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17 simple toilet paper alternatives in the wild

Last updated on February 4, 2021
In survival situations you should only carry essential items. Personal hygiene is important so we put together a list of the best toilet paper alternatives.

In a survival situation, you must consider prepping in case of emergency. Sometimes you might not think of the ordinary items you take for granted. These can provide comfort, improve your mood and mental health.

One of these ordinary items is toilet paper. You might not think about toilet paper in a survival situation, but it is an essential item. Unfortunately, toilet paper takes a lot of space in your bug out bag.

In case you don't know what to do, here are some of the best toilet paper alternatives for survival situations.

Survival toilet paper alternatives

Some modern alternatives might be a great fit for your bug out bag. These are compact, lightweight, and are affordable. Unfortunately, you don't know how long the survival situation will last. This is why you need backup and redundancy plans.

Compressed Coin Tissues

Compressed coin tissues are alcohol and preservative-free. These are made from organic, natural, and biodegradable materials. Before using them, you just have to add warm water, and they will expand their surface.

Its compact size enables you to carry it around anywhere. You don’t need to worry because it is hypoallergenic and safe to use. It is lightweight and fits in any bug out bag.

Roman Sponges (Sponge on a stick)

During Ancient Rome, royals cleaned their butts using a sponge on a stick. Roman sponges can be a good solution if you don’t have toilet paper.

Small Oval River Stones

Small oval river stones are among the most useful alternatives to toilet paper. In fact, it is a toileting tool for Islamic cultures.

A benefit is that you can hold them comfortably, and they are easy to find. On the other hand, you must avoid using small oval river stones with sharp edges.


Water is among the best toilet paper alternatives you can use. You can use it at any time of the day, and it cleans well.

If you are near a water stream, you can clean yourself with ease without needing anything else.


In the absence of toilet paper, you can use other types of paper in times of emergency. You can use newspapers, notebook paper, envelopes, printer paper, and more.

This is a useful alternative in urban survival scenarios. It is difficult to find paper in the wild.


In the absence of toilet paper, you can use other types of paper in times of emergency. You can use newspapers, notebook paper, envelopes, printer paper, and more.

This is a useful alternative in urban survival scenarios. It is difficult to find paper in the wild.


If you want an eco-friendly toilet paper alternative, you can use a cloth or any piece of soft fabric.

Cotton balls

You can also use cotton balls as a substitute for toilet paper. You can have bundles of cotton balls to get more wiping efficiency.

Sanitary napkin

Another good entry on our list of toilet paper alternatives is sanitary napkins. You can take off the wrapping and use it as a substitute for toilet paper.

Rope or cord

If you don’t have anything else, you can use a piece of rope or make a bundle from paracord.

Big leaves

Plant based toilet paper alternatives

If you don't have a human-made modern toilet paper substitute, you can always rely on nature. It provides a lot of natural toilet paper alternatives.

Check out what plants you can use if you are out of toilet paper.


Mullein plant has many uses. People use it as an ingredient to add flavor to alcoholic beverages. It is also used for making medicine.

Did you know that it can also be a great alternative to toilet paper? It is useful as a toilet paper alternative because of its big and soft leaves.

Moreover, it is safe to use because it doesn’t contain toxic substances. You can use its fresh leaves as survival toilet paper.

Corn husks

You may not know it, but corn husks were considered toiled paper in the past. They are soft, making them perfect for your daily needs. The husks are natural and biodegradable, so they don't contain any toxic substances.

Slippery Elm

The slippery elm comes with many health benefits. Its leaves are not absorbent and soft. Its leaves are a bit abrasive but not like sandpaper.

The leaves contain small hairs with silica crystals. This is why it is useful for cleaning, making it a good toilet paper substitute.

Large Leaved Aster

Large-leaved aster is also called Eurybia Macrophylla and Lumberjack’s toilet paper. In the summer, these heart-shaped leaves form a carpet of greenery with violet flowers.

In fact, indigenous cultures use it as medicine and edible plant. It is large and suitable for cleaning, making it a good alternative to toilet paper.

Cottonwood leaves

Cotton leaves, also known as Populus deltoides, are a good toilet paper alternative. These leaves are safe to use and large enough, making them ideal for toilet use.

It is unlikely to tear as you use them. Another use for cotton leaves is that they have slight numbing properties. This makes them useful as bandages also.


You can consider moss the gold standard for toilet paper alternatives. It is a natural germ killer and is rich in iodine. Moss is absorbent and soft making it a good wiping material.

Since moss is brittle, after you use it, bits of moss may remain on the surface of your skin. You should remove them once you're done.

Old Man’s Beard (Spanish moss)

Spanish Moss is one of the 87 types of Old Man's beard. Its appearance is like a tangled fishing line, which makes it a soft wiping material.

It has usnic acid, which you can use against Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacteria. Besides being a good toilet paper substitute, you can also use it as a fire starter when dried.

Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina)

This plant is among the common perennials that gardeners grow. It has strong, fuzzy, and soft leaves that bloom during summer. Lamb’s Ear can be a good toilet paper substitute since it is safe to use since it is non-toxic.

