10 Ways to Wipe Your Butt for Free

UPDATE: It is 2020 and I have not bought toilet paper in about seven years.

(OK there was one time I bought a roll or two in NYC. So let’s call it a couple rolls in seven years)

Here are 10 ways to wipe your butt for free.

  1. Grow your own. There are multiple soft plants out there that grow perfect leaves to be used as toilet paper. Plants with soft, wide leaves are ideal. When I lived in Orlando, Florida for two years I grew my own. The plant I grew was Plectranthus barbatus (common name: Blue Spur Flower). Here’s a photo of it growing at my place, where I use it with my outdoor compost toilet and you can see the plants and me talking about it in this video. From what I’ve read, this plant grows well in zones 8-10. I was in zone 9b in Orlando, Florida. You can read more about this plant on wikipedia, on this site, and by simply doing a web search for “Plectranthus barbatus.” I do not know if it grows from seed. I started mine from cutting. I do not ship and don’t have a source for where you can purchase. If you are in the Orlando area, you could join Orlando Permaculture and get some from a local permaculturist. In colder climates I have used mullein and enjoy this natural toilet paper quite a bit. It is extremely abundant across much of the United States and I’m sure other regions of the world. Lambs ear is also fantastic, as you can imagine from the name. I recommend finding the native toilet paper plant of your region and encouraging it to grow on your property and sharing it with your friends too. Here is a blog with five naturally growing toilet papers including mullein and lambs ear. (Additional note: a toilet paper plant growing in its native environment will never, or rarely, need to be watered and will grow in native soil, so this is a low resource solution.)
  2. Dumpster dive at pharmacies for perfectly good toilet paper. I’ve often found unopened twelve and twenty-four packs of toilet paper. This can be due to a torn or squished package or because someone stole a roll so the whole package was incomplete. It is in no way contaminated or dirty. I’ve often also found huge amounts of unused, unopened packages of napkins and tissues. You could even try dumpster diving at the toilet paper factory and may discover a lifetime supply.
  3. Go to fast food restaurants and pick up the dozens of unused napkins that people leave on their table. People often take a stack of napkins just to throw half away. (I’m not saying to mooch off the restaurant. I am saying to take napkins that would have gone into the garbage unused.)
  4. Cloth wipes. Make nice little wipes out of old t-shirts and then wash them just as you would washable diapers. Here’s a guide if to want to do it. It’s not gross, a lot of families around the world do it.
  5. Newspaper. Grab it out of the recycling bin or trash can and put it to good use. Don’t flush newspaper or anything else more tough than toilet paper as it can clog the toilet. Compost it. In many countries they have a garbage can for used toilet paper and you could do that as well. It’s no more gross than throwing away used diapers for all you parents out there.
  6. Use a bidet. (Ok, I guess this isn’t quite free since you have to pay for the water, but it’s far cheaper than toilet paper, practically free).
  7. Use a bum gun. This is a little spray nozzle next to the toilet to spray your butt clean with water. 
  8. Even simpler than installing a bidet or bum gun is to put a little kettle by the toilet and pour water onto your bum area. I had a roommate from India and he taught me how to do this. It was awesome.
  9. Smooth stones. I’ve done this quite a few times while out in the woods and found this to be pretty great!
  10. Leaves. This is easy if you’re in the woods taking a squat, but you could also grab a bunch of your favorite leaves and bring them home with you. You’ll want to compost them using a compost toilet. Check out the compost toilet I had in San Diego to learn about this.
  11. Here’s two more ideas (that I’ve also done plenty of times) submitted in the comments. Take a shower after pooping. For those that poop regularly in the morning and like to shower in the morning, this is an especially ideal arrangement. For those that poop five times a day, not the best option. Take a plastic water bottle, poke holes in the top and use that as a very simple, homemade bum cleaner. This works great at home or in the woods.

Note: Some of these options will involve a compost toilet. You don’t want to flush things down the toilet that would clog the toilet or the system. You can also use a normal flush toilet but instead of flushing the “toilet paper”, have a separate bin and compost it, or just put it in the garbage. In many countries they have a garbage can for used toilet paper.

2nd Note: Proper sanitation is absolutely key. We as humans need to practice common sense over consumerism. Some of these may seem unsanitary, and sure could be done in an unsanitary way, but all of these options can be practiced in a completely safe and sanitary manner.

25,000 trees are dumped into the landfill each day from our toilet paper usage. It also takes a lot of water and energy to create toilet paper. Then it’s got to be shipped which burns fossil fuels. Trees chopped down, water wasted, and fossil fuels burned just to wipe your butt? Toilet paper is a huge environmental nuisance and a huge waste of money. Maybe it’s time you stop wiping your butt with your money?

Here’s a couple videos to get you thinking further: