We have all experienced being caught without toilet paper. It is something we dread, obviously, because recent times have shown us that toilet paper brings a sense of tremendous psychological comfort.
Even the thought of being without it, renders the average person uncomfortable at best, and extremely desperate, in the worst cases.
Fortunately, we have options. This article will help you navigate them.
One very positive point of using leaves as toilet paper is that most plants, including the ones listed in this article contain anti-bacterial components. These leaves will help prevent infections from developing.
Squeeze the leaf before you use it to release the medicinal compounds.
Lamb’s Ears (Stachys Byzantina) – The ‘Charmin’ of nature’s toilet paper options
Lamb’s ears tend to grow in similar areas to Mullein, arid and rocky.
Although this plant can be found in northeastern climates as well.
In ancient Roman times this plant was used for bandaids. Lamb’s-ear flowers in late spring and early summer.
Plants produce tall spike-like stems with a few reduced leaves and small, light purple flowers.
Mullein (Verbascum) – Second runner up to Lamb’s Ears for softness
Mullein sightings are along roadsides and in rocky and gravel banks. It thrives in full sun and grows well in arid conditions.
Mullein has a deep spindle shaped root from which a rosette of leaves rises. It has soft hairs and its leaves feel like velvet.
In summer months the stalks are tall and produce long clusters of yellow buds that crown this majestic plant.
The leaves can grow to three inches wide and six inches long. This makes the leaves a great substitute for toilet paper when out in the woods.
Plantain (Plantago) – Unbreakable and easy to find almost all year long
Plantain is a very common plant in lawns, driveways and many partly shaded wooded areas.
It is known as nature’s bandaid and has remarkable wound healing attributes.
Related: How to Make Anti-Inflammatory Band-Aid Using Plantain
The leaves shown here can grow quite large, about half the size of a slice of bread, or even larger.
Grape Leaves (Vinis Vitifera) – Used as toilet paper in ancient Greece
The ancient Greeks left us with a tremendous legacy of knowledge – toilet paper alternative included.
Wild grapes grow prolifically in hot sunny areas and can be found in warmer months in northern climates.
Two benefits – the leaves are wide and incredibly sturdy.
Cabbage or Cauliflower Leaves (Brassicas) – Wide, strong, plus very hard to break
In harsh times homesteaders would use cabbage leaves as toilet paper.
You can even dry them and stack them for future use.
One major advantage for gardeners is ease and proximity. You’ll always have an option!
Brussel sprout leaves also fall into this category.
Borage (Borago Officinalis) – Use the young leaves only!
Borage is also an option.
Just make sure that you forage the young leaves in June and July before they become too large or prickly.
You can stack the smaller leaves and make a small fan to complete the job.
The purple flowers are delicate and beautiful. They make this plant easy to spot in sunny forested areas.
Related: 18 Plants That Should Always Be Planted Together
The flowers have long been used to bolster courage. In medieval times the flowers were embroidered on the mantles of knights and jousters to bring them courage!
This plant brings many gifts: it soothes respiratory ailments, boosts adrenal function and alleviates depression.
Yellow Dock (Rumex Crispus) – Very easy to spot and has large leaves
Yellow dock is also a common lawn and partly shaded wooded areas plant.
Notice the intricate vein structure and blood red vein running up the middle. It is a prominent feature.
The leaves can grow extremely large, the size of a romaine lettuce leaf!
The roots have amazing blood cleansing properties and the leaves are very sturdy, making them a prime toilet paper substitute.
Common Tamarisk Moss (Thuidium Tamariscinum) – The elegant, exotic alternative
When you are in the woods thick layers of moss are easy to find.
Moss layers come up easily when you peel them off of a tree.
It may look intimidating but do not worry, they contain tannins that are naturally antibacterial.
With the green side up, if you have enough make a soft roll.
In thick dense wooded areas this is a common and wonderful alternative because it is soft and has cleansing properties.
Trees Have Hundreds of Leaves! Large Leaf Varieties Also Make Great Toilet Paper Substitutes
Catalpa Tree Leaves Win the Prize for Size
Native to warm temperate and subtropical regions of North America, the Caribbean, and East Asian trees are primarily used for lumber.
