Non-Toxic Toilet Paper: Is it worth it?

We think we have a pretty good idea about your type (mostly because we are “this person” too!)

  • You’ve already made the switch to natural cleaning and personal hygiene products
  • You meticulously read labels and rejoice at plant-derived ingredients
  • You’re choosy – and rightly so – about what you put in and on your body

    …cue your dedication to making informed consumer choices and the ensuing quest for non-toxic toilet paper. Whether you’re already halfway down the rabbit hole or just getting started, read on to uncover everything you need to know about chemical-free toilet paper brands (including our top 3 recommendations!). 

    Plus, we’ll take an in-depth look at the alternative for toilet paper that is rapidly gaining popularity in the US. Because let’s face it, only 30% of the world even uses toilet paper to begin with...

    Why opt for non-toxic toilet paper?

    To understand why non-toxic toilet paper should be on everyone’s radar, let’s take a look at some of the problems with traditional name-brand toilet paper:


    In the paper industry, formaldehyde is used to improve the “wet-strength” of products. So the tougher, shinier, and heavier a paper is, the more formaldehyde it likely contains. When it comes to toilet paper, that means the thick, absorbent (i.e. expensive) brands will inherently contain more formaldehyde than thinner, cheaper brands. You might be getting the quality you paid for, but it comes at a cost to your health.

    Environmental Concerns

    non-toxic toilet paper reduces deforestation of the boreal forest in Canada

    Traditional toilet paper production uniquely and devastatingly contributes to deforestation. The boreal forest in Canada is the largest terrestrial carbon sink (a natural environment that removes more carbon than it releases) on the planet. Carbon sinks play a pivotal role in the carbon cycle by absorbing large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.   

    Nearly 1 million acres of this forest are clear-cut every single year solely for toilet paper, dramatically diminishing the forest’s ability to store carbon. Again, we’re talking mainly about name-brand companies, and in particular the makers of Charmin, who are using old growth trees in virgin forests to supply a large percentage of their wood pulp.

    …Would now be the time for a potty pun to lighten the mood? The good news is that you DO have options (several, in fact!).

    Best non-toxic toilet paper alternative

    Your ideal toilet paper alternative is obviously going to be a deeply personal choice, but we can simplify the process by breaking down non-toxic toilet paper into these categories:

    Bamboo toilet paper

    Bamboo toilet paper is more sustainable

    Turns out, saving trees is not only ethical, but makes a lot of sense. Bamboo:

    • Requires significantly less water to be processed
    • Has a much faster growth cycle than trees (3-5 years vs. 20-50 years for trees!)
    • Can be harvested without disturbing the entire ecosystem 
    • Doesn’t need to be replanted – cutting a bamboo stalk actually encourages the growth of new shoots
    • Is naturally resistant to pests and diseases without needing fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides
    • Biodegrades quickly and easily

    Bamboo toilet paper’s popularity has soared in the last 5 years, meaning your options at this point are anything but limited. And with so many companies focusing on this alternative for toilet paper, prices are more affordable than ever.

    Recycled toilet paper

    Recycled toilet paper is made from 100% post-consumer paper waste – typically a mix of materials like newspapers, office paper and textbooks. It doesn’t involve cutting down any trees or bamboo, and it takes an estimated 66% less greenhouse gas emissions to produce recycled toilet paper than traditional toilet paper from virgin pulp. 

    From a sustainability standpoint, recycled toilet paper is the best option. It also doesn’t require re-bleaching. Although it’s impossible to know the original bleaching process for the recycled materials, an oxygen based agent will be used the second time around.

    Unbleached toilet paper 

    Unbleached toilet paper is the best non-toxic toilet paper

    Like other paper products, toilet paper undergoes a bleaching process to achieve its uniform white color. The softer, fluffier and more absorbent your toilet paper, the more you have chlorine – or more specifically, chlorine dioxide – to thank.  

    Prolonged chlorine exposure is not only disastrous for your skin, hair and overall health (which is why you definitely shouldn't shower in it), but this particular process releases a deadly super toxin, known as dioxin, that wreaks even greater havoc on the environment – which in turn affects your air, food and water. Dioxins are known to cause cancer, disrupt reproductive health and impair the immune system. 

