Over the years I’ve taught numerous emergency preparation classes to more people than I can count. In that time one of the things I have learned is that most individuals and families are taking one thing for granted – the availability of toilet paper. Like comfort food during emergencies we need toilet paper, or something else, to complete the process.
What happens if supplies of toilet paper, like so many other things, is disrupted or canceled altogether? When I ask that question to the students I often get laughter followed by their sudden realization that they are clueless as to what to do about a replacement for toilet paper. The answer is simple – toilet cloths.
We then put them into bundles of twelve (12) and used rubber bands to hold them together. We now have them in every bathroom in the house. A few years ago the local Sears™ store was going out of business and had everything on sale. My wife and I went in and grabbed up every washcloth we could find. We picked up every color they had because the color doesn’t matter. We took then home and using a serger, which sews the edges as they are cut, we cut them into fourths.
The only addition to the toilet cloths is the necessary bucket to throw them in once used. Do not flush them down the toilet! I acquired a 5-gallon bucket and placed a mixture of bleach and water in the bottom. I use about four to five inches or more of the bleach and water combination in the bottom of the bucket. Once full one can use a homemade “agitator (5-gallon bucket, lid, and toilet plunger combination) and wash them in hot water and bleach as you would wash other things under austere conditions. If your washer and dryer are working then use them. If they are not working then use another similar bucket with rinse water to finish the cleaning process.
I know some families that have gone totally to the toilet cloth concept and are saving money not buying toilet paper at all. Most will not do that but at least now you have an alternative to no toilet paper at all.
Okay, I can hear it now, Matt, we use toilet wipes so your toilet cloth idea is pointless. Hey, toilet wipes are a super idea until you run out of those as well. If you have a warehouse full in your emergency storage then I applaud you. However, what happens when those run out or are no longer available? Utilizing toilet cloths will save you money and you will already be comfortable with the idea of using them when an emergency occurs.
Remember, these ideas and concepts are for camping or emergency situations. Personally, I prefer not to have to use leaves or the phone book should an emergency bring about tough times. I believe that this simple idea will relieve some stress under dire circumstances.
Matt Moody is a former Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and a former Army Signal Officer. He has been a licensed amateur radio operator (Amateur Extra Class) for 36 years. He has been a Platoon Sergeant and a Platoon Leader/Team Leader. He was involved in numerous air assault operations in the late 70s and in Special Operations in the 80s. He was a member of the Marine Corps Base 29 Palms Shooting Team (’77-’79), shot in numerous Division Matches, and is sniper qualified. Matt is also a graduate of the rigorous Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center and the Marine Corps Escape and Evasion (E&E) Course. Matt holds an AAS degree in Special Studies (Military Science) from Ricks College and a BS in Criminal Justice from Utah Valley University. He is a former Supervisor with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) where he was assigned to the Salt Lake City and New York City (JFK) airports. He enjoys teaching emergency preparedness and communications courses to individual and groups.
© Matt Moody 2013