Coronavirus

Paper Towels and Pee Pads: Surviving the COVID-19 TP Shortage

When you get desperate, there's this...or a puppy pee pad.
When you get desperate, there's this...or a puppy pee pad. Photo by Mike Mozart
In the first week of the coronavirus pandemic, across the country people were stocking up on the essentials: milk, eggs, cleaning supplies and toilet paper. Worries over quarantines and what measures we might be forced to take in the coming weeks and months caused a lot of people to lose their minds and turn into doomsday preppers for the bathroom.

We couldn't figure out why and even asked, but the raid on tissue continues unabated at area grocery stores. That may have some people wondering, "What the hell am I supposed to do if I run out of TP?" Maybe you should have thought about that before, mister. We're kidding.

Actually, you're not the only one a little freaked out. Trapped in our houses, what else are we supposed to do but literally count every roll of toilet paper and estimate how long it will be before it runs out? And there isn't any immediately on Amazon ( a week's delivery time even for Prime members) and only limited amounts in stores. Oh, sure, Charmin and Scott are certainly out there making more. If we had known, we'd own more toilet paper company stock right now than toilet paper.

But, there is always a chance you'll get desperate when even your goodhearted neighbors can't spare a square (or even a ply!). Undoubtedly, the first place you will turn to are paper towels. Let's be honest, we've probably all, in a pinch, did what we had to do when the TP ran out and there we are in the middle of the night with all the stores closed and it's too late for that anyway, right?


Still, you really shouldn't be flushing paper towels, not in sizable amounts. It's rough on the pipes and the environment. So, what then? Well, apparently you can be like a dog and use a pee pad. We wish we were kidding.

Apparently, the folks at Alpha Paw, a pet products company which happens to make pee protection for your furry buddies, came across a video of some dude turning their pee pads into strips of toilet paper.


In a blog post on the company's website, Alpha Paw CEO Ramon van Meer said they saw a big uptick in orders for the pads and wondered what the hell was going on. “Puppy pee pads have always been one of our most popular pet products." he said. "But suddenly, we noticed a huge spike in orders. In fact, suddenly customers – many of them new to us – were placing hundreds of orders all at once.”

When they found the video, they immediately increased their own stock of pee pads to deal with the onslaught. They, not surprisingly, think it's a good and clever idea claiming their pads are more absorbent than standard toilet paper anyway.

Having said that, you probably cannot (and should not) flush these pads. So, if you are going, uh, number two, you may want to consider how far you are willing to go in terms of disposal. But, if you are desperate enough, this doesn't seem any weirder than the alternatives that are suddenly filling our brains. Go with God.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke