Monday, July 25, 2011

Your Family Deserves a Dependable Clean!

Here's a big WHAT IF? What if you don't have access to a store? What if the stores are closed, perhaps for an extended period of time? What if Elder Dallin H Oaks was right when he came to our Stake Conference about 6 years ago, and said the next big thing to happen would be a Total Economic Collapse. What if the prophets are right and we have to live off of what we have stored?

Naw! That couldn't be true, could it? 

We all know we should store food, but remember the prophets have said "every needful thing". My list of every needful thing includes Toilet Paper. 

But have you thought about how much toilet paper your family uses in just one week? If your family is gone at school and work during the day of course you use less than a family who is home during the day. Also, men use less then woman, that's just a fact of life.

To calculate how much to store for your family, the best choice it to have a woman calculate how much she uses during the week. That means actually counting the rolls of toilet paper she goes through. Now, remember you will be home more, and perhaps having some toileting issues that may need a tad bit more paper than normal. Then multiply that by how many members in your family, and you will be able to figure out roughly how much you need for a year. It would be a good idea to add at more, because you don't want to miscalculate and be short by many months. It's better to have more than not enough.

Once you have calculated how much you need, and you will be shocked. Just where are you going to store it? Under your bed, your children's bed, in closets, out in the garage, and still you don't have enough room, especially if you have a large family. If your family is just 2 or 3 people then finding room to store a years supply isn't too bad. But, let's think about what we are going to use once we run out of this convience; or perchance it isn't available at a price you can afford.

Yes, just what are you going to use. I'm sure many of you are saying, Oh, I'll just start using some magazines. Need, I say the word "Ouch". Or, I'll just use some leaves, again ... "Ouch", or grass. Okay, now you've wiped out your lawn, and your trees are barren. But what did you accomplish with this exercise? Nothing, but being uncomfortable, did I say really uncomfortable with a raw, red, bleeding and scratched up bottom?

What about your babies, little children, the elderly, or how about you? That has got to be uncomfy, after let us just say twice of using any of those methods, as well as irritating. When we are in stressful conditions do you really want to add discomfort to your families bottoms or your own?

So, what shall you do? With the price of toilet paper going through the roof and your storage options limited you need to find an alternative solution.

I've got the solution, and it's quite comfortable. It's easy, and if I were you I would jump on getting started soon. Prices of cotton flannel are raising. You can go to your local fabric store and buy flannel yardage; or go to a department store or thrift store and purchase flannel sheets. Of course the lowest price option is going to a thrift store and purchasing used sheets, and then washing them. I'll leave the choice up to you.

One yard of cotton flannel fabric will provide you with eight wipes. Because you get only eight wipes from a yard of fabric it would be in your best interest to buy flannel on sale. Another option to obtain flannel at an affordable price it to go to your favorite thrift store, such as Deseret Industries, Goodwill, Saver's or any other Thrift Store in your area. You will can purchase flannel sheets for $5 or less. 

A flat sheet is best of course. 

Average Sheet measurements:

Twin                   69 x 96        yields about 4 yards of fabric         
Full                     81 x 96        yields about 4 3/4 yards of fabric
Queen                 90 x 102     yields about 5 2/3 yards of fabric
King                   108 x 102    yields about 6 3/4 yards of fabric

As you can see if you have purchased a king size sheet for $5 and you have a yield of 6 3/4 yards, you have paid about $0.75 a yard. This now makes your wipes at about $0.10 a piece instead of $0.90 at full price. The point is to be provident with your money not wasteful. You have the choice of 72 vs 8 wipes. What will you choose? Once again, it is a personal choice. It depends if you want to purchase used fabric or new. If you want to have a certain color or pattern, or if you are willing to take the luck of the draw at the Thrift Store.

They are so easy to wash and dry. Let us just "pretend" that you may not have access to a washing machine and dryer, or maybe you prefer to hang dry your clothing and wipes. Don't forget the clothespins. Now I have made several wipes and while I don't use them for toileting needs at the present time, we do use them instead of Kleenex. They become softer with each wash, and they are gentler on the nose than any Kleenex I have found. They save us money and keep our noses from becoming red and chafed no matter how much Kleenex claims they are softer.

Those numbers are just for the daily laundry without any breakage or loss of any kind. Clothes pins break! They splinter and get dried out in the heat. They loose their spring, not to mention the different qualities of clothes pins.
Clothes pins if you can get them from years ago are much stronger and bigger. Clothes pins of today are meant to break so you'll have to buy more. Most people will go to the dollar tree and buy a pack of clothes pins. MISTAKE! Those pins are of a lower quality, seconds it seems. Some of them break on the first usage, others last a few months if you are lucky. They are not well sanded, thus exposing more the the core to the elements. I know because I have purchased several packs of them. Several years ago they were good quality clothespins, but this last couple of packages I purchased were just plain junk. I felt that I had wasted my money.
You need to invest in a quality clothes pin, and at least four times more than you what you think you will need. Remember the rule, one is none, two is one, and three is better than none.
If you were in a situation where many people around are doing laundry outdoors, and they can't just run to the store to purchase more when theirs break or they didn't store enough; you will have borrowing and lending of the pins. This increased usage will put more stress on the pins, thus you will have more loss of the initial amount.

Yes, I do hang my laundry outside to dry on the line. I find the breeze blows away the wrinkles. The sun disinfects the laundry as it was meant to do. Laundry when dried outdoors does not have static cling. And the bonus? Being outdoors in the sun insures that I get natural vitamin D from the Sun as Heavenly Father intended. It is also very relaxing to stand outside alone with your thoughts as you hang the laundry. It is very pleasant to listen to the birds singing, enjoy the breeze, and feel the sun on your face.

Laundry does dry on a cold winter day outside. It takes a bit longer and is sometimes frozen but it does dry. Or you can invest in an indoor wood drying rack from

Yes, for all you inquiring minds I do make my own laundry detergent. It saves me money as well as not having the chemical scents that linger heavily on my clothing and in the air, assaulting the senses. Did you know that when you make your own detergent it cost about a penny for a load? I'll be posting instructions and you will be amazed at how easy and cheap it is.

Don't miss the Michael Barr information at the bottom.

Here is a link to a very well done YouTube Tutorial on Sewing Flannel Wipes.

I also found a step by step photo tutorial at Whether you follow her instructions or just wing it, it's up to you. Let's just say they are super easy to sew. Once you sew a few perhaps you'll just find your own improved method that saves you time, especially when you are making several dozen for your family. 

I have also included a flyer about flannel wipes from my brother, Michael Barr that he presented to his stake.

Make Your Own Cloth Baby Wipes! by

It is super easy to make your own cloth baby wipes. You don't even need to go out and buy new fabric since you probably already have what you need around your house.

There ARE some super lovely fabric choices out there for making cloth baby wipes (sherpa, organic cotton, hemp, etc), but some of us are on a budget! If you do want to buy some nice fabric, this tutorial can be used to make wipes out of whatever kind of fabric you want to use or have on hand.

These wipes end up being about 8 inches square, which is about how big we like them at our house. But, everyone has their own preferences. If you are not sure what size you like, make a few different sizes and see which ones you end up grabbing first when it's time for a diaper change! Then make a bunch more in that size.

We also like our cloth baby wipes to be a little thicker, so I made these with 2 layers. One side is soft flannel and the other is terry cloth. I like the terry cloth because it helps "grab" the poo off of my baby's butt. But, then I like having the softer flannel side because it is more gentle on baby's delicate skin.

These are just basic, easy instructions that a beginning sewer can follow. Depending on your skills, you can embellish and make them a little more fancy if you prefer. Just remember, they ARE for cleaning stinky bums, so no need to go overboard!

What you will need:

  • A sewing machine
  • Scissors or a rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measure
  • An old terry cloth towel
  • Receiving blanket
  • Coordinating thread

What to do:

1. Measure out your fabric to the size you would like your cloth baby wipes to be, plus 1/2 inch. So for these, I measured 8 1/2 inches on each side.

2. Use scissors or your rotary cutter to cut out your square.

3. I used the towel square as my "pattern" for cutting out the flannel piece.  

4. Pin the two squares together with the right sides facing each other.

5. Sew around the square, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

6. Leave a small opening on one side (about 2 inches). 

7. Cut off the corners to take away a bit of the bulk. Make sure that you don't cut into your seam.

8. Turn your square right side out. You can use a chopstick to help if you made your hole too small.

9. Tuck the edges of the small opening inside.

10. If the fabric is not tucking in and staying put, you can use your iron to crease the fabric and/or pin the opening closed.

11. Sew around the outer edge of the square, close to the edge. Make sure the opening gets sewn together. I used a zig-zag stitch to make it a little more cute, but you can just do a straight stitch, or whatever you like. The fabric around the edge is really thick, so go slow and make sure your sewing machine is adjusted to the correct settings.

12. See, the zig zag makes it a little more "fancy"!

13. Voila! You have yourself a handmade cloth baby wipe! This took about 10 minutes for me to make, so to make a few dozen can easily be done in an afternoon.

You can play with these until you get a cloth baby wipe that you like. You might want it bigger or smaller, or maybe even just one layer. Remember to keep it simple, and there is no "right way" to do it!

