Out of Toilet Paper? Here Are 5 Smart Ways to Track Down a Roll If Your Grocery Is Sold Out

Here's how to get TP without waiting in endless lines or dropping $10+ a roll.

Toilet paper has become a hot commodity. "$10 a roll—this is not a joke," read a sign at one convenience store recently, according to the Associated Press.

Check out Amazon, Costco, Walmart or your local supermarket and you're still likely to come up dry if you need to restock your toilet paper stock. (In case you missed it, here's why we might *really* be experiencing a TP shortage.) Even though everyone is done with their pre-quarantine stock-up shopping, about one in three Americans is still struggling to find toilet paper to buy, according to a recent survey by Finder.com.

Toilet Paper Buying Mistakes

Before you start searching for your next round of rolls, a couple toilet paper buying don'ts.

  • Don't overestimate how much you need right now. Use this handy "How Much Toilet Paper?" calculator to estimate how much you should purchase to cover your family's needs. A 24-pack of toilet paper will last a family of four about 77 days (that would be until the end of June) if you each use the restroom five times a day. Another good estimate: Georgia-Pacific recently combined census and survey data to determine that the average U.S. home with 2.6 people would require 34 regular rolls per regular month or 48 regular rolls during a quarantine month (the number goes up because you're not using TP out and about at school, work, restaurants and other businesses).
  • Don't flush your money away. Like that $10-a-roll story showcases, price gouging abounds when items are in high demand and low supply, so be wary of black market routes that offer shoddy products. Some Amazon reviews hint to teeny tiny, super-thin, single-ply rolls, while others tell of promises from "vendors" who never actually deliver the order you paid for.
A hand reaches for the last piece of toilet paper on roll
Howard Huang/Getty Images

5 Unique Places to Look for Toilet Paper

Now the dos.

  • Consider bulk suppliers. While offerings ebb and flow and occasionally only fit the supersized roll dispensers, certain commercial toilet paper retailers like Total Restroom (which typically is used by companies, schools, stores, hotels, etc.) may have a more steady supply than supermarkets or warehouse stores. You won't likely find the same plush Cottonelle or Charmin you're used to, but the commercial rolls will still do the job.
  • Try office supply stores. Staples, Office Max and other business retailers may also have commercial toilet paper brands available in stores or online.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for local restaurants and "pop-up pantries." Some restaurants across the country have pivoted to selling essentials instead of, or in addition to, their menu via takeout or delivery. Since they purchase their toilet paper via commercial distributors, they have easier access to a consistent supply. Follow your favorite local brands on Facebook and Instagram, as some are offering rolls for purchase or for free with your order.
  • Join a waitlist. Who Gives a Crap—a brand that uses 100 percent recycled paper, delivers directly to your door, and donates half of all profits to build toilets for those in low-income areas—is currently out of stock, too. But complete the form on their website and you'll be among the first to know when their e-shelves are restocked.
  • Phone a friend. If all else fails and you're running low, text a few pals to see if they can spare a few squares (okay, rolls). Or post a SOS on social media and ask your Facebook friends to alert you if they're out and about and see some stacks of TP packs.
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