Yup….you read that right. Wiping your butt after TSHTF.
I don’t think I have every really seen it discussed – but guess what: The bombs can fall, the EMP can burst, and the economy can crash – and people will still have to….err….umm……”go?”.
This is going to be tough to write.
Here in the United States toilet paper is the typical method of choice for cleansing one-self after… a trip to the bathroom. All over the world practices differ from spraying jets of water, to pouring water, to wiping with the bare left hand.
No doubt other methods exist – some of which I am sure I do not want to know about. Regardless – in a disaster or survival situation wiping the… excess… will still need to be done.
Bathroom Breaks After the End
As we are all preppers we must consider not just the “What if?” but the “How we gonna do that?” I recently had posted about stockpiling toilet paper and actually received some negative responses that TP should not be a priority.
Depending upon the situation at hand – having TP would certainly lessen the impact of a major lifestyle change.
Think about your children and how they may have to adapt to life without power, hot showers, or a local drive-thru. I think stocking up on TP to ease that transition is not a waste.
Of course – you can only stock so much TP, and you are never guaranteed access to it when you need it.
No matter how uncomfortable and unsettling the topic might be, and how much anxiety you have when it comes to dealing with it, you must come to grips with the idea that you still have to clean your backside and other private parts during an SHTF situation and potentially do so without benefit of your typical bathroom routine and supplies.
Let’s get one thing straight right up front: unsanitary conditions and contact with human waste will time and time again lead to outbreaks of severe illness no matter the environment and no matter the other conditions.
In the middle of a bug-out situation, camping, hunting or anywhere else if you do not take pains to keep your body clean and keep germs under control it is only a matter of time until you are dealing with serious maladies and illnesses.
Bodily waste is always a massive source of germs and a persistent vector of the same.
If you have germs on your body the chances start going up that you will contract a disease. But there is more to it than that.
Once you come into contact with feces everything that you touch after that point, while your hands are still dirty, is going to become severely contaminated.
I hate to be the one to remind everybody reading this, but people that prepare food after using the bathroom, in particular after wiping their butts, who go without washing their hands thoroughly or even worse without washing them at all are the leading cause of food poisoning. That is what fecal borne pathogens will do to you, y’all!
No matter what the situation is and no matter how desperate everything seems if you have your eye on the long-term you must still find a way to clean yourself after you go to the bathroom.
Number Two and You
I hope you got all of your snickering out of the way at the beginning of this article because we are heading straight into the dirty truth, now. Bottom line, you have to have a plan for dealing with your poop in a survival situation, and also deal with the aftermath of ridding your body of it.
Learning what to do and what you should have on hand now might make the difference between facing a truly nauseating task or relatively simple chore.
The first thing you will need to keep in mind is how much waste you will be responsible for dealing with, and how often you have to deal with it, i.e. how many bowel movements you have in a day, since each one is an opportunity for contamination to spread far and wide if you handle this matter improperly.
An adult human being will generate anywhere from three-quarters of a pound to one whole pound of poop every single day. Adults will have anywhere from one bowel movement a day to 3 or even more when they are healthy.
Each and every time this occurs you must get your butt clean and then wash your hands thoroughly to prevent the rampant spread of contagion.
Now consider this in the context of a group containing multiple adults, or even multiple families. Each and every one of them pooping, wiping and then washing their hands with varying degrees of thoroughness and efficacy.
Without following best practices regardless of what materials are on hand and paying strict attention to hand washing procedure the chances that someone will get sick are virtually guaranteed.
When one person gets sick, you can depend on everyone that has been living in proximity with them getting sick as well. As the saying goes, everyone will get a turn to dance.
Your best and perhaps only defense is knowing how to wipe properly with a variety of materials, ensuring your butt and hands stay clean, and then keeping your hands as clean as possible in the aftermath.
What to Wipe With and How to Wipe With It
After you do your business you will need some way to clean your backside. The tried, true and perhaps most efficient way to do this is using toilet paper or bathroom wet wipes.
It is definitely in your best interest to have a significant stockpile of each in case you are unable to procure more during any kind of crisis or long-term disaster.
A truly prepared prepper would have a supply of each inside their bug-out bag and placed in any survival caches.
But, we all know why we are here: the situation has gone on so long are you have been caught so flat-footed and overtaken by events that you are out of TP, wet wipes and any other typical back-end poo-removing apparatus.
If you don’t have toilet paper, and you don’t have wipes, what should you wipe with?!
Long-term methods for cleaning can vary. Flushing the targeted area with water certainly can help. The old adage of using leaves can work. Regarding leaves – use green leaves that are very much alive.
The use of dried–up, dead leaves may make the “situation” much worse. Of course watch out for poison ivy…
Green, live leaves that have some strength to them can be used to wipe much akin to toilet paper. Can be found almost anywhere.
Be extra cautious that you bundle enough together so your fingers don’t bust through, or else you’ll be picking poop out from under your fingernails.
