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I’d like to say I was grossed out when the words “wee wipes” first passed a friend’s lips, but I wasn’t. At all. Scary, I know, but it’s probably because seeing all those burnt koalas has got me thinking about and doing things I’ve never done before…like standing in a giant flexi-bucket while showering then running outside in my towel to pour the saved water onto random drought-stricken street trees. Honk if you do this now too. Honk if you’d prefer to see a Hemsworth in the towel instead.

Anyway, I’m surprisingly enamoured with wee wipes and am rebranding them: ‘frontie flannels’. They’re used by economically and environmentally conscious females to dab-and-go after urinating rather than reeling out and scrunching up squares of industrially manufactured toilet paper (TP).

toilet paper
Credit: Etsy

Square or rectangular-shaped and approximately 10cm in diameter, frontie flannels are made by cutting up old beach or bath towels. A quick sew around the edges keeps them from fraying and leaving bits on your bits, but if you don’t have access to a sewing machine, pre-made old-fashioned cotton washers are another option. 

Why mess with toilet paper? Because for the practically-inclined, it’s an easy and empowering way to choose to save money and the environment with one simple motion. Basically, the less TP used, the less trees, recycled paper, bamboo, chemicals, bleaching and fossil fuel energy are needed to manufacture, package and transport all those rolls to us. 

Sure, they don’t work for number two’s so you’ll still be investing in TP, but based on intense research at my home lab ensuite – women do way more number ones a day than they do two’s. Also, on my calculations, women use on average three times more TP than men, so using frontie flannels can cut our annual toilet paper budget by about three-quarters. No more flushing money literally down the drain!

So, it’s economical, it’s DIY, but is it hygienic? Is your place going to end up stinking like a tomcat? 

toilet paper
Credit: Etsy

Here are the 11 recommendations from my experiment (Content warning: the following instructions contain information relating to a natural bodily function, if this will further outrage you, please stop reading now):

1. Store Clean Frontie Flannels Near The Toot

A flip top bin, large cookie jar or sealed bag work for storage. Position them on the same side as your toilet paper – that way you’ll automatically reach for them.

2. Wee

Obviously.

3. Reach For Your Frontie Flannel Like You Would Toilet Paper

Dab your bits, and meditate on and enjoy the soft, bleach-free experience. Pop the used frontie flannel in a sealable container or bag on the opposite side to your fresh ones. Fyi: urine is relatively (but not 100%) sterile as it leaves the body, but won’t stay that way for long.

4. Clear The Container After A Few Days

Leave the used ones there for a few days until you’re doing a hot wash (like for sheets) and toss them in with whatever you are laundering. That said, if you have thrush or an infection of any type, probably best to stick with the TP till things clear up.

5. Hang Them In The Sun To Dry

It’s some free and fantastic solar sterilisation. Tip: I find it easiest to peg multiple ones onto coat hangers and then hang the coat hangers out. With the benefit of hindsight, if you’re someone who likes scented candles and oil burners, please don’t think about adding essential oils to make your frontie flannels smell nice – especially with anything like eucalyptus oil – or you’ll end up with more than your eyes watering!

 I’ve also discovered other benefits for this DIY toilet paper solution. If you’re a prepper, you’ll no longer need to make room for five pallet loads of toilet paper in the underground bunker. Also, if you accidentally forget to wash them for a week or so, and you have a dog or cat, take heart, because according to WiseGeek, “during the medieval period people actually kept their garments close to the toilet ventilation shaft so that the ammonia (in urine) could kill the fleas on the clothes.” So if all goes pear-shaped, Fido and Furball get a bonus flea treatment.

Now I’m not wanting to take the piss, but, in a controversial move, you can actually take the piss with you. Yes, some frontie flannel aficionados clandestinely carry little ziplock sandwich bags with them so they can be TP-free in the workplace and when out on the town. It’s a bold BYO move and it can be an awkward one to explain to the boss, friends and police sniffer dogs. But hey – if frontie flannels do the job, save money and are less taxing on the environment, it’s literally your business, not theirs. 

Frontie flannels are basically a bottom-up effort aimed at diluting the damage caused by what some would say are the piss poor efforts of politicians. Unfortunately, the multi-billion dollar toilet paper industry might be just one more unexpected sector to feel the heat of climate change as citizens take more actions into their own hands.

Image: Etsy