Worried about Running out of Toilet Paper? Here are some Alternatives

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

So many people are panic buying toilet paper that many supermarket shelves are cleaned out. If your toilet paper stock is running low you may be worried about what if toilet paper temporarily runs out? Here are a few ideas.

Use less

You might remember the Seinfeld episode, The Stall.” Elaine found herself in a restroom stall that was out of toilet paper so she asks the person using the stall next to her “Can you spare a square?” She kept pleading with the woman who ended up storming out of the stall… You’ll have to see the rest of the episode. In that regard, Elaine would have been happy with just a little t.p. instead of having none at all. This brings me to my point: you can start using less toilet paper than you normally do. This way your stock lasts longer. Just be conscious every time you wipe, if you normally used 10 squares, then try cutting it down to five. You might find you were using too much all along and you will get used to using less.

Other alternatives for toilet paper

Paper products*

If you have paper napkins, tissues or paper towels, you can repurpose these products as toilet paper. Except for the tissues, they may not be as ultra-soft, but they are still usable. Tip: cut your paper towel roll in half and you will twice as much.

Baby wipes*

It goes without saying, baby wipes or wet wipes also make great substitutes for toilet paper.

Scrap paper*

In the absence of toilet paper, you can also use scrap paper. Back in the old days, phone books or catalogs were left in outhouses for use. Just scrunch up the paper to soften it up and wipe.

*When using alternative paper products, don’t flush them down the toilet as you may clog it up. Throw them in the trash instead.


The bidet is common in restrooms in other countries. It is like having a mini shower in your toilet. It sprays water where you aim, and you can  adjust the stream of water. Once you’re clean you can just wipe with a towel.

You can even get a portable one.

Garden sprayer

Survivor Jane came up with this idea: just use a garden sprayer.

They are available on Amazon and at most home improvement or garden supply centers.

Wash the sprayer well before using. Fill it up with water, aim and spray. Wipe yourself with a towel or cleansing cloth afterwards.


Recent moms may still have one lying around. Many hospitals provide a peri-bottle or irrigation bottle for new moms who are getting discharged after childbirth. But the use of a peri-bottle is not limited to women. Anyone can use it. Fill with water and clean the area. It is low-tech, inexpensive and easy to use. Dry yourself after use.

If you want an even cheaper version, you can re-purpose an empty dishwashing liquid container.  Rinse it well to remove all the soap.

The “tabo”

The tabo is used in the Philippines for self-cleaning. It is a water ladle,  that is used to scoop water and wash one’s self after using the toilet, to pour water for bathing and cleaning the floor of a bathroom. It is also known as a dipper and used in many Southeast Asian countries.


Sage leaves and banana leaves are said to be great for wiping. I can’t attest to it, since I have not tried them but since they are non-toxic they should work. This article by urbansurvivalsite features more leaves as alternatives to tp. However, be careful in choosing leaves – remember the old saying, “leaves of three, let it be!”

Corn husks

Since corn was commonly grown, early Americans were said to use dried corn husks to clean themselves.

Smooth rock or pottery shard

The ancient Greeks were said to use pottery shards to clean themselves. They would scrape the area then wash the rock.

Native Americans used small stones or oyster or clam shells along with dried twigs.

You will need to watch for sharp edges while choosing your cleansing tool.

Wash cloth or sponge

The Romans were said to use a sponge on a stick to clean their behinds.  They were left in a common area for the next person to use. Of course if I had to resort to using a sponge, I’d at least want a personal one for myself!


There you have it… No need to fret as we’ve just looked at several alternatives to toilet paper. Some are more appealing than others, so take your pick! Please share in the comments if you have other ideas.



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  1. Back in the 70s or 80s the saying was “3 if its pee, 4 if its more” along with the “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”. I actually know how much TP is used in our household of 2 – 3 rolls every 2 weeks. Takes some tracking but since I track usage of most everything it’s not a biggie for me

  2. We keep small pieces of firewood in the outhouse, you learn how to wipe once you get the first splinter.

  3. So it’s come to this now in America, learning to live like a third world country. Are we so far gone that it is ok to let the government now take our constitutional rights away “for our own good” freedom of assembly, freedom to travel and your jobs may be gone from having to shut their doors for a month or more police not arresting crimes of so-called less serious natures releasing the jails onto the streets with a green lite to do whatever they want. This is a takeover plain and simple. And if not then how come most of the government senators and congressmen dumped their stocks just before the rest of us got their retirement and saveings wiped out. This is going to be the new way of getting us used to being the global citizens that will be our new way of life. And China will come out on top having caused this with the help of the U.S listen to most of the news and you will hear them saying it’s racist to say the Chinese flu and making it sound like this variant of the flu so much more than it really is. Wake up people it is right in your face this is not about public health it is about controlling us. Remember the Aids epidemic or ebola,zinka,and Swine flu virus there were no mass shutdowns and those were much more dangerous.We are being lied to. If we continue to be lead like sheep to the slaughter that’s what we will get.And don’t try to blame anyone but ourselves for letting a bunch of bad people take our freedoms away without fireing a shot. Just the way I see it,I hope I’m wrong but overnight my country has been crippeld like never before.

    1. Gil, These times are unprecedented, and leaders are trying to stem the spread. I do hope everything is restored when this is all over.

    2. When I was a kid, i visited some friends out on a farm whose omly indoor water came from an old fashioned hand pump at the kitchen sink. Of coutse, they had an outhouse. I had an urgent need for the facility and, when finished, found the catalog had not been replaced after all the pages were used. Fortunately, nrxt to the outhouse was a pile of dried corncobs. They were crude and rough but thry got the job done.

    3. Make your own TP!
      All you need is a bucket, water, a stirring stick and non coated paper.
      Tear the paper up into small pieces then fill the bucket with water and stir.
      Let it turn to mush then spread it out on an opened cardboard box or blanket.
      Make it as thick or thin as you like.
      Let it dry then cut into sheets.
      There you have it, happy wiping!

  4. I’ve been in a pinch while at a construction site and used an old ripped up shirt. Save your old shirts instead of throwing them out. Cut into scares. Use, wash, and reuse.

  5. Re: using other household paper products. Be aware that toilet paper is designed to disintegrate when wet, so that it degrades in the septic tank or sewer. Facial tissue and napkins, on the other hand, are designed to remain intact when wet, so that they hold up to sneezes, nose blowing and messy hands and faces (think BBQ sauce). Therefore, if your residence depends upon a septic tank for sanitation disposal, you should not flush facial tissues, napkins and certainly not paper towels down the toilet. They will not break down in the septic tank properly and you may find yourself looking at some extra expenses, at the very least an earlier-than-expected tank pumping.

    Instead, check out the camping/rv section at the store for rv toilet paper. It is not as strong as normal toilet paper so you might want to use more sheets (hint – always buy the 2-ply) but it will break down in the septic tank properly.

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