The pee rag will become your BFF
March 14, 2020 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Out of toilet paper? No problem. Take a page from female ultralight hikers and use a bandanna after peeing. Launder as needed. Long-distance hikers have a tradition of finding ways to lighten the load. No t.p.? No problem for female hikers. Wipe with a bandanna after peeing, tie discretely to the backpack (sunlight helps to kill germs and reduce odors), and launder when back in civilization. (More below the fold.)

No toilet paper buried in the dirt and dug up by animals. No need to pack out tissues in a plastic bag. No backtracking to town for that needed t.p. roll. A pee-danna is a reusable, efficient, eco-friendly alternative.

However, pooping is another issue requiring other backcountry practices. Cat-holes, packing out feces, and more are discussed in How to Shit in the Woods, Kathleen Meyer, third edition 2011.
posted by TrishaU (74 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
I thought this said "Wipe with banana after peeing" I was like "Huh... sensible I guess..." then it was like "Launder and tie to backpack" I was like WHAT????
posted by bleep at 2:39 PM on March 14, 2020 [40 favorites]


"After use of the pee rag, rinse with a little water and just tie it to you backpack or anywhere with sun exposure and you’re all done."

Why not rinse yourself with the water then dab yourself dry with the rag?
posted by airmail at 3:01 PM on March 14, 2020 [37 favorites]


I thought this said "Wipe with banana after peeing" I was like "Huh... sensible I guess..." then it was like "Launder and tie to backpack" I was like WHAT????

This is a fantastic comment that truly took me on a small journey
posted by billjings at 3:05 PM on March 14, 2020 [15 favorites]


Why not rinse yourself with the water then dab yourself dry with the rag?

Some hikers do carry a kind of backwoods bidet. Basically a plastic bag with some tubing and a nozzle. Works great for #2 as well.
posted by muddgirl at 3:09 PM on March 14, 2020 [5 favorites]


TrishaU: "(More below the fold.)"

indeed!
posted by chavenet at 3:09 PM on March 14, 2020 [25 favorites]


can't i just get a yeast infection somewhere else without having to walk all day
posted by poffin boffin at 3:19 PM on March 14, 2020 [48 favorites]


@AntonHand on Twitter: “Yo, if anyone is having trouble getting toilet paper, there are used copies of Atlas Shrugged available on Amazon for as little as 2 bucks plus Shipping.”
posted by mbrubeck at 3:23 PM on March 14, 2020 [91 favorites]


I thought the hot tip for the backwoods was maple leaves, although in the current situation they would be hell on the plumbing.

I don't know about you, but when I am in a situation where I am somehow afraid to go--which includes the entirety of the woods, where there could either be onlookers or indignant wildlife--it actively hurts to do so, and it hurts afterwards, too. So the best thing is just to not go in the backcountry for that long. I regret this.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:25 PM on March 14, 2020 [3 favorites]


Didn't Chaucer write something about this? I'm pretty sure there's a section in the Tales about it. The best thing being the neck of a swan, wasn't it? Though personally I think Chaucer was playing a long prank because there's no god damn way I'm letting a swan anywhere near my exposed dainty bits. He must have been laughing his arse off writing that.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:28 PM on March 14, 2020 [4 favorites]


Rabelais, not Chaucer, but yeah.
posted by clew at 3:33 PM on March 14, 2020 [8 favorites]


Uh yeah for fuck's sake toilet paper is one of the things North America still exports. If society collapses to the point where you can't just wash your undercarriage with a wet rag, it's not like you're going to be able to use the toilet paper for currency.*

I can think of a number of reasons an individual might hoard toilet paper (especially in the Southwest), but here in the Mid-Atlantic it's always a little annoying the extent to which the consumer herd mentality kicks in around this sort of thing.

I grew up in the desert and confess that I've wiped my ass with any number of unfortunate things . . .

