Alternatives to Toilet Paper
Alternatives to Toilet Paper

Toilet Paper Alternatives: What to use when the roll runs out

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We’ve all been there: There’s one sad square left on the roll. You search under the sink, on the shelves, and in the linen closet but to no avail. You’re out. So, what now? Although it is not recommended to flush anything down the toilet other than poo, pee and paper (Cottonelle® brand toilet paper and Flushable Wipes), it turns out you’ve got a lot of options.

Substitutes for Toilet Paper: Obvious Alternatives

  • Tissues, Napkins or Paper Towels:

    When you’re out of toilet paper, the most obvious thing to reach for might be that box of tissues on the shelf. They’re soft and they have the same type of texture that toilet paper does. Alternatively, you might use paper towels or napkins, which are absorbent but probably a bit rougher. Just be careful. Some of these products may contain dyes or perfumes, which could irritate your tender parts.

  • Other Paper Products:

    Notepaper, newspaper, a page from the printer, envelopes, coffee filters or even an old receipt that you found stuffed in your wallet. Paper products make for a handy substitute in a toilet paper crisis. Just remember DO NOT FLUSH THESE. They weren’t made for flushing and they could clog your pipes.

  • Wet Wipes:

    Cottonelle® Flushable Wipes make a whole lot of sense when you’re out of toilet paper because they’re made with 95% water to clean gently and are made for a worry-free flush (that means they’re made from plastic-free, eco-friendly† fibres that start to break down immediately in water).

    †Fibers 100% biodegradable

    Are wet wipe better than toilet paper? Not necessarily. A lot of people use the two together for the freshest clean*. But they’re softer on your sensitive areas than some of the alternatives we just talked about. Plus, Cottonelle® Flushable Wipes are infused with the gentle cleansing power of water for the ultimate fresh and clean feeling. You want to keep some of these around.

    *vs dry alone
  • Bidet or Water-Based Solutions:

    For a time, a bidet was a toilet-like bowl you only ever saw in a European hotel, but they’ve since become a lot more popular. Now you can buy versions that attach easily to the toilet you already have. They use a spray of water to clean your bum.

    Alternatively, you can use a squeeze bottle, a spray bottle or plastic cup to rinse yourself off. A water-based solution can leave you feeling wet though, so you may need to keep a cloth or towel on hand to dry off.

Re-Useable Alternatives to Toilet Paper

For some families, you may opt to forgo traditional toilet paper and choose re-usable alternatives, instead. Here are a couple of options:

  • Cloth or the Family Cloth:

    To reduce waste, lots of people look for re-usable toilet paper alternatives. The most common is probably cloth (commonly called ‘The Family Cloth’). If you’d like to experiment with The Family Cloth, people recommend using a soft material like flannel or cotton (though you could use towels or washcloths). Try cutting individual cloths with pinking shears to avoid fraying. Each family member should also have their own set of cloths to avoid passing on any bacteria.

    Finally, if you’re going to use cloths, make sure to wash them carefully. First soak them in water along with bleach or baking soda. Then wash them on their own in your machine with hot water and dry them on the hottest setting to sanitize.

    Remember, cloth should never be flushed down the toilet.

  • A Sponge:

    Some sponges can be washed in the machine and re-used. They’re pretty soft and absorbent too. However, for sanitary reasons, you likely want to dispose of your sponge after a bowel movement. And remember, a sponge should never be flushed.

Toilet Paper Substitutes - Unusual Alternatives

  • Sanitary Pads:

    They’re designed to be absorbent, they’re soft and they’re much thicker than TP. They might not be the most cost-effective alternative though, and they definitely should not be flushed.

  • Leaves:

    If you’re outside and you have to go, leaves are nature’s toilet paper. The most common are Maple, Oak, Mullein, Cottonwood, Hazelnut, Thimbleberry leaves and more. Corn husks could also come in handy. Large Leaved Aster looks soft and fuzzy. It’s known as “lumberjack toilet paper” and grows all over North America.

    You probably want to avoid leaves you don’t recognize. No one needs a rash on their bum.

  • Rocks or sticks:

    In ancient times, before the invention of toilet paper, people used rocks or sticks. It involved more ‘scraping’ and less wiping. Probably not the most comfortable or effective alternative, but in a pinch it could work.

  • Your Hand:

    Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Just make sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterward…

To avoid being caught without a square to spare, it’s best to have lots of your favourite Cottonelle® Toilet Paper stocked up, and for a truly refreshing clean, try combining Cottonelle® Toilet Paper, (either Cottonelle® Ultra CleanCare® or Cottonelle® Ultra ComfortCare®) along with Cottonelle® Flushable Wipes. We suggest packing a travel pack of Cottonelle® Flushable Wipes with you when you leave the house as a gentle and effective clean for when nature calls and there’s no toilet paper in sight. Stock up on them now and always be prepared!

Clean Background
Cottonelle® Canada Septic-Safe Toilet Paper


First, Remove more at once
with Cottonelle Cleaning
Ripples Texture ®

Cottonelle® Canada Flushable Wet Wipes


Then, use Cottonelle Flushable Wipes for a refreshing clean throughout the day

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