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Toilet Paper Alternatives: 15 Ways to Wipe Your Butt

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What do you do when there is no toilet paper? It happens to the best of us. You sit down on the toilet, do your business, and only then do you realize you’re out of toilet paper.

Uh oh! It’s really not that big of a deal; there are several toilet paper alternatives. You can just go look for something else to wipe with (while taking very small steps, of course, haha!).

Every good prepper has a stash of extra toilet paper in case of an emergency. You probably have some, too. But what if you’re in a disaster that lasts so long that you run out of toilet paper? How will you take care of this very basic problem?

It’s not something most people like to think about, but if you’re preparing for an emergency, you should at least have a plan. How will you go with no toilet paper? Fortunately, there are several other options.

What to Do When there is No Toilet Paper

It happens. You sit on the toilet, do your business, and realize you're out of toilet paper. Fortunately there are several toilet paper alternatives

In a wilderness environment, you may not have the luxury of toilet paper. If you’ve ever been camping or in the military, you may already know what to do when there is no toilet paper.

For many people, however, we don’t know what to do when there is no toilet paper. But we’ve now given you 15 different ideas that can work in a pinch. They may not sound all that appealing to you until you’re in the situation where you need them the most.

When the time comes, you’ll be grateful you have this knowledge. So, now you know what to do when there is no toilet paper.

Searching for Toilet Paper

You could go out in search of toilet paper, but if the stores are closed or the trucks aren’t running, a quest for toilet paper might be more trouble than it’s worth. And in a disaster scenario, it could be very dangerous. Imagine losing your life while searching for a roll of toilet paper.

Toilet paper is one of those things that almost everybody takes for granted. You use it every day without even thinking about it.

But when you reach for some and find only a cardboard roll, getting more toilet paper becomes the most important thing in the world. Every other priority is dropped and your whole mission in life is to wipe your butt. You know it’s true.

To make sure you never have to worry about wiping your butt, you should start looking for some toilet paper alternatives. Remember, toilet paper is a relatively new invention, and mankind got by without it for thousands of years.

Think about that: No toilet paper for thousands of years. So what in the world did they wipe with? There are lots of things.

15 Toilet Paper Alternatives You Can Use

When you don’t have any toilet paper, you have to do what you have to do. This is where alternatives to using toilet paper are going to come into play.

When you’re in a survival situation, it’s not going to be a time to be concerned about shame or comfort.

It’s all about doing what is practical. If it’s life or death, you’re not going to care if someone judges you for how you wipe your butt. You just need to get the business done.

Here are some alternatives to using toilet paper:

1. Regular Paper

When toilet paper is not available, you can always use regular paper. It may not feel as soft and comfy, but it will get the job done in a pinch.

You can use receipts, printer paper, newspaper, or any other type of alternate paper lying around.

2. Kleenex

If you happen to have some Kleenex around, that works just as well as toilet paper.

It is usually thinner and softer and it doesn’t flush well in plumbing, but it can work when needed.

3. Plant Leaves

Make sure you are familiar with the types of poisonous plants out there, like poison ivy and oak, or Devil’s Club (which has thorns).

There are loads of other plant leaves out there that will work just fine to wipe your bum when you need it.

4. Sponges

soft sponge as a toilet paper alternative

If you have old sponges or have a surplus of sponges for some reason, this could be another tool for when there is no toilet paper.

In an emergency situation, if you have something to clean and sanitize them with, each person could have their own sponge, which you could wash and re-use.

Just be sure you wash and sanitize well due to bacteria.

5. Wipes

If you’re lucky enough to have some baby wipes or cleansing wipes on you, then these will do in place of toilet paper.

A lot of preppers stock up on loads of wipes because they can be used for so many different things in a survival situation.

6. Water

Many cultures today are using water instead of toilet paper, in the form of a bidet.

You can make your own bidet or just use water to rinse after. You can use a water bottle or spray bottle, or make your own bottle for cleansing.

7. Rocks

Smooth flat rock as a toilet paper alternative

Okay, this may not sound like a great replacement for toilet paper but we’re not talking about any kind of rock.

You need a smooth, flat rock of the proper size and shape. It can work and even be cleaned and reused if needed.

8. Cloth / Old Clothing

Old rags, old clothes, ripped old clothing and other discarded fabric can be a great replacement for toilet paper.

In fact, cloth works so well as toilet paper that many people are switching to it in our modern times. They call it “reusable toilet paper”.

9. Corn Husks

Corn husks, or corn cobs, have been used since the beginning of time.

It may not seem like the most comfortable thing, but many people swear by its cleansing ability. It will do if you find yourself without TP.

10. Maple Leaves

soft green maple leaves as a toilet paper alternative

These are big, wide leaves. If you have maple trees around and it’s the right season for nice, soft green leaves, these are an ideal substitute for toilet paper.

Avoid dead leaves!

11. Bolted Lettuce

Any garden plant with large leaves can work as a substitute for toilet paper.

Once lettuce bolts, it’s not good to eat, but it can be used as toilet paper and you won’t be wasting potential survival food. It’s a win-win!

12. Cardboard / Cardboard Tubes

If you have cardboard or cardboard tubes from empty toilet paper rolls, this can be used as toilet paper alternatives, too.

In order to get the most out of it, you can peel the cardboard off the roll into strips, giving you more to work with over time.

13. Cotton Balls / Cotton Pads

You may need to wad a few cotton balls together to get good coverage, but it’s definitely doable to use cotton balls or cotton pads, like the ones used in face cleaning or makeup.

If you run out of toilet paper in a survival situation, you may be more concerned with wiping your bum than with what you would normally use it for.

14. Sanitary Napkins

If you have menstruating women and a shortage of sanitary napkins in a survival situation, definitely don’t waste them!

However, if you find yourself in big supply and there aren’t women who need them, they can do a good job of getting you clean as well.

15. Rope

Some say this is what pirates used to do on their ships.

They would dangle the frayed end of the rope down in the water to clean it, and then just pull it back up again to use it when they needed it.

Rope can definitely work if you don’t have anything else.

Living Without Toilet Paper in a Survival Situation

Let’s face it, toilet paper is really just a modern convenience.

It’s nice and we’ve all grown very accustomed to it, but in an emergency, it may not be available. It’s important you know what to do to get by.

Most of us probably don’t sit around and think, “Did cavemen wipe their bum?” If you really put your attention on it, however, it’s a valid question. What did people do back in the day?

Studies have been done on this by anthropologists over time and the general conclusion is that they used whatever was available to them.

They may have used leaves, grass, corn cobs, animal furs, leaves, sticks, snow, seashells, stones, and even their hands.

What did people do before the modern conveniences of indoor plumbing and flushable toilet paper?

From chamber pots to outhouses to indoor plumbing as we know it today, humans have long been creating more ways to improve bathroom hygiene.

If something happens—some catastrophic event—that sets us back to older times, you need to know what to do.


Maybe some of the ideas on this list don’t seem so appealing to you, but if the need calls for it, you will be grateful you have this knowledge. Always be prepared!

And now you know what you can use instead of toilet paper.

Hopefully, you’re feeling a lot more prepared for anything and everything that may come around. And when SHTF (literally), you’ll know just how to clean up!

Toilet Paper Alternatives: 15 Ways to Wipe Your Butt