*Although now that seems like a fun writing prompt.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:42 PM on March 14, 2020 [6 favorites]


Fuck it, I'm gonna go see if bidet kits are one of the things Ace has sold out of.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:44 PM on March 14, 2020 [2 favorites]


it's not like you're going to be able to use the toilet paper for currency

A couple members of my office's executive team were able to charter a flight from Indiana to Michigan for 12 rolls.
posted by LionIndex at 3:54 PM on March 14, 2020 [4 favorites]


SAIT
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:59 PM on March 14, 2020 [3 favorites]


damn i wanna see the mimeographed bandanna code for this one.
posted by not_on_display at 4:06 PM on March 14, 2020 [9 favorites]


... launder when back in civilization. (More below the fold.)

That's more pee beneath the fold in the bandanna, right?

The best thing being the neck of a swan, wasn't it?

Try your local Waitrose.
posted by Paul Slade at 4:15 PM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


what's wrong with this?
posted by brujita at 4:26 PM on March 14, 2020 [3 favorites]


Isn't there almost no chance of running out of toilet paper? Are people assuming that trucks will stop delivering at some point or something?
posted by chaz at 5:07 PM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


No problem for female hikers.
TIL. Men don't wipe their todger after peeing.
I've been married for 40 years, you'd think I'd know already
posted by glasseyes at 5:14 PM on March 14, 2020 [3 favorites]


Blot their todger.
Well that explains some things
posted by glasseyes at 5:15 PM on March 14, 2020 [3 favorites]


"Blot the Todger" sounds like the worst party game ever.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:19 PM on March 14, 2020 [42 favorites]


Aye, or an activity unsuspecting women have been involved in since forever
posted by glasseyes at 5:23 PM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


Years ago on a listserv about menstrual cups some people got into the idea of using a pee rag as a more eco-friendly alternative to toilet paper and there was a flurry of excited posts about it and then a short time later there was a flurry of posts about having UTIs. If I had to do this I think I'd try to wash the rag every time, making extra rags from old clothes if I had to.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:36 PM on March 14, 2020 [9 favorites]


Yeah seriously I would not put old dried out pee back on my skin if I could do any other thing instead. I know "sunshine is the best disinfectant" but I'm pretty sure that's usually a metaphor and not actual advice.
posted by bleep at 5:43 PM on March 14, 2020 [5 favorites]


I mean it may be actual advice for after something's been washed with soap and bleach and dried, not instead of.
posted by bleep at 5:55 PM on March 14, 2020 [3 favorites]


I've been using rags from cut-up t-shirts for pee for 20 years, since my kids were in cloth diapers and I started doing gross laundry anyway. They are awesome and comfortable. But I wash them between uses.
posted by metasarah at 5:58 PM on March 14, 2020 [7 favorites]


I bought a bidet sprayer last weekend and it's been pretty great. Except the sprayer gets your nether regions pretty wet and our regular one-ply is no match so I (like metasarah*) have cut up some old t-shirts to dry with. So far so good!

*I made my own t-shirt wipes when my kid was a baby in cloth diapers as well.
posted by vespabelle at 6:57 PM on March 14, 2020 [2 favorites]


If anybody wants a fun historical tour about bidets, including why the US has been slow on their uptake, I can recommend this episode of Sawbones.
posted by foxfirefey at 7:03 PM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


At home I have a stack of clean, cheap washcloths on my bathroom sink. They go straight into a basket for laundering after one use. Wash, dry, fold, stack, repeat.

Heck, I used cloth diapers for the kid some decades ago, and learned how to wash pee- and poop-soaked cloth back then pretty darn well.
posted by Peach at 7:23 PM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


It astonishes me the things people will endure to "enjoy" nature.
posted by great_radio at 8:02 PM on March 14, 2020 [7 favorites]


I thought this said "Wipe with banana after peeing"

I thought it said "Wipe with banana after peeling" and became very confused indeed.
posted by andraste at 9:01 PM on March 14, 2020 [8 favorites]


You know why a lot of people around the world don't use their left hand for eating right?
posted by iamck at 10:34 PM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]


damn i wanna see the mimeographed bandanna code for this one.

Back in the day, my wife's Mom's Club used yellow bandannas tied to their diaper bags as in in-joke.
posted by mikelieman at 10:36 PM on March 14, 2020 [4 favorites]


. If you got shit on your arm would you just wipe it off with dry paper and go about things?

I have three little kids, sometimes I don't even wipe it off.
posted by Literaryhero at 2:09 AM on March 15, 2020 [9 favorites]


Walmart call them washcloths. Home Depot call them 80 grit.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 2:29 AM on March 15, 2020 [1 favorite]


I do have some vague memories of my aunt and uncle's outhouse (yes, it had a crescent moon cut into the wooden door) and my mom trying to explain the stack of old newspapers on the shelf. I think we used Kleenex, instead. I was scared to death of spiders and wasps, particularly at night.
And now so many of us have gone paperless.
posted by TrishaU at 4:48 AM on March 15, 2020


Americans need to start washing their filthy anuses already. If you got shit on your arm would you just wipe it off with dry paper and go about things?

Bullshit. My first shit in Japan, I tried the bidet. All it did was spread the shit around my cleft and made it wet so that the crappy single ply toilet paper tore and dissolved when I tried to clean up.
posted by MikeKD at 4:51 AM on March 15, 2020 [2 favorites]


You’re doing it wrong.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:34 AM on March 15, 2020 [2 favorites]


I'd do this maybe if my apartment building didn't charge $2 for a wash load and $2 to dry. I can barely afford to do my regular laundry.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:49 AM on March 15, 2020 [1 favorite]


Yuck but thanks.

Men don't wipe their todger after peeing

I thought it was known thing. It's revolting. I wonder how many wash their hands after manhandling their belly worm.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 10:09 AM on March 15, 2020 [1 favorite]


*long time user of the pee rag in the outdoors*

*has been happily extolling the virtues of using a pee rag to everyone since TP started disappearing, albeit in a joking way cuz not really worried because c'mon*

*sees reaction on MF to pee rag use*

*realizes everyone she might have been informing about said pee rag might have been reacting the same way but not visibly*

*also realizes she continued on with jokes about how fir cones can also be great outdoor TP (seriously, though not for peeing)*

*dies inside*
posted by barchan at 11:59 AM on March 15, 2020 [9 favorites]


I'm kind of surprised at how many MeFites are so much more squeamish than I expected.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:49 PM on March 15, 2020 [1 favorite]


ppl knowing from past personal experience what will or will not give them an uncomfortable medical issue does not equal squeamish, sry.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:08 PM on March 15, 2020 [9 favorites]


You aren't going far enough with the pee rags. You need to go full old Roman.

One pee rag for the entire group. And use it for poop as well. Also, don't bother cleaning it, just Dibble out in the container of vinegar you carry around for the purpose.

I mean sure you'll probably all smell grotesque, and all come down with some horrible disease, but the IMPORTANT thing is you won't be using TP.
posted by happyroach at 1:24 PM on March 15, 2020


That's true, poffin boffin, and I should have mentioned that caveat; but apart from those folks I'm still kind of surprised.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:44 PM on March 15, 2020


Not judging by the way, just surprised.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:45 PM on March 15, 2020


Seriously, though. This is one of those things that YMMV really comes into play. I completely understand people who can't do it or may be squicked out by it (though I suggest you not find how mountain climbers deal with shitting).

(What I don't understand is people who just leave their toilet paper on the ground for everyone to see. Or walk on. Or IN CAMPSITES. One of the grossest things is coming upon a spot where people didn't pack out their toilet paper or bury it, and just leave it, particularly in well trafficked areas where a lot of people use the same spot and IT BUILDS UP. Toilet paper doesn't just magically disintegrate in an hour or two! TP can take years to decompose, particularly at higher elevations and in drier climates. Not doing anything at all and just leaving it is a violation of both Leave No Trace and Wilderness regulations if one is in a U.S. Wilderness area or National Park. You pick up your toilet paper with more toilet paper or you can throw it in a bag instead of on the ground, maybe even put that bag in another bag if you want, and then you wash and/or hand sanitizer the hell out of your hands. This is not an impossible thing to do. Or *at least* dig a hole with a stick and bury it.)