    In the 1990’s, the EPA called for the switch from using straight chlorine for bleaching wood pulp (called Elemental Chlorine bleaching) to what’s now referred to as Elemental Chlorine Free bleaching (ECF). ECF uses chlorine dioxide, a chlorine derivative, that produces fewer and less harmful byproducts than elemental chlorine. 

    Totally Chlorine Free bleaching (TCF), as the name suggests, avoids chlorine altogether by using oxygen based elements like hydrogen peroxide and produces ZERO dioxins. You might ask yourself, why is this not the standard process? The short answer is: money. The infrastructure required is expensive and the cost of the process was a major consideration in the EPA’s decision to continue allowing ECF bleaching.

    You will see a lot of bamboo toilet paper advertised as being unbleached, when in reality they use the same ECF bleaching as all of the traditional toilet paper brands. Does it release less dioxin? Sure. But it IS bleached, and any amount of dioxin associated with the process (especially with such a ubiquitous household item as toilet paper) is far from ideal. 

    Legitimately unbleached toilet paper will be a light shade of brown, the same as napkins or paper towels you often find at restaurants or public restrooms. If you prefer to avoid chlorine derivatives altogether (for yourself and for the planet!), skip the white stuff and stick with “au naturel” bamboo rolls.

    Pro Tip: Don't overlook the other major problem area for chlorine exposure in the bathroom: your shower water.  

    HammerHead Showers All Metal Shower Head Filter for Chlorine and Heavy Metals

    Skeptical of the claims made by these compact filtration systems? You should be! Most shower filters aren't using the right kind or amount of filtration media and won't do a thing to improve the quality of your water (more about that here).

    We spent years developing our durable lead-free brass housing and proprietary blend of KDF and Calcium Sulfite to ensure it will effectively neutralize chlorine and heavy metals for years to come. 

    Our top 3 non-toxic toilet paper recommendations

    Best non-toxic toilet paper brands

    Purafide – Coming in at #1, this brand checks all of our boxes: bamboo, unbleached, and sustainable packaging 

    If you’re not quite ready to give up that crisp white look, these options will make your transition from trees to bamboo as smooth as the soft side of the toilet paper: 

    Who Gives a Crap – The reviews don’t lie, people love this toilet paper. Plus, they donate 50% of their profits (yes, you read that correctly) to local, on-the-ground organizations working to ensure access to toilets and clean water for every community in need of this life-saving infrastructure. Sign up for a subscription to get an incredible deal 

    No. 2 – Described as ”Stroooong & Siiiiilky”, this brand has set itself apart with the texture and strength they’ve managed to achieve

    Beyond non-toxic toilet paper

    It’s clear that consumers and companies alike are starting to pay more attention to the health implications and environmental impact of toilet paper production, but the challenges keep coming:

    BPA in recycled toilet paper

    BPA, short for bisphenol A, is a highly toxic industrial chemical used in plastics since the 1950’s. It’s also used as a coating on thermal printed materials like receipts, shipping labels and boarding passes. Studies have shown that these materials find their way into the pulp used for recycled toilet paper which leads to BPA contamination.

    PFAS – Forever Chemicals 

    PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl synthetic chemical compounds, are dubbed “forever chemicals” because of their inability to break down in the environment under natural conditions and their persistence in our bodies once they are present (and the fact that they can be found in thousands of products ranging from waterproof clothing to food wrapping). PFAS have been linked to a variety of serious health issues including:

    • Testicular, kidney, liver and pancreatic cancer
    • Reproductive problems
    • Weakened childhood immunity
    • Low birth weight
    • Endocrine disruption
    • Increased cholesterol
    • Weight gain in children and dieting adults

    A peer-reviewed study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida made waves last year after finding PFAS in all 21 toilet paper brands in the four continents where they tested (the names of the brands were not disclosed). 

    More than 90% of the PFAS detected in the samples were 6:2 diPAP – a species linked to testicular function impairment in men. What’s worse, the authors conclude “toilet paper should be considered as a potentially major source of PFAS entering wastewater treatment systems.”

    It’s unclear whether or not PFAS are intentionally added to the pulp during manufacturing, or if lubricants applied to paper mill machinery are to blame. It appears to be a combination of both (even though spokespeople for the toilet paper industry deny any use of PFAS).  

