Top Toilet Paper Alternatives and Making Emergency TP

Published March 12, 2020
Empty toilet paper roll

Sometimes, toilet paper isn't available and you need to use toilet paper alternatives. Whether it's because there's been a run on TP on store shelves or nature calls when you're stuck somewhere without any TP, these alternatives to toilet paper will do in a pinch.

No Toilet Paper, No Problem

While alternative solutions for toilet paper may not be the first thing on your mind, it happens. Perhaps your kids ran you out of TP and didn't bother to tell you, so you discovered it a little too late. Or maybe it's getting late at Coachella and there is no toilet paper in your stall or the stalls around you. What to do? Go with one of these alternatives.

Toilet Paper Tube

If you're in a real fix, if the cardboard tube is left behind, you can use it. Peel the tube open and wipe away. If you're in an outhouse, just dump the tube down the hole, but don't flush it in a toilet. In a public restroom, discard it in the sanitary napkin receptacle. Alternatively, upon exiting the bathroom stall, wrap it in a paper towel and toss it in the trash.

Sanitary Napkin

If you have a sanitary napkin nearby, such as in your purse or in a bathroom cupboard, use it. Sanitary napkins are not flushable, so discard as you would other feminine protection products.

Flushable Wipes

It might not hurt to carry a few flushable wipes with you in a pocket or purse for toilet paper emergencies. Wipe, flush, and discard any wrapping in a wastebasket.

Other Wipes

If you have other wipes, such as sanitizing wipes or baby wipes, you can use these as well. If the wipes aren't labeled as flushable, you'll need to discard them in a wastebasket.


When you're really desperate, almost anything will do. So look around for some paper. Whether you need to rip a page from a magazine or use an old receipt that's hanging around in your pocket or purse, paper is paper in a pinch. It's not going to be as soft as TP, but it gets the job done. Don't flush it though - discard in the trash.

Stack of paper next to toilet

Facial Tissue

If you're in a bathroom that has a box of facial tissue, use it. It's going to work just like TP, and it flushes just fine.

Cotton Balls

If you're in your own bathroom or someone else's, check cupboards and drawers for cotton balls and use them to wipe. Don't flush - discard wrapped in a paper towel in the garbage.

Cup and Water

If you can't find anything to wipe, but there's a sink in the room and a receptacle of some type, fill the cup with water and pour, repeating until you feel clean. You'll need to air dry, but once you have, you're good to go.

Soap and Water

If worse comes to worst, you can also soap up your hands and give yourself a good scrubbing. Wash your hands well afterward using proper handwashing technique.

Natural Toilet Paper Alternatives Outdoors

If you're out in the woods and need a wipe, look around and see what you can find to assist in wiping.


Look around you and notice what you see. Is there a smooth rock nearby? Use that. You may want to bury it afterward so no one else uses it, and be sure to use hand sanitizer or wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you're able.


Leaves also make a good alternative, but be sure you're using non-toxic leaves. Avoid leaves with spikes or a fuzzy surface such as nettles, and learn to identify poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak (leaves of three, let them be). Maple, cottonwood, aster, and oak leaves are all good choices.


If you're in a mossy wood, then moss might be the perfect TP alternative in outdoor situations. Look for thick, green moss. Bury any used moss along with your waste to prevent others from inadvertently stumbling on it.

Closeup of pile of fresh moss


If you're in a snowy area, you can make a snowball into emergency toilet paper. You may need two or three tightly packed snowballs to do the job. Discard away from where others will come across them.

Stick or Branch

A stick or branch will do in a pinch. Try to find a relatively smooth, fat stick and gently clean the area. Don't over scrub and scratch yourself and bury the stick with your waste.

A Nearby Stream or River

You can also always cup your hands to gather water in a nearby stream or river and use it for rinsing. Chances are, it will be just about as cold as a snowball, but it can also be effective. Air drying will take a few minutes, but then you're good to go. Sanitize your hands as soon as possible.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to TP

If your desire for a toilet paper alternative is strictly environmental, then you can try some of these eco alternatives.

Family Cloth

Family cloths are commercially available strips of cloth used in place of toilet paper, which minimizes packaging, manufacturing, and paper waste. The idea behind the cloths is that each person wipes with a cloth and puts it in a sealed container when done. The cloths are then laundered and reused. If people are squeamish about using a cloth someone else has used before, even after laundering, then you can buy different patterns for each family member. To clean and disinfect the family cloths, launder in hot water with laundry detergent and bleach to sanitize them completely. If you're concerned about odor, keep them in a wastebasket that seals or use something such as a diaper bucket to keep odor at bay.

basket of family cloths

Bidet or Bidet Seat

Whether you have a separate bidet or you get a toilet seat attachment with a bidet on it (it hooks into a water line), this is a good way to get super clean. And while a bidet may seem like a luxury item, it's a great way to reduce paper waste as well.

Bidet sign on the toilet

Squirt Bottle

You can also make your own budget bidet by putting a squirt bottle on the back of the toilet filled with clean water. Simply spritz until you feel clean and allow some drying time and you're good to go. For cleanliness, sanitize the spray bottle with a bleach water solution a few times a day or after each use. If you don't want to take dry time, you can use a family cloth to pat dry.

How to Make Your Own Toilet Paper Alternative

Reuse old, soft t-shirts to make washable toilet paper.


  • Old t-shirts
  • Pinking shears
  • Basket
  • Large tupperware container with lid


  1. Cut old t-shirts into 5" x 7"strips using the pinking shears.
  2. Store clean cloths in a basket near the toilet.
  3. Place a sealable container for the dirty cloths. Sanitize the outside of the container a few times a day with a bleach water solution and launder cloths every two to three days.

How to Launder Cloths

Laundering the family cloth is very important for sanitization and to avoid cross-contamination in your bathroom and laundry room. To launder:

  1. Wear gloves when handling dirty cloths and the container they are kept in.
  2. Wash separately from other laundry.
  3. Wash in hot water with bleach and detergent.
  4. Completely sanitize the container when you wash the cloths.

How Many Cloths You Need

Plan to have a four to five day supply of cloths with about 10 cloths per day per family member.

Plenty of Safe Toilet Paper Alternatives

Regardless of why you aren't using toilet paper, there are plenty of safe alternatives. Necessity is the mother of invention, so look around and see what you could use in case your TP supply ever runs out.

Top Toilet Paper Alternatives and Making Emergency TP