Watch Out for These Toilet Paper Eating Bugs

Rich M.
By Rich M. March 9, 2020 10:09

Watch Out for These Toilet Paper Eating Bugs

I think I’ve heard it all now… there are bugs out there who eat paper. I guess that shouldn’t be all that surprising, considering how termites go after wood and paper is made from wood fibers.

But I guess it’s the kind of paper they eat which surprised me. The bugs I’m talking about seem to have an affinity for toilet paper. Maybe it’s softness is easier on their jaws.

As best I know, we’re talking about clean toilet paper here, just for clarity sake. Although considering what kinds of bugs are on this list, there might be one, at least, that likes the flavored kind. Uck! I think we’ll just ignore that one.

The paper eaters I’m talking about are silverfish. If you haven’t seen them, they’re a silvery insect about 3/4 of an inch long. If you look close, there are a couple of antenna at one end and a few spikes on the tail at the other end.

Related: Plants You Should Grow Around Your House To Repel Insects And Bugs (Including Termites)

In between, you’ll find six legs. They like damp climates, like the bathroom, which may have something to do with their affinity for the toilet paper roll.

Of course, silverfish aren’t the only book eaters out there. Cockroaches, termites, and booklice all enjoy a page every now and then. So if the edges or your pages or the edges of your TP roll are getting chewed on, don’t assume it’s silverfish, it might be one of these other creepy-crawlies.

Since silverfish do like toilet paper, as well as other paper, I can see where these guys might be a problem for preppers, especially preppers who keep their stockpile in the basement.

A lot of basements are damp, making an ideal environment for them. Combine that with packs of toilet paper stacked on shelves, next to the wall, and it looks like you’ve got a buffet for silverfish all set up.

Watch Out for These Toilet Paper Eating Bugs

So, what can we do about this? How can you preserve your precious TP?

To start with, the plastic wrap around the package isn’t going to do a bit of good. They can eat right through that. But keeping the packages of TP in would probably be a help.

Apparently silverfish like the edges of the rolls, pages or whatever they munch on; so there’s a good chance they would only munch on the edges of the boxes, leaving the content alone… but you never know.

Personally, I think I’d like a little more secure storage for my TP collection. After all, that stuff’s going to be worth its weight in gold, especially to women, once the SHTF. So it’s worth spending a little money on protecting it.

Related: Homemade Substitutes for Toilet Paper

Secure TP Storage

There are two ways I know for protecting your TP stockpile, other than locking those precious rolls up in a waterproof bank vault somewhere. There’s a lot of similarity between them and either one will work. A lot depends on the size rolls you’re trying to store.

The first and easiest way of storing your toilet paper is in the PVC pipe. Specifically, I’m referring to the thin-wall 4-inch PVC pipe that’s used for septic systems. Just make sure you buy the kind which isn’t pierced with holes for effluent (liquid) dispersal in a leech field.

Normal toilet paper rolls will fit just fine in this pipe, but you won’t be able to use the “double” and “triple” rolls. Just cut your pipe to fill your storage area, fill it will rolls of paper and cap both ends.

You don’t even need to use PVC pipe adhesive to keep the bugs out, although doing that would make it waterproof, so it’s probably worth doing.

The second, slightly harder method of storing your TP collection securely also involves building materials. But you’re not going to be using the normal “consumer” rolls of toilet paper.

Instead, you’ll need to buy the industrial size rolls which are found in factories, office and school bathrooms everywhere.

Related: 50 High-Value Items To Stockpile For When SHTF

These larger rolls are probably going to be a better deal anyway, although they might not be as soft. But then, when it’s the only toilet paper around, I doubt there will be anyone complaining.

For this size roll, you’ll want to buy the cardboard tubes which are used as forms for making foundation columns. These come in different sizes, so you need to make sure you buy the size that corresponds to your TP rolls; that will probably be the 12-inch size.

There aren’t any caps available for these tubes, so you’ll need to cut your own out of plywood, particleboard or OSB; whatever you have. Put one in place at one end, caulking it there.

Once it dries, fill the tube with as many rolls as it will hole and then put another round cap in the other end, also caulking it in place. Once the caulking dries, it would be a good idea to go around the edges with duct tape, just to ensure a good seal.

