Does Toilet Paper Expire? (And Alternatives to Toilet Paper)

toilet-paper
Source: Canva

You might just want to know if buying that pack of toilet paper in bulk is worth it or maybe you are just prepping for the apocalypse, no matter your reason, you are here because you want to know the answer to the question: does toilet paper expire?

Well, depending on if it’s stored properly, toilet paper could very well last for years or even decades. The best conditions that will make toilet paper last the longest are when it is put in safekeeping in a place that is cool and dry, or if it is sealed in a watertight container. On the other hand, toilet paper can decompose and grow moldy when it is open to the elements.

The above is the short summary, but below the question of toilet paper expiration is answered and deeply explained in a lot more detail, including a few tips for putting away toilet paper as it should be.

Does Toilet Paper have an Expiration Date?

Despite the fact that toilet paper does not actually expire in the same way that some perishable foods do, it can however still “go bad” provided the right conditions are met.

Can Toilet Paper Get Moldy/Mildew?

Toilet paper is just basically a super thin paper. And, just like any paper, it does not mix well with water. Therefore, if your toilet paper comes to be damp or wet, it could begin to mold.

Similarly, for the reason that toilet paper is intended to dissolve in water, if it comes to be too wet, it could start to dissolve before you even get a chance to use it. This could also be a concern for similar paper products like paper towels or toilet seat covers. If you reside or are in a climate where it is very tropical and warm a lot of the time, you might want to consider storing the toilet paper in order to prevent it from molding quickly.

Toilet paper could also be affected by heat. If toilet paper is left exposed to the sun and dry heat, it could begin to breakdown and dry out. Essentially, your toilet paper will turn to dust under the sun.

Now, despite the fact that this may give the impression that toilet paper is really fragile, you do not need to worry too much as these two things mentioned earlier only commonly come about over a longer period of time and provided the right conditions are met.

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Even If you keep the toilet paper in a bathroom cabinet like the bulk of people, your toilet paper ought to last sufficiently long enough for you to consume, even if you elect to buy the bulk package. If you need to store a bulk amount for a longer amount of time, in the next section there are some handy tips on how to store your toilet paper to make it last as long as possible.

Best Ways to Store Toilet Paper

1. Keep it High and Dry

If you’re like most people, you probably like to store your toilet paper right under the bathroom sink or really close to your toilet. This is all fine and good right until the sink leaks or you by accident splash some water onto your perfectly unused paper.

In order to prevent any of these from happening, it is advisable that you try as much as possible to store your toilet paper in a place up higher in the bathroom or not in the bathroom at all. Perchance, if you have a towel or linen closet that is close to the bathroom, you could store it in there.

This has the advantage of not only keeping your toilet paper out of the reach of any leaky faucets but also helping to free up more extra space under the bathroom sink for any more water-resistant item. However, you might still want to keep a roll or two of toilet paper under the sink so they will be in easy reach in case of an empty roll emergency.

2. Use Watertight Containers

If the option of storing your toilet paper somewhere else is not viable and you are worried about it getting exposed to water, you could try using a watertight container to store them.

Watertight containers are not too expensive and they also come in all shapes and sizes. In order to ensure that the container will fit under your sink, be sure to take measurements before going to make a purchase. This saves you the hassle of having to return back to the store and trying again.

Watertight containers could also be used if you have the intention of saving some toilet paper for more long term purposes. Saving some toilet paper for any emergency, just like bad storms/weather, or even a pandemic is a good idea. Putting toilet paper in any of these containers and keeping it for storage could very easily make it last for years or even possibly decades (although this depends on the quality of your container).

Please note that: the prediction of toilet paper lasting decades is a hypothesis, as you can imagine that the life cycle of toilet paper has not been studied extensively.

3. Original Factory Packaging

A lot of the time when you make a purchase in the bulk of toilet paper, the paper rolls are sealed into smaller packages of sometimes 4, 6, or 9 rolls and then later sealed inside a larger package. These smaller packages are a very good way to store your toilet paper and keep it ‘fresh’, for lack of a better word.

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You only need to open one of the smaller packages when the previous rolls run out. This will keep the rolls that are not in use sealed inside plastic which will keep them nice, dry and to an extent watertight. So, if you are concerned about purchasing the bulk package of toilet paper, just be on the lookout for one that has smaller plastic packages inside the larger one and your toilet paper should last adequately long enough for you to use it all.