The large showy flowers are white, yellowish, or purplish.
Bees love them!
You will spot the fruits of this tree, cylindrical pods with white tufts of hair at the end.
This tree will give you an endless supply of natural toilet paper if you can find it!
Coltsfoot (Tussilago Farfara)
You will find Coltsfoot in shady lowland wooded areas that are often rocky.
It grows from spring through early winter and the leaves can grow to the size of your hand.
It is tough to break them so they are a great alternative for toilet paper.
This leaf has been used since medieval times as an expectorant and is very high in zinc.
Redbuds Tree (Cercis Canadensis)
Soft and fuzzy to the touch, the beautiful heart-shaped leaves on this tree turn a brilliant red during the fall months.
The leaves are quite thick and are larger than your hand.
Related: The Most Common Edible Trees Growing In Your State
The bark of the tree was used by the Native Americans to treat diarrhea.
Empress Tree Leaves (Paulowmia Tomentosa)
Paulownia came to the west from China where it was a highly prized variety.
In the east, it was used to treat a wide variety of diseases.
Tea from the leaves used to dissolve ulcers, heal bruises, revive the growth of hair and prevent greying.
It is more common in warmer climates but can also grow in the north.
Caught In a Snowstorm Without Toilet Paper?
Pack a dense snow ball and use that for a wipe.
It is not a perfect alternative but it is something that can at least buy you time plus keep your hands clean and reduce bacteria.
Don’t forget to wash your hands with new snow afterwards!
Now that you know some of your options don’t you feel the panic of possible toilet paper shortages fading away?
The gift of nature is that it makes us confident and resourceful in all circumstances. Try some of these options, before you actually need them so that you will really be prepared.
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I presume these suggestions apply to someone caught outdoors, away from any facility; like in a bugout situation. Hopefully, one or more of these is nearby. Hopefully, no ill-intentioned bacterial lurks upon the leaves. If you’ve ever had a perirectal abscess, you understand, don’t you.
Wiping is a cultural thing. Water does a pretty good job of cleaning the bum, too. Clean water, of course. Peri bottles are made for such use.
If not an outdoor emergency, but simply due to the unavailability of toilet paper, dedicated cloth squares that can be collected (remember diaper pails), cleaned, disinfected and reused is another option; either to directly clean or to dry your bottom after first using water.
Muellin has the added benefit of fishing gear.
Illegal in most areas though
But in a survival situation, illegal is just a sick bird
I would also like to add that if it’s NOT an outdoor emergency, and you’re simply worried about a toilet paper shortage again, get a BIDET! In the heat of COVID 2020, finding toilet paper was impossible here in Idaho. We had 6 rolls left and went to every store in our town and surrounding towns and no one had any TP. We tried to order it on Amazon and there were delays and shortages on there too, making it nearly impossible to get any. An ad popped up about bidets on a site explaining how bidets are commonplace in almost every country- except USA- and that we are so accustomed to “wiping with TP” that over half of the population doesn’t even know what a bidet is. Needless to say, we ordered one, my husband installed it, and it’s wonderful! In my opinion, bidets are FAR MORE sanitary than TP, getting you completely clean with just water. I am really surprised that we don’t see commercials on TV for bidets. They are fairly inexpensive, ours was around $300, but there were others cheaper than that. Of course, there are some that are close to $1000 as well, but all serve the same purpose no matter the cost. One thing that is required to install a modern bidet is an electrical outlet in close proximity to the toilet. We didn’t have one, so my husband had to put one in, but I imagine it would not cost much to get one installed by a professional. Not to mention the $$ saved on the rising prices of TP these days. Just an idea. Pass it along!
Bidets are nice but, TP is still needed for drying or, do you now drip dry?
Bidets have air blowers W heat settings that dries you. They have own water heater w heat settings. We ran long extension cord to ours. Hooks up to cold water system below toilet (hence its heater). You can still use TP, it doesn’t change toilet.
The Idaho TP “shortage” was such a game by the powers-that-be. Idaho has one of the country’s largest TP paper mills.
A very useful portable bidet can be made with a squeeze bottle. The advantage with a squeeze bottle is that the water temperature can be adjusted whereas the bidet hooked to the water line has a lead time to get to temperature. The angled squeeze bottles that come with toilet cleaner in them are the easiest to use because of the angle.
Sage: And likely is healthier than TP. niio
Sage, I just did a search for “portable bidet bottle” and lot of items are available starting from about $10 and up. I think I will research more, including reviews, and also the designs. I would definitely want one that has proper reach and angles so 1.) it will reach the desired locations, and 2.) will spray at the angle(s) you want to get clean as well as not splash onto areas you don’t want messed on both your body and the toilet.
This is a great idea. I used spray on patients who needed extra cleaning to prevent sores. Had to roll a trash bag around a towel to keep the bed dry, but that’s not a problem for non ICU patients.
There are also many tools for wiping. Such as the bum buddy. You can place the paper or leaves or whatever in the holder and it makes it easier for people who are mobility challenged. Over a hundred of options on Amazon alone.
Kathy, I searched for “tools for wiping” and a lot of good toilet aid items showed:
Kathy, If you’re cleaning patients with delicate skin, sometimes plain yogurt helps, particularly if the patient is on the large side. The yogurt kills off the funguses that affect many bedridden patients. All those perfumed powders sometimes just feed the fungus.
You’re right about garbage bags being helpful for protecting the bed. It works well.
Interesting and I’ll be sure to remember that. I’m retired now, a shattered spine will take you out of the game. I keep my knowledge up, and have been stockpiling supplies, because my only value to society post shtf will be my skills as a healer. I can still do sutures and other wound care, and hopefully this will be enough to be able to manage.
Thanks for the advice!
T shirt and a pocket knife.
I suggest you do some preliminary identification and testing of any plants you are going to wipe with to see if you get any unwanted reactions such as a rash or allergic reaction. I have never experienced it, but I have heard you will definitely regret it for several days afterward if you use poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac to wipe with. I’m sure stinging nettles would not be good either.
I actually just a week ago found a whole lot of the stinging nettles in my yard. They were growing well in the shade from a fence on the south side of the property. It was my 1st mowing in a few months as Florida winter ended 2 weeks ago
Bad news was I was NOT looking for them, they found me, and of course I was wearing cargo shorts…..
Yea it was a nice 24 hours.
When I can find nettles, I like then steams with some butter. After a few days having it, I have no more problem even picking it by hand. niio
red stinging nettles are an early spring blessing, available before the garden plantings are ready, just like Dandelions the “Weed” our European forefathers BROUGHT over for spring greens and tonic.
Both BTW are excellent for your Doe rabbits when they are nursing.
Exodus, I rub a crushed cheese weed leaf on the sting and it goes away. I also used the leaf from a different plant but don’t remember which one it was but had the same effect.
heh, looks like our fanatical idiot desperately seeking attention has given me a “thumbs down”, oh boo-hoo, whatever will I do now? Just laugh at the fool and find better things to do. 😂
Army tip number one never…. leave to go in the field without unscented baby wipes.
Its good information and people should try it out. I also suggest stocking up on TP/wipes and a bidet was a little werid but it does work.
Unscented baby wipes are useful for cleaning up the hands too. If a person is using materials to wipe with that have less coverage than regular paper, cleaning the hands afterwards will be important.
What ever the reason for a lack of paper, use what you have around you! Most people have empty drinking bottles. Poke holes in the cap either with a knife or hot nail and fill the bottle and squeeze on the area.
Do you have a hot water bottle (the old kind). They used it not only for hot water but an enema. A bladder and a long hose. Squeeze the bag to control the flow. Auto and portable bidet! And no laundry and extra work! You need to wash the diapers and wipe rags as a separate batch.
Do a search on Expandable Compressed Wipes. If you’ve not seen these things they are just great.
JPup, are these the type of compressed wipes you are referring to?
Yes it looks right although there are a number of manufacturers. They are great because the take up so little space. Add a little water and it turns into a moist handkerchief size wipe.
JPup, there were a lot of other types and sizes listed also, so I browsed until I found some 100 and 200 count packages with dimensions close to standard sanitary wipes and selected these three as possibilities:
I’ve never used compressed wipes, any recommendations?
dz, the third one looks like the ones I found. The 7.5 x 9.5 size is about right. I originally found them at Menards in their little camping section. I saw a different brand yesterday at Cabela’s (Bass Pro).