As promised the Michael Barr Handout

Natural and man-made disasters are happening at an exponential rate around the world.  The following concept may seen foreign to most ward members, however if we had a Katrina, Haiti, Indonesia or Japanese event here in Spanish Fork your family may find this idea helpful.

Toilet activities continue during and after disasters.  At some point your family will run out of toilet paper, what will you do then?  Joanne and I belong to a Search and Rescue group, this method has solved our need for toilet paper in the wilderness.  Pioneer families, perhaps even your ancestors also used this method, from our pioneer heritage we discovered flannel wipes for ourselves.   

Below are instructions regarding the flannel wipes and their subsequent washing; this is how Joanne and I use and wash our flannel wipes, others may have different methods, please share.

Equipment List:
  • Flannel wipes                            ~ 10 per family member                       
  • Clothes pins                              ~ 10 per family member
  • Clothes line                               ~ 100 feet
  • Disinfectant                               Vinegar (a renewable product that disinfects better than bleach, a study conducted by the University of Virginia)
  • Laundry soap
  • Small basket for dry wipes
  • Small pail 1-gallon for fresh water to dampen wipes prior to uses
  • Toilet
  • “Diaper pail” 2-gallon with lid to place soiled wipes into for soaking prior to laundering
  • 5-Gallon wash pail with lid (Hole cut into the center to accept the plunger handle to avoid splashing)
  • 5-Gallon rinse pail with lid (Hole cut into the center to accept the plunger handle to avoid splashing)
  • Plunger (your choice – a new toilet plunger, breathing plunger or Lehman’s Rapid washer)
  • Shovel to dig a black water sink hole in camp
·        Rubber, vinyl or latex gloves
·        Rubber apron
·        Peri Bottle 4 or 8 oz.                 1 per family member (optional)

We purchased our flannel at Joanne’s Fabric Store, Joanne, my wife made our flannel wipes 2 ply – she doubled them over and surged the edges.
Sizes: 4x6 and either 9x9 or 12x12 – the wipes shrink when washed
Women use the “dry” 4x6 flannel wipes to dab
The 9x9 or 12x12 we use for the other toilet duty

Usage of Flannel Wipes:
  • Having completed your number 2 toilet duty
  • Moving forward and backward on the toilet seat, reach around and use your Peri bottle to squirt off any excess poo from your bottom (optional)
  • Take one flannel wipe and moisten in the fresh water pail – Wring out over the fresh water pail (the purpose of moistening the flannel wipe is so that it cleans better)
  • Clean and Fold – Clean and Fold
  • Place the soiled flannel wipe into the “Diaper pail” and allow to soak in the 10% vinegar / 90% water solution
  • Repeat with another flannel wipe as necessary

Wash Day:
Wash Pail:
  • Wearing rubber gloves remove the soiled flannel wipes one at a time and swish them back and forth in the diaper pail to help remove some of the solids
  • Fill a 5-gallon pail 60% full with fresh water and add some laundry soap
  • Place the soiled flannel wipes into the pail
  • Place the plunger into the pail
  • Secure the plunger’s handle through the lid cut out and place the lid on to the pail
  • Agitate the plunger 1-2 minutes (a wonderful job for your teenagers who have a lot of excess energy)
  • Wring out the flannel wipe over the wash pail

Rinse Pail:
  • Fill a second 5-gallon pail 60% full with fresh water
  • Place the washed flannel wipes into the pail
  • Place the plunger into the pail
  • Secure the plunger’s handle through the lid cut out and place the lid on to the pail
  • Agitate the plunger 1-2 minutes (again a wonderful job for your teenagers who have a lot of excess energy)
  • Wring out the flannel wipes over the wash pail

Hang the flannel wipes on your clothes line with clothes pins until dry

Dump the black water into the camp’s black water pit when you are finished with your laundry and clean the pails for the next wash day

Wash your hands thoroughly.

Repeat the process for the next day

Foam Seat Cover
Each year our Search and Rescue group conducts “Cold Weather” training, the first exercise is during December and the second in January the two coldest months of the year.  When temperatures are 15-20 below zero this idea will seem like a life saver, especially to women and younger children.

During the “colder” months, sitting on a cold toilet seat is not comfortable, to solve this problem, place a closed-cell foam toilet seat cover on top of the normal toilet seat and you will experience warmth.

We made ours from a Wal-Mart, K-Mart or Big 5 - Blue closed cell foam sleeping pad that was cut into the shape and size of a normal toilet seat.  Place your toilet seat on top of the blue pad and trace the outer and inner shape of the seat and then cut out the shape with a pair of scissors. 

Closed cell foam cleans easily and does not absorb odors or foreign material when there is an accidental spill.

We suggest that these methods should be practiced in the warmer spring, summer and fall months as well as the colder winter months.

Michael Barr                                                                                       

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