Anyway, if you were to use one outside, it depends on what you're comfortable doing and how your body may react and how much experience you may have outside. Not to be . . . insensitive (?) to each person's particular hygiene needs, but spend enough time outside and for most people at some point previously unacceptable hygiene practices become easier. So it goes with going to the bathroom. Some people find the pee rag gross and just do a little shake it off dance and not use TP at all. Some people have no problem picking up their TP and packing it out (a process that inevitably requires more toilet paper and ziplocks). Others will take the time and effort to bury it. I've done all these things, and for a number of reasons prefer the pee rag. I've used 'em thru-hiking, multi-day backpacking, and doing field research. In fact, I have a dedicated bandanna just for that purpose. Note: I do always carry a very small pack of scent-less wipes for Situations That Turn Bad and/or my period (I don't use a pee rag then). I also *always* have hand sanitizer and use it a lot! Spend enough time outdoors and one usually has a system in place for all bathroom situations.

And yes, I do and have gone backpacking without any toilet paper at all. It's possible, my friends. I WOULD much rather use toilet paper and sometimes I so bring some, but sometimes. . . I admit, sometimes I just want to pee and go, and a pee rag, particularly when I want a lot of miles, is much quicker. I'm not good at the shake off dance - for one thing, I have shitty knees and squatting is not my fave activity. If I'm spending days without a shower and am at the point of underwear flipping, without TP or with TP rationing I feel cleaner with a pee rag than doing the shake off, and those are the kind of times when one thinks about the weight of everything, including toilet paper. (I do have a backcountry bidet system, too.) So yeah, I squirt some water at the rag, tie it to the pack, and set off. (My designated bandanna is totally faded from being tied to the outside of my pack.) I usually try to give the rag a good rinsing once a day. A lot of times I'll even pour boiling water over it. I've never, not once, had any health issues from the practice. That does not mean it's for everyone, though. Some people might! Again, YMMV.

Because here's the thing: hygiene outdoors is a different thing, with different rules. Everybody has slightly different practices. Like, I wash my socks every day and have at least 3 pairs, including a dedicated night time pair. And I have a small sponge that I wipe myself off with every day so I don't get into my sleeping bag dirty. But there are some people who have sleeping bags you can smell *in their packs*. I don't mind wearing the same clothes for days or doing machine-less laundry with a ziplock bag, but there's some people who think that's awful and have extra clothes and will only wash their clothes in machines. And I know I would have very different practices if I did all my recreation in the PNW or the southern Appalachians. This is just a situation in which one has to be flexible to do it all the time - one has to adjust. If you like the outdoors, it's usually worth it. (Tho I've had a few moments when it was decidedly not, but overall, yeah!) And yeah, there are some people to whom that is a special kind of understandable hell, and that's fine too! Just like all other parts of life, the outdoors or even just certain kinds of outdoors are not for everyone.

But getting back to the point of the post if I had to do this at home: I would pull out all my old bandannas and maybe cut a few of 'em in half and I would wash them after ever use if possible. Indoors, when you have plenty of access to water and soap is not a place I would use outdoor hygiene unless I absolutely had to, and this counts. I love showers and clean clothes and toilet paper. But if I were running out of TP or had to start rationing it? Yeah, this is something I would immediately leap to do *if* it came down to it. It does work. It's definitely doable.But would I like doing it? Nooooooope!