That’s what I have in my car in case of emergency. It doesn’t take much water to get them to spring to life. 100 of them take up less space than a standard roll of t.p.
Ok, I’ll bite dz what does this link have to do with soft toilet paper or anything on this thread?
Michael, not much but if you reverse engineer it and are on watch, you might need to improvise some TP. 😎
Actually, the link is for a brief article that showed up in my email that looked pretty good, so I thought I’d share. At least it’s prepper related instead of arguing about scripture.
Michael, this is a good link for the Standard Range Card in PDF format, it might be good to have some for your MAG.
Thank you dz, but I would add to the range card thread the advantages of spray paint to make zones of fire and known ranges.
Not every MAG has a well-trained team of AR equipped warriors. Some need to adjust for those civilian odd facts like a bulk 22 ammo sighted in at 50 yards has a bullet drop at 150 yards of around 20 inches, since the adult human torso is about 20 inches a shot aimed at the face should drop in around the groin-thigh area. Both areas not likely to have body armor. 36 grain HP will still penetrate over 8 inches of pork shoulder so not something I’d want happening to me.
Having 150-yard spray paints helps your 22 folks be effective as well as make directing fire better when they know where to look for targets.
OP ideas, shovel and sandbags. Being up in a tower draws fire and is probably not protected enough to stop that first hostile visitor shots to take them out.
Best hope you never really need this sort of information but as Patton and others have said “The more you sweat in training the less you bleed in combat”.
Something as simple as training your folks to drop prone RIGHT NOW if they hear the Watchmans whistle *might* greatly reduce your initial casualties from a sudden attack.
I confess I find the comments more helpful than the posts themselves. I appreciate the insightful tips from first hand experience 👍
Surprisingly, upon further review of the history of personal sanitation, leaves are not even mentioned. Rocks, sticks, shards of ceramic, cloth, paper, water, corn cobs. Next time you are in the woods look around and try to decide what you would use in an emergency, very little chance any leaf in the list will be nearby. As an ignorant kid I was caught by surprise twice, sacrificing my tidy whiteys the 1st time and a pretty red bandanna the last time. It’s so easy to unroll a few feet of t paper and stash it in your pack, and individually packed moist towelets are great. Anti bacterial Wet Wipes are the key ingredient for comfort on an extended campout. Don’t forget, bury it or pack it out!
Actually, Judge history shows seashells, and flat rocks were quite common in use.
To use medicinal herbs like lambs’ ear for tp instead of an anti-microbial wound dressing seems unwise. I grow them in my herbal garden.
That’s hilarious!!! Raven wants us to think that he has a military
background.He would not even been allowed to stay in the
rear with the gear.
I have wondered about building a decent and clean outhouse at a dry cabin. I have seen drawings of cross-sections of the structure where the waste bin/hole is offset toward the back and a vent for the methane gasses is at the very back. What about the methane produced? If someone were to toss a cigarette down the hole, would the whole thing blow up? Would there be a safe way to have a small pilot light going 24/7 to burn off the methane plus any smells?
When my parents were clearing their land and building their house, they had a traditional outhouse. It was nicely painted inside and out. There was a bucket of ashes to “flush” with. Sometimes, my mother would even put a little bouquet of flowers in there. I don’t remember it smelling much.
There are some pretty elaborate dry cabin toilets available for thousands of dollars but it seems to me that a well constructed outhouse that is below where the water well is, could be just as smell-free.
Sagebrush Lin an outhouse with good ventilation should never generate a flammable amount of methane. The cigarette blowing up outhouse has been a cartoon special about a decade or more ago. Tom and Jerry times, good times.
Now I have used a few outhouses that DID smell but mainly because they were overused for the size of the pit and or flooded with rainwater or excess urine.
Wet compost isn’t a good idea.
Your pilot light is an interesting idea but not really needed. Aside from that how much tanked propane to you have to fuel that pilot light?
Just be well aware of the water table and any flooding issues when you set up that outhouse.
If outhouses generates enough methane to explode, surely the porta-potties at the gun club I have belonged to for almost 50 years would have had an occasional explosion. They were changed out once a month in the early days and a lot of club members smoked in those days too. I have used Forest Service pit toiets that were just a shack over a hole in the ground and certainly generated an overwhelming smell.
I think the biggest problem you might have is local restrictions on such toilets. That is before an end of the world event. After an EOTW event such niceties will disappear and if there are any folks interested in sanitation, they will be more concerned with folks using waterways as flushing devices. They will find an actual pit toilet the height of sophistication. I am afraid we will become similar to accounts I read about Afghanistan where they go wherever they happen to be when the urge strikes with zero effort to cover the deposits to the net result IEDs are not the only land mines one must be alert for.
While I understand that these comments are directed for an EOTW event, just a word of caution. I would strongly recommend that you do not put any of these commercial wipes down a modern sewer or septic system. They do not decompose like TP does and will definitely cause issues. When the SHTF, literally, it will probably be difficulty to find your friendly neighborhood plumber.
If SHTF …. you become the septic guy…. hell we had to do this year with the colder then normal winter we had.
Basicly you won’t put anthing down your septic system other then waste products. No paper…. you wil have a burn bag to put that stuff in and a burn barrel to get rid of it in the back
You are right about those wipes. All those “flushable” wipes never decompose. When I had the tank pumped out after having a couple of nursing home care level people in the home, I went out to ask the guy what he saw in the tank and he said that all those “flushable” wipes were in perfect condition. They didn’t break down at all.
Another septic tank installer told me that human waste from cancer patients on cancer medications doesn’t break down normally as non-cancer patients.
Before completing my bathroom with a commercial composting toilet, I used the “sawdust toilet” as promoted by Joseph Jenkins in his Humanure Handbook. Used it 5-6 years. Honestly, I liked it better than the composting toilet I have now. If I were to do it over, I’d just dress the sawdust toilet up to look better and use it in the cabin. If I were to build an outhouse, which I might do for when I don’t want to go in the cabin, it will be a sawdust toilet. No pit needed. Just a 5-gal bucket, a toilet seat, a cover medium and a dedicated compost pile, following Jenkins’ instructions.
Sewer Rat, good advice, thank you. We try to find composable / biodegradable products such as TP, wipes, soaps, etc. even for our everyday use and is what we stock up on. The compressed wipes I found say they are compostable, but how long is it before they decompose? I agree you want to avoid clogging up your septic systems, plan ahead now, avoid problems later.
dz: any fishworm population in there? where you are, you would need to add water every day. Better to just built a methane digester a la Asians. Just a thought. niio
red, I have earthworms (fishworms / wrigglers) in all my gardening containers, but if you’re talking about septic, my home is on a public utility sewage system, not a septic tank. Some of our facilities at work have septic tanks that have leach fields, but occasionally do need to be pumped.
dz Post-SHTF. the methane outhouse is on stilts (in tropical areas, but built into a hillside in places like Vietnam’s uplands) The ‘tank’ is an acid proof heavy duty liner AKA the balloon. Inground, Vietnamese style, requires only a sealed room under the toilet. Gas line goes from near the top, to a few feet underwater (which helps to seal it in place). From there, to a collector balloon. This is ion the open, along the ceiling. Sun will wreck it. A belt is used to regulate gas flow to a cast iron gas burner and to a gas lamp. Both should be acid proof. The outlet pipe goes from near the bottom to ponds used to raise duckweed for livestock. And, if you can, stock up on mantles. niio
It’s not likely Kali will survive SHTF (or anything east of I-10 or Wisconsin from how things look there :)), so something like this would keep you in cooking gas and light. From Walter Bazel on camping lanterns mantles. And for something totally off the wall, I found a site called “Many Uses
For Vinegar” and they say to soak your new mantles in distilled white
vinegar before using, letting them dry of course. Supposedly makes them
brighter and longer lasting. Just thought I’d pass that along.
Thank you for doing the research and for giving me a reminder to purchase some mantles. The couple I have are well over 5 years old so I suppose a bit on the fragile side.
Sage; use once and they’re fragile. You would think by now someone would have invented a sturdy mantle. niio
Thanks Amy. Good information and some helpful in comments too.
