What To Do If You Run Out of Toilet Paper

Covid has impacted all of us.  

During lockdowns (some states are locked down again!) … we were all stuck at home, using our own bathrooms more than usual. 

Then it happens. 

You finish off a roll of toilet paper, go to replace it, …nothing.  You have used the last of your toilet paper. And it’s… not going to be easy to replace right now.

The toilet paper shortage has happened before and it might happen again!

What are you supposed to do? 

Well, you have more options than you might think. Here are a few ways to overcome a toilet paper shortage when nature comes calling:

“Alternative” Options to Toilet Paper

Necessity is the mother of all invention.  Here are some good options you may have:

  • Wet wipes: These are an obvious first choice if you have them.
  • Tissues: Tissues can be a suitable replacement for toilet paper, as long as you use a few at a time.  Tissues aren’t as resilient as their toilet paper cousin.
  • Toilet covers: Folding a paper cover over once or twice can create a paper sheet of roughly the same softness and thickness as toilet paper.  Let’s be honest though … who has toilet covers at home?
  • Napkins: If you have paper napkins, you could unfold and use two at a time as a suitable alternative.  Wipe softly!
  • Newspapers: In a pinch, newspaper may be your solution.  It’s not ideal but it does work.  If you don’t get the newspaper delivered – wake up early an “borrow” your neighbors.  : – )

IMPORTANT: Do NOT Flush Your “Alternative” Toilet Paper!

The only product you should flush down your toilet is toilet paper. Even wet wipes and other products that claim to be “flushable” are not safe. Toilet paper is designed to break up and dissolve on its way down your toilet’s drain. None of the other materials are.  If you do, you might want to check out our blog article about fixing clogged toilets!

When you flush non-toilet paper material, it may clump up or get caught in the toilet drain. Over time, this will produce a clog–which is the last thing you want while sheltering in place.  We recommend keeping a garbage bag liner or bag in your bathroom. Put your alternative toilet paper in the bag and throw it out as soon as you’re done. It’s not ideal but then again, neither is a clogged toilet!

Use a Washable Rag

We didn’t always use toilet paper.  Many years ago, people used other options. It also makes economic sense to wipe using something you wouldn’t throw out after a single use. If you wash any of the following options thoroughly after using them, they’re perfectly sanitary and safe alternatives.

  • Old rags: You could use dish rags, washcloths, handkerchiefs, etc. Wash them thoroughly in the tub or in a utility sink when you’re finished.  It is perfectly sanitary.
  • Towels: You can always commit a designated hand towel for this purpose. Keep the towel in a designated place, wash it after every use, and make sure everyone has their own. If you follow these guidelines it’s a perfectly hygienic alternative.
  • Old clothing: Yep.  This is a good option.   If you have old clothing you would otherwise dispose of, consider cutting it up to turn into rags you could use as “alternative” toilet paper. You could wash these rags or just throw them out when you’re finished with them.

Install a Bidet

This is a slightly more involved option.  A bidet is a plumbing device that uses a stream of water to perform the same function we use toilet paper for. You could install a bidet either as its own separate plumbing fixture (like a toilet or sink basin), or install a smaller bidet in your toilet directly. There are a huge variety of these two main kinds of bidet. Different devices have different power sources, features, and functions.

Bidets are much less popular in the U.S. than they are in Europe and other parts of the world. Installing a bidet will eliminate your need for toilet paper entirely. In fact, there is significant evidence that bidets are far more hygienic than toilet paper.  

Whatever you choose, remember that Garden City Plumbing is here to help, even during a world-wide pandemic!