If, however, I'm at that point, I suspect there are much, much bigger issues on my mind. But in that kind of situation, it's good to circle back to something I already mentioned - the ability to adapt to the circumstances as needed and being able to adopt the attitude that one is capable of adapting. So if it's down to TP rationing, I'm happy to say that adjusting easily to that might give me more energy to adapt to losing, say, internet (or chocolate). For some people, they could adapt to losing internet more easily than not having TP. Or maybe, medically, using anything other than TP is a very bad thing for someone but they can self-isolate without any problem at all. Everybody has a thing they can do; though I wish you all luck you don't have to face the situations in which you might have trouble. But if it comes down to using a pee rag at home, folks, be proud if you can get through it if previously that seemed like a terrible thing. Little victories like that are important, no matter what form they take, in any situation when flexibility becomes a key component of resilience.
posted by barchan at 1:47 PM on March 15, 2020 [12 favorites]


You’re doing it wrong.
posted by seanmpuckett

Okay. I have a bidet. I also have IBS-D. The bidet does nothing for me. If I were to blast my ass with enough pressure to get it clean I would have a very abraded butthole.

I’m glad the bidet works for people but if one more fucking person smugly assumes I just haven’t already done a shitload of research into how to make my bidet relevant for my situation then I will fucking lose it. In fact I basically just did reading this comment.

I have used a pee rag and thankfully am not prone to UTIs. That doesn’t mean I’m going to tell anyone who can’t use a pee rag without risking infection they’re just doing it wrong.

Just maybe we can remember that every one is different and stop telling other people they’re taking care of their own private parts wrong.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 2:10 PM on March 15, 2020 [7 favorites]


done a shitload of research

I see what you did there.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:53 PM on March 15, 2020 [3 favorites]


tbh as a cis lady I don't really understand how the butt oriented bidet seat attachment doesn't leave similar-bodied users with a cooter full of shitwater from splashing. When I use a regular bidet I face the flow of water to avoid that very thing.

The outdoor hygiene problem for me is that I get Lady Issues from doing stuff as mundane as taking a shower in well water rather than city-treated water, it was a huge problem living overseas in a place where the tap water was sometimes non-potable treated seawater. I would get horrible infections traveling back and forth between the US and spain that would abate once I acclimated to the local water conditions, but the first week or two in either place was always grossly hellish. Doctors inexfuckingplicably will not prescribe a single fluconazole tablet without an office visit and an exam despite the fact that I have owned and operated this vagina for almost 40 years and know what its issues are instantly upon their presentation; therefore any such situation ends up being a huge waste of time and money. So my choices while hiking would be to carry extra potable water for washing my pissrag, or rinsing it in undrinkable untreated wilderness water and risking serious discomfort, grossness, and inconvenience. Not my idea of fun recreation!

it's an unfortunately similar situation as people insisting i should use a divacup despite the fact that public restrooms never have hand soap, and i am not putting my filthy subway hands anywhere near any part of my body for any reason*. "oh you hardly ever have to empty it when you're out and about!" i had to have my uterus removed! because it wouldn't stop bleeding! so much blood my hair and teeth started falling out!! i know my own body! i will scream right now until i die!

*this current no face touching thing is so easy for me in retrospect.

posted by poffin boffin at 3:56 PM on March 15, 2020 [10 favorites]


also good for keeping the cat from jumping into your lap at a critical moment
posted by poffin boffin at 4:04 PM on March 15, 2020 [4 favorites]


You really can use leaves, like the ancestors. Just be sure they're not poison ivy leaves.
posted by Twang at 4:54 PM on March 15, 2020 [1 favorite]


Or holly leaves.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:33 PM on March 15, 2020


I thought "Blot the Todger" was a type of British cuisine.

> Men don't wipe their todger after peeing

I know where my todger's been. I have no idea what's on my hands. I don't see what all this "after" peeing is about. Wash your hands BEFORE you pee!

This has been a pubic service announcement
posted by not_on_display at 8:21 PM on March 15, 2020 [4 favorites]


Really most leaves aren't great for this, as someone who grew up in a land of dwarf conifers.

We wiped our asses with newspaper. Bristlecones, as you might expect, are unpleasing.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:23 PM on March 15, 2020 [3 favorites]


During halftime at the Yale/Harvard football game, two students from the competing schools happened to use the facilities at the same time. As the Harvard man was washing his hands, the Yale man walked past him toward the exit.

The Harvard man sneered and remarked, "At Harvard, they teach us to wash our hands after going to the bathroom."