The best plants to look out for as TP replacements:
- broadleaf plantain
- green mullein
- corn lily
- wooly lamb’s ear
- large leaf aster
WARNING: It is imperative you do not use any poisonous or irritating plant leaves for this task!
Long, wild grasses can be picked and then folded back on themselves to form a sort of paddle-shaped wiping implement.
If you take the time to find one that is not too rough, not too splintered and not dead and crumbly a stick can work well for dislodging larger chunks of feces from your posterior and generally cleaning up.
A rock is an excellent wiping implement. Take the time to select a smooth one with the correct shape and enough surface area to be useful, and as always take care you do not disturb a hiding snake or swarming insects beneath.
Snow is an efficient material for wiping, and can remove poop and clean in one action. I can also assure you it will have your full and total attention when you use it!
Chances are your great grandpa and great grandma had to use these tried and true outhouse standbys in the days before indoor plumbing and running water. If you take the time to break them in, these can be easy to use and comfortable.
A popular cash crop and useful for all kinds of things, not the least of which is its suitability to be used for cleaning your backside.
The soft, shorn wool of a sheep can give you the confidence to get really clean, and of all the natural materials you are likely to obtain for the purpose this is one that is the most comfortable and highly renewable.
Older books that are useless or nearly so make fine repositories of paper for wiping. You can just tear out what you need and go. The venerable and greatly loved Farmer’s Almanac included for years a ring intended to allow the owner to hang the old copy in their outhouse for use as toilet paper!
Same as books above, with the caveat that glossy paper with photos can be tricky to handle with control.
A trusty prepper standby. Crumple them up a few times to soften them. Beware: the ink on these comes off real easy.
Old rags, old shirts, anything that is soft, reasonably sturdy and absorbent is just the ticket for wiping your posterior.
Unless you have a certain way to completely disinfect your chosen butt cloth, plan on tossing these when done. Even if you do, don’t re-use your cloth for anything but its new purpose.
A sports-type water bottle can be used as an improvised bidet to forcefully spray water onto your nether regions. Great for deep cleaning!
It takes a little work and practice to nail, but you can use a bowl full of water and trickle it over the small of your back to flush poop away.
The Last Resort
Okay, despite your best attempts at preparation, despite your thorough and highly laborious search, you do not have one, single thing, not one item, not one scrap of material that is suitable for wiping your butt with.
Nature calls. You cannot hold off any longer. What are you going to do? What will you wipe with? Or will you just do your business and pull up your britches like a nasty heathen?
It is time to use your hand. I know it seems unthinkable, but this is the de-facto method for wiping one’s bottom in various places throughout the world where both paper and water are scarce.
This is gross by our Western standards, no two ways about it, but if it is all you have to get the job done it is in your best interest to know how to do it properly and safely.
One of the most important factors for using your hand to wipe your bum is using your non-dominant hand. This is why certain cultures have a prohibition for using the left hand for eating and other interactive tasks.
Next, you must be sure that you have no cuts, nicks or any other open wounds on your wiping hand that can become a fast-track to infection. Human waste is chock-full of pathogens of all sorts, and a wound that gets infected from feces is liable to fester terribly.
Lastly, you must have water and soap or at least hand sanitizer, something that can allow you to wash your hands thoroughly in the aftermath.
In a long-term survival situation where I still have access to supplies I actually prefer mixing up a solution of bleach and water for sanitizing my hands afterward.
A little extra water to spare to wet your bottom with prior to wiping is also beneficial.
Once the time comes to do the deed, leave your leavings, then wet your bottom using a bowl or bottle as described above.
Next, take the fingers of your non-dominant hand to remove any large particles of poo. After you have done that add a little more water to help rinse your butt and then wipe thoroughly.
After you are finished with this process and it’s time to wash your hands like you have never washed them before.
Start with a vigorous, brisk hand washing using soap and water. And be sure that you get between your fingers and under your fingernails with exacting thoroughness.
After that is done, rinse your hands with clean water, and then completely douse them with a heavy dose of hand sanitizer, or a dip in your bleach solution.
Remember when it comes to bleach if you cannot smell that chlorine smell the bleach is not working or at least working very well. You’ll need to refresh your solution regularly to make use of it for bathroom duty. No pun intended.
If All Else Fails…
If worse comes to worst… Grab a squirrel!
Most preppers know that correct sanitation procedures are essential to maintain health and prolong your survival in any disaster situation.
A big part of that, at least the biggest part of it day to day, is dealing with going to the bathroom and cleaning up properly afterward.
Your chances of being incapacitated by some nasty germ resulting from contact with feces is extremely high if you do not wipe or cannot wipe properly.
Knowing how to take care of business and wipe your butt in austere environments when you don’t have toilet paper might sound silly, but the consequences for screwing it up are serious.
last update 05/24/2020 – Tim Makay