Toilet Paper Alternatives

In March and April 2020 the shortage of toilet paper was real, at least at the time. Could if happen again? What are the best alternatives for toilet paper? What are the top 10 alternatives for toilet paper? What do you use for toilet paper when you run out? Disposable? Or reusable? Or natural?

A Time for Toilet Paper Alternatives

This site is all about laughter and encouragement. A time to weep, a time to laugh. Right now there are dedicated people all over the world, working together, to stop the health situation. And it's a time to consider the optional toilet paper alternatives as we weather this together! What's your Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C? And is it healthy? For you, your family, and your community?

Plan A Plan B Plan C

Disposable Toilet Paper Alternatives

The obvious first choice, if you have spent a lifetime, however short or long, with the standard "roll of toilet paper". It's convenient. It's disposable. It's is used once then flushed down the drain. So what are the best alternatives to the lifetime habit of using disposable toilet paper?

Roll of quilted toilet paper

Since toilet paper is, well, "paper", there are other paper alternatives.  Note particularly, that these ARE NOT DESIGNED TO BE Flushed in the toilet, the bowl, or the loo. They will create nasty plumbing problems. Yes, read the headlines or search the web for "clogged toilets" and you will find multiple stories. And they are ugly. And also stating the obvious. Anything used once is unsanitary. It must be disposed of with wisdom and caution, or cleaned, washed, scalded, microwaved, bathed in extremely hot water, or otherwise made safe for another use.

1)  Baby Wipes are in the news.

Look at this smiling baby and you can see why. What parent or grandparent has not used baby wipes to keep their baby happy. And healthy. And clean. THEN, they throw away the used baby wipe in the trash. They do not throw it in the toilet like toilet paper, knowing it will plug up the toilet bowl. It's a great alternative to toilet paper, feels kind of nice, and can work well. If you can find them in the stores . . . .

baby sleeping peacefully in dry diaper

2)  Facial Tissues are also a most obvious toilet paper alternative.

Unfortunately they have become as rare as the original toilet paper desired. If you can find them, plan to use more than for blowing your nose, they are awesome for your face. More layers are needed as an alternative to toilet paper.

quality facial tissues

3)  With Paper Napkins . . . instead of toilet paper?

Now we're getting to more substantial paper thicknesses. Good for the job at hand. More important than ever, as all these alternatives, is to take them out with the trash. Toilets are not designed for this thick paper. Similarly, Paper Towels fit into this group. And also similarly, you may find them "currently unavailable."

yellow table napkins

4)  Newspapers (and magazines if you are nostalgic) . . .

Newspapers are a time honored early version of bathroom reading, and, ahem, attend to your personal hygiene. Compared to toilet paper, they are no longer a popular alternative. And there's the news print. And how many of us heard the stories (or lived them), with outdoor plumbing, the outhouse out back, and a catalog hanging on a hook?

old newspapers

Reusable Cloth Toilet Paper Alternatives

Reusable Cloth Toilet Paper Alternatives

5)  Cloth Diapers are a novel idea.

Why? Look at all those happy babies that wear them every day. Yes, disposables have become the norm. Yet cloth diapers are still available. And stop for just a moment, and visualize what babies put in their diapers. Phew. Moving right along. Just for the sake of discussion, imaging replacing your non-existent toilet paper with cloth diapers. And imagine, if you're really lucky, finding a local diaper service that takes away the soiled cloths and supplies you with fresh, clean, new ones twice a week. Just imagine. For some, it could work.

smiling baby wearing a diaper

6)  Bandanas and Handkerchiefs are arty and beautiful.

So. You have a few bandanas and handkerchiefs in your house. And you can buy more. What if you had a reasonable supply, to rinse out, maybe deposit in a diaper pail with a lid, and wash a load every couple of days. Reusable toilet paper. With a flair of color. You might even start a trend. Yes, of note, you need easy access to a washing machine and drying to stay on top with this one.

colorful bandanas for sale

7)  Tea Towels or Cheesecloth Kitchen Towels are alternatives.

Continuing the thought that Cloth is an alternative when their is no more toilet paper in your house. It's another example that starts with looking around. What do you have already? What's a reasonable size. The dimensions. What is a reasonable thickness? How many will you need to meet your family's daily needs, and keep a clean supply at the readiness?

stack of kitchen tea towels

Natural Toilet Paper Alternatives

8)  Water. Yes, now it's time to go natural!

For some, a bidet in the bath is already in place, reducing the volume of toilet paper for everyone needs. For others, there are retrofit hand-held, toilet attached, and other creative appliances to modify your regular toilet. Spraying water upward while remaining seated is a helpful, hygienic alternative to little or no toilet paper. The concept has its audience, and those that prefer other methods. Due to the widespread search for toilet paper, out of stock in many stores, the popularity of bidet attachments has also skyrocketed. Be prepared to search, and possibly wait a bit for shipping. If you practice careful hand, eye, coordination, you may be able to use a small bottled water, water bottle, to "wash" by reaching down, aiming carefully, and squeezing abruptly, to send a manual water spout upward. Good luck.

3 bottles of bottled water

9)  A Rock. What? Err, how do you use a rock for toilet paper?

Well, it's an old method. A smooth rock might be used, or a stick, or pretty much whatever was handy. It's also a simply concept. Clearly the smoother the rock, the better. Fortunately, we live -after- the industrial revolution and have developed more sophisticated solutions such as toilet paper for our daily needs. Nonetheless, an impact of the world wide situation has found our preferred paper in short supply, while rocks are plentiful.

a very smooth rock

10)  Green Leaves have been used for centuries for toilet needs.

The history of human civilization includes the history of toilet paper. Along with rocks and sticks, leaves are handy. Leaves are everywhere. And after use, can be added to your compost pile for a great spring planting garden soil additive. Caution. Know your leaves. Take the time to look them up online before touching, or dragging them across your skin. Consider the outcome should you grab poison ivy, or sharp holly bush leaves, not your best choices for such a delicate use. Leaves as an alternative for toilet paper have that long and, well, not so glorious past. Still, it you want to preserve the forest, they are one of the most natural alternatives to toilet paper.

green leaves toilet paper alternative

Honorable Mention Toilet Paper Alternative

The pioneer tradition of using Corn Husks to take care of natures business and cleanup. Often in large supply at the right time of the year, and available for little or no cost in you live in the country, and have obliging farmers and ranches willing to let you gather the scraps. Green is better, softer. Dry and brown can be improved by adding water . . .

corn husks in a basket for toilitry needs

Simple Toilet Paper Use Regulator

What does that mean? In short, eat right, exercise, and maintain your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. If you binge-eat cookies, soda, and chocolates, frankly, you will need to use the bathroom more frequently. If you eat ice cream, knowing your lactose intolerance will have unwanted side effects, with the resulting need for a greater amount of toilet paper than usual, be wise for your health and your toilet paper ration!

Benefits of Having Composting Toilets at Home

Daniela Gonzalez
Originally published on August 11, 2021

You’ve installed energy-efficient windows throughout your home. You’ve opted for bamboo flooring over hardwood, swapped incandescent for LED light bulbs, and maybe you’re even pricing a solar power system or are already powered up by one. What more can you do to lead a more sustainable lifestyle? Easy—you can buy and install a composting toilet.

However, there are many factors to consider when adopting a composting or dry flush toilet. For one, you may live in an area or state where these toilets aren’t legal for use in homes. On the other hand, 27 states have legalized composting toilets, and many people are using them in their RVs, cabins, or tiny houses. Although primarily associated with people living off the grid, eco-friendly toilets are slowly attracting the attention of conventional homeowners, especially those who live in areas with water scarcity.

In this article, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of waterless composting toilets, helping you decide if this is the right option for your situation.

What is a composting toilet?

Essentially, a composting toilet relies on biological processes to break down human waste and convert it into compost safe for the landscape. Today, there are many different models of composting toilets, which can make choosing one challenge. However, all of the models dispense without the use of water. These are waterless toilets, which is why they’re often referred to as dry toilets. They don’t flush waste into sewer lines that feed into municipal septic systems. They are mainly enclosed systems (though there are some different models and composting systems that we’ll touch on later), making them ideal for people who live off the grid.

Often, people have lots of questions concerning dry toilets. For instance, what type of toilet paper can be used with them? Are there unique concerns associated with their use for menstruating women? First, any kind of toilet paper can be used. Additionally, as a human byproduct, blood can be introduced to the composting toilet with no problem. In the subsequent discussion, we’ll address other questions associated with these toilets and their operation.

How do composting toilets work?

Again, there are different types of composting toilets available today. However, these systems all work by relying on anaerobic organisms to break human waste into usable compost. The toilets must sustain an environment that is conducive for the bacteria and their work. This may involve some maintenance solutions, which we’ll also discuss. If the toilet doesn’t support an ideal environment for the bacteria, waste won’t be broken down effectively, and the toilet is apt to smell.

In a traditional toilet and sewage system, of course, people flush away their waste so that it doesn’t linger on the premises except in the case of septic systems. It takes a significant amount of clean water to flush a household’s waste down the drain. This use takes up about 30% of a home’s annual water use. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this percentage may be higher in homes with older toilets. Not surprisingly, many people are interested in composting toilets to conserve water and save money on their monthly water bills.

Composting toilets have slightly more in common with septic systems. However, septic systems are also water-based systems. When homes with a septic system flush, the water flushes waste into the septic tank located on the property. Within the tank, organisms are at work, breaking down waste. Once broken down, the system pumps the trash into the drain field, typically located in the backyard, where it remains buried—unless something goes wrong with the system and the waste contaminates the environment.

Septic systems can be challenging to maintain, mainly if something goes wrong, like a leak or system clog. A composting toilet is primarily a self-contained unit. The waste remains in the toilet, where it’s broken down for composting.

However, other composting toilet systems use separate cold composting tanks; in these cases, waste from the toilet must be transferred to the tank every so often for the composting process to complete. Other composting toilets might use earthworms to speed up composting; these toilets are called vermicomposting toilets.

For this article, however, we’ll be referencing the active composting toilets that are self-contained systems. Even within this category, there are various options to choose from. Some models may be designed with a fan or a heating element to help speed up the decomposition process. Some of the models separate liquid and solid waste, processing them differently. If you elect to go this route, you’ll want to research the different models to choose the ideal one for your setting.

Where Are Composting Toilets Permitted for Use?

Currently, 27 states have legislation related to legal composting toilet use; however, this legislation varies, so you’ll need to check with your state/local government to find out about legal composting toilet use in your area. Some states, for instance, allow composting toilet use but require an additional gray water disposal system; these states are West Virginia and South Carolina.

Some states, such as Alaska, Alabama, California, and Oklahoma, have no legislation against composting toilets. Other states like Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Montana permit compost toilet use but with certain conditions. If you are considering purchasing a composting toilet, check with current legislation first.

The Benefits of Composting Toilets

Composting toilet’s pros and cons are many. We’ll explore them now. There are many composting toilets advantages that you should know about when deciding whether to buy one or not. We’ll outline some here.

Reduced Water Consumption

The average household can reduce their water consumption by 30%. That’s considerable water savings that also translates into cost savings. Just as you can reduce your water usage, you can reduce your utility costs too.

Few Maintenance Costs

Although composting toilets are often more expensive than conventional toilets (the prices for dry toilets may start around $600), they tend to require very little maintenance or ongoing expenses. The installation cost for a dry toilet is also less than a traditional toilet in most cases.

No Negative Environmental Impact

By using a composting toilet, you can lead a more eco-friendly life. Composting toilets do not harm the environment. You can add the compost directly to your landscape (avoid your edible plants, however) as topsoil.

Design Neutrality

Many neutral dry toilet designs won’t conflict with your decor.

Odor Management

Composting toilets are surprisingly odor-free when appropriately maintained. This is a decided advantage since many people are hesitant to purchase compost toilets because they’re worried about the smell.

What Are the Disadvantages of Dry Toilets?

Buyers should not ignore composting toilet disadvantages either. These toilets may not be ideal for everyone or every household—and certainly aren’t even allowed in many places. These are some of the most commonplace compost toilet cons to keep in mind:

Energy Required

Some composting toilets may require energy to power their fan. Traditional toilets, of course, do not rely on electricity.

Manual Handling

At some point, the composted material in the dry toilet must be handled. Keep in mind, however, that this material has effectively become topsoil. It’s not as messy or as unpleasant a situation as one might expect.


Composting toilets are generally more prominent than traditional toilets. If you need a smaller one, you’ll need to search for compact sizes or a split system composting toilet.


If your dry toilet isn’t adequately maintained, it can smell. Therefore, you’ll want to pay close attention to your toilet’s maintenance needs. For most toilets, this maintenance is relatively minimal. You may be required to dump in some live carbon periodically. We’ll talk more about sustainable toilet maintenance next.

Maintenance and Care Tips for Composting Toilets

Any dry toilet you purchase will come with recommended maintenance tips from the manufacturer. Some toilets may need the addition of live carbon from time to time. Many composting toilet owners must introduce ash and straw into their toilet systems to help with the composting process. Periodic cleaning with water and baking soda is also typically required.

Don’t introduce chemicals into your composting toilet as they can destroy its anaerobic environment. Additionally, you may not want to raise the composted material into your landscape if you take certain medications. Although some drugs like birth control are harmless when composted, others may pose an environmental risk.

When buying a composting toilet, it is prevalent that you will have to assemble it independently. However, the installation process is not complicated; there are simply a few things to take into account, such as measuring the space for your toilet (as they are generally a bit wider than traditional toilets), attaching it safely to the floor, and making sure there is enough ventilation in the room to avoid odor issues. And if you are a DIY kind of person, there are also lots of websites that will guide you step by step through the process of building your composting toilet from scratch!

If you’re interested in using a composting toilet at home, at your cabin, or in your RV, you’ll have many makes and models to choose from today. Be sure you understand your selection’s maintenance needs before making your choice. And always remember to check with your municipality to determine if a composting toilet is legal in your setting.


The information on this page is for educational and entertainment use only. No health, medical, or any other advice is stated or implied.


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