What should you do if you run out of toilet paper? First – don’t panic! Humans starting wiping their bottoms over 300,000 years ago and toilet paper was not invented until 1857. So, lots of items have been, and can be, used instead of toilet paper. However, DO NOT FLUSH THEM DOWN THE TOILET BOWL! You will cause a stoppage, if not immediately, eventually it will happen. Instead, if you run out of toilet paper and have to use another item to wipe, dispose of the refuse in the trash.

The global Coronavirus pandemic has upended all of our daily lives for so many people in our Hampton Roads community, our country and around the world. With the COVID-19 panic, many areas are seeing a frenzy of buying bread, milk and meats but one of the most interesting things people are doing is hoarding toilet paper. This just does not make sense, as toilet paper is a luxury but not a necessity. The government has urged Americans that we are not going to run out of toilet paper and this type of panic hoarding does not make sense and to stop it – to no avail.

Of course, we are all understandably concerned and we all have seen at least one disturbing online video of people getting into fist fights over packages of toilet paper. How could we see that and not wonder if we should stock up too, and how do we feel about going out to try and hunt down some toilet paper, finding the last 4-pack at the grocery store and an irate, crazy person try to fist fight you for it? Things have gotten to the point of panic, and many are trying to take advantage with price gouging and the hoarding continues. So, if the crazy toilet paper hoarder jumped in front of you at the grocery store and beat you to it, what can you do if you run out of toilet paper?

The question comes down to this – is toilet paper really necessary? In America, we may answer yes but in many other countries, that is not the case. In fact, foreign to many Americans, many European, South American and Asian countries do not frequently use toilet paper. Instead, many of them use squat toilets or bidets. So, one option is to purchase a bidet! A bidet can lower the amount you spend on toilet paper by up to 75 percent. Not only is a bidet a paper saver, it is also environmentally friendly. According to Business Insider, it takes about 37 gallons to produce a single roll of toilet paper but a bidet only uses around one-eighth of a gallon of water per flush.

If you don’t want to purchase a new bathroom appliance, you can add a low-cost bidet-type feature on, or as a replacement to, your toilet tank lid. A bidet allows you to use very little or no toilet paper at all, depending on its features. Bidets are available lots of places including online from Amazon, or in-store at general hardware stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s.

If you have completely run out of toilet paper and don’t have a bidet or bidet-type added feature, you can repurpose other types of paper or fabric, or just hop in the shower afterwards. Of course, you will be much cleaner after showering than you would be using any type of paper. No time for a shower? Other items you can use instead if you are out of toilet paper include: napkins, tissues, coffee filters, paper bags, baby wipes, washable towels or even what our ancestors used to use back before toilet paper was invented in 1857, surprisingly – the Mayans used corn cobs! Ancient Romans used a sponge on a stick. Other choices through our history were leaves, rags, and moss, and the wealthy would use wool, lace, or similar.

In the early 1900s, when indoor plumbing became more common, more people had flushing toilets and thus a need arose for toilet paper that would not cause clogs or problems with the pipes. In 1928, the Hoberg Paper Company offered Charmin toilet paper to the public, and it was a success. As time went on, toilet paper became more of a necessity than a luxury item, as it had been something that was reserved for only the wealthy.