"At Yale," the other man said as he strolled out the door, "they teach us not to pee on our hands."
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:27 PM on March 15, 2020 [1 favorite]


No toilet paper at Sam's Warehouse again (Ie sigh) so I went to Wally World and got more Tuck's Medicated Pads. Cotton pads and witch hazel (long-time user, I've had issues for decades which need not be discussed).
Meanwhile, if we get down to one nine-roll pack I'm breaking out my extensive, colorful bandanna (not banana, bleep! Good heavens.) collection.
We have clean, warm water. We can get through this. Psychic hugs to all.
posted by TrishaU at 11:57 PM on March 15, 2020


the world is mine
posted by sapagan at 12:52 AM on March 16, 2020 [4 favorites]


No, but if I got shit on my arm I also wouldn't rinse my arm with water and then dry it off and go about things.

you seem awfully proud of that shitty arm of yours!
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:45 AM on March 16, 2020 [1 favorite]


tbh as a cis lady I don't really understand how the butt oriented bidet seat attachment doesn't leave similar-bodied users with a cooter full of shitwater from splashing.

I don’t know exactly, but mine doesn’t. The water jet sprays onto the relevant location, then the water runs off, and I don’t get any splashback. Maybe it’s because I have one of those Squatty Potty footstools — it helps angle things so that the butt is the lowest point. Or maybe it’s about precision in aiming the jet? Or my toilet has a lower water level in the bowl? I don’t know. My husband (a cis man) hasn’t reported any problems either.

Regarding people with penises who hold them to pee: You may know where it’s been, but I don’t know where it’s been. And it’s probably kind of sweaty. Please wash after handling it. Thank you.
posted by snowmentality at 1:17 PM on March 16, 2020 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: sweaty penises
posted by nofundy at 2:21 PM on March 16, 2020 [1 favorite]


Don't sweat the petty stuff, and don't pet the sweaty stuff.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:46 PM on March 16, 2020 [1 favorite]


My mom told me she saw an article encouraging people to use "smooth river stones" as a substitute for TP, so, you know, we're having a normal one in the US of A.
posted by zeusianfog at 1:24 PM on March 17, 2020 [2 favorites]


my 3 seashells and i are ready
posted by poffin boffin at 2:31 PM on March 17, 2020 [4 favorites]


"At Yale," the other man said as he strolled out the door, "they teach us not to pee on our hands."

Apparently Yale also taught him how to piss without touching his dick.
posted by MikeKD at 8:04 PM on March 17, 2020


All that takes is sitting down; I wouldn't guess one needs a college education to learn that.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:02 PM on March 17, 2020


Apparently Yale also taught him how to piss without touching his dick.

As a dude-genitaled person I have several times made the calculus that my penis, which has been in my underwear since I showered, was to a high degree of certainty cleaner than the door handle, sink knobs, and paper-towel dispenser lever of a public restroom. I behaved accordingly, and make no apologies.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:20 AM on March 19, 2020


THE DOOR HANDLE DOES NOT PRODUCE SEBUM AND SWEAT THAT SUSTAINS AND FEEDS ENTIRE BACTERIAL COMMUNITIES, OH MY GOD
posted by sciatrix at 9:24 AM on March 19, 2020 [12 favorites]


it taint
posted by poffin boffin at 11:14 AM on March 19, 2020 [5 favorites]


Every time I think I understand men, who they are and how they think, I'm proven wrong.
posted by muddgirl at 1:12 PM on March 19, 2020 [3 favorites]


"think" 😂
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:28 PM on March 20, 2020 [1 favorite]


i dont get it
posted by not_on_display at 5:27 PM on March 23, 2020


"think" 😂

In retrospect, I realize that I should have prefaced that with the word men so it didn't look like I was making fun of muddgirl's cognitive abilities. Apologies.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:28 PM on March 29, 2020


No I got it Greg Ace and LOLed. For my part after rereading this exchange, I deeply apologize if I misgendered aspersioncast and in the future I will take a second to reread before posting quips.
posted by muddgirl at 5:27 PM on March 29, 2020


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