Space isn’t just the final frontier, but it is a serious issue for many beginning preppers. If you live in an apartment, figuring out where to put your buckets of freeze-dried food is hard enough. Toilet paper is so bulky; it’s just not practical. You can add a bidet to your toilet, but your bug out bag needs a better solution. For my monies’ worth, toilet paper tabs like the Portawipes you can get on Amazon, have always been the best solution.
Do toilet paper tabs really clean? As long as you know how to wipe, they certainly do. Moreover, they clean better than traditional dry toilet paper because of the moisture, which leaves less mess behind.
Wetter is Better (Sometimes)
If you got urine or poop on your floor, would you just wipe it clean with a paper towel and leave it be? Of course, you wouldn’t. Instead, you’d wipe it up with a mop or a wet paper towel at least because it’s more sanitary. Yet we wipe our backsides with dry paper and call it good enough. That’s pretty gross.
Some people use baby wipes or other pre-moistened towelettes to solve the problem, but you can’t flush them. They clog up toilets, sewer pipes, and water treatment plants. Sadly that’s not the only downside to wet wipes.
This may sound like a joke, but sadly the punchline is all too poignant and real. A “fatberg,” is a portmanteau of ‘iceberg,’ and ‘fat.’ Fatbergs are a menace that is blocking sewage pipes around the globe. They are a combination of wet wipes and fat from food and human waste. It’s gotten so bad; some people are even suing companies using the term “flushable.”
“Wyoming, Minnesota, is one of the first American cities to take on the flushable-wet-wipe industry. In 2015, the city filed a class-action suit against Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, Nice-Pak, and three other wet-wipe manufacturers for fraudulently promoting their products as flushable.”
What’s The Big Fat Problem
It may seem like a wet wipe isn’t so different from toilet paper, but the problem is environmental. Many baby wipes (and other wet wipes) that are marketed as flushable because of their size may fit down a tube, but that’s where they stay. Non-biodegradable products like these don’t break down. Hence the fatbergs are a collection of compacted fatty leavings and non-biodegradable wipes.
INDA (the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry) do many of the tests and write the standards for flushability. Unfortunately, they don’t test strictly or accurately enough according to many sewer authorities. Vancouver WA authorities dyed several types of wipes different colors to prove this point back in 2013. Sure enough, the colored wipes were plugging up pipes and not disintegrating.
Since wet wipes are bad news, and toilet paper tabs are wet, you’re probably wondering what makes TP tabs a better choice. While you should always check the labels, every version that I’ve ever ordered is biodegradable. It may seem like a small difference, but it adds up to be a big deal.
Unlike the plastics and other materials used in packages of baby wipes and flushable moist towelettes, toilet paper tabs are made with paper. They also use other materials like cotton and rayon that break down when you finish with them. When you open the antacid-tablet-sized wipes, you have to moisten them so they’ll expand. As you unroll and unfold your tab, the water stays absorbed within the material, giving you a cleaner experience.
What You Need
The average person hits the washroom four to ten times per day. That’s a lot of flushing and a lot of toilet paper. Most people run through around a hundred rolls per year or twenty thousand feet of TP each year. No real information exists yet on how many wet wipes that translates into, but it’s a lot of fatbergs.
One of the biggest bonuses of toilet paper tabs is that the quantity matches the quality. Many companies sell five-hundred tab multipacks. You can check out another of my favorites, Coin Tabs on Amazon, and see how cost-effective they are for yourself. If you’re buying regular toilet paper, you can pick up four of these for a year of moist, environmentally friendly wiping.
Anything designed to carry easily is a safe bet for your every day carry and bug out bags. Of course, you always want to check the reviews before you buy. Moreover, you should also test everything in person once you have it. In addition to keeping an eye on things like expiration dates and rotation, checking your preps regularly is essential. Plus it can be fun.
Using toilet paper tabs will save you more than space and money. These ingenious compressed wipes are useful for all sorts of things. You can use them to wipe up messes and even start a fire. Wipes are marketed as reusable, though I wouldn’t suggest double duty if you’re using them on your private areas.
If you prefer a larger wipe, Portawipes makes an oversize version you can also get from Amazon. The bigger size allows you to get more out of your compressed towel tabs. I especially like the texture of this particular brand because it’s not as rough as some others I’ve tried.
Other Compressed Items
You can find a plethora of compressed options for prepping. I suggest searching for camping gear since they’re often marketed to backpackers for easy carry. When it comes to saving space in your preps, there’s nothing quite like buying these super condensed options.
- Compressed Towels- You can get packs of towels about the size of a hockey puck. Whether you want an excellent option for the beach or just a super portable bath towel, you can find them easily.
- Compressed Pillows- When you need to get out fast, but you still want to sleep well at night, a compressed pillow can help.
- Compressed Spare Underwear- Yes, even underwear can be compressed into a tiny tube for emergencies.
- Sleeping Bags & Mattress Pads- You probably already know that sleeping bags and mattress pads come in compression sacks. Using these for bug out scenarios can be a real boon.
- Compression Bags- If you haven’t yet discovered compression bags for storing clothing and blankets, it’s worth looking into. Most require a vacuum to remove the air. Once you pack your bulky fabric goods inside, you attach the hose extension and suck all the extra air out. As a result, you’ll be able to stack a whole lot more in space one blanket used to take.
- Foam Mattresses- When you’re getting a bug out location ready, you might want to consider using the foam or memory foam mattresses. Because of their airy nature and the way foam works, most of these ingenious and comfortable sleep solutions come pre-compressed. Just be careful when you cut them open because they tend to expand fast.
I also suggest searching out highly rated collapsible items to supplement your supplies. Folding shovels, multitools, and rubber dishes are just a few examples of outstanding emergency preparedness items you can fit in a smaller space than their traditional counterparts.
The more space you have, the easier it is to fit what you need. This may seem obvious, but when you’re first starting out, space is a serious concern. Additionally, you need to keep in mind the weight of the items. Not all compressed or collapsible items are as lightweight as toilet paper tabs. If you bog down your EDC, BOB, and BOV with more than you can handle, then you certainly won’t get very far.
Luckily, you can build strength and endurance to handle more weight. Pack as light as possible and remember to factor in things like your food and water. Unfortunately, if you weigh down your vehicle too much, there’s not much you can do except get rid of some of the weight. Sometimes it’s the little and seemingly obvious mistakes that can turn a good prep into a nightmare scenario. Always triple check what you or your vehicle can handle.
Proper emergency preparedness is about saving your life in a bad situation. It can be frustrating when you first start to try and get things together. Do you pack that folding shovel or leave it out in favor of an ax that weighs less? Should you buy canned meats or go with freeze-dried knowing, you’ll need more water if you do. Often this depends on your situation. If you live on a rural property with wells, it’s not a big deal to get clean water, but wells can also run dry.
The one thing you can be sure of is that you’ll need to wipe your butt. There aren’t very many prep items that can’t be substituted for something else, or included as a multitool. However, your toilet paper is one of those things. Personal hygiene is vital, and doubly so in a bad situation.
You don’t want to get sick at the end of the world. Illness will slow you down, and it can be a danger on its own if you can’t get proper medical care. Save yourself the trouble and practice good body care.