What to use for toilet paper in the woods? Rough and rugged men, prepared to spend weeks in the wilderness foraging for grubs to survive, are near to panic at the thought that they might run out of that most precious wiping material. When reading through common preparedness concerns, humble toilet paper is worth its weight in gold.
Of course, I would always recommend keeping some extra rolls on hand: it’s convenient, you already use it, and it might be one of the more valuable barter items should a long-term emergency arrive. But what happens when even your extra rolls fail you?
What happens if you don’t have the space for all of those bulky rolls or if they’re too expensive to stock? Let’s look at practical alternatives to toilet paper so you don’t have to become “handy” when that last roll is used up.
Natural Plant Alternatives To Toilet Paper
Probably the first thing most people think of as an alternative since you can grab some leaves or grass and clean up! However, there are a few considerations before you grab whatever comes to hand:
Never, ever apply any plant known to be poisonous to your behind. Although this should go without saying, many people underestimate how easy it is to poison yourself through the “back door” if you’re not careful.
For the sake of your hind end, check the leaves you will use. Poison ivy should be avoided, but individual famous “toilet plants” aren’t as safe as they may seem. Both Lamb’s Ear and Mullein have a reputation as great natural wiping materials due to their large size and velvety texture, but many people can react to the leaf’s tiny hairs and get itchy rashes from them.
I recommend rubbing a leaf from any potential specimen on your inner arm or below your knee to ensure that it won’t irritate your skin before applying it to more temperate regions. With that said, let’s look at some standard natural TP solutions.
Moss can be great if you can find it, mainly if it is thick and slightly moist. Beware peat moss: again, commonly recommended owing to its softness, but it is a potential vector for Sporotrichosis, which can cause extreme discomfort, damage to the body, and in severe cases, even death.
Sticks and Stones
Can they break your bone and also wipe your bottom? Oddly as it may seem, many people recommend using smooth stones and de-barked sticks when nature calls.
Corn Cobs and Husks
A Home-grown solution to keep yourself clean. One source even recommended using two: standard corn for initial cleansing, then a sweet corn husk to finish with. The sweet corn husk’s texture was more agreeable on the skin and helped reduce scrubbing irritation.
Sustainable Alternatives To Toilet Paper
Of course, many people would instead not take risks with plants, particularly if they want to survive even during the winter or in an area they don’t know. For that, we come to reusable methods for maintaining bathroom hygiene.
I’m not a fan of sponges primarily because they are too absorbent and difficult to clean thoroughly. However, if you could find a skinny sponge and tie it to a stick, you might have a durable, reusable butt scrubber. Be sure to wash it vigorously in vinegar and hot water to remove all traces of harmful substances.
Rag toilet paper. Before you jump ship, no, you do not share one cloth with the whole family each day. Ideally, you would have an entire stack of fabric available for everyone’s convenience in the home. These cleaning rags are made from anything: old, ruined clothes, blankets, ripped-up towels, you name it. If you have time and some essential sewing skills available, some work adding a hem to the edges of this cloth will make them last much longer since they’ll need to stand up to daily vigorous hot water washings.
There are many methods of using a family cloth: some prefer to wet it first before wiping. Once you’re finished, cleaning it is pretty simple.
- Have a dedicated bucket near the toilet that contains a mixture of water and vinegar. The soiled fabric should be tossed into that bucket to begin cleaning and keep the smell down.
- Take the day’s fabric out of the bucket and let them sit in a boiling mixture of vinegar or laundry detergent and water for an hour. During this time, agitating the rags with a plunger or a stick to dislodge particles is optional.
- Wash vigorously in hot water until clean.
- Dry in the sun. Dispose of all wastewater from water sources, and never throw it in your garden or a compost heap.
Alternatively, if the grid is still available, take the cloth out of the bucket and throw it into your washing machine, separate from another laundry. Again, boiling water is recommended.
I do not recommend bleach because of its damage to the cloth, and it’s much more useful for more significant necessities like purifying water. This is the method I would choose for keeping clean during a survival situation since it’s simple and reusable, and the cloth can be used for various other purposes when clean.
Using Water Instead of Toilet Paper
An electronic bidet. Note the jet of water is intended to be fired at your behind.
Thus far, you’ve seen different materials that can replace the mighty power of toilet paper. Many modern homes can have their toilets equipped with a bidet: a nozzle that directs water in an arc that thoroughly cleans any mess right off your behind. However, many countries go without wiping altogether! Instead, they turn to a simple hygienic rinsing for their cleanliness needs.
However, relying on an electronic bidet drawing on pressurized water to clean you is unrealistic when it comes to preparedness. That’s why many have created their own manually powered versions of the concept.
These can range from a small squeeze bottle with a squirt nozzle on end (useful for bug-out bags or minimal water use) to a full-size hand pump with a gallon-sized reservoir to draw upon. Once you’re clean, all you need is a small cloth to dry off, which can be washed along with all your other clothing since it won’t be soiled with leavings.
The only issue I have with these is the total reliance on a water supply to keep these in use. Cloths can be used dry and left to be cleaned later if necessary, but a pump only works if there’s water available to spray. These are great if you have constant, easy access to clean water, but if the water is already a burden on your planning, I will stick with wiping over spraying.
As much as we rely on toilet paper for cleanliness, our days are numbered once an emergency sets in. Keeping your options open is vital to staying clean and comfortable, and these reusable solutions might keep you from trading your valuable preps away to save your butt.
Any suggestions? Plenty of campers, travelers, and preppers experiment with alternative TP, so let us know if you have any ideas.