How to Stockpile Emergency Toilet Paper

Not everything we need to acquire as preppers falls into one of the three Bs: bullets, beans and bandages.

Some preps are everyday items that are entirely mundane, perhaps even considered luxuries depending on your standard of living in the world, but are nonetheless one of those items that can make things just a little bit more tolerable, and a heck of a lot more convenient than alternatives.

boxes of toilet paper in pantry stockpile
boxes of toilet paper in pantry stockpile

There is no prep that better exemplifies this notion than toilet paper.

Toilet paper is one of those things that seems to get absolutely no thought until you are out of it, and you’ll probably feel much the same way during a long-term survival or post-disaster situation when you are desperately looking for something safe and comfortable, to wipe your behind with.

Accordingly, this is something that you should start making preparations for today. You might think it is a small thing, but sitting on a veritable mountain of toilet paper means that is the last thing you’ll need to worry about when things go bad.

This article will provide you the information and the guidelines needed to go about this task efficiently.

Why Should I Stockpile Toilet Paper?

I admit, the concept might sound a bit ridiculous. When you think about all of the other seemingly more important things that preppers need to acquire and quantity for their survival plans, toilet paper seems almost comedic.

Like I mentioned above, some people think it is a luxury, and plan on wiping their butts with any manner of natural and man-made substitute, from leaves and pine cones to crumple up pieces of newspaper or pages torn from a book.

You can do that, I suppose, and if things get bad enough and go on long enough you might have to resort to improvised or primitive methods of cleaning your rear end.

But I maintain it is far better to avoid that outcome entirely by maintaining a sizable stockpile of toilet paper.

Toilet paper is certainly more familiar and far more comfortable to pretty much all of us, but it also can’t be overstated that it is more hygienic.

This is not something you’re going to be applying to your backside that is an unknown quantity and has the potential for a bad reaction.

Good toilet paper is also strong and durable enough to afford you control and assurance for taking care of business, allowing you to get cleaner with less mess getting on your fingers.

Overall, toilet paper is just another tool and the toolbox when it comes to remaining hygienic and preventing the spread of disease, even in a survival situation.

Do I Really Need To?

Even today, I know quite a few preppers who scoff at the notion that they need to go out of their way to stockpile toilet paper ahead of time. After all, you can go into any store or grocery that does not have this stuff piled to the rafters ready to be purchased.

Oh, how short our collective memories are. It wasn’t but a couple of years ago now, during the height of a panic caused by the unspecified virus of unknown origin at the beginning of the second decade of the 2000s, that toilet paper became incredibly scarce the world over.

Never mind the fact it was the wrong prep for the wrong situation, fear and a little bit of bad information had a way of greatly over inflating its importance in the minds of the populace.

It followed, then, that there was a run on toilet paper so intense and widespread that some folks resorted to stealing the stuff from their workplaces or gas station bathrooms.

Let that inform your decision of what they will do the next time they have calls to be very afraid and bunker down in their home.

If you don’t have it when you need it, it won’t be any time before you are unable to get it at all.

How Much TP Do I Need?

Okay, I trust I have impressed upon you the vital importance of having a sizable stash of toilet paper so you are ready to take care of bathroom duties for the duration. Now we must get down to brass tacks. How much toilet paper do you need?

This is a difficult guideline to pin down, but in general men use less than women and, naturally, families use a lot more than couples or individuals.

Toilet paper manufacturer Cottonelle provides stats showing that the average family of four uses about seven rolls of toilet paper a week, one per day. We can extrapolate this to 28 rolls per month, or 336 rolls per year. Again, some people use a lot more and some people use less.

The best advice I can give you is to carefully chart how much toilet paper you go through during normal times and then use that to inform your purchases.

It is worth noting that you can ration toilet paper to extend your supply, but this might be a bit of false economy in the end.

People generally use how much toilet paper is required to get the job done and feel clean, more or less. At any rate, you won’t go wrong calculating your stash based off nominal use.

Two Methods for Building Your Stockpile

Okay, we know how much toilet paper we need, so the only thing left to do is buy it and stash it. For the first part of this there is the financial element to consider as well.

Toilet paper, assuming you aren’t buying the dirt cheap stuff that requires you to use five times as much to do the job of the more expensive stuff, is fairly spendy and so a mass, bulk purchase might not be in the province of every reader.

Nonetheless, you have two options:

All at Once

The first and most direct option is to just buy a quantity of toilet paper commensurate to your needs for an anticipated period of survival or self-sustainment.

As they say, buy it cheap and stack it deep. Also you’ll be buying it when it is plentiful and price accordingly!

If you’re willing to dedicate a trip to the store just for toilet paper, and endure the looks of passersby accordingly, this is definitely the way to do it. Get it out of the way and out of your system.

Alternately, you might order it offline, and have it drop shipped to your home with no fuss and no muss.

To make sure you get the right amount of toilet paper for your needs, first calculate however much you or your family requires over a given length of time and then multiply that figure by the length of time that you are trying to remain self-sufficient with your survival stash on hand.

