women holding large amount of toilet paper in her arms

When Nature Calls - Toilet Paper Alternatives During a Supply Chain Shortage

Perhaps the title of this article reminds you of a certain hoarding back in 2020 when toilet paper shortages were a very real thing. I know my local grocery store put a restriction of two packages of toilet paper per person in order to mitigate the issue. The rest of the world must have thought our toilet paper hoarding was crazy when they saw it on the news. To be fair, 70% of the world's population doesn’t even use it. With the extreme weather happening all over the world right now, supply chain shortages may happen again. If you don’t want to partake in the Black Friday-style madness just to secure some TP, here are some helpful alternatives.

Toilet Paper free bathroom setup
Caption: This is a real home bathroom setup. To the left, you will find a pink tabo hanging up. On the right, there is a bucket of cloth wipes made from cut-up t-shirts, a squirt bottle used for washing, and a small blue bin used like a laundry hamper to store used cloth wipes.

 Altering your bathroom setup is very simple, and you probably already have these items in your home. Instead of using toilet paper after going to the bathroom, the alternative is to wash with water. There are a few options you can choose from. First, you can use an old water bottle, squirt bottle, or fast food cup and fill it with water. The one shown to the right is an old bottle of dish soap that’s been repurposed. A squirt bottle is a good option if you have children because if they miss, then it makes less of a mess. Alternatively, you can use something called a tabo which is about the size of a small saucepan and can be used for washing yourself after going to the bathroom. The tabo is a good option if you prefer to wash yourself with warm water and not cold. Measure to make sure your container of choice fits under the tap of your bathroom sink.

Repurposed dish soap bottle that has been converted to a squirt bottle for holding water to wash yourself after using the toilet. tabo is a small pink pot with a handle that you fill with water and use to wash yourself after going to the toilet.
Caption: Left: A small squirt bottle filled with water and a tab of soap. Right: This pink pot with a handle is called a tabo. Both of these are filled with water and used to wash yourself after going to the toilet.

Some people add a dab of soap with their water. This is fine for males, however, for females you only need to wash with water. Avoid using soaps, etc., because they can alter vaginal pH balance, which can lead to infection and irritation.

To dry yourself, you can use reusable cloth wipes. If you look up the term ‘family cloth’ online, you will see lots of homesteading families using reusable cloth wipes also called family cloth. I admit the term ‘family cloth’ really doesn’t sell my point but stick with me here. Most of them are sewn and made of materials such as flannel, cotton, terry cloth, and minky. I actually have a video about how to use cloth wipes like this for women during an emergency situation that you can watch here. Instead of sewing cloth wipes, you can cut up old cotton t-shirts to make your own. The great thing about cloth wipes is that if you are someone who uses lots of toilet paper, whether you sew them or cut up t-shirts, you can make them any size you want.

Bucket of old t-shirts that have been cut up and repurposed as reusable cloth wipes
Caption: This not-so-fancy bucket contains t-shirts that have been cut into squares and repurposed for cloth wipes.

After drying yourself with a cloth wipe, simply add it to a laundry hamper or a special bin like this blue one to the right of the toilet. If you have a larger family, I recommend increasing the amount of cloth wipes and the size of the bin you use to store used ones until you’re ready to wash them.

This blue bin acts as a laundry hamper for reusable cloth wipes. After use the cloth wipes go in the bin to be washed later.
Caption: I have to admit this bin is a little small but makes a great laundry hamper to store used cloth wipes until you are ready to wash them. Be sure to get a larger bin to accommodate the size of your family. 

Now you are probably thinking, "Those cloth wipes sound gross." To be fair, if you are washing yourself properly with water, you are only drying yourself off with the cloth wipes. Thus reusable cloth wipes don’t actually have stains on them at all.

Another option is to use something called a Kula Cloth (kulacloth.com). This is similar to a cloth wipe, except it has an antibacterial side that you use over and over again. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts love them because they don’t have to carry toilet paper or cloth wipes with them on long trips. Here's how it works: for number 1, you would wipe with the antibacterial side of the Kula Cloth and hang it to dry. You can either wash it once a day or after each use. For number 2, you would wash with water and wipe dry with the same antibacterial side of the Kula Cloth. Hang to dry when you are done. The idea is that each person in your family has their own Kula Cloth and hook to hang it up to dry. While the initial investment for each Kula Cloth is more than DIY cloth wipes, it can really save you space and decrease the amount of laundry you need to do.

Two Kula Cloths showing front and back. Front is a fancy picture while the back is black and antibacterial. The black side is the side you wipe with.
Caption: Two Kula Cloths front and back. The front side is the side you hold while the black side is the antibacterial side you wipe with. You can wipe on the black side multiple times before washing - provided you wash with water before wiping when you go number 2. kulacloth.com

With proper planning a toilet paper shortage is nothing to fret about. Whether you sew your cloth wipes, start cutting old t-shirts or invest in a Kula Cloth for each member of your family, use this as a time to bond with your family and make light of the situation. You never know, once you use water you may never go back to toilet paper again.

Giada Lemmens is the author of the book The Period Prepper - Make Your Own Period Kit for Emergency Preparedness and Survival available on Amazon https://amzn.to/3QTJcvE. She teaches women how to create their own period kit for extreme weather and other emergencies. If you like giveaways and prepping advice be sure to check her out on Instagram @theperiodprepper and theperiodprepper.com.
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