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Stop Using Toilet Paper: Strange Ways to Save Money

By , December 22nd, 2010 | 14 Comments »

Toilet paper makes up a decent sized chunk of many people’s household budgets. It’s not cheap. When you have a big family or people who just reel it off the roll, the costs go even higher. If you want to cut some money from your budget, there are ways to do without traditional toilet paper.

The first way is to use reusable cloths. You can use old washcloths, cut up some cloth diapers, or even buy special cloth toilet wipes. Despite the ick factor involved, this idea really isn’t that different from using cloth diapers on a baby. You keep a container next to the toilet and the used wipes are tossed in there and then washed just like cloth diapers. If using the wipes for poop is just too gross for you, you can use cloth wipes for urine only and save the toilet paper for poop. Not only is this cheaper than buying toilet paper all the time, it’s more environmentally friendly. Another plus: The cloths are softer and more absorbent than most toilet paper. Just be sure to train your household so that the wipes aren’t accidentally flushed. Cloth wipes aren’t good for plumbing.

If the cloth wipe idea is too far out there for you, you can install a bidet. The bidet squirts water on your nether-regions eliminating (or at least greatly reducing) the need for toilet paper. Some bidets even heat the water. If you don’t want to buy an all new toilet with a bidet, there are aftermarket options that can be installed on existing toilets. Or, you can do like one woman I know who uses a squirt bottle and calls it her “poor woman’s bidet.” You can combine the bidet with the cloth wipes to reduce the ick factor somewhat. Use the bidet first and then use the wipes.

There are other ideas, but many aren’t practical or would offend Western sensibilities. You can try old newspaper or phone book pages. Leaves work in outdoor environments (just don’t get the poisonous kind). In many parts of the world people just use water and their hand. Toilet paper is a first world “necessity.” There are many places in the world where toilet paper isn’t used. If you want to stick with T.P. but still save money, try using less. You don’t need a whole wad to get the job done. A few squares will usually do. A higher fiber diet will usually result in less need for toilet paper, too, thanks to firmer poops that are easier to clean up.

On a related note, if you want to save even more money in the bathroom, you can follow the old adage, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown flush it down.” You can save money on your water bill if you don’t flush every time you pee. Solids should be flushed every time, but you can go two or three times before you need to flush urine. There are also toilets available that let you choose your “flush strength” according to what’s in the toilet. These toilets use less water when you choose the lighter flush option to flush liquid waste.

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  • Natalie says:

    Yeah, but it’ll have to be dark days before I stop using toilet paper and washing rags.

  • Kacy says:

    I still use toilet paper, but I also keep a pile of scrap material too small for sewing projects in the bathroom. Since, these were on their way to the trash anyway, I use them for various things like blotting makeup, in leiu of cotton balls, and also toilet paper. I don’t wash and reuse them, but at least they get a second life first. If they are 100% cotton and I don’t use them for anything gross, they sometimes go into the compost pile. I have also found that these have been lifesavers on the occasions when others have not refilled the paper roll.

  • Anita Roberson says:

    I’m cheap but not that cheap!

  • brian says:

    Wow, I cannot believe this article.

    I’m as cheap as it gets, but I would think someone could round up some change to find toliet paper. This would be about last on my list of items to cut in the budget. Worse case, I would go to a rest area before I would wash poopy rags. If you can afford rent/mortgage you should be able to afford toliet paper.

  • scfr says:

    Studied the bidet option extensively. Cold water bidets are … very cold … like the setting of your cold water faucet, NOT room temperature. No thanks. For one that heats the water, you need an electrical outlet that is safe to have around water, next to your toilet. Think about where the nearest outlet to your toilet is. Having a cord running across the floor or dangling across the room is NOT a safe option. We would have had to have an electrical line dropped through the walls and an outlet installed. And for an appliance with the “juice” to heat up water we would have had to do some sort of upgrade to the wiring in our bathroom even tho this is a new house. Don’t ask me the technical details; I forget. Bottom line was it was very expensive. We decided to stick with paper. I think if a bidet is installed when a home is built, it’s a reasonable option. To add one after market is not a frugal option.

  • supra92 says:

    love bidets, but they seem especially foreign to Americans and I rarely see them here — and I’ve lived in New York, North Carolina, and Texas. That said, fully concurred with both brian (#4) and scfr (#5). I would think that the installation of a warm-water bidet, aftermarket in an existing house, would cost more money than probably a decade’s worth of TP…

  • Isabelle says:

    Many years ago I had a house full of young women, nieces and daughter with friends. They used toilet paper like it was going out of fashion!

    Then a supermarket brought out a VERY economy brand which was not so soft and user friendly for make up removal and nose blowing.

    Result! Consumption dropped.

    Rags – no, not for me. I think the washing (done on their own in the machine) and drying costs must come near to the cost of cheap paper.

  • Bob says:

    I’m frugal, but not cheap! Besides, I live in America, not Afganistan.

    “You don

  • Jo says:

    Please realize that buying, installing and using the needed energy for warm water in a bidet is counter-productive. The cost of electricity and natural gas is about to go up in my area.

    I did my share of washing cloth diapers when my two children were in diapers. Now that I am an empty nester, I have no inclination to replace household tasks with something as pointless and unsanitary as washing cloths used for this type of very misleading frugality.

  • Gail says:

    Thank you, no. I look for sales on the only brand of TP that I will use and I try to never have less than 2-3 12 packs on hand at all times. I do however use hankies for my nose (so does hubby) and rags for cleaning. One roll of paper towels will last about 2 years. But toilet paper will be the last thing to be eliminated from my budget.

  • georgethomas says:

    I keep a bible on the toilet tank lid and rip out a page every time I need to wipe the caca.
    This “saves” me money, and for soap I use a potato cut in half which works very well but there is no lather.

  • toowisetocare says:

    @georgethomas – thanks to your antics, your hinder part will surely be saved. As for yourself, you will have to rot in heaven and you will never need a roll of TP!!

  • Lalala says:

    I work in an adult care facility where we do use rags instead of toilet paper or baby wipes when changing people. We obviously have to put the rags through the wash and let me tell you, my company has burned through sooooo many washing machines because the smell of poop gets into the machine drum, then comes out onto regular clothing in later cycles (just the smell, not actual poo). And there’s no possible way to clean it out, either. So save your money and your machine and stick to regular paper.

  • Armitage says:

    I am afraid that there is a terrible misinformation about the use of the bidet (especially in the US as it seems)
    I am Italian. Here we have a bidet in every house and nobody would ever think to live in an house without one.
    The important point to understand about bidet is the following (please repeat with me):
    The bidet is not a substitute for toilet paper at all!

    You first clean yourself carefully with toilet paper and only afterwards you clean yourself even more with the bidet and a towel (and possibly soap).
    Bidet is just a matter of hygiene, it is not for saving paper, water or any other natural resource.
    Bidet is also very important for women’s hygiene (it is used the other way around).
    I encourage everybody outside of Italy to try it. You really feel clean and at ease after you use a bidet.
    Once I lived in the US for one year and the absence of the bidet was really annoying (I had to take an half-shower every time I went to the toilet)


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