I love minimalism. And sometimes I just forget to bring toilet paper when I go camping.
If you learn how to poop in the woods without toilet paper you won't worry about how you'll tackle a number two ever again.
There are so many natural alternatives you might decide to leave your TP at home next time.
How To Poop In The Woods Without Toilet Paper
If you go camping without toilet paper you can wipe with rocks, leaves, sticks, moss, and snow. Dispose of everything in a hole the way you would if you were carrying toilet paper with you. Make sure you poop far away from water sources and trails.
What Can You Use For Toilet Paper In The Woods?
Wiping without toilet paper can be pretty intimidating when you're just getting started. It's difficult enough for some people to drop their pants.
Make sure you're prepared by using one of these methods the next time you need to relieve yourself in the middle of the woods without TP to help you out:
It's good to start by wiping your poop away with rocks if you can find the right ones. Ideally, the rocks you choose to go near your wiping region are smooth.
Smooth rocks feel pretty good when you're wiping and it's easy to get the lion's share of your poop away without using anything else.
If your rocks are wet it's even better because it will feel like wiping your bum with a wet wipe. A slight exaggeration but hopefully you can imagine a world without TP.
Stay away from jaggy rocks. And slimy or sticky rocks. Avoid small rocks in case you go off course and accidentally wipe some poop on your hand.
I try to avoid going camping when it's snowing, but I can't deny snow is great when it comes to wiping your bum clean without toilet paper.
It's just like using rocks except they're made from snow. You need to make a snowball with a pointy end that will go in and do all the works.
Even if you use a rock when it's snowing you should finish yourself off with snow because it's like using a bum gun. It's better when you put the snowball in a leaf to hold it.
Sticks are pretty good when you find the right one, which should be the right diameter and length. Small enough to get in, but long enough to use from a distance.
You usually have to prepare a stick so it's more time-consuming than other materials. The stick should be smooth otherwise it's not going to feel pleasant.
Take your knife out and cut away knots or anything else that's going to hurt you while wiping. If you scrape the bark away it will absorb more poop.
Don't use any sticks that are too dirty because it's just going to make you dirtier. And you should always go very slow.
If you like to guarantee you haven't left anything behind it's good to finish off with some leaves. It's easy to tell when you've got more wiping to go.
Just make sure you don't try to wipe yourself with something poisonous or you might not be able to sit down for a week.
I like to double up when I'm using leaves because you're usually in the forest so it's not like you're going to run out. Doubling up will prevent you from getting poop on your hands.
Make sure the leaves are big too. And go in with something solid to begin with to ensure you get rid of the most troublesome stuff first.
If you plan on being anywhere that doesn't have leaves stuff some in your pocket or backpack before you leave the woods.
It's hard to find moss every time you need a poop but when you do it's a great toilet paper replacement. Moss is so special because it contains iodine.
You'll be cleaning and disinfecting your wiping region at the same time because iodine kills germs.
Moss is absorbant and a few wipes get rid of nearly all your problems. But it's impossible to tell when you're done unless you check with something else.
Keep your eyes open when you're near moist and shady areas. Moss is easy to find when you have some practice under your belt, but it's not always available.
If you can find a fresh pine cone it's a pretty effective tool for wiping your bum when you run out of toilet paper. Just make sure it hasn't opened to drop its seeds.
Don't put anything near your nether regions if it's covered in resin. It's not going to be a smooth wipe but it shouldn't have any sharp points.
Make sure the pine cone is long enough that you don't need to put your hands anywhere near the poop. And go slow in case you feel a sudden pain.
If you're near a body of water you should collect some to splash on your wiping area once you've got rid of the poop.
Once you splash some water on your bum you can give yourself one last wipe with a rock or leaf to make sure you're completely clean.
When you go camping in the rain, leaves and rocks will already be wet which makes things even easier. Dig your hole where they're in reaching distance.
And if you go swimming in the lake or sea later in the day you can give yourself a little rub down. I know it's not 100 percent LNT but it's okay.
I'm always clean before I go into any body of water, but I like to know all the poop is away just to give me peace of mind. It makes me feel cleaner and I like that feeling.
How To Wipe Poop Without Toilet Paper When You're Camping
Now you know a few amazing ways to wipe your poop without toilet paper when camping, but which method should you choose? Here are two big things to keep in mind:
- Wipe your poop using what's available
- Choose your best toilet paper alternative
Wipe your poop using what's available
You can only use what you've got in front of you. So you might be forced to use one of the options we've talked about today instead of toilet paper.
If you see smooth rocks and leaves think about carrying them with you especially if you feel like you might need to go for a poop.
It could be the difference between having an enjoyable toilet versus a terrible poop because you can't find any good rocks, leaves, or sticks.
Carrying some spare supplies on you also helps when you're desperate for the toilet and you can't wait around to look for something. It's harder to look once you've been to the toilet.
