I Road Tested Some Toilet Paper Substitutes Because There’s No More Toilet Paper

I Reviewed Toilet Paper Substitutes Because There’s No More Toilet Paper

Spoiler: I found something way better than toilet paper.

Let’s start this article by acknowledging a universal truth. That is: all of us have at some point tried to wipe our asses with something that’s not toilet paper. This might have happened to you on a tropical holiday after a curry, or maybe during some high-pressure social event in which it was impossible to leave the toilet and go shuffling about looking for toilet paper without people noticing, let alone making a total mess. So you found a receipt in your wallet or you found some hapless shrub and you made do. And it’s fine, we’ve all been there. You just make do.


So let’s keep that in mind. Wiping your ass with things that aren’t toilet paper is fine and normal and if you do it right, maybe even a little bit of fun.



I think that on some level everyone quietly believes that newspaper would be an okay substitute for toilet paper, but I’m here to put that misconception to bed because newspaper sucks. It sucks so badly that I’m not ever really sure where to start, so I’ll provide dot points.

  • It’s spikey. Somehow, regardless of how careful you are, newspaper manages to fold itself into a series of small pointy bits that lacerate your butt.
  • It’s too goddam smooth. Toilet paper works because it’s absorbent and porous but newspaper is neither of those things. Newspaper just smears.
  • If the first two problems weren’t discorouging enough, imagine introducing a whole lot of ink to the situation.
  • Newspaper blocks your toilet fast. Like weirdly fast. Try flushing a section of newspaper the size of a postage stamp and your toilet will never work again.
  • Wiping your ass with people’s faces isn’t as much fun as you’d think. This photo might depict a face that truly deserves being used as toilet paper, but this photo was carefully staged. When you’re in an IRL wiping situation, you don’t have the time nor the patience to go riffling around looking for the perfect face to shit on. So you just end up using whatever is there, which in my case meant lots of endangered birds and cute orphans, and that added a whole new level of discomfort to the inky, spikey, smeary, blocked-up plumbing misery of using newspaper as toilet paper.


0 stars out of 10


Orange Peel

This was a huge improvement. HUGE. Wiping your ass with orange peel keeps your fingers clean, while lightly brushing your anus in citrus oil, which provides a nice after-service smell. But my favourite thing about peel is that it’s damp. And I’m oversharing here, but I quite like using damp things to wipe my ass. For as long as I can remember I’ve started with toilet paper and finished with a Wet-Wipe (which I put in the bin), and the reason is simple: dry toilet paper doesn’t work on its own.

Think I’m wrong? Try wiping peanut butter out of a carpet with nothing but a piece of dry toilet and see how successful you are. It’ll leave residue, I bet. And now imagine that residue is dried poo that sits in your ass all day as you go about pretending to be a clean adult. In fact, I’m quite certain that a vast percentage of the adult population gets around with chronically poopy bums while believing that their lackluster swabbing with dry paper has somehow magically removed the poo. But it hasn’t. You need moisture. You need a surfactant, and in this case the citrus oil in orange peel does a great job.

8.5 stars out of 10


Cigarette papers

I went in knowing this wouldn’t work but I saw that meme floating around and I just wanted to try. Fucking disgusting. No.

0 out of 10


A leaf

Let me start this review with a bold statement: I don’t think you’ve gone camping until you’ve gone camping without toilet paper. Now, allow me to explain.

The whole point of camping is to become one with nature;to feel the wind in your hair, the earth beneath your feet. And that’s because becoming one with nature makes people happy, which is why I believe that many of the world’s most bonkers people just need to go camping. Lindsay Lohan, for example, just needs a weekend up on the Murray.


Now, as you can imagine, camping without toilet paper achieves all the same positive results, but with the dial turned way up. There’s a certain primal satisfaction that comes with stepping back from your own shit in a forest clearing and hobbling into the nearest stream to wash off. Or diving into the ocean. You feel cosmic energy flow through your bones like rain. You feel peaceful and connected. You feel surprisingly clean.

You will, however, note that I’ve described this toilet-paper free scenario ending with swimming, and not with leaves, and that’s because leaves are useless. Don’t ever use leaves. They break apart and you’ll find yourself gingerly dabbing at your own pooie sphincter until you realise what’s happened and you’ll recoil like you’ve been electrocuted.

2 out of 10


A sock

When I was 15 I had a friend named Steve who once spent $5 on “Ghost Drops,” which were a sour candy that came in a range of inorganic colours and cost 5 cents each. Just quickly doing the maths here, I realise that Steve bought exactly 100 Ghost Drops, which explains what happened next. Steve ate most of them (he shared them around but after your third Ghost Drop you start saying no) and then he rushed off behind some trees complaining of stomach cramps. A few minutes later he called me over, and I obliged because I was 15 and curious. “Look,” he said, pointing to a rainbow turd sitting on the ground. It was pretty foul—but the thing that stays with me to this day was Steve’s socks, which he’d apparently sacrificed to the clean-up process and laid over the top. “Didn’t have any toilet paper,” Steve explained, matter-of-factly.

I will say though, Steve was onto something, because socks are strong, soft and durable. They’re the Rolls-Royce of wiping experiences, with a price tag to match. Just don’t flush them, for reasons made clear in the newspaper section. 10 out of 10.

Julian is on Twitter and Instagram