For instance, if you want a 3-month supply of toilet paper kept in reserve, and your household goes through 15 rolls of toilet paper a month, you’ll need 45 rolls of toilet paper. Easy arithmetic.

A Little at a Time

Now, if you were on a decided budget or just don’t feel like going all in on a massive quantity of toilet paper you do have an alternative option.

Much like rationing pills or anything else over time, all you need to do is take a roll or two out of the package you buy to supply your house during kind, normal times and put them away for a rainy day.

This is a simple and painless method for slowly accumulating your desired amount of reserve TP, the build-up a meaningful supply for long-term survival can take quite a while, especially if you go through toilet paper slowly.

If you are buying extra large cases of toilet paper for a big household it will take less time.

Regardless, with this as with all things the most important thing when it comes to prepping is that you take actionable steps, and this is as valid as any other method in the end.

TP Stores Well But Gobbles Space

TP is easy to buy and plentiful, but once you get it home you’ll probably notice one of its major shortcomings pretty much immediately: it takes up a lot of room!

Whether you store it on a shelf, in a closet, under a bed or somewhere else, toilet paper is not particularly space efficient.

Though it is packed in cubes or rectangles toilet paper itself, in roll form, is a cylinder and cylinders leave a lot of wasted space when nesting them together as tightly as possible.

In the case of toilet paper that is packed up and its original packaging you won’t even be able to cheat this space back by storing things between them or inside the rolls:

roll of TP with inner cylinder removed
roll of TP with inner cylinder removed

This means that a large family stashing toilet paper for a lengthy survival scenario could have a veritable mountain of the stuff consuming an entire room in their house, or most of your shelf space in case you have a supply room with rack storage. This is not ideal.

Luckily, there are a couple of space-saving tricks that can help you reclaim this wasted space and minimize the logistical impact of your newly acquired toilet paper hoard if you are willing to invest just a little bit more time and effort into the process.

Space Saving Tricks

One of the first and best space-saving tricks for stashing a large quantity of toilet paper is to simply remove it from the plastic packaging.

Toilet paper is a paper product, like the name says, and won’t last forever but if you keep it in a good storage environment it will benefit very little if at all from that plastic wrapper so you don’t need to worry about that.

With the toilet paper removed from that plastic wrap it is possible to stash small items either in the rolls themselves or between the cylinders of toilet paper when you have them stacked tightly.

roll of toilet paper with hand sanitizer inside its cylinder
a roll of toilet paper with hand sanitizer inside its cylinder

Another good option is to remove the toilet paper from the packaging and place it in appropriately sized flat storage containers that will allow you to stack the containers elsewhere and stack other things on top of them.

Toilet paper is soft and deformable, and though you can create a veritable fortification out of packaged toilet paper bundles you don’t want to stack anything else on top of it unless you want it to squish. This hack lets you cheat the fragility of the toilet paper a bit.

And speaking of squishing it, the last and most extreme option for reclaiming some of the space gobbled up by that greedy toilet paper is to remove it from the plastic packaging and then flatten it yourself, either leaving the cardboard roll in the middle or extracting it beforehand.

Although seen as something of an extreme procedure because it means your toilet paper will not unroll easily if at all on the holder anymore, it does save quite a lot of space and is a worthwhile measure for an emergency supply of toilet paper.

Ultimately you’ll just have these flattened rolls sitting near your toilet or other improvised throne where they can be unwound by hand and then used as normal. Perhaps a minor inconvenience for some pretty significant space savings.

toilet paper soap toothpaste hidden under the bathtub
One clever place to store toilet paper is under the bathtub. There should be plenty of space there. You may want to keep it in its original plastic packaging to protect it from humidity, but if you rotate it often, that may not be necessary.

Don’t Forget the Baby Wipes

I would be out of line if I did not take the opportunity to mention baby wipes during a discussion of this topic.

Baby wipes are an excellent investment for preppers, especially when water supplies are compromised or knocked out entirely.

If you aren’t going to be on a usual bathing schedule, you’ll need to take pains to keep your body clean in the interim in order to prevent an outbreak of germs, germs that will lead to nasty BO as well as potentially harmful illnesses.

Baby wipes can help get your behind in other private parts much cleaner than you could using toilet paper alone, and they require no water whatsoever.

Baby wipes also have the additional advantage of being quite useful for improvised sponge baths lacking any water or soap to spare. Simply scrubbing your face, armpits, groin, backside and feet with baby wipes will go a long way towards keeping germs at bay.

Baby wipes are sold in a typically resealable package that is already flat and stackable, not on a roll, and a few large packages can go a long way if used sparingly so I recommend you get some if only as a component of your survival gear.

How Much TP Do You Have?

Toilet paper might not be the most essential item on your prepping checklist, but make no mistake it is a small thing that can provide a big difference in your comfort and quality of life when surviving the aftermath of a major event.

Toilet paper also serves as a useful component in a proper sanitation and hygiene program. Take the time to stock up on toilet paper now while it is plentiful and cheap. Remember what happened last time!

toilet paper stockpiling Pinterest image

updated 04/02/2022

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15 thoughts on “How to Stockpile Emergency Toilet Paper”

  1. TP is one of those items we’ll all sorely miss (pun intended) when it’s gone. As an alternative, consider hanging onto those phone books the phone companies like to drop on your doorstep as they’ll make a viable alternative.

