You don’t have to understand mass panic to find it extremely annoying when you find there is no more toilet paper at the local grocery, thanks to a certain global pandemic grabbing headlines today. Why on earth would anyone hoard a paper product that has little, if anything, to do with battling a bronchial disease?
Experts say the reason is psychological: the typical human attaches the knowledge that there are ample stores of the soft stuff that “gets the paperwork done at the end of the job” to a profound sense of security. Take away the TP, though, and anxiety soon sets in:
“Even though toilet paper doesn’t protect against the novel coronavirus or its symptoms, our desire to keep a steady supply of household essentials, perhaps to regain a sense of control in times of uncertainty, is a natural one.”
Nine News Australia reported that 192,000 TP rolls were sold in half an hour and pictured bare shelves in that nation’s stores. In the U.S., giant retailer Walmart is limiting how much TP a customer can buy.
Most people don’t understand that Americans are unlikely ever to experience a shortage of posterior cleaning paper due to an international crisis because most of it is sourced and manufactured right here in the U.S. of A. All Charmin facilities are located domestically, as are major makers of cleaning products, including Clorox, Pine-Sol, 409, and Tilex.
But, perhaps because a person is smart but people – maybe not so much – some parts of the world are currently experiencing toilet paper shortages. What to do, what to do?
It might help put things in perspective by understanding that modern toilet paper as we know it hasn’t been around forever. Commercially packaged TP is a fairly recent evolutionary step forward from 1857 and the brainchild of New York entrepreneur Joseph Gayetty. He claimed his sheets of manila hemp, infused with aloe and dispensed from facial tissue-shaped boxes, prevented hemorrhoids. The inventor was so pleased with his medicinal bathroom paper that he had his name printed on each sheet.
Americans, however, soon turned to the hundreds of absorbent, soft newsprint pages in the hefty Sears Roebuck catalog that came free in the mail, spring and fall starting in 1896 – with special editions to follow. The mail-order store credited back its 25-cent fee to cover the to any orders over 10 dollars and the Sears “Wish Book” became a staple in many U.S. outhouses.
Strictly speaking, the first modern toilet paper was made in 1391 to serve the critical needs of the Chinese Emperor family. Each sheet of toilet paper was perfumed.
Today, there are many capable substitutes for regulation toilet paper around many homes and offices. Facial tissues, paper towels, and baby wipes are all welcome stand-ins. (Just don’t clog up the plumbing with too much paper.)
A newspaper, printer paper, notebook paper, wrapping paper or any other type of paper also works “back there.” Here a comfort tip: crumple the paper up a lot to soften it. Burn after use for easy disposal.
A simple clean sponge does the deed just as the ancient Romans did by attaching a sponge to the end of a stick to clean those hard-to-reach places. Be sure to sanitize any sanitary sponges by soaking in bleach water or boiling before rinsing.
Water from a spray bottle, a portable bidet, a hose or snow in the wintertime is very effective for rinsing the nether regions. Use one hand to dispense the water and clean with the other. Wash both hands with soap and water afterward.
Cloth – old nightgowns, pajamas, bedsheets, towels or any other old clothes or fabric materials are a favorite choice of many in need because, like cloth infant diapers, they can be washed and re-used.
If you are caught with your pants down outside with no other recourse, Mother Nature offers many solutions to your situation, including leaves (softer is better and avoid the 3-leaflet poison oak and ivy), pine needles, moss, pine cones, hemp stalks, corn husks, and cobs, and even a flat, medium-sized stone (not too rough, obviously).
Corn cobs were an American favorite among farm families, surpassing another preferred alternative, handfuls of straw. The dried, kernel-less corn cobs were good at cleaning:
“They could be drawn in one direction or turned on an axis. They were also softer on tender areas than you might think. Even after toilet paper became available, some people in Western states still preferred corncobs when using the outhouse.”
Now that you know there are so many “essential sanitary options” out there, don’t get your knickers in a twist if the toilet paper hoarders go nuts and empty the store shelves. You’ve got this covered.