No More Toilet Paper? Consider These Alternatives
STORY: Diane Lam
19 February 2020
Toilet paper, once a mundane staple of everyday living, has become one of the country’s hottest commodities.
As much as we hope that this month’s panic-buying was a one-time event, there’s no guarantee that we’ll always have a roll of TP within reach. And a quick search online will reveal the growing popularity of the “Family Cloth”, which is touted as an eco-friendly alternative to toilet paper. So it's not as if alternatives don't exist.
Should the need arise, consider these, which are used by homesteaders, campers, hippies, and in parts of the world where toilet paper isn’t the norm.
1. Baby wipes or wet wipes
Baby wipes? If it’s good enough for an infant's bottom, it’s good enough for ours. Wet wipes? Doable. Just make sure it’s not the very hiam kind that’s infused with menthol.
2. A hose
Hoses, bidets, and washlets are a common feature of toilets in Southeast Asia, and for good reason: they can blast all traces of 💩 into oblivion without clogging the toilet. Forgoing, or at the very least, conserving, TP is as easy as going on HAM on this indispensable household gadget.
3. A bottle of water
A water bag and bottled water are an NSF’s best friend when he’s got to go No. 2 in the jungle. Think of it as a portable bidet. If they can use it among the dirt and the leaves, so can you in the comfort of your home.
4. Corn husks and corn cobs
While repurposing corn as a cleansing tool might sound a little strange to our modern ears, using them was commonplace among those living in agrarian communities. The bare corn cob was a little fuzzy and was easy to angle, while corn husks (the middle layer) were soft enough for some heavy-duty wiping.
Would we use it? Well, since Singapore doesn’t exactly have an abundance of cornfields, probably not, but it wouldn’t hurt to pick up and ear or two of corn the next time panic buyers swipe all the toilet paper off of our shelves.
5. Banana leaf
While no one should anyhow pluck leaves to use as toilet paper (hello, poison ivy), the banana leaf’s hardiness, smooth texture, large surface area, and ubiquity make it a viable alternative to toilet paper, should the earth ever be depleted of its stock.
You’d think that everyone and their mother carries around tissue, but there will come a time when you find yourself in a public restroom, foraging through your wallet for old receipts, because the toilet roll is empty and you used your last tissue packet to chope a table outside. Using the receipt from last weekend’s champagne brunch may sound a little crass, but your nether regions aren’t going to clean themselves.
7. Scrap paper
How many times have you successfully repurposed a stack of old documents as scrap paper? If you’re anything like us, probably not enough to justify how much space it’s taking up in your magazine file. Sure, you could yank out a page or two and go to town with it, but you could also read this article for a more refined method.
8. A sponge
Move over, Family Cloth – Ancient Romans cleaned their butts with a communal sponge. But please don’t do this with the one that your parents use to clean the sink. Take a new one, do what you have to do, and then throw it away.
9. A stone
While modern-day toilet paper has conditioned us into wiping, people in other societies were accustomed to scraping, using everything from shells, to coconut husks, to rocks. So if a stone seems like the most appealing item on this list, that's fine, just make sure you choose something smooth.
BONUS: Your left hand
If this is your personal preference, please, PLEASE remember to wash your hands with soap while singing “Happy Birthday” twice. #HandSanitiserNotEnoughK