Friday, March 23, 2012

The Stores Are Out of Toilet Paper!

Bar mops, really cheap wash clothes,
 100% cotton fabric handkerchiefs.
       Would you panic if you were unable to purchase paper essentials like toilet paper? I have always maintained that TP is the one item I would really, REALLY miss if our world were suddenly plunged into the dark ages. Now with the government printing paper money with thoughtless abandon, I wonder if the American dollar will soon have all the purchasing power of Monopoly money. Suppose TP were to cost $1000 a roll? It could go higher than that if super inflation hits the nation. With weird weather striking all over the country, you can be sure that consumer goods prices will jump even without inflation. Or, if you are a prepper, you may already be wondering what to do if TP is no longer available.
       So think about how you would handle the situation. I recall a cartoon from many, many years ago showing an old timer sitting in the outhouse poring over a Sears catalog, then tearing a page from the book for sanitary purposes before leaving the facilities. I have heard that corn cobs were also popular for this purpose. Or a handful of leaves.
       With a little preparation, you wouldn't have to resort to any of these solutions, but toilet "paper" would not longer be a disposable item. Reusable toilet paper? Don't freak! Think cloth diapers; these serve a similar purpose, are washed repeatedly and reused until they wind up in the rag bin. Replacing TP is as easy as cutting an old flannel sheet into pieces about, oh, 4x10 inches, or purchasing some really, really cheap wash clothes. I found some of these priced at 25 cents each, cut them in half and sewed around the edges with a zig zag stitch. My pinking shearers are in the shop for sharpening. I'll use them to cut the flannel so it will not need hemming.
       Paper towels, napkins and facial tissues can all be replaced with fabric options. Finding that I used more paper towels than I thought reasonable, I was delighted to find 24-count packages of bar mops for about $20. The last time I bought a kitchen towel, I think I paid $7.00. The mops are smaller, but not by much. Since I bought two bar mop packages, I have no problem now with grabbing a clean towel to dry dishes or hands, cover rising dough, or wipe up a mess. There is a roll of paper towel in the dispenser, but it will be longer before it needs a replacement.
       For napkins and facial tissues (let's call them handkerchiefs), buy 100% cotton fabric, cut it into 18 inch squares (or smaller, if you prefer) and hem the edges. Don't sew? This would be an excellent first project. I suggest turning the fabric once all the way around, then going back and turning it again for a finished edge. Press with a hot iron as you go, then sew by hand or machine. Select linen for the napkins, or use the same soft fabric for both napkins and handkerchiefs, or even visit a thrift store for used sheets.
       All of these paper product substitutes have other uses regardless of whether or not the products we know and love are available, and they are cheap. In fact, if you are on a tight budget, you may want to consider using them to save money now. In any case, give some thought as how you would store the used items and how you would wash them. I am thinking primarily of the reusable TP. As with diapers, you may want a pail to keep them in until wash day. Putting them in your washing machine is fine unless the SHTF and you have no power. Consider getting one of those hand washers that look like a plunger. This sounds so much more appealing than using a wash board and I hear they work very well. Lehman's catalog lists them for about $19.00.


  1. I like the article because most folx won't talk about the subject.My solution..A water bottle near/on top the toilet with the squeeze top in it. I keep a clean fresh bottle of water for washing off in a 'no toilet paper emergency' I don't think I would blink an eye at the change. Then those little nappy's would be a lot cleaner on wash day or in the trash

    1. How silly we are to treat something this important as a taboo subject. I like the water bottle idea!

  2. It is really a nice blog about bar mops I have read online. You have shared the incredible information which very real on home and business.


  3. Arg! I wrote a nice long comment and accidentally deleted it. I'm thinking of making a nice box of reusable TP in case of a grid-down situation, and I like your suggestion about flannel sheets- I'll keep an eye open for them on a clearance rack or at a thrift store.

    I have spent a lot of my life without a washing machine, and between using a WonderWash (a little pressure washer tub you spin by hand), stomping on laundry in the bathtub like grapes and using a scrub brush on the rough spots, washboards, and a nifty little thing called a Breathing Washer, hands down I pick the Breathing Washer. I have one for emergencies, but mostly I use it for king sized quilts or things I don't like putting through the washing machine- throw rugs and rag rugs, for instance, I never feel get really clean enough.

    My handwashing protocol is to fill the bathtub with a couple inches of water, some soap, some laundry, and then stomp it and swish it for a few minutes with my feet to get the soap into all the fibers, then about 30-100 strokes of the breathing washer to get everything crazy clean, then rinse the same way. I keep a little nylon nail brush to scrub up any stains. When I've had to do this, my clothes come out way cleaner than they do from the machine, with less wear and tear- which is why things like lovely quilts get this treatment, or expensive coats, but not the kid's socks!

    Hope that's helpful!