i wipe my butt with flannel. pretty luxurious, i know. i've been using cloth toilet wipes for over a year now (although for much of that time i was using them 'on and off'), and i really enjoy it more than using toilet paper.
what's the issue with toilet paper? i'll leave that to the folks with details - here's the most recent 'cloth wipe challenge' from crunchy chicken, complete with details on why normal toilet paper is unsustainable.
for me, it's a matter of having one less thing to buy at the store. i wear through my flannel shirts eventually, wearing out the elbows, and tearing the side seams while acting like i can fly. and so i cut them up into rectangles and sew them up into little wipes. it takes about 12 minutes per wipe, sewing by hand (that's a 2-ply flannel wipe, sewed on three sides, flipped inside out, and then sewed around completely. i always double-thread my needle, too, so it ends up pretty sturdy).
a lot of people are grossed out by using wipes for poop. that's fine. start using them just for pee and see how you feel about it. folks also wonder how you wash wipes, and where you keep them until wash day without making your house stink. here's what i do -
i got this tall basket from my Mom a few months ago. it didn't have a lid, so i cut a piece of thick cardboard to the shape i needed, and then sewed a nice corduroy cover for it. i secured this to the basket by tying it to the handle in two places with brown ribbon. i figured a thick fabric over cardboard would do a decent job trapping any icky smells inside the basket. (and it totally does! no nasty smells noticed so far, not even by my girlfriend, who has a very keen nose)
then, i took some random fabrics and made a basket liner that folds over the top of the basket. it's two layers of fabric and the seams are really sturdy. this basket liner holds all the 'used' wipes until my day off rolls around, when i take the whole liner (now a convenient laundry bag) outside for washing.
i squirt some dr. bronner's castile soap into a bucket with hot water (i used to boil it, now i just use hot), toss all the dirty wipes in along with the fabric wipe bag, and swoosh it all around in the water for a few minutes to let them soak. then i wash each wipe, rubbing it along a glass washboard a dozen or so times until it seems sufficiently clean. and no, the poop doesn't stain. awesome, huh?
once all the wipes have been hand washed, i rinse them in cold water and hang them out on the line to dry. i have tried washing my wipes in a washing machine before, and they did Not seem clean enough to me. besides, i've heard that even Without putting wipes into the washer, folks have found traces of fecal matter all over the insides of those things! gross! oh, and i wash the wipes in a little 3-gallon bucket. i don't fill it up all the way... for washing and rinsing Total i probably use less than 2 gallons of water. and, it just gets dumped in the yard when i'm done, which i feel is better than putting it through our water systems. (that's a rant for another post, though).
another note - whenever i use normal toilet paper now (at work, traveling, etc) it feels kind of gross. toilet paper, even a goodly amount, isn't the same as flannel, and my hands always feel more icky after wiping with paper these days. like i'm more likely to get pee or poop on them that way. of course, hand washing is recommended no matter what you're wiping with. but it seems relevant to mention that flannel wipes, to me, feel more sanitary.
here are links to older posts about using cloth wipes: