The Best Toilet Paper Alternatives

The Best Toilet Paper Alternatives
Image: Getty

With all this fuss about Coronavirus, and the prospect of potentially quarantining yourself for two weeks to see if you develop symptoms, some people are going (for want of a better term) completely fucking crazy. They’re stockpiling everything they can, and one of the most ‘in demand’ items happens to be toilet paper. Why? Who knows, but you know how idiots work: once one idiot does something, every idiot follows suit because Idiot #1 must be some sort of genius seer who has seen some sort of tragedy. Idiots being idiots are incapable of thinking things through, and can’t process the fact that coronavirus does not cause diarrhoea, and a single 24 pack should last even the most paper-intensive family over a month.

But things are the way they are, and naturally we figured it best to help people who need toilet paper the most get around the empty shelves. With that in mind, here’s our list of all the best paper alternatives.

Just bear in mind that this guide is written from the perspective of using toilet paper to clean up your bum after a poo. That’s what these alternatives are all about, so they may not apply to all the other toilet paper uses out there. So use your common sense.

Wet/Baby Wipes

Yes they’re meant for babies, but there isn’t an age limit on using a damp piece of material to clean yourself up. After all if it works for the smallest people in society, it can work for you – even a grown adult doesn’t (or shouldn’t) be pooing anywhere close to as often as a baby. Then again these things are the bane of the sewer worker’s existence, and the last thing they need during a potential viral outbreak is to head down into the pies to clear up giant clogs influenced by toilet paper panic buying.

The best part is that the ubiquity of using baby wipes on actual babies means that these are sold pretty much everywhere. Even your shop on the corner that’s annoyingly more expensive than the big shop up the road. So even if people do panic buy, you can pick up a few packs to keep you going for a while.

Pros: Actually cleans, don’t need as many, can be repurposed for other uses, no chance of accidentally buying cheap stuff that feels like sandpaper

Cons: You’re not supposed to flush them, they are more expensive, and these will be the next to go if idiots continue doing their thing.

A Bidet

toilet paper alternativesImage: Amazon

A common thing in many parts of the world, but they never really caught on in the UK. Basically it’s a stream of water that shoots into your bum and cleans the thing off, because water is probably the best way to clean any part of yourself – especially your arsehole. Of course you can’t ditch the paper entirely, because if you don’t dry off you’ll end up with a stain that may make people think you briefly shat yourself.

They’re not too expensive either, and over on Amazon you can get a bidet toilet seat attachment for as little as £30. That’s a lot to spend in one go, compared to an Andrex 24 pack, but at the same time it means you’re paper expenses are going to drop rather significantly.

Pros: Water beats paper, don’t need a professional to install it, toilet attachments mean no redoing your bathroom

Cons: You need to take your toilet apart first, I imagine they take some getting used to, not all of them have hot water

The Shower

best alternatives to toilet paperImage: Kevin Baquerizo on Unsplash

If you don’t have a shower I have to wonder what your deal is, because it’s much more efficient to clean yourself in this than in the bath. From a toilet paper-replacement perspective, it’s also a lot more efficient than wipes, and not quite as shocking as using a bidet. After all you should be cleaning your bum crack in the shower anyway, and if you don’t you should start right away. The only difference here is that it’s a little bit dirtier, and you don’t necessarily need to wash the rest of yourself off.

Just make sure the shower is kept clean too, because nobody wants stray poo particles hanging around in there for extended periods of time.

Pros: Warm, water still beats paper, there’s usually nice smelling soap handy too

Cons: Bit of a faff, need to dry yourself off afterwards, bit of a waste of water, most people will think you’re gross

The Bum Gun

Image: Amazon

Apparently these are quite common in Asia, since toilet paper isn’t nearly as common there. Essentially it’s a shower attachment that is connected to your toilet, meaning you get the benefits of water pressure without actually having to strip off and get into a separate cubicle to clean yourself up. It might take some getting used to, and some people may ask awkward questions, but you get the benefits of the bidet and the shower without having some of the downsides. Plus you can buy them quite easily, and can probably repurpose them to clean the toilet itself.

Pros: More powerful than a bidet; Less awkward than a shower; Warm water versions available

Cons: May need professional installation; Might take a bit of practise; Awkward to explain to the in-laws

The Daily Mail (Or Aussie Alternatives)

Image: Howard Lake/Flickr

Some people might claim that they wouldn’t wipe their arse with a tabloid, especially if it’s one they hate like the Daily Mail. But if you’re adamantly against using water to clean your arse, then a newspaper is your best option. Any one will do.

After all they pump these out every day, they’re sold everywhere, and each copy has enough sheets of paper to last you a while.

Of course if you don’t want to pay for it, you can always try and get some fresh copies of free papers. It’s not quite as satisfying, but free is free.

Pros: It makes some of that content seems more respectable; You get a smug sense of satisfaction in the process

Cons: More expensive than toilet paper; Buying it boosts sales figures and ad revenue (probably); The sewers weren’t built for newspaper; You might get ink on your hands and bum, papercuts; Not as satisfying as using The Sun

‘Family Cloth’

Image: Joyce Romero/Unsplash

These things have popped up on news sites as part of the whole sustainability movement, and they basically involve strips of cloth that you use to clean up your bum and throw in the wash ready to be reused another time. Obviously that means you’re not using paper that’s been cut down, treated, and transported, though I expect you will end up using more water and energy in your own home. After all you can’t just throw them in with your clothes, and for hygiene reasons you’re going to need a high temperature wash.

Pros: Reusable, not literally flushing money down the toilet every time you go,

Cons: This thing is going to need washing A LOT, honestly there are better options to clean your bum than this.

Three Seashells

Straight out of 2032 comes the three seashell method, letting you clean yourself in a way that is far better for the environment than using regular old-fashioned toilet paper. Assuming,of course, that you actually know how to use them.

Pros: Environmentally sound

Cons: Nobody really knows how they work

Sponge on a Stick

Image: CDC/Unsplash

Back in the olden times the Romans used a piece of sponge on a stick to keep their bums clean, though they were officially known as ‘Xylospongium’ if Wikipedia is be believed. If push comes to shove, and the shops run out of bum-cleaning supplies and you don’t want to jump in the shower, you can always grab a sponge from the kitchen cupboard and do things like the ancient Italians did. Just be sure to clean the thing off a bit better, because apparently the Roman sponges were a bit of a disease refuge.

Pros: It worked for the Romans

Cons: You need the stick to be the right size, another pain to clean if you want to avoid cholera.

This post originally appeared on Gizmodo UK, which is gobbling up the news in a different timezone.