Options if Stores Are Out of Toilet Paper

It is something that happens rarely, but it has happened – toilet paper is not available in the stores or even online! Toilet paper is one of the most essential things most people buy – even though our modern version was not even invented until the late 1800s. It is not uncommon for people to pick up a package every time they shop. Therefore, it may surprise you that there are a variety of alternatives that can be used if there is no commercial toilet paper available. 


Some alternatives can be flushed just like toilet paper, although those who have a septic tank may want to consider not flushing to prevent filling up the tank too soon. 

  • Flushable wipes. Smaller than standard baby wipes, and thinner, these wipes are made to break down if flushed. However, it is recommended that those with septic tanks avoid flushing even wipes labeled flushable. 
  • Facial tissues or napkins. Facial tissues are thin enough they can probably be safely flushed but napkins should be tossed in the trash can instead. 

NOT Flushable

These alternatives could clog up the toilet or pipes, and some are reusable, so flushing those would not make sense anyway. 

  • Baby wipes. Thick, damp, and made for cleaning bottoms, this is an excellent option. 
  • Paper from any other source. Newspapers, phone books, coffee filters, even notebook paper – these can all be used. Soften it by crumpling the paper or dampening the paper with tap water before using. Some might remember great-grandparents talking about the Sears catalog – this is a similar situation. Remember, in those days, the paper went into the outhouse, so this is definitely one you want to put in the trash and not down the toilet! Bonus – you can read it in the meantime!
  • Sponge. Obviously, it would be a good idea for sanitary reasons to discard a sponge used in this way, although they could be sanitized. It would work in a pinch.
  • Rags or washcloths. Rags cut from t-shirts or old towels or any soft cloth can be kept by the toilet and then washed – even with bleach, if desired – and dried and reused. If it sounds odd, think of them as similar to cloth diapers. In fact, using a pail meant for cloth diapers between washes can reduce unpleasant smells. Because of the potential of sharing germs, it is a good idea for each person in a household to have his or her own color that is only used by that person.
  • The inner tube. If the paper has just run out, the tube left behind can be used. It may work better if dampened before using. 
  • Sanitary pads. If the house has a woman living there, it probably has sanitary pads. These can work in a pinch but be sure not to flush them!
  • Cotton balls or cotton makeup pads. The soft cotton is good for wiping and will do the trick nicely!
  • Corn husks. The layers of leaves that surround the corn cob can be used for cleaning dirty behinds; they are sturdy and soft when fresh, and still sturdy when drier. Empty corn cobs have also been used in the past. 
  • Mullein leaves. This plant has soft, fuzzy leaves that clean well and it grows everywhere! However, be careful to learn exactly what it looks like, because just grabbing any leaves may result in an itchy backside if they end up being poison ivy!
  • Receipts. If one store often frequented is the one that gives four-foot long receipts, wiping should never be an issue! Receipts are thin paper and great for wiping!
  • Your hand. Some cultures eat only right-handed, and this is due to the common practice of wiping with the left hand. Hands can be washed clean quite easily with soap and hot water, so even though it sounds a bit off-putting, it is a possibility if nothing else is available. 


Cleaning up does not necessarily require contact. 

  • Bidet. These are a choice that have renewed popularity in recent years. These are essentially nozzles that shoot water up to clean the nether regions. Many times they are built into toilets and can be activated by pressing a button. There are even personal, portable versions of these available.
  • Water hose. In some areas, most notably southeast Asia, hoses are installed by every toilet meant to be used to spray-clean instead of wiping. 


Where to Buy
Veken Non-Electric Bidet Self-Cleaning Dual Nozzle
2PCS-Pack Portable Bidet for Toilet
SmarterFresh Lifetime Hand Held Bidet Sprayer
Epielle Personal Cleansing Flushable Tissues Wipes Towelettes
Pull N Wipe 79135
CleanAide Antimicrobial Silver Towels Edgeless Cut Red Stripe
Odorless Cloth Diaper Pail


Finding these things in stores can sometimes be difficult. However, shopping online will turn up many options. Some of them are listed below.

1. Bidet

This bidet can be added to an existing toilet. It features two nozzles – one to clean the rear of anyone and one to clean the front area for women. The controls are on the side of the toilet, and the nozzles are self-cleaning.

2. Travel Bidet

Two travel bidets will allow people to clean their nether regions easily and conveniently no matter where they are. Great for camping and outdoor adventures, but also convenient for home use. 

3. Bum Gun or Handheld Sprayer

This sturdy sprayer hooks to the side of the toilet or the nearby wall and allows for targeted cleaning after toilet business. It is carefully crafted to eliminate leaks. 

4. Flushable Wipes

2 packs of 36 wipes each are flushable and can be used for any personal cleaning from face to tush. Alcohol free wipes have a light fresh scent. 

5. Reusable Antimicrobial Cloths in Two Colors

The reviews vary on these, but even if these are purchased as disposables, they are fairly cost effective, and some found that washing worked well and they were reusable. Meant as multipurpose, these should work at least once for personal cleansing. 

6. Antimicrobial Silver Towels

The silver threads in these make them germicidal and because they are 16”x16”, they can be cut into quarters to use for wiping, which makes this 12-pack turn into 48 cloth wipes. 

7. Pail

Created for cloth diapers, this odor-reduction pail is a perfect place to put used cloth wipes until washing. It is made from recycled plastic and has a clamp that holds it tightly shut.