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In this post: What do you do when you run out of toilet paper? Here are ten toilet paper alternatives used around the world that can be used instead of good ol’ T.P.!

When your toilet paper supply runs out and there’s none to be found in the store, what do you do? Well, there are actually a lot of toilet paper alternatives available to you – ranging from almost luxurious to um, kinda icky! 

empty toilet paper roll and a wrapped roll with "emergency roll" written on it

What if I run out of Toilet Paper?

Well, first of all, if you run out of toilet paper, don’t freak out! 

empty toilet paper roll, with "don't panic" written on it in black marker

I recently read a story somewhere online about someone calling 911 when they ran out of t.p.!

It can be very disconcerting to run out of something as basic as toilet paper, but it is not an emergency…and I’m pretty sure emergency services cannot help with this particular issue! (Just a hunch.)

If you are down to your last roll or two, ask yourself if you’ve genuinely searched for toilet paper at all the places (drug store, grocery store, hardware store, corner store, etc.).

If you really have looked everywhere and still can’t find any toilet paper, then consider asking your friends or neighbors if they can “spare a square” or two. Of course, be kind and return the favor when you do finally find t.p. 

via GIPHY 

However, if you still can’t get your hands on any of the good stuff, here are ten toilet paper alternatives. But beware: a few are kinda unpleasant and are included in the list in case anyone is really desperate!

10 Alternatives to Toilet Paper

Toilet paper has actually only been around the last couple of hundred years and in some parts of the world it’s still not used today!

So here are some obvious, and not so obvious options for cleaning yourself after the toilet paper has run out, very loosely in order of most “socially acceptable in North America” to least. 

1. Bidet

The most obvious alternative to toilet paper is to get a bidet installed in your bathroom. Hardware stores and Amazon all sell bidet attachments or bidet toilet seats. But, this is not at all helpful if you don’t have access to a store that might have one or they’re sold out online. 

If you can get a bidet though you might just be converted. They take a little bit of getting used to, but once most people have one they swear by it!

Another do-it-yourself type “bidet” would be to use one of those plastic squirt bottles filled with fresh water. If any of y’all have had a baby that resulted in stitches “down there”, the hospital likely sent you home with one. 

2. Flushable Wipes

Flushable wipes have gained some popularity in the last few years but they come with a lot of drawbacks.

Despite the packaging saying that they are safe to be flushed they really aren’t that eco friendly, especially when a lot of people are using them. This results in sewage backups and nobody wants that.

Use flushable wipes only if necessary, or toss them safely in the garbage can. 

3. Baby Wipes

If you’re in a pinch and happen to have some baby wipes on hand these work great for cleaning up grown up bottoms, just like they do baby bottoms.

However, if there is a toilet paper shortage you shouldn’t go out and buy baby wipes because very likely a lot of people will be doing this and this could take away from parents who need the wipes for their babies.

Baby wipes also cannot be flushed.

4. Other Types of Paper

Now that we’re past the most obvious toilet paper replacements it’s time to consider some of the more… unusual options, like the morning newspaper.

Yes, other paper can stand in for toilet paper – napkins, tissues, paper towels, etc. Even paper bags from the grocery store will work!

If you’re worried that these other types of paper will be too harsh, you could always dampen them at the sink to soften them up a bit before use. 

Just keep in mind that non-toilet paper paper cannot be flushed.

For disposable toilet paper alternatives that cannot be flushed: You should have a trash bag just for this waste next to your toilet that you empty every day. 

5. Reusable Toilet Cloth (a.k.a. Family Cloth)

One of my friends mentioned Family Cloth on Facebook the other day. I had an inkling of what it was, and after looking it up, my guess was confirmed. 

Family cloth or reusable toilet cloth is cut up pieces of old towels or even thick t-shirts, kept in a stack next to your toilet.

If you you’re going to use reusable toilet cloths, keep a trash bag lined container with a lid nearby for the ones that have been used. At the end of the day rinse them off in the sink then throw them in your washing machine for a sanitizing wash (and then sanitize the sink too).

Reusable toilet cloths may seem a little bit unconventional – but they’re better than nothing and really not much different than reusable cloth diapers.

Although reusable (after a good sanitizing wash), it’s important to note that they are not shared or reused once dirty!  

Some etsy sellers even make and sell “fancy-schmancy” family cloth! 

6. Socks

You can use socks just like you would the toilet cloth, though I would recommend cutting up an old towel before using socks which you might need – you know, to wear on your feet! 

7. Rinse in the Shower

If you’re out of toilet paper and it’s absolutely necessary, you can always rinse yourself off in the shower.

Just make sure that nothing has stuck to your legs and that all the particles have washed down the drain.

You will also want to clean and sanitize your shower if you use this option.

8. Leaves

If you want to keep on wiping, head out into the world and grab some leaves! Campers and backpackers apparently do it all the time!

Just make sure you know what the plant is that you’re about to wipe on your bottom. Remember: leaves of three, let it be!

The last thing you want right now is a nasty case of poison ivy.

corn on the cob on wood table

9. Corn on the Cob?!

I kid you not!

Apparently, in the “old times”, in the United States people would use corn on the cob to clean themselves!

I imagine that this is something of a challenging proposition and obviously requires that you have a abundance of corn on the cob on-hand. 

10. Your Hand

Finally, there is your hand.

I know, ew!

But as I understand it this is a common way to wipe yourself off in many areas of the world. Apparently, this is typically why the left hand is considered unclean in places like India. You know, if Google is to be trusted. 

If you’re out of toilet paper and desperate, feel free to use your hand to clean yourself, then afterwards make sure you really scrub that hand with soap and water. Oh and maybe trim your nails first. #ouch

toilet paper on green background with text overlay that says " toilet paper alternatives"

Now, I’m the furthest thing I think there is from a “crunchy” mom and a few of these ideas genuinely gross me out. But, such is life. And sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! 

Have you run out of toilet paper recently? What toilet paper alternatives have you heard of?

shannon photo and sig oct 2022