Outdoors and Wilderness Survival

How to Wipe Your Butt Post-SHTF

toilet paper roll

Good sanitary practices and procedures are a big part of what makes modern life in advanced societies so nice. Without sanitation, germs wreak their deadly havoc with frightening ease and the ensuing epidemics can decimate entire populations. You can imagine how quickly any smaller group of people living in close proximity to one another could be waylaid by an outbreak of illness. Whatever other defenses and preparations you had made, none of it would amount to any defense against pestilence.

Sanitation is a major concern in the wake of any major disaster or SHTF scenario, and the biggest part of short and long term sanitation is dealing with the prodigious amounts of waste that human’s produce. Specifically solid waste in the form of feces. It does not take much in the way of imagination to envision a scenario where bad practices or a complete lack of sanitary know-how leads utter misery and, worse, severe illness or even death.

Humans do the deed regularly, and as a consequence we must keep our bodies clean. This means that, no matter how you want to try and square it, you’ll have to wipe your butt because we cannot count on having a bidet handy after the world catches fire. Knowing how to keep your hindquarters clean and then subsequently keeping your hand clean in the aftermath of a movement is an important skill to know in austere environments or any time you simply do not have access to any facilities of any kind (though you should always think ahead and not only stock up on TP, but also have back-up toilets such as composting toilets).

In this article, we’ll teach you how to do just that.

Staying Sanitary is of Singular Importance

Unsanitary conditions will invariably lead to severe illness, no matter the circumstances, be they wartime, peacetime, at home or in the field, if you don’t or cannot keep clean and germ free you can expect a crippling bug to get you soon. Human waste is a huge source of contamination in this regard, both as a primary and secondary vector.

Direct contact with feces will obviously mean contact and possible infection with germs, but also the infection of everything you touch afterward until you thoroughly clean and sanitize your hands. Animals are regrettably attracted to waste, and everything from rodents to dogs and insects will be thrilled to get all up in your leavings and spread the remainder far and wide. We have the expression, “Like flies on shit” for a reason.

You don’t have to be under the gun or wantonly nasty to spread germs everywhere after you do number 2; improper or no hand washing by those handling food is a prime contributor to food poisoning of all kinds. This most basic of personal hygiene commandments and sanitary tasks is even more important when you cannot run into the corner store or walk-in clinic to get some meds for your crushing case of dysentery or some other fecal-borne pathogen.

For this reason, no matter what you have at hand (even if it is only you, jeeze, your hand) you must know how to wipe your own butt effectively, efficiently, and then get clean in the aftermath.

The Dirty Details of Dookie

As mentioned above, dealing with feces in a survival situation is something that must be done. The scenario you find yourself in and your level of preparation will determine if it is a minor chore or a sickening task. As gross as it is, you cannot prepare for what you do not know.

An average adult will produce anywhere from three-quarters to one pound of solid waste a day. That waste will be typically deposited in one or more movements, so that is at least one instance per person per day where they will have contact with their backsides and then have a resulting need to wash and sanitize their hands lest they contaminate everything else they contact.

Consider the fact that you will probably have multiple people in your survival group, family or otherwise, and that they will all be pooping and wiping. This will drastically increase the chances that someone will catch germs, and if one does, all are likely to. The resulting outbreak can be a showstopper, even deadly all on its own.

Compound a crippling illness with a serious no-joke survival situation where the outcome depends on your actions and overall fitness and you can see how much worse the situation can get in no time. The young, old and already ill or infirm are especially vulnerable to the typical illnesses spread by feces.

Keeping your hands clean and sanitized is made much simpler with good wiping technique and slavish adherence to cleanliness. We’ll learn about both in the next sections.

Wiping Technique, Toilet Paper and Other Ways to Keep Clean

After you go No. 2 you’ll need to wipe somehow. The best way to do this is with, obviously, toilet paper or wet wipes. I heartily recommend you have a generous supply of each laid up in your SHTF supplies, and also have smaller but redundant caches in your Go-Bag, BOB and any other readiness supplies you have. Face it, having it is a great aid in cleanliness, but also in comfort, ease and simplicity. They are both cheap, so don’t skimp or procrastinate! Buy plenty of TP!

If you don’t have TP, run out of it, or lose it, you’ll need to use something else. People over time have wiped with all kinds of things, natural and man-made, to include the bare hand. You can use toilet paper alternatives like paper from books, magazines or newspapers, cloth, a tool of some kind like a scoop or scraper, natural items like rocks, sticks, leaves or even snow.

All have pros and cons, though:

  • Paper can work well, although heavily inked paper can be slippery and hard to manage. Crumpling up paper several times before wiping can soften it for use.
  • Cloth is a reliable go-to, but should be used hesitantly if sourced from any rag or source that may be chemically contaminated. Likewise, think before committing a good rag to this purpose as you will likely not be able to get it truly clean again.
  • Sticks work if not sharp, splintery, or too rough. Take the time to find one that is soft enough for the task.
  • Leaves along with grasses can be folded or overlapped to from fairly comfortable pad-type tools to wipe with, and are always plentiful almost anywhere. Take care that your fingers don’t poke through.
  • Rocks if smooth and properly shaped make fine wiping instruments. Take care that you find a rock that is not sheltering insects or snakes.
  • Snow is definitely wake you up, and also has the benefit of wiping and cleaning in one pass.

