Here I am…
34-years old, mother of three, successful business owner… writing a post about toilet paper alternatives.
Life is weird.
The empty store shelves and non-stop Facebook posts about paper products have shown me that Americans put a higher priority on toilet paper than I ever thought possible.
I’m hopeful that in a week or two, this post will be completely unnecessary, as the store shelves will be overflowing with paper products once again.
Regardless, I like to think ahead. It’s just how I roll. (No pun intended…)
And even though we’re currently good on the toilet paper front, I can’t help but think what we would do if we ran out.
The good news??
Humans have lived without toilet paper for THOUSANDS of years. We can do this, people. It’s possible.
Will you need these toilet paper alternatives? Probably not. But at the very least, knowing they exist will give you some peace of mind and hey, you just never know…
You probably have access to at least a few of these toilet paper options posted below. Just make sure you don’t flush anything that is NOT toilet paper down the toilet. Backed up plumbing is the last thing you need right now….
(By the way, if you’ve also run out of cleaning supplies, check out my essential oil cleaning recipes, too).
Toilet Paper Alternatives
1. A Bidet
Bidets are already very popular in Europe and other parts of the world, but for some reason Americans haven’t been super interested in the notion. Until now, perhaps. This is the best alternative to toilet paper, HOWEVER they are selling out on Amazon fast right now, so if you’re thinking about getting a bidet online, don’t wait too long!
There are a few types of bidets available nowadays. The older bidet type is the one that is a separate from your toilet. Fortunately, modern bidets can be added to your toilet seat and activated by a button. These modern types seem to be easy to install and decently priced.
2. Family Cloth
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, family cloth is a reuseable alternative to toilet paper that is made from rags, fabric squares, flannel cloth, and other cloth-type materials around the home.
(Fun Fact: Back in my SUPER frugal days (before there was even a toilet paper shortage), I tried to convince Christian to switch to family cloth. He refused.)
Simply place your family cloth in a basket on top of the toilet, and have a sealed waterproof container next to the toilet to hold the dirty cloths.
Some practical tips for using family cloth as a toilet paper alternative:
- Cut the cloths with pinking shears to prevent fraying around the edges.
- Consider using different colors for each member of the family.
- Use the softest materials you can find around the home.
- Add a splash of vinegar or a sprinkle of baking soda to the presoak container.
- Wash family cloth as you would cloth diapers.
Here’s some ideas of what fabric you can use as family cloth.
Cut them up into 5×5-inch squares for ease of use:
- Flannel blankets
- Old t-shirts or other soft shirts (cotton is one of the better materials to use)
- Towels and washcloths
- Old bed sheets
- Leftover fabric from a quilt project
- Worn out socks
3. Random Paper Products
Paper products aren’t usually a frugal or environmentally-friendly response for toilet paper alternatives, but in desperation, these paper products can work in a pinch.
Note: DO NOT flush any of these down the toilet since that could clog up the sewer system. Seriously… how horrible would it be to have no toilet paper plus backed-up pipes? Insult to injury…
Also, some of these paper product ideas could be a bit abrasive, so you might want to soak them first.
Some paper product ideas include:
- Newspaper: One of the more comfortable paper product options, but many of us don’t get newspapers anymore, so this might be difficult to find.
- Notebook paper: Old letters, school notes, etc. could work in a pinch.
- Coffee Filters: You can get coffee filters pretty cheap at the store, and they work pretty well as a toilet paper alternative.
- Paper Towels and Paper Napkins: These are a more abrasive option, but again, great for emergency use.
- Facial Tissues: Tissues can work great for an emergency.
There are a few creative options that use water (besides the bidet) for some toilet paper alternatives. Here’s some ideas:
- Peri bottles: Peri bottles, also known as cleansing bottles, are often used by women after childbirth. The bottle is filled with water and squeezed out with force to clean the area.
- Spray bottles: Use as you would a Peri bottle.
- Water bottles: I’m not trying to encourage you to buy all the water bottles which is another crazy thing happening right now, BUT if you happened to have a water bottle handy and it’s an emergency, you could use that in a similar way as a Peri bottle.
