Best Alternatives to Toilet Paper

What to use when there's no toilet paper
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We, my friends, are living in the midst of what history may call The Great Toilet Paper Debacle of 2020. I totally understand folks grabbing an extra 2 weeks supply of the stuff if they don't already have some extra on hand (but why don't they have extra on hand?). And I myself certainly would not relish having to do without toilet paper, BUT...

Toilet paper is NOT a necessity, friends! 

Toilet paper wasn't even invented until the mid-19th century. What do ya'll think folks did before that? Well, I'm guessing most people don't know, given the way stores can't keep TP on the shelf.

So...have you thought about what you'd do if you couldn't buy toilet paper? I think you should. If nothing else, it will be an exercise in thankfulness.

Temporary Alternatives to Toilet Paper

Most people have at least some of the following items in their household and could use them in place of TP:

* Coffee filters
* Paper towels/disposable shop towels
* Facial tissues
* Baby wipes or makeup wipes (Ladies, I don't recommend makeup wipes for anything other than BMs.)
* Paper napkins
* Scrap paper
* Pages from catalogs, magazines, newspapers

BUT please note that none of these TP replacements should be flushed! Instead, keep a lined wastebasket by the toilet and dispose of the "tp" there. (I kid you not, The Guardian recently reported that sewer systems in the UK are becoming backed up because folks are flushing their alternative TP. Don't be like them.)

Still, if shortages continue, some of these items (like coffee filters and paper towels) will become difficult to replace, so consider more long-term solutions.

Long Term Alternatives to Toilet Paper

There are two TP alternatives that work quite well for long term use in the modern household. One is a bidet. Up until recently, I thought bidets could only be large, separate toilet-like devices. Most of us don't have room for that in our bathrooms. But there are also bidet attachments that go on a regular toilet, like this or this. But these, too, are starting to sell out on Amazon and at home improvement stores, so if this is your plan, grab one now. (I recommend buying one that doesn't require electricity just so you're not left in an uncomfortable position should the power go out.)

The other alternative is something that folks today call "the family cloth." It's an unfortunate name, conjuring up all kinds of nastiness, in my opinion, but all it really refers to is the TP equivalent to cloth diapers. Just cut up some soft fabric (like cotton flannel, old t-shirts, or soft bathroom towels), hem them or finish the edges so they won't ravel when washed, and keep a stack near the toilet. Immediately before using, you may dampen a cloth with water, if desired, and after use, store it in a closed container, such as a coffee can, lidded bucket, diaper pail, or a wet bag. Some people like to put a little water with baking soda (or perhaps borax) in the container. Periodically, run the cloths through a hot wash, separate from other items, just like you would cloth diapers. (Learn more about "the family cloth" at Nourishing Simplicity.)

Historical Alternatives to Toilet Paper

We can learn so much from history, not the least of which is how easy we have it today! Aside from the infamous Sears catalog outhouse TP, here are some things humans have used for dirty bums in the past. They could come in handy should things get really tough:

* Large, soft leaves
* Moss
* Water (Most cultures use a cup or ladle to get the water into their hand, which they then use to clean their bum. Clearly this is only viable if you can wash your hands afterward.)

And here are a few more historical ways to clean your bum...but I do not recommend them unless you are very, very desperate!

* Sand or snow
* Shards of pottery or clay
* A sponge dipped in salt- or vinegar-water.
* Corn cobs or husks
* Stones (smooth and flat)
* Fur and fleece
* Fruit skins
* Shells
* Grass and hay
* Sticks
* Bare hands

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