? 

5) We have nice, soft water and I understand that the bars don’t work well in hard water, so consider that if you wish to give these a try.

So if you are thinking about using cloth wipes make them big, and don’t worry about odor. If you are thinking about using a natural shampoo bar, if you have soft water go and do it – you won’t regret it!

Categories: being green | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “SitRep: operation Cloth Wipes and operation Shampoo Bar

  1. Alyssa

    I’m jealous of your cloth wipes! We did this for a year or two in our last house, but we just moved to an apartment with a portable washer that drains into our kitchen sink. I’m not too keen on the nasty water splashing all over our kitchen where we cook. Yuck.

    Our families thought we were nuts – my in-laws even brought their own TP in their pockets when they came to visit.

    When we used cloth, we’d keep a big bin with latching lid (plastic, which I don’t know if you’re opposed to or not, but it washes out nicely) next to the toilet. Our wipes were large (25 cm square), but we’d fold them into quarters to use them. Old flannel sheets from the thrift store make great wipes.

    If you don’t already, getting them just a little wet before use really makes you feel clean.

    Good luck!

  2. Just wanted to note that I use a shampoo bar with moderately hard water and haven’t noticed an issue.

    Good for you on all the changes!

  3. Natalie

    I feel so inpired! I’m almost done my mega bottle of shampoo… so I’m going to check out my local health food store for some shampoo soap. We’re building our tiny but energy efficient home soon… our own rural dream, and hope to try out the flannel wipes. I hope I can use the wipes I made for cloth diapering my little ones.. too small maybe. What’s your vinegar to water ratio for your vinegar conditioner rinse?

    Thank you so much for leading the way!!

  4. ruralaspirations

    Hi Natalie, I’m not very precise with the vinegar/water thing. I would say it’s about 1:4. It’s the same stuff I use to mop the kitchen floors, lol.

    And say, I would love to read about your home building, etc. Do you have a blog?

    And thanks Laura for your comment about the water. I was told from a few people that it doesn’t work in hard water so perhaps it depends on the particular soap?

  5. Natalie

    Hi again,

    I tried the vinegar rinse on my hair this morning and it was amazing and I can’t wait to try the shampoo bar!!! It seems so ridiculous to spend so much when I could just be buying vinegar! I’m using vinegar in my washing machine today… maybe you or your readers could help with this problem… I love shopping for clothes in thrift stores but my husband is allergic to the fabric softeners that the clothes seem to be bathed in. Since numerous soap washes weren’t getting rid of it, we figured that it was hydrophobic so we added oil to the wash water… it worked great. 2 months later we smell rancid oil in the clothes, yuck… Lemon juice in the wash water didn’t work, so I emailed the Nature Clean people and they suggested good ol’ vinegar! I just checked the wash, and I think it was successful. Next time I go thrift shopping, I’ll wash the clothes with oil, then with vinegar?? Maybe I’ll try a vinegar wash first. Also maybe in the summer the uv will take care of the fabric softener. Any suggestions??

    No blog yet, I would like to chronicle the building process though, so I’ll keep you posted:)

    Thanks again!

  6. I toss my #1 wipes into a plastic bucket and leave the lid slightly ajar. It may look a little strange, but I find it better than the wetbag I have set up in the other bathroom.

    These can also be handwashed to avoid the kitchen sink issue for Alyssa. I already soak the wipes with hot water and washing soda before adding to the laundry. Last time, I also added a little soap and washed them right in the bucket. They can be agitated with the “grape stomp” method with bare feet or with an agitator available from Lehman’s. (I’ll be posting about hand-washing laundry and tools to do it this weekend hopefully.)

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