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Do you suffer from TPI?


This is a terrifying sight. Are you prepared? How are you dealing your TPI?

CLINTON — You reach for a few squares and find an empty cardboard tube.

You lean over and check under the sink, only to find there's not another roll.

Has this ever happened to you?

Hi, I'm Matthew Hensley, and for the next three minutes, I'm going to tell you about — OK, OK, I'm no Billy Mays, I get it.

For a lot of us, there's an increasing amount of TPI: toilet paper insecurity. Until production and distribution adjusts, or this pandemic ends and we can go back to using the work restroom, here are some ways you can get by in a pinch:

Commercial paper

While the household bathroom tissue is scarce, there's not the same shortage of what businesses buy because, well, a lot of them are closed right now.

It's not the same as what you'd typically get in the store. There's no triple-ply made from virgin fibers. It's recycled, it's economical and it's sold in bulk. Still, it gets the job done and is sold online. Remember to look before you buy. Some rolls won't fit on a traditional holder.


Instead of wiping your bum, why not rinse it? While not especially popular among Americans, these reverse toilets can get your fanny clean without using toilet paper.

Since you're home anyway and you probably visit Lowe's daily, you have plenty of time to install one. There are also a bunch of do-it-yourself directions via Google if you want to go that route, or you can just hop in the shower.

Alternative paper

Finally, we know why CVS receipts are so long. If you're in a pinch, you can use other paper products, but do so with caution.

Consider how the paper will feel, if it will hold up and whether there's any reason to worry about a reaction. Newspaper, for instance, has ink that can irritate you — and heck, that's just by reading it! — and it could feasibly leave stains, kind of like what it does to your hands.

Also, think before you flush. Toilet paper is made to break down so it won't clog drains and will be safer on your septic system. Most other paper won't flush, so you'll need to dispose of it in a different way.

If you'd prefer, you can go the reusable route and use washcloths or towels. (For me, that's putting a little too much faith in my detergent and washing machine.)

Normal toilet paper?

If none of these work for you and you are running low on toilet paper, do not call 911. Instead, if you can't find any at the store, call a friend or put the word out on Facebook to see if you can find a loaner roll. There's even the crowd-sourced TP Finder,, although I didn't see any rolls near me with it.

Just whatever route you go, make sure you wash your hands often.

Contact Assistant Editor Matthew Hensley at or on Twitter @IJMattHensley.

About this blog

From telecommuting to the new public home school model, a growing number of us are homebound for the foreseeable future as we take unprecedented steps to slow and hopefully stop the spread of the new coronavirus that is sweeping the world. This blog is our attempt to catalog some of the daily changes we are experiencing together. If you want to share your story with us, email us at



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