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toilet paper shortage

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I’ve now tried eight stores for toilet paper and come up with nothing. Fortunately, at least where I live, other shelves seem to be stocked. The expected items are missing like hand sanitizer and paper towels, but the food is there. It’s just the toilet paper that stores cannot keep up with. There is far more demand than there is supply. And if you’re wondering if that’s true, this post explains a bit about why it is. But to give you the gist of the matter, there may not be enough factory workers to package and create the product or enough drivers to get it to stores to keep up with the current rate of purchases.



At first I thought it was hilarious that people were so worried about wiping their bums. Having just bought at 12-pack of the stuff myself (and the good, multi-ply stuff, might I add) when the store raids began, I thought, “I’ll be good. This will get me through the craziness.” Boy was I wrong. I’m staring down four rolls and a recent announcement that, in 45 days, we may see coronavirus cases double in the US. When I saw that I thought, “Grrr…I wish they would’ve held off on that announcement at least until I found more toilet paper!” Not to be selfish, but I know that new information will only encourage more of the panic buying that’s been going on.


So, I’ve decided to be resourceful and resilient, and remember that there are many ways to stay clean down south that don’t rely on toilet paper. All you need is something absorbent. Or something with some spraying action. Humans got by without toilet paper for centuries before us and I’ll be damned if we can’t do it again (just hopefully not for long). Here are ways to wipe if you’re low on toilet paper.

toilet paper shortage

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Use a bidet

Europeans have had it right all along. I remember first visiting a hotel in Europe with my family and finding what looked like a second toilet—just slightly different—next to the regular toilet. “It’s a bidet!” my European mom explained. “You use it to clean your tushie!” she urged. Well, now you can just buy simple attachments you stick inside your existing toilet bowl, and you have a power wash for your privates. No paper needed.

toilet paper shortage

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Use adult wipes

You can always turn to wipes. They give you that really fresh, clean feeling anyways. I have found that some stores, though out of toilet paper, do carry wipes. And it is something you can still find online. Just remember not to flush them. Even if they say they’re flushable, I have it on good authority from every plumber I’ve ever spoken to that they are not flushable.

toilet paper shortage

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Use baby wipes

If the adult wipes are gone, why not use baby wipes? They’re the same thing but a bit smaller. In fact, if you have sensitive skin, you may prefer baby wipes because they tend to lack fragrances and other irritants that adult wipes can contain. If you know any moms whose kids recently became potty trained, ask if they have any surplus baby wipes lying around.

toilet paper shortage

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Puppy pee pads

I have several packages of puppy pee pads leftover from when my dog was a puppy. I never used them. But I can tell you that they are made of soft, absorbent materials specifically made to collect pee! And, I bet they can collect something else if I want them to. You can cut one massive puppy pee pad up to make a dozen wipe-sized pieces. These are also not flushable.

toilet paper shortage

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Use Kleenex, but don’t flush

Have some Kleenex lying around? If you’re fortunate enough to be healthy so you don’t need it to blow your nose, why not use it to wipe? Just be sure to throw these out rather than flush them, and take out your bathroom trash frequently to reduce the spread of bacteria. Make sure your bathroom trash has a lid, too, to further contain germs.

toilet paper shortage

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Makeup remover pads

I have about a dozen canisters of cotton makeup remover pads—just the plain cotton ones that don’t yet have any product on them. They’re soft, absorbent, and perfectly clean because they’ve been sitting in ziplocked baggies. I don’t feel like doing my makeup much in the middle of this pandemic, so I really don’t need them to remove eye shadow.

toilet paper shortage

Source: Maryia Kazlouskaya / EyeEm / Getty

Use your hand shower

If you have a hand shower in your home, use that to spray yourself down after a pee. You probably don’t want to do this after number two, since your shower drain isn’t built to handle solids. But you know you already pee in the shower, so why not rinse yourself off after peeing in the toilet?

toilet paper shortage

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Thin panty liners

If you have some to spare—I personally buy too many, thinking I’m running out, only to find I have dozens of boxes—then use a panty liner to wipe. You already put it in your underwear for the exact purpose of absorbing liquids, so you know that you can use it to wipe after a pee. Just remember, as every sign in every public restroom tells you, not to flush feminine products.

toilet paper shortage

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Use the blank side that doesn’t contain ink. Have you seen those tight rolls of receipt paper? They’re pretty clean. They just go inside of a sterile machine, and eventually into your hands. They’re wrapped up so tightly, it’s hard to imagine much gets on this paper. Use them at your own discrepancy and make sure they look clean, but receipts could be a good toilet paper alternative.

toilet paper shortage

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A spray bottle

If you don’t want a bidet or can’t afford one, just pick up a spray bottle from your local dollar store. Fill it with water. And spray, spray, spray back there until you feel clean. It’s the same concept as the bidet, just the DIY version. Or here’s a fun alternative: use a water gun. Those water guns your kids keep slinging don’t look so annoying now, do they?

toilet paper shortage

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Splash, splash

If you’ve just peed, then consider keeping a cup of water next to the toilet. After you pee, shake your body a little, to get off the excess. Then put some water in your hands and splash your nether regions to clean them off.

toilet paper shortage

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Rip up old cloths

Gather all the old t-shirts, cloths, towels, and sheets that you were going to throw away or donate anyways. Cut them up into toilet-paper-square-sized pieces. Use these to wipe. This isn’t a terrible time to practice bladder control, either. Don’t do tons of “comfort pees” (that’s what I call peeing a little, just because I can) throughout the day. Wait until you really need to go. But don’t wait until you’re in pain, as that can cause a UTI.

toilet paper shortage

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Don’t ignore the cardboard roll

Don’t sleep on that cardboard roll. That’s an absorbent item that you paid for. So don’t throw it away, just because there’s no more toilet paper on it. Cut it open and unroll it. Pat yourself gently with it after a pee. Or, you can leave it in its cylindrical shape and just rotate it as you pat.

toilet paper shortage

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Wet and wipe

If you do still have toilet paper left, first off, good for you—you’re one of the few lucky ones. Second off, make the most use of it! It doesn’t go far when dry. So, moisten a square or two with water, wipe yourself with that too loosen things up, and then go over with dry squares. You’ll find you need fewer squares.

toilet paper shortage

Source: Valerio Rosati / EyeEm / Getty

Wear diapers

Hey, desperate times people! Adult diapers exist for a reason. They are perfectly ready to hold your solids and your liquids. If the store is out of toilet paper, baby wipes, adult wipes, and napkins, stroll on over to the adult diaper section. Is this really a time to be proud?

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