17 Toilet Paper Alternatives

The Covid-19 pandemic was a wake-up call for most of us. This is when it dawned on us how vulnerable we can be. Massive utility shortages across the country prompted people to look for alternatives to commodities we took for granted. Toilet paper was one of these products. 

People had to look for ways of cleaning up after having a number two. Luckily, most toilet paper alternatives are environmentally friendly and won’t clog up your toilet. Should there be another global crisis like that (God forbid), here are some toilet paper alternatives you can stock in your home.

Roll of toilet paper on a holder in front of a bathroom vanity.

Baby wipes

People with sensitive skin will find baby wipes a welcome alternative to toilet paper. Unlike toilet paper, baby wipes do not leave behind lint or cause skin irritations. 

That said, check out the ingredients because some baby wipes may contain traces of alcohol or other disinfectants. Do not use products with disinfectants on your skin. 

Adult wet wipes can also work if you cannot find baby wipes. Do not flush baby wipes after use because they may not break down inside the sewer system.

Close up of a bidet attachment.

Install a bidet

Bidet is popular in Europe, having originated in France in the 1700s. You will a bidet installed in the bathroom of almost every hotel in Europe. The use of the bidet in the US gained popularity during the pandemic. 

Bidets have upward protruding jets that allow easy access for cleaning after you finish your business. 

Some bidets are standalone while others are attached directly to the toilet. Place several pieces of clothing near the bidet to dry yourself off after rinsing using the bidet.

Napkins/paper towels

Paper towels are great alternatives to toilet paper. They are soft and safe to use. Check to see if they contain ingredients (such as perfumes or dyes) that may irritate your skin before use.


Newspapers and other printed paper products can also be used as toilet paper alternatives in a crisis. You may need to dip them in water to soften them before use. 

Do not flush newspapers and other printed material down the toilet. They may clog the pipes because they take too long to break down.


Flannel and cotton can also work as toilet paper alternatives. If you decide to go this way, do not share your reusable clothing with other family members and always keep it clean after use. 

Soak with bleach and wash with hot water to keep them sanitized. 

Ideas on fabrics you can cut into pieces for this purpose;

• Old bed sheets

• Old cotton Tees

• Flannel blankets

• Old towels

• Any other old/unused soft and absorbent piece of clothing

Wet Wipes

Wet wipes are good alternatives to toilet paper because they are soft and pre-moistened. The moisture content inside these wipes helps to clean gently and thoroughly. 

Buy wipes that do not contain any perfume or disinfectant to avoid irritations on your skin. 


Some cultural communities use water in place of toilet paper. Without digging too deep into that water always works well when there is a toilet paper shortage. 

Have a towel on standby to dry off after cleaning yourself with water.

Sea sponges

Sea sponges are biodegradable and break down when flushed down the toilet. This makes them an excellent toilet paper alternative. 

Sea sponges are also soft and environmental-friendly. 


Leaves from specific trees can also be good alternatives to toilet paper. Some of the popular leaves for this purpose include banana leaves, maple leaves, banyan leaves, and mulberry leaves. These leaves are soft, absorbent, and biodegradable. 

They do not have hairs on the surface that could irritate the skin. Before the invention of toilet paper, these leaves were popular in many countries across the globe, particularly in Asia and Africa, as toilet paper.

Cornstarch paper

Although cornstarch paper is not as absorbent as mainstream toilet paper, it is soft, biodegradable, and does not cause any skin irritations. Since cornstarch paper is from waste materials, it qualifies to be an eco-friendly alternative to toilet paper. 

However, cornstarch paper is hard to come by and the process of turning cornstarch into a usable product is expensive.

Three rolls of Who Gives a Crap toilet paper stacked on top of a toilet tank in a light brown bathroom.

Bamboo toilet paper

Bamboo toilet paper is soft, biodegradable, and eco-friendly. Bamboo toilet papers undergo a similar production process as mainstream toilet paper. 

The only difference is that the bamboo tree is the raw materials instead of recycled paper. The bamboo plant is broken down into fibers and turned into a pulp. 

Long, thin sheets of paper are formed after drying and flattening of the pulp. These sheets of paper are cut into smaller pieces and converted into bamboo toilet paper.

Cotton Balls

Do not let cotton balls go to waste if you are in a toilet paper crisis. Cotton balls are soft and highly absorbent. Gather as much as you need to get the job neatly done.

Coffee filters

Coffee filters are readily available, cheap, and soft on the skin. However, do not flush them down the toilet after use because they do not easily break down. 


This might sound scary but trust me, it might not be as cold as you think. Snow can be a good alternative to toilet paper for people living in cold zones. 


This is certainly not one of the popular toilet paper alternatives. But have you ever wondered what our forefathers used before the invention of toilet paper? 

A trip down history and watching Wild West movies can offer a glimpse into the kind of ‘toilet paper’ the colonial masters used.

Dry glass, rice husks, and coconut husks

A handful of rice huskies, dry glass, or coconut husks also get the job done. Coconut husks are absorbent and soft because they contain fibers that soften in contact with moisture.


When you have exhausted all the options listed here, go back to medieval times and use sticks to ‘scrap’ yourself. This cannot be comfortable but it was a common practice in some ancient cultures.


Many people took toilet paper for granted until the pandemic hit and shelves ran dry. They started looking for toilet paper alternatives.

Many toilet paper alternatives are not exciting or hygienic. We do whatever it takes since we must answer nature’s call. This list of toilet paper alternatives highlighted here is not exhaustive. The rule of thumb is; if it is soft, absorbent, and not irritable to the skin, it could probably be a good toilet paper alternative. 

Adrienne Carrie Hubbard
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