**Warning: You must know for certain that any plant matter you recruit for the task is not poisonous or otherwise irritating. If in doubt, don’t use it!**

Probably the best plant for the – ahem – job is Woolly Mullein, a plant very common in N. America that looks like this:

Verbascum thapsus

All of the above materials can and will work just fine if you know what you are doing with them. Like anything else, even this, practice is advised before you have to do it “for real” under stress when SHTF. Sorry, maybe a poor choice of words.

On your next hike, camping trip or practice outing, take the time to learn how to wipe with these improvised tools, or if you are very skittish, bring them into your home bathroom so you have your TP, wipes and sink to fall back on if things go awry.

Plan B

If you don’t have TP and you don’t have anything else above at hand, you still have an option so long as you can wash your hands: your, well, hand. No matter what we think of some cultures and countries around the world that do this as a standard, we should learn how to do this ourselves so we don’t wind up a creek without a paddle.

There are a few things to know ahead of time before you even attempt to do this. First, you must not have any open nicks, cuts or sores on the hand you plan on wiping with. To do so is to risk severe infection. Second, you must have a way to sanitize your hand.

Water and soap followed by copious scrubbing and a thorough rinse is the best, but you have other options that I will detail below. If you have no way to clean your hand, you’ll be spreading germs far and wide. Third, this entire procedure goes far better if you have some way to get water on to your butt in order to help with the process. There are two good ways to do this, and maybe more. Last, keep your fingernails as short as humanly possible. Trust me.

Before you commit to doing this, you’ll need the first one of the following for post-wipe cleanup, and preferably all of them:

  • At Least: Water and soap, and plenty of both
  • Followed by: Hand sanitizer
  • Or preferably: bleach handwash solution, made from water and 5-6% bleach.

And you will also appreciate having:

  • A small bowl or container with water
  • A squirt bottle capable of shooting a stream of water when squeezed

Now it is time to wipe:

  1. Have your container handy at your drop site. Have access to handwashing supplies listed above.
  2. Do the deed.
  3. With the hand opposite the one you eat with, wet your fingers and wipe, taking care to remove any large chunks of feces. You may also slowly pour some of this rinse water over the small of your back so that helps rinse your anus.
    • Alternately: use the squirt bottle to flush your anal area in between using your fingers.
  4. Once finished, vigorously wash your hands with soap and water. Pay attention that you get under the nails very well.
  5. Follow this wash and rinse with a heavy dousing of hand sanitizer and a brisk rubbing, or another thorough wash with your bleach solution.
    • Caution: If you cannot smell bleach it is not working! Take care to mix up bleach solution regularly or at the instance so it is potent. Contact with air breaks down bleach, so remember that if you cannot smell it, you cannot count on it.

If you are employing this method, take care from then on to avoid touching your face and eating with the hand you wipe with.

Fecal-borne pathogens are capable of incapacitating or even killing you, and that is the last thing you want to be dealing with in an already bad situation. No matter what, though, you’ll need to answer nature’s call, and simple washing of the hands and use of something to wipe with is a highly effective way of reducing the spread of these nasty germs.

Post-SHTF Potty Checklist

You can make your life so much easier by having the right supplies on hand so you don’t have to fetch a rock or something else. Make it a point now to stock and keep on hand the following in your stash.

  • TP – Minimum 1 mo. supply for household
  • Wet Wipes
  • Antibacterial soap – Preferably alcohol based
  • Hand Sanitizer, waterless
  • Bleach – Unscented, regular liquid bleach

Proper preparation will greatly reduce the chances that you will need to utilize any of the improvisational or alternative techniques we have discussed in this article.

Conclusion

Proper sanitation is essential for health and survival, even after SHTF. People who forget this, or grow lazy and complacent from stress, fatigue or other circumstances will stand a high chance of being laid low by fecal-borne pathogens.

Knowing how to make do when conventional bathroom facilities and toiletries are unavailable will greatly contribute to your health and ongoing survival in the event of a sustained emergency when clean hands is more than a faucet away.

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About Tom Marlowe

Tom Marlowe grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, He has the experience in helping civilian shooters figure out what firearms work best for them.
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11 thoughts on “How to Wipe Your Butt Post-SHTF

  1. After working in the packing house industry for some time ( 40 plus yrs ), we were told and told to wash our hands after every trip to the bath room and being in maintenance, it was even more important to do so. But I ‘m still surprised at the number of people that don’t wash their hands after doing their thing in public restrooms. Growing on the farm yrs ago, there was reason my Grandparents kept all of their old catalogs and some or a lot of the old newspapers, to be used in the outhouse. I remember more than once as a young boy out running the creek bottoms and fields of being caught with my pants down doing something and having to use dried grass form the fence line or corn cobs or one time having to use a old tree branch, neither of which felt very good but did the job ( kind of, sort of ) and got me home. So wash your hands, and don’t pick your nose and scratch your rear end at the same time. Sorry, a little humor there ( kind of, sort of )
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    1. a,

      don’t pick your nose and scratch your rear end at the same time. Sorry, a little humor there ( kind of, sort of )