Perhaps these ideas would fit more into a camping/survival scenario, but I thought I’d include them here anyway…
There are a lot of plants that you can use for a toilet paper emergency. Ideally, you want to use soft leaves and make sure you identify the plants so you’re not rubbing something like poison ivy all over your body. Also, make sure you don’t take plants from areas that might have been sprayed with chemicals and pesticide.
Here are some plant alternatives to toilet paper:
- Mullein and Lamb’s ear: These are very soft and fuzzy leafed plants that are water absorbent. They are found almost everywhere, too, so keep your eyes open for them!
- Moss: Moss is super soft and usually found in damp environments around your yard. Inspect it thoroughly for bugs first, because they love hanging out in moss, too.
- Corn Husks: Traditionally, corn husks were often used as toilet paper. Green corn husks are soft and perfect as a toilet paper alternative. If you use dried husks, you should soak them in water to soften them before use.
- Banana Leaves: Not an option for prairie-dwellers like me, but for the tropical regions, you could use soft and large banana leaves for toilet paper.
- Tree Leaves: This isn’t the most comfortable option, but in an emergency, larger leaves like maple leaves could work.
- Lettuce: In an absolute emergency, large lettuce leaves and chard leaves could also work.
My Final Thoughts on Toilet Paper Alternatives…
We’re living in an unprecedented time… There is so much we *can’t* control, but for me, I find a lot of reassurance in finding creative ways to take charge of our own personal situation, whether it’s making simple bread from-scratch, or having a mental list of toilet paper options just in case. There’s no better time to channel that old-time homestead ingenuity, my friends.
And one day, our children will be telling their grandchildren about the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020…
We are down to 3 rolls. When I first noticed we were low and probably weren’t going to be getting more, I went on amazon and ordered a bidet (I think it was around $40) that truly is easy to install, and surprisingly not horrible. I also ordered a 60 pack of cotton wash rags ($30). We’re prepared if we end up not being able to get more. 🙂
I thank God I’m living in the days of toilet paper. Maybe I’ll tell Him that more often now!
Dawn E Johnecheck says
While Mullen has many wonderful uses, I personally would only use it as TP as an absolute last resort . While all the little hairs make it seem soft, those same little fuzzy hairs would feel kind of like fiberglass afterwards. Found that out while harvesting without gloves. Can only imagine what it would feel like on the backside.
Teri Surratt says
If I were a cartoonist I’d have such a fun time with this topic! Lol ?
Annabelle M says
Moss is great, moist and soft. Used this when nature called while running a trail marathon.
Talk about adding insult to injury, poison ivy as a washrag? Too much!
We’ll do what we have to do…we are homesteaders!
Don Patton says
Greg Gutfeld suggest using the New York Times.
Joy Parsons email@example.com says
Old blankets cut in 5×5 squares work well to
For some people, who think this is discussing.
Your Mothers washed your poopie diapers
and you were them again.Same thing.
Baking soda works well to control odors.
Edward Smith says
You had me at our grandchildren will talk about the tp of 2020. ,,,sad. Really is …Bless you All. Jr
Einar R. Petersen says
I’m sure there is a more than adequate supply of Hillary’s latest book to serve the needs of the discerning population…
We would all be blessed and much better off if we were so fortunate as to have Hillary in the white house now. She is wayyyyyyy more qualified to handle this pandemic emergency than what we currently have in the Whitehouse!!! God help us all and give thanks for all the Govenors who are doing their job to stop this epidemic.
Miss JoAn, maybe you should leave politics out of this. Grow up and look around you. It don’t matter who is or is not in the White House at this time. The important thing is how we handle the current problem.
Vicki Wodrich says
Love this Idea the only thing about it is I don’t want anyone to catch me buying the book in the first place, but a Great idea Einar
Fred melton says
Never thought I’d return to the 40’s & 50’s. These soulution, while not popular but were used when I was growing up.
You are wise and amazing and hilarious! Keep on keepin’ on! ?? ?? ?
We have plenty of towels and wash cloths. Plus T-shirts. We have enough tissue to last us for a while. I, too, bought an extra large pack, to my normal brand, before it started flying off the shelves. But then I try to keep us well stocked on everything.
Darlene Marois says
Just want to tell you that I grew up using old catalogues and newspapers. You take a piece and hold on to the edges and rub your hands together. Very soft paper results. Something to keep you busy while you are BUSY.