It comes with medicinal properties so that you can use it as a bandage. Its thick leaves are durable and will not tear. You can find the Lamb’s Ear in the United States, Turkey, Iran, and Armenia.

Osage Orange

Osage orange has small bumps and crevices on its surface. This makes its texture ideal for cleaning.

Corn cobs

In case you find a cornfield, corn cobs can be a handy alternative to toilet paper. You can enjoy the corn on the cob. Once you're done, take the cobs and dry them in the sun. Once they are dry, you can store them for future use.

Bolted lettuce

Bolted lettuce is not good to eat. Yet, you can still use it as a toilet paper alternative. The leaves are big enough, and you can use them as wiping material.

Hazelnut leaves

Hazelnut leaves can be efficient as survival toilet paper. However, there is some fuzz that can irritate those with sensitive skin.

Hazelnut leaves are non-toxic and soft. You can use it if you don't have other toilet paper alternatives. The hazelnut leaves can grow in different areas of the world, including the United States.

Thimbleberry leaves

Thimbleberry leaves (Rubus parviflorus) are soft and pillowy. These leaves can serve as your toilet paper in times of emergency. You can find it from Alaska to California.

You can also find it in south New Mexico and Europe. Thimbleberry is a gorgeous plant that can flourish and grow in damp areas. These leaves grow in wet areas near water bodies, railroads, and roadsides.

Dock leaves

Another good entry on our toilet paper alternatives list is dock leaves. It is also called bitter dock, Rumex Obtusifolius, and Butter Dock.

You can find dock leaves in the United States, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and other world areas.

You can use it as a toilet paper alternative in the wild. It has oval, big, and slightly rough leaves, making it ideal as a wiping material. It is easy to find because it grows in meadows, shorelines, drains, and roadsides.

Maple leaves

Maple leaves are large enough to be ideal as a toilet paper substitute. They are safe and comfortable for cleaning since they don’t have hairs that can irritate your skin. You can find Maple leaves in most of the woods.

Red Mulberry

The Red Mulberry is also known as Morus Rubra. You can use it as a toilet alternative during your bug out.

You can find this plant in the central and eastern parts of North America and Canada. It is good to use as toilet paper because of its soft and big leaves.

Corn Lily Leaves

Found in West America, corn lily leaves are useful as toilet wipes. These can grow in open meadows. The leaves are durable and will not tear upon usage. Corn lily leaves are large and sturdy enough, making it cleansing and wiping material.


Butterbur is also called Giant Butterbur, Sweet-colts foot, Great Butterbur, and Petasites Japonicus. You can find these leaves in North America, Canada, Korea, Japan, and China. You can use the large soft leaves as an alternative to toilet paper.

Big Leaf Magnolia leaves

Big Leaf Magnolia is also known as Magnolia Macrophylla. You can find it in eastern Mexico and the southeastern United States. It grows in sunny places and can thrive in low-light conditions.

Due to its big smooth leaves, it is an ideal substitute for toilet paper.


What not to use as survival toilet paper

Now that you know what are the best toilet paper alternatives, here's what you should avoid. When it comes to bad choices for toilet paper, you should follow the list below.

  • Avoid poisonous plants such as poison oak and poison ivy.
  • Observe how the leaves grow. You can avoid leaves that grow in groups of three on the branch.
  • Don’t use plants that have waxy leaves.
  • You should avoid poisonous plants like Stinging Nettle, Poison Sumac, Wolf’s Bane, Devil’s Club, Gympie-Gympie, Giant Hogweed, and more.

How to choose the best toilet paper alternative

It is a fact that toilet paper brings comfort and convenience in this modern world. But, what if you lack toilet paper during emergencies? Then, you have no choice but to use toilet paper alternatives. Here are some tips on how to choose the best toilet paper substitute.
  • Size is one factor to consider when finding a good toilet paper substitute. When possible, you should choose plants with large leaves.
  • It is a good idea to choose fuzzy and smooth-surfaced leaves that are absorbent and won't irritate your skin.
  • You should look for thicker leaves. These are more durable and don't tear while you use them.
  • It is important to choose leaves that have no spikes, irritable hairs, or thorns.

Things to consider

In survival situations, you must consider a few things when defecating. Make sure that you don’t do it near the water sources where you get your drinking water.

You should dig a hole around 6 to 8 inches deep. This way, you can dispose of the used toilet paper. Make sure to wash your hands once you're done. Bacteria can be very dangerous in the wild.

Why is it essential to wipe?

Wiping after defecating is necessary. Thus, without wiping, the fecal matter can accumulate and cause various problems. It can cause skin irritation and infections. It can get worse if you don’t wash off at the end of each day.

Proper hygiene is crucial for your health. So, it is important to wipe after to avoid potential health problems.

Final thoughts

You cannot deny that toilet paper is essential, especially if you’re in the wild. In survival situations, you can use the toilet paper alternatives mentioned above. When it comes to survival, you have to be prepared and have the knowledge and skills to meet your needs. Being knowledgeable in times of emergency can bring you peace of mind. If you wish to get back to safety, you need to consider your health. This is why you should pay close attention to personal hygiene. I hope this list gives you an idea on what are the best toilet paper alternatives. If you want to learn more about how to survive in the wild, check out our survival tips section.

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