A Defensive Perimeter

Another option to consider, rather than going through the time of stuffing your TP in all those tubes, is to build a defensive perimeter around it. I’m not talking about a big perimeter here; we’re just dealing with some little bugs.

But if you put an unbroken line of diatomaceous earth around your stack of TP packages, making sure that there’s no place they can get through and that there’s no place where the TP packages are touching the wall, you will have constructed an insurmountable obstacle for the silverfish.

Diatomaceous earth feels very soft in your fingers, but it doesn’t feel that way to bugs. To them, it’s nothing but sharp edges; sharp enough to cut them.

It is able to kill not only silverfish but a wide variety of other creepy crawlers. It’s a great, natural way of protecting your home from bugs and to kill off the bugs that manage to get inside.

You may also like:

8 Food Storage Myths

The U.S. Army’s Forgotten Food Miracle (Video)

Toilet Paper Pills – The Best Invention You Didn’t Know Existed

If You Find This in Your Garden, Burn It Immediately

How to Keep Moisture and Pests Away from Your Food Stockpile

Please Spread The Word - Share This Post
Rich M.
By Rich M. March 9, 2020 10:09
Write a comment


  1. Wannabe March 9, 12:34

    I deal with the sonotube mentioned in the article. They are durable if they stay dry. They get wet it will soak all they way through and fall apart and contents inside can get ruined. They are thin and can get damaged easily. Mice can chew right through them. The pvc idea is a good one but you will need a lot of it and can get pretty expensive. Not cost effective to store four dollars worth of toilet paper in a seven dollar pipe and that is not including the expensive caps and threaded ends you will need to get which will run up the cost. I have been using plastic totes alto store items in including toilet paper. Can be taped shut to keeps bugs out and and mice won’t bother chewing through. I have tested this in my shop attic while storing clothes while I had a bit of a mouse problem. It worked. Cardboard boxes were damaged while taped up plastic storage bens were safe and sound. Cheap to buy and don’t have to store just toilet paper . And if you lose a lid you can go get more at store you bought them at ususlally for free. They come in all sizes so you can get the one suited for your physical needs. Not 100% water proof but I have never had any water issues with them. They can get brittle in tiime but only cost 4-7 dollars. Just some thoughts as I read the article.

    Reply to this comment
    • Centurion_Cornelius March 9, 17:32

      Great advice, Wannabe–BUT, here in the Midwest (rural Ohio) we must have super-aggressive mice or what. We stored some items in the plastic totes–they bored through them like butter–especially at the floor level.

      Durn mice here will chew through most any organic material–wood, cloth, canvas, and even tackle the plastics as well. Many times they will chew through storage facilities, only to find inedible items, at which point they scram–after pooping all over everything and making your storage box like Swiss cheese.

      SOLUTION: metal garbage cans + a few hungry outdoor cats. Woila! Problems solved.

      Reply to this comment
      • Wannabe March 9, 22:58

        Bummer centurion, I guess there was something in those plastic bins they just had to have. Hope your cats do better than the three most worthless outside cats I have. They won’t even ward off the chickens when they come around their food.

        Reply to this comment
    • Someoldlady March 11, 01:50

      I use 5gl buckets with the 12 inch rolls. Worth the 3$ . You can also make friends with a deli worker . They usually have extras.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Proteus March 9, 16:47

    My 1200 rolls of TP would take a fortune on PVC not to mention the space. I’ll take my chances with the bugs.

    Reply to this comment
    • efzapp March 10, 02:50

      Use the diatomaeous earth. I live in a silverfish mecca and use DE regularly. I buy food grade DE so I can sprinkle a little on my cats’ food to make sure they don’t get tape worms. DE has a lot of good uses.

      Reply to this comment
  3. left coast chuck March 9, 17:33

    We are really stretching here. In an end of the world scenario, I doubt that t.p. with lacy edges is going to be a monumental concern. When I am concerned with whether I am going to be able to make it to the water source without being accosted by the gang that thinks they control that source; or am concerned with whether my scavenging run is going to bring me face to face with the pack of feral dogs that I had a run-in with the last time or whether the usual rainy season is finally going to show up so that the crop I planted in anticipation of that rainy season will produce enough food to carry me to the next rainy season, concern about whether the edges of my toilet paper have been chewed on by a silver fish or a cricket or roach is of significantly less concern than the roaches I found in the flour I had put away.

