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We can all agree that one of the worst feelings in the world is when you have to do a number two, and there’s no toilet paper.
A special kind of panic sets in, and now you’re doing a weird little dance as you scurry around the house to try and find something to wipe with. It’s a race against time; your body can only hold it in for so long while your desperate search plays out.
Whether you’re out in public, camping in the great outdoors, or surviving a long-term disaster, it’s time to consider some toilet paper alternatives. Don’t worry, we know you’re probably having a hard time thinking of any right now, so here’s a list to help you out!
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Paper is probably the first thing you look for when you find yourself in a comprising bathroom situation. Be it notebook pages, phone book pages, or letters from your ex-wife, it’s common sense! However, some papers are more abrasive than others, so it’s a good idea to wet the paper first. You don’t want paper cuts where the sun don’t shine.
For the most comfortable paper wipes, try newspaper. Newspaper is great for soaking up… moisture. Put a stack in the bathroom for reading and wiping!
The one thing that’s even better than toilet paper? A bidet! Europeans know that when your bathroom has a bidet, you won’t even have to bother with toilet paper. For those of you who don’t know, a bidet is a water bath for your bum.
Old school bidets are separate little squatty sinks with a nozzle that you turn on like a water fountain. More modern bidets are built into the toilet seat and activated with the press of a button.
3. Bum Gun
At least that’s what we call them in Asia. In Southeast Asia, all toilets have a hose next to the toilet that you use to spray yourself instead of wiping. Just point and squeeze the nozzle to spray. This method is convenient, thoroughly cleans you, and totally eliminates your reliance on toilet paper.
A long time ago, in the days of Ancient Rome, the royals cleaned their butts with a sponge on a stick. More specifically, a communal sponge on stick that was reused!
Now, if you were born in the 21st century, you know not to share or even reuse a bum sponge. However, when you’re in a real pinch, grab a sponge from the sink, wipe, and throw it away.
5. Cloth Rags
When you think “rags”, don’t limit your imagination to those cut up pieces of fabric used for cleaning. Rags could refer to old clothes or towels that you don’t plan on using anymore.
Make sure to pick something soft because you don’t want to end up with rashes or scratches on your butt. The sustainable side here is that you can wash your rags (even bleach them) and reuse them.
6. Cardboard Tubes
If you’re just short of a few strips of toilet paper, then you might as well use the cardboard roll that was left behind. You can start by pulling off a few strips from the outer roll and lightly soak them with water. Or just grab the dry roll, tear it in half and wipe.
7. Sanitary Napkin
It’s about time to stop this taboo fixed onto menstruation and menstrual items, especially if you’re desperate for a wipe. Ask your lady friends if they have an extra pad.
Just take off the wrapping, and you’ll find that a menstrual pad is kind of like a thicker sheet of toilet paper. Some pads are long and cottony soft, too!
8. Cotton Balls or Wipes
Us ladies and moms often carry around a beauty bag or a first aid kit. (Always be prepared!) Odds are, there are some cotton balls or pads in those kits which are a godsend when you need to wipe. Plus, they’re usually thick enough so that your hands won’t get dirty in the process.
When you’re hiking up the mountain and have no way of getting back down fast enough, it’s time to grab a handful of that snow. Snow can be molded into a sheet form for wiping, or you can just grab a handful and make one swift wiping motion. This will leave your bum feeling cool and fresh!
Ever wondered what old sailors and pirates used before toilet paper? They would basically fray the end of a rope and dip it into the ocean. The rope passes through the deck below, so they just have to pull it up to wipe themselves and put it back.
So, if you’re ever in need of something to clean yourself, this option is still up there. If you think about it, the frayed ends make it seem like a makeshift brush (if that makes it any better).
11. Corn on the Cob
Didn’t you know? Corn husks were the earliest toilet paper! The green husks are soft enough for toilet use, and they don’t spoil quickly after husking. If you can, aim for the middle layer of husks rather than the first outside layer. The outer layers are harder and the layer near the corn is too thin.
12. Mullein Leaves
For years, backpackers have dubbed Mullein Leaves as “nature’s toilet paper” because they feel like they were made for butt wiping! They’re soft and woolly in texture but also large and water absorbent! You can find this type of leaf almost everywhere.
They grow in North America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia. Just make sure that you’re absolutely certain of what plant you’re getting. Poison ivy is the last thing you want to wipe your butt with.
13. Banana Leaves
These bad boys have to be one of the most flexible leaves out there, perfect as a toilet paper alternative. Banana leaves are smoother and softer than normal paper, which can be dry and rough. And these leaves are usually pretty big, so you get a lot of surface space to use. Just tear each leaf apart to get a reasonable size for cleaning.
What about those times that you casually take a squat and only realize afterward that you have no wiping material within reach? Have no fear, your wallet is here! Open up your wallet, purse, whatever, and there’s a good chance that you have a useless grocery store receipt just waiting to be useful!
15. Water Bottle
Here’s a neat trick you can use (think of it as a bidet to use out in nature): fill up a water bottle and screw the lid over the top. Cut a small hole in the lid, and then squeeze the bottle. A stream of water will eject out of the top of the lid that you can use to wash yourself.
Take note that you should only use this method if you have water in abundant supply, meaning you’re relatively close to an actual source. Also, if at all possible, preferably don’t use the same bottle that you would normally use for drinking.
16. Old Clothes
If you have any old clothes that you never plan on wearing ever again, put them to good use. One such use is to use them as toilet paper. Just shred up the clothes into smaller pieces and keep them on hand as a backup option once your actual toilet paper supply runs out. Don’t bother washing the torn clothes after use; just throw them out.
17. Natural Water Source
Any natural source of water can be an option for cleaning yourself, but you have to be very careful and strategic about where you choose to do your business. As a golden rule, always go at least two hundred feet downstream of the water that is present at your campsite.
Better yet, don’t actually jump into the creek or stream to wash up. Instead, fill up a bottle with some water and then go at least a hundred feet away from the water source before doing your business.
Believe it or not, but sticks can be used for effective toilet paper materials. In fact, the Japanese historically utilized sanded bamboo sticks for this express purpose. It’s very important that you make sure the sticks are smooth without any splinters; carefully remove the bark to smooth them down, and then do what you have to do.
19. Baby Wipes
Last but not least, don’t forget you can always use baby wipes for keeping yourself clean as well. If anything, baby wipes can often be more effective than actual toilet paper. Baby wipes also fulfill many other purposes as well, including cleaning surfaces or utensils (just make sure the baby wipes you keep in the kitchen are preferably not the same ones you use for the bathroom).
20. Your Hand
Every wonder why Indians eat with their right hand and right hand only? That’s because it’s common practice in countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Morocco to wipe with your left hand and then sanitize the hell out of it.
While you might find “The Left-Hand Toilet Technique” to be absolutely disgusting, it’s actually not that vile. As long as no debris gets under your nails, hands are pretty easy to clean and disinfect. Just don’t touch anything until you get to the nearest sink…
Next time you’re out of toilet paper, don’t panic. You’ve got plenty of options when it comes to cleaning yourself and keeping your dignity. Whether you’re in a desperate situation or simply planning ahead to save money or responsibly recycle materials around your home, you’ve now got a plethora of ideas to choose from.
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