Pamela Jennett says
These ideas are fantastic. Some I knew, some I didn’t. We have spent long periods of time cruising in a sailboat and boondocking in an RV; both of which teach you quickly what it means to ration supplies and make do. Nothing should go into heads and RV toilets except what has gone through you, so we have learned to dispose of used paper in a sanitary manner.
One positive of this crisis was learning from my 86 year old aunt what they used to use at my great grandmother’s house, because they only had an outhouse! Usually it was the Sears catalog, but they looked forward to Christmas, when oranges would arrive, packed in a box, individually wrapped in orange tissue paper. This paper was smoothed out and stacked in the outhouse. She said it was far softer than the other stuff. I love hearing stories about how we used to do things. It may be that today things are easier, but it’s far more expensive just to live.
Love your blog!
Edward Smith says
You had me at our grandchildren will talk about the tp of 2020. ,,,sad. Really is …Bless you All. Jr
Don’t use raw cabbage leaves! We had a renter who didn’t have tp. His toilet kept plugging up. We used a snake and didn’t run into anything. Finally tore up the toilet and found layers and layers of cabbage leaves–he was given heads of it at a food pantry, but wouldn’t eat it. The snake would poke a hole, and the next flush would shift the leaves around and stop it up again.
We use a hybrid solution: washable “pee cloths” for wiping pee, flushable toilet paper for anything else. It saves a lot of paper when you have multiple females in the house.
That’s pretty clever!! Thanks!
Lisa G says
Homemade baby wipes could work well too. Find a sealable container to fit half a roll of paper towels. In the container mix 1 1/4 cups distilled water, 2 Tbsp baby wash, and 2 Tbsp baby oil. Use a straight edge knife to cut a roll of paper towels in half. Store one of the halves for future batch. Remove and discard cardboard core from the second half. Briefly dunk one end of the roll in the mixture, flip it over and place dry end into container. It takes a few minutes for the mixture to saturate the roll. Pull from center. Notes: •I prefer the half-sheet size paper towels. •I’m thinking of putting the mixture into a hand soap dispenser to use with family cloth. I’ll have to launder separately due to the baby oil. Any thoughts on that?
David Lloyd Sutton says
Probably TMI, but: I buy the cheap washcloth bundles at Costco. Tear off their labels. Use them, wetted with warm water, for cleansing, and then plop them in a bucket of bleach solution. No odor, dead bacteria, and the whole bucket can be dumped weekly into the washing machine for a HOT cycle. The bleach does eat the cloths up over time, so they become ragged after a year or so, getting demoted to floor cleaning rags. Still, not only cleaner and more efficient than TP, but significantly cheaper. I do keep TP out for my occasional guest rather than attempting ‘education’.
g Sharon Jones says
I love all the comments & got several ideas. Thank you one & all. I’m an elder military brat & spent my younger years in other countries so I didn’t panic over the Great TP Rush as many of my neighbors did & was able to give them some ideas. I love your posts & most of the comments but that said I really wish we could keep the political comments for political sites. I guess I learned even tho the office may not be held by the person of our choice I must respect the office itself. My father didn’t always like the man but he always respected the rank. Blessings to us all, here in the United States & around the world, especially to those who are in the trenches trying to save the sick & dying & those who have lost friends or family. Love Always.
Amen!!! Thank you for stating this so beautifully!!!!
Sophia White says
That’s great idea, we have some toilet paper in our house we can use them until this month. If the coronavirus pandemic didn’t over we have to go for toilet paper alternative.
N. Neubauer says
Doesn’t the Bidet & water bottle methods leave you wet? Being a female, most of the time, the reason I wipe is to dry myself. I’ve been seeing lots of advertisements for that type of product but always have this question.
I started using family cloths and a bidet wand that attaches to the side of the toilet….About 2 years ago I had became sensitive to tp. I tried the alternative ones in the store but they were very hard. The cloths and sprayer work great and I’m never short of tp. My husband says no to the idea, but to each his own.
I stopped using TP.
My toilet is right beside my sink so i have a soap dish with simple bar of soap and a cheap shaving brush. Run water, wet brush, clean butt, rinse, clean again, rinse, dab soap, clean, rinse with water, clean and then use soap again to clean brush, then leave brush in soap dish. Sounds like a long process but it isn’t. No money spent on TP for over 6 months. Savings.