Toilet papers will always be around, right?
Well don’t be so sure.
In 2020 we saw how the unprepared rushed out and stripped shelves bare. Yet if they just bought normally, there would have been no supply issues.
Way back in 1973, Johnny Carson made a joke that there was going to be a toilet paper shortage.
The very next day millions of people rushed out and bought all the toilet paper they could get their hands on… causing an actual toilet paper shortage.
Do not underestimate the stupidity of the collective masses to make horrendous survival choices.
I believe you should.
I do not mean that if you know a virus is coming and the news channels are whipping up a frenzy, that you should go out and get as much toilet paper as you can find.
I mean you should always have a set and calculated stockpile of toilet paper, that you have built up in normal times. Which will hardly be noticed in the supply chain.
Once you have stockpiled how much you have decided upon then you stop, you do not just continue building and building your stockpile.
How much you need depends on how big your family is and how long you want to be able to survive with that stockpile.
If you have a large storage space, then I would recommend you have a year’s supply, for you and your family. I would say the minimum you should stockpile is 3 months.
To calculate how much you need, then simply track how many rolls you and your family used in a 2-week period. Then use that to calculate how much you need for 3 months, 6 months, or a year etc.
Stockpiling is great and is a very prudent step to take. However, you should also cover yourself by being aware of the alternate methods you can use to sort out that Number 2 mess!
You could find yourself short on a day hike, a multiday minimalist wild camp, or the corridors of power have crumbled, and you need to look after yourself forever.
Whatever the situation is, it is a good idea to have some alternatives in my opinion.
Here are some ideas for you:
These are basically just wet toilet paper, and let’s be honest and if the supply chain for toilet rolls has broken down then you can bet that the supply chain for baby wipes has also broken.
However, if you were stockpiling sensibly in advance, there is nothing stopping you stockpiling a mix of toilet paper and baby wipes, especially if you have young children. Baby wipes are arguably more versatile than standard toilet paper.
The main reason I don’t stockpile baby wipes is that you cannot flush them down the toilet, and they cause havoc with septic tanks. So, disposal is a bit of a chew on to be honest, especially if you are in a survival situation you will be stressed enough. You do not want to add further burdens.
Why not eliminate the need for wiping and toilet paper entirely. You can do this by fitting your home, offices, and bunkers with bidets instead of standard toilets.
I first discovered these when backpacking in mainland Europe. To be honest I had no idea what they were when I first saw one, and I was a little freaked out when I was told how to use them but when I did they were actually great fun and surprisingly effective.
There are similar things throughout the world, I think in Asia they have things called Bum Guns which is pretty funny.
They are basically some form of hose and nozzle next to the standard toilet, and you spray your bot over the toilet until it is clean. It is easier than it sounds!
Once you get used to these methods, I actually think they are superior to toilet paper. I am not sure why toilet paper took off like it did.
Think of these as portable bidets, I guess. You fill up a plastic bottle with water, and squeeze it, the squirted water will clean you on the go. This method is especially useful when in the wilderness or remote areas without any amenities.
You do need bottle with the right lids, the sport bottle “teats” work well. However, you can actually buy bottles from places like Amazon that are specifically designed for this task.
So, you get a good cleaning water stream. These are called cleansing or peri bottles. I believe they are also useful for women just after childbirth, as it can be pretty tender down there for a while.
You have used a roll of toilet paper, now you are left with a cardboard tube. If you find yourself in a long-term survival situation, then why not use the tube as well. Which will make the toilet roll last longer.
Simply roll it out, tear it into strips, soak them in water to soften them up, and use. It will feel very harsh when compared to toilet paper, but if needs must then it is a valid option for sure.
These are compressed tissues that reduce storage space, which is important if you have limited space and cannot keep a years’ worth of toilet paper in your prepper pantry.
They pack very small, so they are also great option for a bug out bag.
I always take them with me on wild camps. I dig a hole, do my business, drop some water on a coin so that it expands, wipe, put the tissue in the hole, burn it, and bury everything left.
These are quite expensive for what they are, so if you wanted to have a year’s supply for example, then it would be quite a sizeable outlay of funds.
This might sound ridiculous, but they were widely used by the British Colonists in America.
Today it is a waste of food to actually have this as part of your toilet paper alternative plan. However, if you are out and about and find yourself in a pickle… then it could be a useful bit of knowledge.
