No Toilet Paper? The Do’s and Don’ts of Safe TP Substitution

Is your household out of toilet paper? Whether a shortage affects your area or you just forgot to shop for the necessary bathroom item, take a look at the do’s and don’ts of your next steps.

Do Think About the Plumbing System

Ideally you would go out any buy toilet paper in bulk right now. But if that’s not an option, you need to find a suitable alterative. While your personal comfort is a key factor in the substitute, it isn’t the only factor consider. Before you choose an alternative product, think about your home’s plumbing system and ask:

  • Do you have a septic tank? Thick products, such as paper towels, won’t break up into small pieces in your home’s tank. This can lead to clogs, backups, and septic tank damage.
  • Do you have slow-to-clear drains? Do your toilets clog regularly? The addition of a thick or heavy toilet paper substitute won’t help this common plumbing problem. Choose a paper alternative wisely and contact a plumber as soon as possible for a drain repair.
  • Do you want to avoid future problems?  The last thing you want to add to your list of home repairs is a non-functional toilet. Even though it’s better to prevent a problem before it starts, a plumber can effectively and efficiently clear the clog if needed.

Now that you’ve considered how an alternative toilet paper choice can affect your home’s plumbing system, it’s time to select a substitute.

Don’t Use Non-Flushable Products

Before you grab the nearest possible toilet paper substitute, stop and think about whether it’s an acceptable alternative. Some products should never go into a toilet — whether you have plenty of paper or not. The most common substitutions that you should avoid completely include:

  • Baby wipes. Even though some of these products have “septic safe” or “flushable” claims, wipes don’t break down enough to easily pass through your home’s plumbing system. Repeated flushing can result in a wipe-related clog or serious sewer backup.
  • Paper towels. Paper towels aren’t only a problem for home’s with a septic tank. Thick, absorbent paper towel products can clump and clog your home’s plumbing system.
  • Feminine hygiene products. Sanitary pads will also clog the residential plumbing system. Never flush these as toilet paper alterative.
  • Cotton balls. While cotton balls or pads may seem like a soft, safe alternative, the comfort comes at a cost to your home’s plumbing system. Like other non-flushable products, cotton won’t break apart enough to pass through the system easily.
  • Fabric or towels. If you’re tempted to cut toilet paper-sized squares from old t-shirts or towels, think again. Fabric is never acceptable to flush. Whether you use an old tee, craft fabric, or a hand towel, the material won’t break apart and will most likely cause a serious clog.

If you can’t flush wipes, towels (paper or fabric), cotton, or other similar products, what can you do if you run out of toilet paper? While the most obvious alternatives are non-flushable, you can get creative and find other ways around your paper problem.

Do Find Ways Around the Flush

Some of the most common non-flushable culprits behind toilet clogs are workable alternatives to toilet paper. But that doesn’t mean creative use can end in a flush. Before you flush a wipe, pad, or anything else, consider:

  • Disposable options. Even though baby wipes shouldn’t go into the commode, they can go in the trash. Choose a biodegradable wipe (or paper towel) and put it in the diaper bin or a sealable trash bag after using the facilities.
  • Water. If you don’t have a bidet, make your own with a splash of water.
  • Thin tissue. Some facial tissue products are flushable. Instead of thick paper towels or cushioned tissue, choose the thinnest possible product and pre-break it into smaller pieces before use.

What happens if you accidentally flush the wrong substitute? If you didn’t mean to flush a wipe, towel, or anything else, call a plumber for a professional clog repair service.

Is your toilet clogged? Contact Moon Valley Plumbing for more information.