However, if you buy toilet paper commercially, it’s a different story.

Buying toilet paper commercially usually results in the toilet paper rolls being individually wrapped in paper. This poses the same problem as the toilet paper itself because the paper it’s wrapped in could also mold if exposed to water or excess moisture.

If you buy toilet paper commercially and are worried about it being exposed to the elements, follow one of our other tips to figure out what will work for you.

How Long Will 10 Rolls of Toilet Paper Last?

Here’s some really good news. If you are stressing about running out of toilet paper, there are new online toilet paper calculators that could help you figure out how long your toilet paper supply will last so that you can be economical about your bulk purchases and stop hoarding, this was because during the early days of the pandemic some people bought so much toilet paper they could probably pass it down in their will while some are just preparing for the next one.

However, there is a vast variety of ways toilet paper is used in different countries around the world. In the UK, where the average sheets per wipe of 2 are considered a very normal and acceptable practice, due to the thicker toilet paper and higher ply. This will result in an average roll of around 160 sheets and 10 rolls lasting about 133 days or just a little over 3 months for one person.

However, in the USA the situation is very different. Toilet paper made in the USA is really thinner, and most often not always double-ply. Their toilet rolls are also therefore much bigger, with some rolls even going up as much as 1250 sheets. With rolls, this size, 10 rolls could very well last at least a year for one person.

This is just a guess based on a few of these calculators, there are also other factors that could alter the calculations based on where you live, wipes per trip, sheets per wipe, and sheets on a roll.

What to do if You are out of Toilet Paper? Alternatives to Toilet Paper

In the recent pandemic, stores across the globe reported toilet paper shortages. This inconvenienced many people and caused them to turn to use other products. However, a pandemic should not be the only reason to make you consider toilet paper alternatives as some of these may reduce waste and help the environment.

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Please note that, however, most of these options are not suitable to flush and could cause clogs.

Anything that is soft enough not to irritate your skin and thick enough not to break could very well work as a toilet paper alternative. Some of the best options are listed below.

1. Baby wipes

Some people make use of baby wipes if they have sensitive skin because they do not cause any irritation or leave behind lint. Also, some people may actually prefer them to toilet paper as they feel cleaner after using them. Adult wet wipes are very similar to baby wipes and work just as well.

If you cannot find baby wipes or adult wet wipes, then try clean-up wipes instead. Some wipes comprise of only water or a trace of alcohol, but others contain disinfectants, such as bleach or ammonia. For that reason, it is advisable to check the ingredients and avoid anything that disinfects surfaces.

Wipes are however more expensive than toilet paper.

The Guidelines for Assessing the Flushability of Disposable Nonwoven Products (GD4), does not recommend flushing wipes down the toilet.

2. Bidet 

A bidet is a small bowl or repository that a person can use to rinse themselves off after using the toilet Nowadays, some bidets fasten directly to the toilet, while others are detached pieces of fixtures for the bathroom. Toilet add-ons are most times cheaper and easier to install.

A bidet will leave a person feeling to some extent wet, consequently consider putting a few clothes right next to the bidet to dry off.

3. Sanitary pad 

Sanitary pads are very absorbent and soft, but they are much thicker than the traditional toilet paper. If you choose to make use of a sanitary pad instead of toilet paper, you will not need to use many of them, this might recompense for the fact that they can be expensive.

Most people who use this option use reusable or cloth sanitary pads. They are soft, washable and also work well as toilet paper for people who are at ease washing and reusing them.

Do not flush any type of sanitary pad.

4. Napkins and tissue

Napkins and facial tissue have a comparable thickness to toilet paper. More or less table napkins could be too rough to use, but some are adequately soft. Some facial tissue comprises of menthol and some other minty fragrances to aid with congestion. These could irritate sensitive skin, consequently decide on only fragrance-free alternatives.

Do not flush napkins and tissues. Dispose of them in the trash.

Other alternatives include:

  • Reusable cloth
  • Towels and washcloths
  • Sponges

About Sarah Walker

Sarah is a homemaker and is passionate about fixing little things in and around her house. She loves to do DIY hacks and keeps on writing about those things on her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her twins Cathy and Mickey.