  2. Got to love the POM toilet paper at Sam’s. It is one of the few things that I store in my garage since I don’t have to worry about the heat destroying it. In a house with 3 girls you never want to run out of this! At our house I am the prepper. My husband goes along with me for the most part but he does give me a hard time when he see’s all the paper goods that I have stored up. Since we are all electric at our homestead I worry about power outages for the most recurring issue and I don’t want to waste our precious water supply on doing dishes so lots of paper plates and plastic silver ware are also on my shelves. Keep up the great work.

  3. I am going to go to sam’s or costco and see what I can pick up today. Very good and comfortable idea. The thought of a pine cone makes my butt itch!! lol

  4. Just curious, when the store shelves are empty what 3 items will you really, really miss?

    My list is toilet paper, reese’s peanut butter cups, and olive oil. I can make soap, can vegetables, tan hides, sew clothes, resole boots and shoes, dry or smoke meat, reload cartridges, scavange nails and lumber, and milk our goats. There are a number of items I will remember fondly if the SHTF, but those 3 items will really be a pain to do without.

  5. Toilet Paper degrades at a fairly rapid rate.. to what degree depends on environmental conditions (Humidity, temperature etc)

    Don’t just stick a dozen cases of POM on the shelf and call it good..Use it oldest case first replacing case by case. If you are in a damp area you may need to seal and use desiccants.

    Good enough.

    Vacuum Seal a few rolls for vehicles and rucks (possibly half rolls), Occasionally check to see they are still serviceable.

    Like they say.

    “The Jobs not finished till the paperwork is done”

  6. Another useful idea is to take a big package of TP, pull out the cardboard cores with a pair of needlenose pliers (depending on brand, some cutting may be required), squish flat, then stick them in one of those vacuum-cleaner-evacuatable bags that you may find in the ‘closet storage’ section of that same megamart. Suck the air out with a vacuum cleaner hose and watch them take up a lot less space.

    Clean, dry, rodent-and-termite-free, and smaller than the original case.

    You can start seedlings in the cardboard tubes or make fire-starters, you don’t just have to toss ’em.

    A roll of TP stuffed inside an empty resealable-lid coffee can is also a VERY useful addition to your vehicle emergency kits 🙂

    Not that I would have even considered such a thing, EVER, even on very long trips, but, in truly dire straits, the metal highway barriers at the side of the road are a decent ‘seat’ height. “Just sayin'” …….

  7. I love the survival guides and all the tips. But the emphasis on TP seems out of touch with a post apocalyptic era. Yes, for short term, stock up. But for a year ?? Has anyone been to asia, venezuela or columbia. They don’t have TP, and they are living. A cup of water and a rag will do. Makes me wonder if you are really thinking, radiation, hazards, war and TP . Water and rags work people, no need for 500 5 gal containers of TP . Really ??

    • bruno –

      Point taken. In my preps I desire to try to make my family as comfortable as possible during whatever crisis may erupt. It may be a week without power after a hurricane – it may be much worse. Hopefully stashing away several cases of toilet paper would be worth it.

      A cup of water and a rag is an option – which will require additional water to clean out, and the waste water will need to be disposed of well away from your location.

      Thanks – Rourke

    • Hey bruno, There are lots of things we can do without. After living through a hurricane and having to go several weeks without power, I came to realize on thing… Everything task, every chore, takes more effort without power. Instead of re-washing poop rags, I could be chopping a little wood for the rocket stove. If I am using a solar over, I am in and out re-positioning it. All laundry, and dishes will be done by hand, have a wringer, a line and two wash tubs. This will take three times longer per smaller load, then turning on the machine and throwing in some soap….ask me how I know.
      What I am leading to here, is if you have a ton of t.p., paper plates, liners for the pots you cook in…more power to you. Yes, you will run out someday, but this gives you breathing time to get your systems down. many people put off living off grid, until they have to? They will wait and learn by the seat of their pants. Even those who have practiced and continue to learn, can appreciate any of the creature comforts they can hold on to for awhile.

  8. For my bug-out bags, camping bags, etc, I always take a roll of TP (lesson learned in the military). However, I remove the cardboard tube and vacuum seal each roll. This quashes it down much smaller and saves space (at least until you need it, but it still stays more compact). I also have a supply of the coin tissues. Add a touch of water and presto, a damp wipe. I keep a few in my packs. My oldest daughter (in the Air Force Reserve) also keeps a supply of coin tissues and a vacuum sealed TP roll in her go-bags. The kids do pay attention sometimes 🙂

  9. In 2014 I bought 600 rolls of toilet paper (50 12-packs) to replace the 600 rolls of toilet paper that I bought in 2004. This after I found that I’d completely run out of toilet paper during a messy dump in 2004. TMI I know but I’ll never ever run out of toilet paper. I store mine on a plank above the refrigerator in the kitchen. Out of the way and always readily accessible. And the year 2020 was the end of the last decade, 2021 is the beginning of the current decade. Well unless you you count to ten 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9.


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