* 13 Best Toilet Paper Alternatives to Use

One of the most stressful feelings you can experience is when you have no toilet paper and can’t think of what else to use in its stead. This could involve a quick rinse in the shower but there’s really no need to dirty up the shower.

There are plenty of alternatives you can use for toilet paper, some are actually fairly common, while others you’ll have to think a little outside of the box for. This article will take you through some of these alternatives and what the best one to use is.

Best Toilet Paper Alternatives to Use

Why Consider Using a Toilet Paper Alternative?

Many people argue that toilet paper causes excessive waste and is not a very eco-friendly way of wiping after using the bathroom.

Not to mention, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a massive toilet paper shortage that left many people desperately searching for alternatives. Using an alternative will already keep you a step ahead in the event of another spike, which could potentially lead to another shortage.

13 Toilet Paper Alternatives to Consider

What that out of the way, let’s jump straight into the alternatives.

#1: Bidet

This one is a fairly common choice and is sometimes used in conjunction with toilet paper. A bidet is a small bowl or receptacle that a person can use to rinse themselves after using the toilet.

Some bidets attach directly to the toilet, while others are standalone pieces of furniture for the bathroom. Those that are attachments to the toilet tend to be cheaper and easier to install.

#2: Washlet

Very similar to a bidet, a washlet is a registered trademark of the Japanese toilet company Toto, used for their line of cleansing toilet seats with water spray features for genital and anal cleansing.

The Washlet is commonplace on toilets in Japan and is entirely electronic. It requires a bit of installation, however, it can completely eliminate the need for toilet paper and is considered to be cleaner as well. To learn more about this option, read this article.

#3: Family Cloth

Family cloth is one of the more controversial alternatives, with many people claiming it is a bit too gross for them. While those that defend it claim it is one of the most eco-friendly ways to wipe that doesn’t really require much maintenance.

This alternative is typically some old t-shirts or various cloth materials put together and washed after it is used. As you can guess, this is pretty unsanitary if not washed properly, but this method will save you a ton of money on toilet paper and can be made pretty easily.

#4: Baby Wipes

Baby wipes are another very common alternative to toilet paper, and despite the name, adults can certainly use them as a wiping method as well.

These wipes use some chemicals which are great for a more in-depth clean but can also cause irritation or even an allergic reaction to some people. Plus, these are more expensive than toilet paper and will make a fair amount of waste too.

#5: Sanitary Pads

Sanitary pads are absorbent and soft, but much thicker than regular toilet paper. If a person chooses to use a sanitary pad as an alternative, they will not need to use many of them, which will create less waste despite the bulk.

These are typically more expensive than toilet paper but, if used sparingly, they can make up for their higher price. Also, it is important to never flush sanitary pads and dispose of them in the trash.

#6: Napkins

Facial tissue and napkins are of a similar thickness to toilet paper. Although, try to use a softer one because sometimes, napkins can be a little too rough and can cause skin irritation.

This alternative is commonly used in desperate situations and is serviceable but not the best method to be used consistently. Never flush napkins as they will clog your toilet drain.

#7: Towels

Washcloths and towels are thick and are usually very soft which makes for a good clean wiping experience. If you plan to use this method, cut up a few older towels to make smaller strips. Better yet, just keep a large pack of hand rags near the toilet.

Of course, much like the family cloth, these pose some health concerns if they are not washed properly. If you plan on using towels as an alternative, wash them after every use and try to share them as little as possible.

 #8: Sponges

Sponges are absorbent and soft and can make for a very effective wipe, but a person may find them difficult to use as they require a few steps in order to wipe effectively. Before you use it, you must wet the sponge and wring it out to ensure it is soft enough.

Also, it is strongly discouraged that multiple people share the same sponge. Some sponges are safe to wash in the washing machine but most sponges will fall apart in there. This means they are essentially very expensive disposable wipes if they can’t be washed and reused.

#9: Leaves

If you’ve ever gone on long hiking trips, you may already know this method very well. Mullein leaves and banana leaves are the best for this use as they are large, soft, and fairly absorbent too!

Furthermore, it is immensely important to know what leaf you are using to wipe with. Some leaves can be rough or even fall apart while wiping, plus there is always the classic mistake of wiping with poison ivy. Leaves of three, let them be.

#10: Paper

It almost seems a little too obvious being that toilet paper is the most common way to wipe. However, regular notebook paper or newspaper can be abrasive and you don’t want to risk getting a papercut.

Be sure to dampen the paper a bit before wiping, and this could be a solid alternative to toilet paper in dire constraints.

#11: Cotton Balls

This is a fairly common alternative to wipe for babies but it can be used for adults as well. Cotton balls are, of course, absorbent but they typically don’t have much surface area.

I’ll put it this way, this is a good method for wiping liquids but not so much for solids.

#12: Snow

Another one for you outdoorsy folk, snow is essentially just water in a very soft form that can easily be used as a readily available wiping tool in colder areas.

It may be a little cold, but it will make for a clean wipe, and for those that live up north, there is no shortage of it available. Plus, snow doesn’t cost you a penny to use!

#13: Cardboard Roll

One of the first things your mind comes to when you run out of toilet paper is the cardboard roll that’s left behind. This can certainly work as an alternative, all you need to do is tear it in half and wipe gently.

Of course, this is not going to be a consistent replacement for toilet paper, but it is usable in times of need.

What Is the Best Toilet Paper Alternative?

The all-around best alternative to toilet paper would be the washlet. The bidet is a close second because it operates in a very similar fashion. However, bidets have a bit less variety to them and are typically more difficult to install.

Washlets and bidets have the cleanest wash and can completely eliminate the need for toilet paper at all. There are no sanitary concerns like with the family cloth and, in the long run, they are less expensive than toilet paper and most of these alternatives.


Be sure to keep these alternatives in mind if there ever comes the time when you do not have toilet paper at your disposal or if you are just thinking of finding a more cost-effective, eco-friendly method to wipe.

Some of these methods are situational, others can be an actual long-term replacement for toilet paper. Hopefully, you’ve learned all you need to realize toilet paper is not the only thing you can use, and an uncomfortable rinse in the shower isn’t always necessary in these dire situations.