It figures that the first thing to go in a SHTF situation is the toilet paper. With COVID-19 snaking its way across America—and news stations breathlessly reporting on empty shelves—TP is at the top of most shoppers’ lists. If you’re limiting your grocery runs to reduce the likelihood of exposure, you run the real risk of missing out on this basic staple. You can go to off-the-beaten-path stores, but they might not have it either. So what do you do if your monthly shopping expedition comes after the village hoarder has ransacked the hygiene aisle? For that, we turn to one of the bougiest of concepts: The bidet. Well, a DIY bidet.
Creating a DIY Bidet
No, I’m not talking about that sink next to toilets in Europe, or one of those multi-button motion-sensor, heated-seat porcelain thrones that you see in luxury penthouses. (Although if you DO have one of those installed in your home already, excellent foresight.) No, what I’m talking about is the backcountry bidet—a simple solution to all your No. 2 needs.
The classic backcountry bidet is a type of squeeze bottle with a long, bent-neck nozzle (such as the BioBidet). However, if you don’t have one of these lying around, it’s easy enough to jerry rig a DIY version. These range from the VERY low-tech (a cup of warm water and your left hand) to more complex prototypes that require a trip to the hardware store (yeah …). But an easier version uses common household materials.
Make Your Bidet
- Find your bottle. A quick search of my fridge and backpacking pantry resulted in a variety of options. Select your bottle for “squeezability”—Gatorades are probably not the best choice here)—and size. You’ll just have to use your judgement when it comes to size. If you have smaller hands and are relatively, er, efficient, you’d want to select a smaller bottle than someone with quarterback-sized mitts. Some trial and error may be involved.
- Mark your bottle in a way that is impossible to miss. Duct tape, stickers, whatever you have at hand. The last thing you want is to mistake this bottle for a regular water bottle in the middle of the night.
- Grab a drill and drill bit; something in the 1/8 to 7/32 range works best. Test to see if your hole is already the correct size. If not, remove the cap, place it on a firm surface, and get drilling.
- Fill your bottle with water and screw the top back on.
Using Your Bidet
- After you’ve done the deed (taking your time—a pandemic is no time for a hernia), grab your bottle.
- Reach underneath and spray front to back (especially important for women and girls). Depending on the size of the bottle you selected, you may need to elevate your carriage some off the throne to get the right angle. Be mindful of the back of the toilet; this was designed for outdoor use, after all. Try to keep your hand out of the way of any splash back, but don’t worry too much about it. We’ve all had lots of practice with the proper technique for washing hands these days.
- Depending on how much you are trying to conserve toilet paper, you can either grab a square or two of TP to dry off, or let things air out au naturel.
Programming note: Do NOT get fancy and start thinking that you can conserve your home water supply by using urine in your DIY bidet. The uric acid will give you diaper rash; that’s not something you want to deal with in a survival situation.