Can’t Find TP? Need Alternatives? Leaf That To Us

It’s a jungle out there. And jungles have lots of leaves.

By kncitom on March 15, 2020

With the toilet paper aisle of every grocery store right now looking emptier than than Cody’s dating schedule, we thought it would be a good time to look into alternatives in case you’re running low. 

According to and a post of theirs called simply, “The History of Butt Wiping”, among the first ways people used to, um, clean up down there, was using shards of ceramics. Yep, archeologists have found small ceramic fragments near toilet sites. The Romans used sponges on sticks which were kept in buckets of vinegar or salt water. Rich folks had their own. Poor folks had to share. I’ll pause while you gag.

In the era of our Founding Fathers, corn cobs really were a popular option. They would also use handfuls of straw. As the availability of paper became more common in the 19th century, however, newspaper and pages out of books became the go-to (which is why the Old Farmer’s Almanac has a hole punched in one corner near the spine. It was intended to be hung in outhouses and used). But, by the 1870s, our great-great grandparents were finally starting to figure things out, and companies like Quilted Northern began selling paper specifically to be used for that, with the catchy tag-line: “Now 100% splinter free!”.

I’m not making that up. 

But, you guys, there’s yet another choice, one popular with both our nomadic, prehistoric ancestors, and modern-day nature lovers who want to be as organic as possible in the “back country”, if you know what I mean. 


Yes. I did a little research (I Googled “Best Leaves To Wipe With”) and learned there is a whole popular index of leaves for taking care of business back there, all rated by comfort and cleanliness. I was Today-Years-Old when I found this out.

According to several sites, there are 3 things you should quickly consider when considering leaves:



Repeat: Softness

I would also add, no aphids but I’m a little fussy.

So, obviously stay away from poison oak. Also, blackberry leaves would be a berry bad choice. Also, and this is actually pointed out on several websites: houseplants. Many are of exotic origin, so you don’t know if they’re toxic plus, come on. It’s be a little like using one of your pets. 

Also, dry, brown leaves are also not a good choice, which shouldn’t even have to be mentioned, but here we are.

Apparently, the number one leaf in the wild for a crisp, clean crack: the Big Leaf Aster Plant. It’s so good, it actually has a nickname: “Lumberjack’s Toilet Paper”. And yes, it does look like a pretty good option. It’s big, and it’s soft. Unfortunately, it’s native to Minnesota, which won’t do us much good out here in California. But your cousin Ole in St Paul? he’s set.

Photo: Minnesota

Another good one: Maple. Just don’t tell your Canadian friends. You wouldn’t want them to misunderstand.

For our purposes and availability in Northern California, the best option might just be the good ol’ cottonwood.

The leaf is about the size of the palm of a hand. It’s not too stiff. It’s a very common tree around here and, if it helps psychologically at all, it does have the word “cotton” in it’s name.

I don’t know if this brief guide helps put your mind at ease, or just makes you resolve more than ever to stick with your quest for a Charmin Family-Sized 24 Pack.

Either way, you’re welcome. 





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