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15 Toilet Paper Alternatives For When You Get Desperate


15 Toilet Paper Alternatives For When You Get DesperateWe 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.

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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!

1. Paper

Newspaper | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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!

2. Bidet

Bidet | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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

Bum Gun | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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.

4. Sponge

Sponge on a Stick | Toilet Paper Alternatives

Photograph by Steve Garvie, distributed under the Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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

Cloth Rags | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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

Cardboard Tubes | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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

Sanitary Napkin | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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

Cotton Balls | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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.

9. Snow

Snow | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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!

10. Rope

Rope | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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

Corn on the Cob | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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

Mullein Leaves | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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

Banana Leaves | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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.

14. Receipts

Receipts | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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. Your Hand

Left Hand | Toilet Paper Alternatives

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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  1. Della on April 1, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    There is an easy and non-disgusting (once you get used to it) way of cleaning with just a handful of water. Keep a pitcher or cup or whatever of water handy, pour a small amount in the palm of your hand and splash. Repeat if necessary, then use a towel set aside for the purpose to dab yourself dry. Easy, more sanitary than toilet paper, and you’re doing your part to save the boreal forest.

    • Vera on March 23, 2020 at 2:30 pm

      How about using water? From a pan or bottle? It seems to be the best and easiest solution!!!

  2. Lori Dorchak on August 15, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    Don’t use receipts! They have BPA on them which is a hormone disrupting chemical. Go Natural

  3. Seth Daniel Antans on August 20, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Just you a cactus!

    • Naomi on January 21, 2020 at 11:56 am

      LOL! You first!

  4. Jessie on February 29, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    Important to note: don’t flush these items once used! And a bucket with bleach is better next step than the trash can. #Resilience #Besmart

  5. Leah on March 18, 2020 at 10:56 pm

    Yea on the hand technique, post definitely forgot to mention that a portable bidet (outside water can) is used along with the left hand. (As the right hand is used in all clean activities such as shaking, eating, drinking etc.) Using just a hand would definitely be disgusting. Even better is to add a couple drops of soap to said water. If you have a small amount of tissue or tissue alternative ideally you would wipe then wash. This is how it is done in all muslim countries for cleanliness. Refreshing and more hygienic than the typical wipe with tissue and go. Dont Just use your hand like that, trust me, You’ll thank me later!

    • Steve on October 13, 2020 at 7:42 pm

      I’m not betting on having unlimited supplies of water if there’s a SHTF event. Municipal water needs lots of power generated to clean and pump water through their lines.

  6. Philipmckean on April 8, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    Hi I’d like to buy the toilet hose sprayer cleaner. In your ad I can’t figure out how to get information on it

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