      This reminds me of a friend who is a plumber who told me plumbing means to just remember f few things.
      1. Crap flows down hill.
      2. Friday is payday
      3. Never, ever bite your fingernails.
      Good advice for plumbers and for the situation being discussed, LOL.
      LOL

  2. A couple alternatives:
    – Peri bottles, plastic squeeze bottles given to women after giving birth in hospitals. A package of 5-6 can be bought online for little.
    – Douche plastic squeeze bottles. A box of 2 can be bought for $1 at Dollar Tre
    – Being plastic, these bottles can be cleaned and reused.
    – Can be used by children, women, and men to help keep themselves cleaner.
    – Altho’ not ideal, they are alternatives.

  3. Something I have found that works well is the “scrunchies” that you use with body wash. The Dollar Tree ones have a tendency to come untied, but a little fishing line will fix that. Wash with soap and water after use.

  4. When you state:

    Without sanitation, germs wreak their deadly havoc with frightening ease and the ensuing epidemics can decimate entire populations

    I hate to be the nitpicky grammar Nazi once again; but, I think annihilate is a much better word than decimate, since decimate means to reduce by 1/10th meaning a population of 1000 will be reduced to 900, where annihilate could easily mean900 of the 1000 wiped out instead of only 100.
    In our case sanitation is good if we can obtain water for flushing, since our septic system keeps running without a problem and uses only gravity and microbial action. This water can be from rain catchment or the creek on the property and still works fine. I really feel sorry for those who live in town and get their water and waste disposal from a paid, often government run authority, and this is a great example of rural living with a well and septic.
    I have had to use those austere environments when doing primitive camping; but, generally always have had TP which we stockpile by the case of 20 or 24 rolls and try to keep at least 200 rolls on hand at all times.
    Staying Sanitary is of Singular Importance
    As long as we have soap & water and a way to heat it we can stay sanitary, and we have numerous ways to get water in a pinch. Soap can be made from wood ash lye and fat if required; but, keeping bars of soap on hand is as simple as keeping lots of TP. In a pinch, these might also be valuable for barter.
    Wiping Technique, Toilet Paper and Other Ways to Keep Clean
    We keep a ton of TP on hand; but, not as SHTF supplies; but, as a normal course of living. If you live the self reliant lifestyle, an SHTF plan is just part of what you do on a regular basis. Rural living helps here in that we will sometimes go days without leaving the property.
    Historically cloths have been used and then cleaned and washed and in ancient times, the Romans used a sponge on the end of a stick, dipped and stored in vinegar. I have had to use leaves a few times while camping, and as long as you avoid the poison ivy, they can work fine. To really clean and sanitize a cloth you should use bleach, which will over time wear out the fabric and make it useless.
    I don’t know if we have any Woolly Mullein in our area; but, as a rural agricultural area, a lot of plants are purposefully planted and many wild species have been removed.
    Your spray bottle sounds like a homemade bidet and I will admit that the few times I’ve used one it creeps me out, LOL. Another thing you can use instead of soap & water and bleach is antiseptic soap or follow up with an alcohol rinse, since most hand sanitizers are simply gelled alcohol. In any case the alcohol or the bleach will probably dry out the skin
    We pretty much have your Post-SHTF Potty Checklist on hand all of the time.

    1. Not to be “nitpicky,” as you say, but the historic definition of decimate has long ago been replaced. What it meant in Roman times is only a curiosity now. The author used the word as it is currently defined and used in common parlance.

      1. Survivormann99,

        What it meant in Roman times is only a curiosity now. The author used the word as it is currently defined and used in common parlance.

        True; but, I too often see the language spindled, bent, and mutilated until it reached a point it may be hard to convey precise information. As an engineer, precision is what keeps our world from tumbling down on our heads.
        While Ain’t may be used for emphasis, I too often hear “etc.” pronounced as EkSetera and Especially as EksPecially and it simply grates on my ears, when the correct meaning and pronunciation is so easy, assuming a reasonable adult Lexicon.
        Likewise with bullet and cartridge & magazine and clip, both of which are correct words; but, have very specific meanings that can easily confuse the novice when misused.

  5. What about baby wipes??? I keep several packages on hand at all time’s, I also use the wipes to wash my hands and my face with them too. Get the Huggies brand I’ve used just about every brand and they seem to be the best. You could tear up towels and have a smsll bucket filled with bleach water, each time you wipe toss them in that bleach water and then wash by hand with a bit of soap and water, let air dry if we’re talking about a total grid down.

  6. I have plenty of cases of TP from box stores.
    To extend that supply for a large group, I’ve bought many packages of cheap washcloths a dozen to a pack. Cut them in quarters, and hemmed all raw sides for girls only to use after they pee, but only then. After each use, one is tossed in a small bucket like the old days of diaper pails but in a mild bleach solution to hold until laundry day.

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