Choose your best toilet paper alternative
Once you find a method that works for you stick to it as often as possible. You'll become skilled in using natural materials to wipe your bum when you don't have TP.
I prefer to use a combination of objects I find lying on the ground because I don't think one is great at getting you completely clean on its own.
Is It Safe To Use Leaves As Toilet Paper?
I know we joked about being careful when you use leaves instead of toilet paper to avoid poisonous ones, but it's more serious than you think.
Everyone who plans on spending time in the woods should know which plants to stay away from. It's something you must teach yourself before putting anything near your wiping region.
What leaves should not be toilet paper?
Poison ivy is the most obvious example of something you'll need to learn about. It's dangerous because it seems like an innocent-looking plant.
It's easy to grab some to wipe poop if you don't know what it looks like. It can leave you with an itchy skin rash that's very frustrating.
Poison oak will hurt badly if you wipe with it. Poison sumac is even worse. Any plant that contains the word poison isn't a good toilet paper replacement.
Hopefully, you already know to stay away from stinging nettles. You won't be able to pick those up. And please don't try to clean your nether regions with a cactus.
What leaves are safe to wipe with?
Mullein is called cowboy toilet paper for a reason. It grows over 6 feet tall and has a big yellow flower, so you won't be able to miss it when it's available.
Large-leaved aster is called lumberjack toilet paper for the same reason. If it's good enough for lumberjacks pooping 5,000 calories a day it's good enough for you.
Wolly lamb's ear will make you glad you don't have toilet paper. It's medicinal so you'll be cleaning your poop with medicine. The super-absorbent plant couldn't be any better.
There are just some of the better plants you can use instead of toilet paper, but there are lots of them you'll be able to use when you need to poop in the woods.
How To Poop When Wild Camping Using A Cat Hole
So you've got your rock or stick but you can't just drop your pants and poop anywhere. You'll need to dig a cat hole to get rid of your poo.
It's just a hole in the ground where you'll bury your poo. Because poo is biodegradable it's going to help the soil, but it will take a while to break down.
Before you get started digging your cat hole there are two main things you need to get right:
Cat holes must always be dug around 200 feet (70 steps) from every water source. This includes oceans, small lakes, and tiny streams.
You must not contaminate water with giardia, salmonella, E. coli, and hepatitis. Contaminated water can affect humans and animals.
Someone is going to be drinking or bathing in the water at some point. If everyone follows the same rules it's going to benefit everyone.
The cat hole should also be the same distance away from campsites and trails, so it's very unlikely someone is going to stumble across your poo.
Every time you go to the toilet you should use a different cat hole and stay away from other campers. Put some rocks over the hole when you fill it so it's not disturbed.
Make sure your cat hole is roughly 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches wide. It might need to be a little wider if you're burying used sticks.
Try to choose an area with rich soil that's exposed to lots of sunlight. The poo will biodegrade a lot easier in these kinds of soil conditions.
Put every single item that's touched poo into the cat hole. Even that chunk of snow you used because you want all the bits of poo buried under the ground.
You should always carry a good camping trowel with you. It's much quicker to dig through stones and roots with a lightweight serrated tool and you can fill the hole in seconds.
Don't let your camping trowel touch any of the poop when you're shoveling the soil back into the hole or it will become contaminated.
Can You Poop In The Woods Without Toilet Paper Safely?
You've probably seen ‘pack it in, pack it out' on lots of trails which is great, but when you poop in the woods without toilet paper you don't need to carry rocks out with you.
Without toilet paper camping is a bit easier, but you must ensure all your poop particles are buried deep in the cat hole you dug for a few reasons:
- Wild animals
- Flying leaves
- Other campers
Wild animals are attracted to the scent of poop, so they might decide to visit you because you didn't bury it properly.
Some of those wild animals might be dangerous. Animals have a much greater sense of smell which is why everything should be buried at least 6 inches deep.
Have you ever had to dodge tissue paper full of poop on a windy day because someone didn't get rid of it properly? It's disgusting and annoying.
But the same thing can happen if you don't bury poop-covered leaves and you might not even realize what's on them until it's too late.
Thankfully you don't need to worry about the wind blowing rocks towards your campsite.
If you leave sticks and moss with poop stuck to them other campers could walk straight over your cat hole without realizing what's underneath.
Now they'll have your poop on the bottom of their shoes. Who knows where it could end up by the end of the night.
You need to treat everyone the same way you expect to be treated because you could be the victim in that scenario.
How Do You Wipe In The Woods Without Toilet Paper
As long as you choose the right rock, leaf, pine cone, or stick it's easy to wipe your poop in the woods without toilet paper. You won't need to carry anything in with you or carry anything back out. Just make sure it's in a deep hole so nobody can find it.
It does seem strange that we're still curious about these types of questions considering humans lived for thousands of years without toilet paper.