Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
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.
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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.
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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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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.
How about using water? From a pan or bottle? It seems to be the best and easiest solution!!!
Lori Dorchak says
Don’t use receipts! They have BPA on them which is a hormone disrupting chemical. Go Natural
Thank you for providing that information. I was just going to post the same thing. I hope people will always check everything they read before they do it because not all the information that people post in articles is safe. Thank you
I was just going to post that too. You’re not even supposed to TOUCH the receipts anymore. I have had a hormonal cancer, and that is what these things cause. I’m just glad they don’t put credit card numbers on them anymore, so we can just throw them away without worrying about it!
Seth Daniel Antans says
Just you a cactus!
LOL! You first!
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
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!
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.
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
The article suggests using leaves or snow while outdoors. In southern New Mexico where I live, neither of those is easy to come by, so I always take a toilet roll with me when hiking, hunting, etc. Not everyone does. Once I was hiking up a trail in the Organ Mountains when I crossed paths with a woman hiking very quickly down the mountain to the parkjng lot. By the wild look in her eyes and her hunched, bowlegged posture I could tell she was in dire straits. “Can I offer you some toilet paper?” I asked. “Ohmygoodnessthankyousomuch,” she replied, grabbing the roll and running off to the nearest boulder. As soon as she disappeared behind the boulder I heard a very loud sigh of relief, along with some other loud noises, at which point I thought it best to continue on my way and give her some privacy.
rocky thompson says
The last comment was really hilarious, I couldn’t stop laughing.
Almost 50 years ago, when my baby was born, we had no disposable diapers back then. Pampers had just started to come out and my baby was allergic to them. Broke her out bad. As far as I can remember there was no baby wipes either. I had a diaper pail and used small washcloths to wipe her with. You can still do that now and put in a bucket of bleach water. That is if we are not in a SHTF situation where there is not enough water to do that. But this is another option. Just wash the washcloths for reuse. I would change the diaper pail water at each load of diapers and cloths when I washed them. You could add a bit of baking soda as well for any odor.
Alice Cain says
Receipts should NOT be used. The chemicals have been called cancer-causing, and you should wash your hands after using. Definitely using as toilet paper would be worse. Also, using a stream is dangerous to anyone else downstream, not just YOUR camp.
Auntis outdoor two holler always had a catalogue on the seat. Scrunch up a page to soften it. Worked fine.
I used a outhouse a long time ago. My husbands family when toilet paper ran out would use corn cobs, corn husks, catalog pages you name it they would use anything they had around the house. You would not use a corncob because they are horrific.
The native people used moss
You can also use lamb’s ear leaves. They are long, thick, and super soft. I was told this by the lady that owns a local nursery.
Stukahna Sandbahr says
You’re supposed to wipe it?
I feel the eastern practice of using water is the most hygeinic form of cleansing the ah.