After the toilet paper shortage and scare in March, many Americans began researching alternative methods of cleaning their bums. Although toilet paper is largely a Western luxury item and is not used in the majority of the world, we have become awfully reliant on those soft little squares during each bathroom visit.
Of course we can go old school and turn to (non-poisonous) leaves or moss to clean our nether regions, or in desperation use various sources of paper. But our favorite books or notepads may be put to better use than wiping away fecal matter, and in a true emergency situation, will only last for a short while anyway.
With this in mind, there are several more traditional options available to us that take up significantly less shelf space than hoarded toilet paper.
1. Paper Tablets
Paper tablets are compressed toilet paper. You just soak them in water or drip water on them to rehydrate them to full size. When rehydrated, they resemble baby wipes and are much stronger than toilet paper. While paper tablets will not last forever, you can successfully store many, many more of them in the same space in which you would have stored toilet paper.
Bidets are common in Europe, and have garnered interest in America in 2020 for obvious reasons. They hook up to your toilet and squirt a stream of water at your derriere, gently cleansing away the offending waste that your body produces. Bidets are much easier on the landfills and on the sewage treatment plants, as nothing unnecessary goes into your garbage can or is flushed down the toilet (other than water).
The only problem with bidets is that they do require a water hookup; so if society crumbles, you may lose access to your bidet as well.
3. Portable Bidets
Women who have given birth in the U.S. in the last few decades will be familiar with the concept of a squirt bottle of water being used as a portable bidet. You can create your own, buy them online, or repurpose bottles with squirt tops for this particular use. One pro tip is to use warm water in the bottle, and to fill it prior to using the bathroom. This will increase your comfort and you’ll have access to the portable bidet when you need it.
4. Family Cloths
Family cloths are any small swatches of soft fabric kept near the toilet that can be used for the same purpose as toilet paper. The only difference is that they are saved and washed for future use. Baby washcloths are a perfect size and texture for a family cloth.
The biggest drawbacks to family cloths are:
- Smell from storage of used family cloths
- You want to wash them really well
You can store your used family cloths in vinegar in the bathroom to eliminate some of the foul odor.
But if you find yourself in a long-term power outage, you may not be able to use your washing machine. You’ll want to find a way to clean your family cloths so that you feel confident that they are truly disinfected for future use.
While it will take some time to break our toilet paper habits, it can be done with a little creativity and access to equally effective products. Try out a few options while you can, so that you can ease into the transition.