    This falls into the category of not eating Spam after the SHTF because it’s too salty; or not eating canned food because the can may contain some kind of chemical to protect the can from the acids in the contents; or saying that it is absolutely necessary to have five gallons of water a day for each individual because women must wash their private parts daily and dishes have to be washed after every meal with hot soapy water and clothes need to be washed.

    In an end of the world scenario, you are going to be ecstatic that the silverfish, crickets, whatever didn’t eat the whole danged roll.

    Claude, I suggested previously that if you don’t have a pertinent, relevant article to post that you dig through the archives and re-post something from the past that perhaps some of us missed the first time around and don’t know what to look for rather than this drivel.

    As Wannabe pointed out this is an expensive non-solution to a non-problem. When the cure is more expensive than the problem, it is time to re-think.

    Up until recently I had an extensive library — well, extensive for me for the size of our home — of about 1,000 books plus or minus. I found that if I wrapped the books in a double layer of Saran wrap silverfish and other creepy crawlers didn’t get in. If Rich has a problem with silverfish eating through his Saran wrap, he might try two layers and make sure that he wraps them so that there are no little avenues that the silverfish can slide through. If it works to protect my expensive book on the History of the Winchester Lever Action Rifle, it will certainly work on a roll of Charmin.

    Personally, that is more trouble than I want to go to for pristine toilet paper. AS Mel Gibson said about complaints about the historical authenticity of the film Pocahontas, “Come on folks, it’s got a talking chipmunk.” Lacy toilet paper is the talking chipmunk of disaster preparation.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Vickie March 9, 17:45

    There are some things you can do to repel them. There are also little packets of deterrent that you can buy in most home supply stores like Home Depot or Lowes. Here’s an article as well –

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck March 9, 18:55

      Vickie: You gave us a great reference. I intend to initiate some of the methods described to eradicate silverfish in my library. Thanks for posting this valuable reference for the readers of this post.

      My advice to everyone reading this: If you have a silverfish problem you need to go to the reference that Vickie posted above. It is the most important post on this topic so far.

      Reply to this comment
  5. Tenty March 9, 19:31

    I saw a video recently of someone storing 98 Rolls of TP in a Metal Garbage Can. that looked like the ideal way.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck March 9, 22:29

      The 20 gallon galvanized trash can with lid is $25.00 at both Home Depot and Lowes. The 48 gallon wheeled plastic trash container is $75.00 at both of those establishments. I just checked prices on line.

      The old 48 gallon galvanized trash container is no longer available, apparently, from regular residential supply stores. It may be available from speciality stores but I suspect the price will far exceed $75 if available.

      We used to use old 55 gallon drums with wheels welded onto the bottom but most of them contained “toxic waste” of one sort or another and so weren’t fit to hold our refuse. I can’t follow the reasoning, but apparently using old POL containers is harmful to us and we must be protected from harming ourselves by our masters in various capitols across the country — or maybe it is just PDRK where our masters in Sacramento are so worried about our health. It may be that in the U.S. folks are supposed to take care of themselves and don’t need politician to watch out for them as we apparently need here in Kallyforniya. Now the trash collectors provide plastic trash containers that fit the lifting devices on their trucks. The driver never leaves the truck on his route. If trash spills, that is the homeowner’s responsibility to clean up.

      In any event, I am with Wannabe. Plastic totes and if the mice poop on my toilet paper, at the end of the world I will just be happy to have some t.p. instead of having to search out mullein leaves along with however many thousands of survivors there are still left. If the edges of the t.p. are lacy due to bugs nibbling on them, I will try to find beauty in their unintended artwork.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Prepper In Training March 9, 22:18

    For those of you experiencing difficulties finding toilet paper to feed the silverfish, I was surfing on Staples website and it looks like they have lots of tp available. Maybe not the best prices in the world, but hey, when you gotta go you don’t question how much it costs.

    Reply to this comment
  7. red March 10, 08:50

    In AZ infestations like silberfish are a ‘rich man’s disease’ because most people are fugal about water and leaks in pipes. Our termites, tho, will eat paper and carry it back to the nest. Those are temporary. Desert termites tend to be nomadic to keep from accumulating too many insectivorous like scorpions.
    Epsom salts will chases off a lot of bugs, as well.

    Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment


Follow Us