Toilet Paper Tips

A few weeks ago, it would have seemed ridiculous to write guidance for the IBD Community on what to do when you run out of toilet paper. Many of us well-stocked with our favorite brand. In some cities and towns, it may now be difficult find toilet paper and many stores are placing limits on the number of rolls that can be purchased. 

We recognize the challenges and stress this is creating and have compiled a few tips in the event of an emergency! The advice below is candid, and we hope will provide solutions to this difficult situation.   

Browse tips below:

Ask a friend, neighbor, or family member if they have toilet paper to spare

Call or text your network and ask if anyone has a few rolls they can spare. It never hurts to ask for help. Of course, remember to practice social distancing when picking up the rolls, and wash hands after all interactions.

Consider purchasing a bidet

A bidet allows you to wash your anal area with water. Bidets have been used for centuries and are frequently seen in homes and hotels outside of the United States. Bidets are becoming more popular here and you don’t need a stand-alone traditional bidet. That means you don’t need special plumbing for many of them. You can find all types of products online—from traditional, to over-the-seat bidets, to spray attachments. Travel bidets are also available which sale for $10-$15 dollars. Visit your favorite search engine to learn more.   

Use facial tissue

Facial tissue isn’t as durable as toilet paper, but may be easier to find and can be used to wipe and clean after a bowel movement.

Use baby wipes

Baby wipes can also be used. Discard wipes in the trash, not the toilet, to avoid plumbing back-up or septic-tank issues.

Use paper towels or napkins

Paper towels or napkins may be rougher on the bottom than the other paper products mentioned. We recommend having an ointment, like Destin® or Preparation H®, on hand to help soothe the anal area. You can also put a gentle skin lotion onto the paper towel to smooth the roughness as you clean yourself; this will likely also enable you to use less paper. Try cutting the paper towel or napkin into smaller toilet paper-sized squares. Lastly, discard paper towels/napkins in the trash rather than in the toilet to avoid backups.

Use washcloths or other soft cloth

Use small washcloths to clean after bowel movement. Treat the washcloths like diapers. After use, rinse solid bowel movement material from cloth. Then, clean it just as you would a diaper in a washing machine—with hot water, detergent, and a dryer.

Shower or use shower nozzle to spray area clean

Taking a full shower after every bowel movement may not be practical but this is another way to clean the anal area when toilet paper isn’t available. 


All information is reviewed by the Foundation's National Scientific Advisory Committee.

Last updated: 3/25/20