I only recently discovered toilet paper tablets. Now that I know about them, I’m wondering how we all managed without TP tabs for so long.
They have a lot of different uses and, while they aren’t absolutely necessary, they do make life easier in many ways.
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What Are Toilet Paper Tablets?
Toilet paper tablets are compressed toilet paper. You put them in water (or drip water on them) to rehydrate the tablets. You then get a wet cloth akin to a baby wipe which can be used for many things.
Compared to normal toilet paper, TP tabs are:
- Compact: They take up a lot less space in your home or bag
- Thicker and Stronger: When rehydrated, TP tablets are much thicker and stronger than normal TP. It depends on the brand, but they are around the thickness of a baby wipe.
- Wet: This makes them easier to clean yourself with. You can also let the cloths dry out if you need dry toilet paper.
Uses for Toilet Paper Tablets
1. Emergency TP
The obvious use for toilet paper tablets is as TP. Compared to normal toilet paper, the tablets take up much less space. This makes them suitable for emergency preparedness supplies.
Sure, there are other alternatives to toilet paper for emergency prep, but these tablets sure beat using “family cloths” or a plastic bottle bidet!
2. Bug Out Bags
Everyone should have a Bug Out Bag packed (Bug Out Bag Checklist) in case they need to evacuate their home (if you think the term Bug Out Bag sounds too crazy, then just call it your “evacuation kit”).
BOBs are supposed to contain everything you need to survive for at least 3 days. They also need to be lightweight and compact in case you need to carry them for long distances. That means you won’t be able to put a lot of comfort items in your bag. However, TP is one comfort item I’d rather not be without!
Toilet paper tablets are the perfect solution. You’ll be able to fit in enough tablets for multiple uses without weighing your pack down.
3. Backpacking and Camping
I go wild camping and backpacking with my daughter very often. Until I discovered toilet paper tablets, she was in charge of carrying all the TP since it is lightweight.
By switching to TP tablets, I can now put her in charge of carrying more gear (and thus lightening my load).
All toilet paper tablets currently on the market (at least at time of writing) are biodegradable and free of harmful chemicals. So, you can throw them in an outhouse, composting toilet, or a “cat hole” without feeling guilty.
4. Car Emergency Kit
You do have an emergency kit in your car, right? If not, here is why you need one and what to pack.
Consider adding some toilet paper tablets to your car emergency kit. You never know when you’ll need to “go” or do an impromptu cleaning, and those TP tabs will come in handy.
5. Fire Starter
One cool thing about TP tabs is that they make great tinder for starting a fire. To use them as tinder, you should slightly pull apart the tablet so it is fluffier. Then just light it with matches or sparks from a Ferro rod (here’s how). It will burn for long enough to get kindling burning.
6. Foreign Travel
In a lot of countries, it isn’t common for there to be toilet paper in public bathrooms. Just bring some toilet paper tablets with you on your trip and you’ll be prepared. It beats carrying around a whole roll of toilet paper in your bag.
7. Cleaning and Sanitizing
Toilet paper tablets rehydrate into thick, durable cloths. They are a lot better than paper towels for wiping down surfaces, especially when you need to sanitize things. You could even rehydrate them with alcohol (at least 70% alcohol) instead of water to make an antibacterial wipe.
8. Prefiltering Water
For camping, I generally use the Sawyer Mini water filter to treat water for drinking. The problem with camping water filters is that they get clogged quickly when the water is really murky.
Likewise, if you are using boiling, purification tablets, or a UV stick for treating water, you could have debris floating around in your water. It’s sterile and safe, but definitely not fun to drink!
A simple solution is to pre-filter the water through a bandana, t-shirt, gauze, or hydrated TP tablet.
9. “Navy Shower”
A “Navy” or “military shower” is a way of cleaning yourself without using much water. Possibly the best way to do this is to use a wet wipe. Or, in this case, a hydrated toilet paper tablet.
Just get the TP tab wet, unfold it, and wipe yourself (start with your face and then move to your pits and butt area last!). Because compressed toilet paper is so thick and durable, it can be rinsed out in the middle of your “shower.”
10. Diaper Liners
Some reviews of toilet paper tablets recommend using them as diapers. I’ve had two kids, both of whom I cloth diapered. So, I can tell you that TP tablets will NOT work as diapers.
What the heck are you supposed to do – put a moist, opened TP tablets under your baby’s butt? Unless you layered a zillion of these, they aren’t going to contain pee or poop!