I have never used this method, and hopefully I never have to, but I will never rule it out completely.
You know those lovely and soft flannel pyjamas you have, well when you are ready to replace them don’t throw them out. They make a great toilet paper alternative.
Simply cut them into squares of around 6 inches and you have a luxurious wiping option.
Faeces is a very easy way to spread disease, which is even more of an issue if you are holed up in a bunker. So, you must thoroughly clean them. They should be washed and cleaned preferably in some form of disinfectant.
Then dried, preferably outside in direct sunlight for extra prudence as UV light from the sun also helps kill disease and bacteria.
Some leaves are better than others, and some can be very painful. Using a nettle leaf is unwise for example, ha-ha. You are looking for large leaves, with a furry or fuzzy feel. A waxy leaf is just going to spread around the mess.
Mullein and Wooly Lamb’s Ear are leaves that are pretty famous for butt wiping!
If you are going on a hiking trip, then I would recommend you investigate what plants you are likely to find on the trip.
Then make a note of which ones are safe for a toilet paper alternative, then if you need a leaf you know which ones to look out for.
Another awesome option if you are out in the wild. Moss is best used fresh and picked just before you intend to use it.
You can carry moss with you for short periods of time, but they tend to dry out, crumble, and fall apart. However, for feel and luxury… moss is hard to beat.
Also take care to check for insects, grubs, and bugs in the moss. You are wiping in a sensitive area; so you don’t want that area to become a new home for a creature.
Newspaper, copier paper, magazine paper, phone book paper. These can be used if you have nothing handy, or you can store them in a warm and dry room for future use.
Some forms are better than others, and some are more dangerous than others. I have lost count of how many times I have given myself a paper cut on my finger from copier paper.
I would not want that kind of pain between my legs. To avoid this possibility, I would recommend you wet the paper before using. Newspaper is particularly good at soaking up water and giving a nice soft wipe.
I have already mentioned flannel, which is one of my favourite methods. However, any old cloths, clothes, or towels can make a great toilet paper alternative.
Old hand towels or t-shirts can be great options, for comfort and likelihood of having them lying around.
They should be tailored to a sensible size and thoroughly washed after, before being reused. If you can, a bleach solution works well for cleaning purposes.
Some rags are not as soft as they look, and some may cause discomfort and rashes etc.
A safety method I use on all rages when used for toilet purposes is to wet them until they are damp before use. This makes even the harshest rag more useable.
Old socks are also an excellent option, and you can just use them as is. No need for cutting or tailoring.
Just make sure they are stored in a place where everyone knows what purpose they are for. Especially if they have been used previously and they have been cleaned and are ready for reuse.
Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the best. If you are next to a river or stream, then just get in it and wash yourself down. If you are camping or staying in that area, then go a couple of hundred yards downstream.
Do not do it at your camp or upstream. It would probably be fine, but it is not worth the risk when you can easily go downstream.
If the conditions are right, freshly laid snow is a very good method to consider. Dirty or icy snow should be avoided.
The right snow not only removes debris well, but it also washes and cleans at the same time. It also wakes you up, if you are a little sleepy!
A sponge on a stick! Made famous by the romans.
This is actually a very useful method, especially if you are in the woods or mountains.
Sponges are light and easy to pack, and you can nearly always get hold of a stick. Simply wet the sponge and wipe, the stick is optional I guess but is arguably more fun.
The main problem with this method is the cleaning, at the very least you need to have running water near you so that you can clean it without ruining the water source for others.
They should be cleaned, or you need to carry it as rubbish. You should not leave sponges in the wild, especially dirty sponges, even digging a hole for it is not acceptable.
Some of the ideas I have given you are sensible and practical, some are a little more outlandish and you would only need to use them in extreme situations.
However, it is always best to have more knowledge than less.
Have at least a couple of planned options around the home and have a couple different options or ideas for when you are outside and away from home.
Planning is great, but also remember to practise. Whether you are a hiker, camper, bushcrafter, survivalist, or prepper… you should test out all your gear and equipment.
If one of your plans is to use old socks, then for a weekend only use old socks. So that you get used to using them and cleaning them in a stress-free environment. Then if you need to use them in a stressful emergency environment, then you are better prepared.