How Long Can You Use Toilet Paper as a Pad? (Answered)

Written by

Paulk Webb


Freddie J. Hagopian

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how long can you use toilet paper as a pad

Here’s the scenario: your period came today without any signs, then you looked into your drawers and saw you have no pads left. But you have a ton of toilet paper, so you grabbed that before going to the convenience store.

But how long can you use toilet paper as a pad? If toilet paper is used in place of menstrual products, it must only be for 1 to 2 hours. You also cannot use it as a tampon.

Periods and Menstrual Products


Menstruation is a biological process wherein the uterus ejects tissue and blood. This may occur every month, but a menstrual cycle is usually every 21 to 35 days.

If you’re a person who menstruates, you can determine your cycle duration by counting the days of intervals between your periods. Start from the first day of your period (past or this month) up to the first day of the next.

Some applications can track your cycle too, so you would know when your next period will come and you can prepare for it by stocking up on menstrual products since the bleeding can last from 2 to 7 days

Before your period comes, you may experience these signs that you’re about to have your first day:


  • cramps
  • breakouts
  • bloating
  • sore breasts
  • mood swings
  • tiredness

But what if you didn’t have these signs?

What if you still need to stock up on menstrual products at home?

What if you get your period when outside but don’t have a pad or tampon?

Using Toilet Paper as an Emergency Pad

Recalling the previous questions, your resort would be to use tissue for your period, unless you’re willing to stain your handkerchief or other clothes.

Toilet paper is a type of tissue typically containing the following ingredients:


  • water
  • pulp from trees
  • chemicals for fiber extraction
  • bleach such as chlorine
  • fragrance
  • formaldehyde

Unlike paper towels, toilet paper disintegrates quickly so it can be flushed down the drain without harming the plumbing system. That said, toilet paper is not strong and leak-proof—but you have no choice if you run out of pads.

Many medical professionals have reacted to this as a health risk, especially if used continuously. Using tissue in place of menstrual products can cause infection as the ingredients contain toxic chemicals and sometimes, waste paper.

In addition, what happens to some women when they use toilet paper to simply wipe themselves after peeing can be as bad as:


  • vulvovaginitis (irritation or infection of the vulva)
  • urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • redness or swelling
  • small cuts

How Long Can You Leave Them?

If you’re on your period without pads or tampons, you can only use toilet paper for 1 to 2 hours before you switch to an actual menstrual product. This is stated by Dr. Daniel Adegbulu of Nigeria, a Senior Registrar of Gynaecology and Obstetrics at the Federal Medical Centre.

Another essential piece of advice is to not insert tissue paper into your vagina like a tampon; this may do more harm than good.

How to Use Toilet Paper as a DIY Pad

Is it bad to use toilet paper for your period? Well, yes. But if you’re still going for it temporarily, we want to help you do it the best way.

Method 1: DIY Day Pad


1. To make a homemade pad, grab pieces of toilet paper and stack them together until ½ inches thick or more; you may use organic cotton toilet paper as a cotton pad too.

Ensure they are also wide horizontally to form “wings” and long enough to cover your underwear.

2. Place the stacked toilet paper on your underwear’s crotch. If there are excess edges, fold them like the wings of a pad.

3. If you’re using a toilet paper roll, wrap that 4 to 5 times around the stacked ones at the underwear’s crotch. If it’s a tissue box, take 5 pieces of toilet paper for this process.

We’re doing it like a plus (+) sign. The stacked toilet paper was placed vertically like a regular pad, and the toilet paper wrap will be done horizontally for more security.

4. Make sure you discard this makeshift pad after 2 hours maximum.

Method 2: DIY Overnight Pad


1. Our sleeping positions are unpredictable at night, and this usually leads to period leaks even when wearing pads.

We can wrap toilet paper around a clean sock for a more absorbent makeshift pad.

2. Put the wrapped sock on your underwear’s crotch, then wrap more toilet paper around it horizontally for more security.

3. But again, we do not recommend using toilet paper as a menstrual product for more than 2 hours, as this concerns your safety and period leaks too.

If you can, find a 24-hour convenience store to get your sanitary pads.

Risks and Side Effects of Using Toilet Paper as Menstrual Pads

Using DIY menstrual pads made of toilet paper have its pros and cons, with the risks overshadowing the benefits in the long run.

  • Pros: Toilet paper is a cheaper alternative to use instead of pads temporarily until you can get ahold of menstrual products.
  • Cons: Using toilet paper as a substitute pad does not guarantee leak protection and is not as absorbent compared with a proper pad. Having toilet paper get in contact with your vagina can cause infection or allergic reaction. Swelling, redness, micro-cuts, vulvovaginitis, and UTI are the possible outcomes when you use toilet paper as a pad.

Overall, using toilet paper as menstrual pads is recommended. It can pose several risks and side effects. This DIY method should only resort to in case of emergency.

Alternatives That You Can Use Instead of Toilet Paper


Instead of using toilet paper here is what to do if you don’t have a pad.

  • Menstrual cups. These are reusable or disposable cups that you insert in your vagina like a tampon. There are 2 or 3 sizes depending on the flow’s strength and the doctor’s expert opinion on which one you should use.
  • Reusable cloth pads. Having a reusable pad in your home and your bag is convenient as you will always have something to use when your period unexpectedly comes. You may have to dispose of it once you wash and reuse it a lot of times, but it still saves money.
  • Period underwear. This is a type of underwear made with microfiber polyester layers to absorb your blood flow. Period underwear looks like normal underwear that doesn’t let your skin feel like it’s soaking in liquid.
  • Makeshift pad using a cotton cloth. If you don’t have the previously mentioned products at home, you can try using a thick and absorbent cotton cloth as a temporary pad—preferably having a dark color or a cloth you don’t mind staining.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Often Should You Change a Toilet Paper Pad?

It is advised to discard a toilet paper pad in 1 to 2 hours and switch to an actual menstrual product afterward.

In the event that 2 hours have passed but you still don’t have a pad or tampon, use new toilet paper for your underwear and discard it again within the recommended hours. But we strongly recommend buying any kind of menstrual product at the nearest convenience store.

Can You Flush Toilet Paper Pads Down the Toilet?

Toilet paper is safe to flush down the drains as it breaks down within 1 to 4 minutes. That said, a toilet paper pad won’t clog your plumbing system.


Is it OK to use toilet paper as menstrual pads? Health-wise, it’s not advisable. Gynecologists have warned against toilet paper contact with the vagina as it can cause infections that range from redness or swelling up to vulvovaginitis and UTI.

But if it’s only temporary until you can get ahold of menstrual products, how long can you use toilet paper as a pad? You may only use it for 1 to 2 hours, then you must switch to sanitary pads after.

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