However, TP tablets (when opened and dried out) WILL work as diaper liners. Here’s how it actually works:
- Ideally you have a waterproof diaper cover for your baby. I used Thirsties Due Wraps (Amazon Link) for both my kids. They don’t leak and can easily be wiped if they get a bit dirty.
- If you don’t have a cover and it’s an emergency situation, you can just use panties.
- Put a folded cloth diaper into the diaper cover. A folded towel or rag will work in an emergency situation.
- Line the folded cloth diaper with the dried-out open TP tablet.
- When your kid poops, the liner will catch the poop. Pee will go through the liner.
- Just throw the liner and poo in the toilet.
This makes it a lot easier to clean cloth diapers because they will only have pee on them.
Do NOT Use For…
First Aid/Bandaging Wounds
Many of the reviews of toilet paper tablets I’ve seen online, they recommend using them for first aid as bandages. In general, this is a BAD idea.
You should never use normal toilet paper for cleaning wounds or dressing wounds. The TP will come apart and get stuck in the wound. Toilet paper tablets are better than normal TP because they are thicker and don’t fall apart. However, there’s still a risk of little pieces of cellulose fiber coming off and getting stuck in the wounds.
On top of that, toilet paper tablets are not packaged in a way which is sanitary for wound care. There could be all sorts of dust/debris on them which would then get in the wound.
In a pinch, you could:
- Use saline solution to hydrate the tablets: But, if you have saline solution on hand, then hopefully you also have sterile wound dressings/sterile gauze.
- Cleaning AROUND wounds: This is perfectly okay. So long as the hydrated TP towel doesn’t touch the wound, you don’t risk little pieces of fiber getting in the wound.
- Holding a Sterile Dressing in Place: To treat a wound, first apply antibacterial wound ointment and then cover with a sterile dressing. TP tablets are large enough that they could be tied around a (small person’s) arm or ankle to keep the dressing in place.
- Have a few ready to go: Rehydrate a few and keep them in a baggy. Then you won’t have to worry about rehydrating them in a public bathroom or unsanitary conditions.
- Be sure to have clean water handy: The biggest downside of TP tabs is that they require water. For wiping your butt, it really doesn’t matter if the water is sterile. But only use sterilize water for hydrating them when used for cleaning.
- You can hydrate them with other liquids: Depending on what you want to use them for, you can hydrate TP tablets with things like hydrogen peroxide or alcohol.
- TP tablets can be reused! If they weren’t used for toilet paper, you can get multiple uses out of TP tablets. So, consider rinsing them out or sterilizing them and reusing them.
- Don’t Flush Them! Even though most are biodegradable, you generally shouldn’t flush compressed toilet paper tablets. They are pretty big and can easily clog toilets. Also check the material before putting them in a pit latrine.
Which Toilet Paper Tablets Are Best?
There are now a few different brands that make toilet paper tablets. The most popular seems to be Wysi Wipes. They are the smallest and thinnest, but also can go in pit latrines (I wouldn’t flush them though, especially in older plumbing systems).
Here’s how the top brands compare:
These are the most popular brand of toilet paper tablets now, probably because they are the cheapest option (that I’m aware of) when you buy them in bulk. The 500 pack is really affordable.
- Cheap: Comes with 500 in a pack (smaller sizes available)
- Free travel tube included
- Require 1 Tbsp of water
- 9 inch x 9 inch square
- Thickness not listed
BigOtters Individually-Wrapped TP Tablets
The difference with these TP tablets is that they come individually wrapped. So, you don’t need any carrying case for them and it’s more convenient. However, that does leave you with a tiny plastic wrapper to dispose of, which is annoying when backpacking.
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These ones are also supposedly flushable, but I would still be cautious about throwing them into the toilet – especially in older plumbing.
- Come in pack of 200
- Individually wrapped
- 66 inches x 9.05 inches
- Thickness not listed
- Reusable up to 20 times
Barba-Wipes Compressed Towels
These are compressed towels, not TP. They can be rinsed and reused numerous times. Compared to PortaWipes, they are more affordable. Don’t flush these – they are too thick to go down the toilet.
- Good deal for thick towels
- Come in 250 pack
- 54 grams per square meter fabric thickness
- 8 inch x 9 inch
- Less than 2 grams per tablet
These are larger and thicker, so think of them as compressed paper towels and not TP. They advertise themselves as the thickest and largest compressed towel you can buy. You definitely don’t want to flush them but they are fine for pit latrines because they decompose.
- More expensive option
- Come with waterproof storage case
- 60 grams per square meter fabric thickness
- Require 1 Tbsp of water
- 7in x 21.65in
Have you tried toilet paper tablets? What do you think of them?