There are very few situations in life that have ever caused me to lose my cool. I am quite proud of the fact that I can keep a level head when everyone else is stumbling around in a blind panic. However, there is one scenario that for some reason completely fills me with dread – discovering there is no toilet paper left while sitting on the toilet. It may be the embarrassment of having to call for help. Or, perhaps it’s the prospect of trundling around the house, looking for substitute toilet paper with my pants around my ankles that causes me such discomfort. I really don’t know. What I do know is, I don’t like it, and I go to great lengths to ensure that it never happens.
I appreciate that this is a delicate subject, so I will try my best to be as tactful as possible. I was also going to add that much of this article will be tongue in cheek, but I think that may have been a pun too far. Needless to say, there is no getting out of the fact that at some point in your life you will find yourself up the proverbial creek without a paddle. In order to get through this harrowing ordeal you will probably lose a little dignity too; it is practically unavoidable, I’m afraid. No matter how embarrassing the situation is, though, try not to panic. Seriously – you could end up tripping over your own feet, and that is one predicament you do not want to have to explain to a paramedic. When you think about it, running out of toilet paper is actually a blessing in disguise. There are toilet paper alternatives readily available in and around the home; with a little bit of forethought and creativity, you could save yourself a small fortune by making or even growing your own.
Let’s start off with emergency supplies, and then we can move onto how you can create an almost endless supply of homemade toilet paper alternatives. All the methods in this article have been tested and proven to work; however, some will take a little bit of practice to get right.
Sponge on a Stick
Ah, the classic Roman method of undercarriage hygiene. A sponge on a stick is exactly what it suggests. Basically the ancient Roman’s would use the sponge to wipe, and once done they would wash it out with vinegar for later reuse. I personally don’t care too much for this method, as sponges are pretty porous and hard to effectively disinfect. If you are going to use the sponge repeatedly, I would recommend using a thinner sponge that is easier to clean. However, when your back is against the wall, the sponge is more than an acceptable alternative to toilet paper. Just make sure you don’t put it back in the shower, as that would really give the next person who uses it a nasty surprise.
Every home has cloths or soft material of some description, so these are good choices when you run out of toilet paper. You can reuse these cloths; however, bear in mind that they will first need thorough cleaning. Obviously you don’t want to immediately mix these cloths in with your other household washing; that would just be gross. Instead, keep a bucket with a lid beside the toilet, where you can temporarily keep your “personal cloths” separate from your other laundry. I would recommend rinsing the cloths off before putting them in the bucket, or, fill the bucket with a water and vinegar solution to help break down any debris. Before washing your personal cloths, steep them in boiling hot water for at least an hour with vinegar or your choice of washing detergent. You can also use a plunger or similar device to agitate the material, which will help dislodge any undesirable hangers on. Outside of an emergency, you can actually make your own personal cloths, which you can reuse again and again. I found this article particularly informative on how to do just that.
Watering Cans and Spray Bottles
First let’s consider the humble watering can. Now, don’t laugh—this is one serious piece of equipment for getting out of a bathroom embarrassment. When used correctly, a long-spout watering can will clean you right up when you are in a pinch. This method does have a learning curve; however, with some practice it serves as a great bathroom accessory that everyone can use. A variation of this method is the peri bottle, which, as many mothers can attest, is one of the best personal hygiene accessories ever conceived. Although it was originally designed as a postpartum device for relieving common pains and irritations, the powerful spray action is ideal for cleaning yourself after concluding your business in the bathroom. If you do not already own a peri bottle, you can purchase one from a pharmacy or baby center.
Verbascum thapsus (or common mullein), which is often referred to as cowboy toilet paper, is a biennial plant that grows quite prolifically under clear sunlight. Although considered a weed, mullein does not pose a particular threat to agricultural plants, as it grows best out of the shade. Native Americans first used mullein for its medicinal properties; however, we are only interested in its wiping abilities. The leaves are big, soft and fuzzy, which makes them great as an emergency alternative to toilet paper.
Like mullein, lamb’s ear has soft leaves that are perfect for wiping. The flower grows well in almost any conditions and is easy to plant and care for. Removing the leaves will not damage the flower; in fact, it is a part of the pruning process. That means that using lamb’s ear leaves as toilet paper is mutually beneficial to both the plant and your bottom. As well as an alternative to toilet paper, lamb’s ear leaves will take the bite out of bee stings and other wounds. Additionally, this attractive perennial flower is a welcome addition to any garden.
Plants and leaves work well as toilet paper; however, care should be taken in choosing which ones to use and how often you use them. The last thing you want is a serious rash on your nether regions to add to the embarrassment of being caught mid-movement without toilet paper. Before using the leaves of any plant, make sure that you do some research. Determine the toxicity of the leaves, whether they are known to cause allergic reactions or irritation, and if they contain any particular parasites that you should worry about.
Recycled Toilet Paper
That’s right, I said recycled toilet paper. Now, before you run screaming into the hills, it’s not what you think. During my quest to make sure that I never ran out of TP again, I found this great tutorial on how to make your own toilet paper. DIY toilet paper is environmentally friendly, up-cycles materials that you already have, and cuts both the cost and the need to travel in order to acquire the toilet paper. You will find most if not all the tools you need for this task around the home. However, for anything that you don’t have, you can easily find alternatives. You can even play around with the tutorial to create the perfect toilet paper for you. For instance, the tutorial mentions placing the towels on a hard, flat surface – I found that using a porous washboard allowed the water to drain much more quickly and resulted in softer sheets.
So there you have it, a number of ways that will ensure that you are never again without toilet paper.
©2012 Off the Grid News