As a kid, we stayed at a cabin with an outhouse over a pit. My uncle used fire place ash as a cover. I don’t remember any Oder.
On the funny side, I do remember how sore my butt got after dropping a firecracker into the pit. Yep uncle was inside.
Don’t forget the trench. Cover after each use.
Don’t forget to clean off the fan.
I guess a fan in the outhouse could be a SHTF scenario. No need to rush it up.
I bought soft flannel material a few years ago and cut it up in squares then put it in a container with aloe from my plants, witch hazel and essential oil. These are perfect wipes and less costly than buying TP.
I have a few empty baby wipe containers the soiled go in and wash as needed.
I have my buckets with plunger and do my own laundry a lot more these days without giving the city more money for water. I figure it’s never certain if water from municipals will be around and being older it keeps me in shape lol
I’m definitely taking note of using plant leaves that are safe as well.
Oh and forgot I do add water to the mix
I believe the ancient Romans used a sponge on a stick to get the job done, might work in today’s time as well.
Romans did use a sponge on a stick but they also had a bucket of vinegar to put it between usages.
A fairly good system. The bidet pre-plumbing.
Could do worse once we’re doing the pit privy thing. I can grow sponges and make vinegar. Toilet paper is beyond my ability.
Had to read up on that sponge on a stick, Romans pooped in communal toilets dropping bombs into a channel of running water and cleaning up with the sponge on a stick. Good manners meant rinsing the sponge in water before putting it in the vinegar for the next lucky user. Vinegar is not a disinfectant, but add salt to vinegar and you have an effective anti-microbial, which is what the Romans did. How do primitive people figure out to mix salt and vinegar when they have no knowledge of bacteria? Sadly the sponge on a stick soaked in vinegar was offered to Jesus when he cried out in pain right before he gave up the ghost. I never knew the meaning behind that particular cruelty.
Michael: Look up paper making. Asians were making tissue paper a thousand years ago. when making paper, the last of the water is drained over a fine screen. Do not drain it all because of dirt. smooth it as thin as you can, then allow it to dry partway, then use a roller. the hard part was getting wood fibers ground fine, but the kids used an old burr mill. niio
None of the explanations I heard in the past regarding the sponge on the stick offered to Jesus made sense. The one you have given fits with the cruel personalities around the crucifixion, horribly so. I am stunned at all He went through for us.
What still bugs me is all of the people who apparently stood around and watched it happen. Too afraid of their shadows to take a stand and do something about it – outnumbered or not.
Dan: You have politicians on one side and the people on the other. If the people had tried anything, God would have stopped them. In the end, who won? We did. Less than a week later, people did take a stand. Less than 40 years later, God enacted a final revenge for that death. they feared losing their position and temple, and lost all of everything; all of those still alive who voted to see him dead died badly. Yet, Christians were told in advance to leave the city. Most did. Samaritans were told to not defend their city against Rome and did and were wiped out. Yet, those defeats led to us being spread over the empire and into lands that were little more than legends to many. that crucifixion is called birth pangs of the New Covenant. niio
Instead of paper, a five gallon bucket (with lid) filled with a bleach solution also works. Have a supply of clean washcloths on hand to wipe with and secure them in the bucket after use. When full, dump the bucket and clean the washcloths either by rinsing – or if a washer/dryer is still available, launder them. Reminds me that a clean pinch off is always a wonderful thing to have happen. That usually only requires one or two squares of toilet paper. :p)
Dan, you can take that bucket swap lids to one with a 1″ hole in the center and using a clean plunger make your own washing machine.
I use a bidet attachment on my toilet that costs $35 on Amazon. While still sitting, it focuses a little stream of water right at the “bullseye,” and washes my bottom completely so all I need to do is dry myself off. No messy toilet paper at all. No poop at all remaining! Perfectly clean! I can use toilet paper to pat myself dry if I have it, or a cloth. It’s really the perfect solution: No toilet paper required. We don’t put any paper in the septic tank at all, and no poopy paper sitting around in a trash bin either – only slightly damp clean paper that is perfectly clean and could be reused if needed. And I don’t believe we’ll ever have to pump the septic tank because there’s no paper in it.
I’ll take Charmin over any vegetation or possibly poison ivy any day of the week..