How Much Toilet Paper Does the Average Person Use?
Early in the COVID-19 Pandemic toilet paper quickly disappeared from store shelves. Though there was no actual shortage, people hoarded it in a panic-buying frenzy. No one wants to be without toilet paper! So, just how many rolls of toilet paper should you have in reserve? In the United States, on average, one person uses 100 rolls of toilet paper per year, or about two a week. For a family of four, that adds up to 400 rolls of toilet paper or about twelve giant 32-roll packages!
Two Ways to Calculate Your Toilet Paper Usage
Toilet paper rolls vary in how many pieces of paper are on each roll and families vary on how much they use. Although the 100-rolls-per-year suggestion will give a good ballpark estimate, for a more accurate estimate of how much toilet paper you use, try calculating using one of these methods.
Calculate your family’s present usage by writing the date you begin a new roll on the inside of the cardboard tube. Make note of when you need to change to a new roll. Try this for a month in each bathroom in your house, then multiply to figure usage for a longer time. This also might give you an idea of any culprits in your family who might be using excessive amounts of toilet paper.
Or keep track of when you purchase a package of toilet paper and observe how long a package lasts before you need to replace it.
This Week’s Preparedness Challenge
What Are Some Alternatives to Toilet Paper?
Although perforated toilet paper on rolls was marketed as early as 1870 and sold to hotels and drug stores by 1890, it was not commercially successful until 1928 when Charmin marketed its brand with a feminine logo and advertised its softness instead of its use. Prior to that many people really did use the Sears & Roebuck catalog and the Farmer’s Almanac, hung on a hook in the outhouse.
Today toilet paper is widely used, but the following alternatives may be helpful in an emergency when toilet paper is scarce or unavailable.
Bidets are a specialized bathroom fixture for cleaning yourself after using the toilet. These common fixtures in Europe, Asia, and South America typically sit beside the toilet and are connected to the plumbing. Bidets have hot- and cold-water temperature controls and adjustable jet sprays to personalize the experience. A soap dish and towel rack are often placed nearby.
Many homes aren’t designed to accommodate an additional bathroom fixture, so the next best thing is a bidet attachment. It may be a separate handheld hose and spray or an attachment connected to the toilet seat that works like a traditional bidet. Although some models can heat the water, most likely the water will be at room temperature, but still comfortable.
PERINEAL IRRIGATION BOTTLES
New moms traditionally use these flexible, inexpensive squirt bottles to help gently cleanse the perineal area after giving birth. They can also be used much like a bidet to clean after using the toilet. Use them with reusable cloth wipes to finish cleaning and drying the area. They may also be useful for cleaning wounds.
REUSABLE CLOTH WIPES
Reusable cloth wipes are often labeled as bidet wipes and used to dry after using a bidet. They are also used by ecologically-minded parents for wiping a baby’s bottom. They are typically made of two layers of cotton flannel sewn together and come in various sizes. Reusable toilet wipes require careful handling and laundering for good sanitation. After use, rinse them in the toilet; place them in a plastic or plastic-lined storage hamper; and then wash them with hot water, detergent, and bleach.
Reusable cloth wipes may not sound appealing, but in an emergency the alternatives might be worse. To have as a back-up, purchase pre-made wipes or store flannel yardage so that you can make wipes in an emergency. One yard of flannel will make fifteen 7” x 7” double-ply wipes.
Check out more blog articles for the 2022 Preparedness Challenge on my website CrisisPreparedness.com.
Find out more about how to handle all areas of sanitation and personal care in an emergency in my book Crisis Preparedness Handbook, Third Edition. You will also learn about water preparedness, food storage, gardening for an emergency, communicating in an emergency, preparing your home for an emergency, and more!