    These findings beg the question: is there a better solution to the toilet paper conundrum?

    Bidet sprayers: an alternative for toilet paper

    HammerHead Showers All Metal Handheld Bidet Sprayer non-toxic toilet paper alternative

    In days past, the average American could probably have made it well into adulthood before coming across a bidet sprayer, possibly in their artsy friend’s house or while traveling abroad. Bidet sprayers (or water in general) might be widely used by the majority of the world, but it’s taken until recently to catch on in the US. 

    Bidet sprayers have come a long way from the free standing bidets you might be familiar with, and many styles now require no additional space or plumbing hookups. We’ve covered bidet sprayers at length in this article, but here’s a few benefits at a glance:

    • Better hygiene – To put it bluntly: if you got fecal bacteria on any other part of your body, would you feel confident going about your day after wiping it with dry toilet paper? 
    • Less waste and chemical exposure – It’s totally understandable to not settle into fully giving up your TP, but a courtesy wipe at the end uses infinitely less of it  
    • Comfort and convenience – Kids, elderly folks, postpartum, post-surgery: anyone with any sensitivity has a lot to gain from a soothing bathroom experience that will contribute to their healing rather than lead to further irritation

    The 3 main types that come ready for easy integration into your current toilet setup are handheld bidets, toilet seat bidets, and washlet bidets. They each have their pros and cons (you can read more about those here), but the standout for its versatility and affordability is the handheld bidet –

    Our top bidet sprayer recommendation

    HammerHead Showers All Metal Handheld Bidet Sprayer
    Shop now for bidet sprayer alternative to non-toxic toilet paper

    If you’re ready to replace or supplement your non-toxic toilet paper, this bidet will convert you in no time. Unlike other models that will have you shifting and shimmying to angle the spray towards all the right places, HammerHead Showers® handheld bidet puts the stream at your fingertips.

    It comes with all the hardware you need to attach it to your toilet fill valve without affecting regular use of the toilet whatsoever, and every component is made of metal (and warranty-backed!) for ultimate leak-free durability. 

    When you're not taking care of business, you can use the bidet sprayer as an extra water source with a hose for rinsing those things that need some mega TLC, like your toilet bowl or cloth diapers. 

    Clean better, save money, and help out the environment – once you bidet you’ll never go back!

    Non-toxic toilet paper: the first step to better hygiene and health

    Switching from traditional toilet paper brands to a non-toxic alternative is a no- brainer, and investing in a bidet sprayer is the solution you probably didn't even know you needed. But the fun doesn't stop there!

    We geek out over all things health-related in the bathroom, and we're pretty passionate about products that provide a less toxic and healthier lifestyle. It's why our shower heads and accessories use materials like stainless steel and brass as opposed to plastic: 


    And our shower hoses are lined with hygienic silicone that prevents the accumulation of harmful biofilms rather than PVC or EPDM (a synthetic rubber used mainly in roofing) used by other brands:

    All metal non-toxic shower hose from HammerHead Showers with silicone lining

    Explore our full line of products today and experience the HammerHead Showers® difference for yourself!  


    Frequently Asked Questions

    Are there harmful chemicals in toilet paper?

    Yes, studies have found: formaldehyde in traditional brand-name toilet paper, BPA in recycled toilet paper, and PFAS “forever chemicals” in 21 major toilet paper brands. Choosing unscented, unbleached bamboo toilet paper can significantly reduce your exposure, but a bidet sprayer is the most hygienic and only guaranteed chemical-free option. 

    How does a handheld bidet work?

    A handheld bidet sprayer is a nozzle that attaches to your toilet. Simply remove the nozzle from the dock, slightly open the valve, point the stream where you need it, and voila! Remember to close the valve again to prevent any leaking or pressure from building up in the hose. If the initial pressure is uncomfortable, you can release the pressure by spraying into the toilet before using it.

    Do you wipe after using a bidet?

    This is totally up to you. Many people find they prefer to pat dry with a small amount of toilet paper or a reusable, washable cloth after using a bidet sprayer. 

    Can you install a bidet sprayer yourself?

    Yes, handheld bidet sprayers come with all of the hardware you will need for a quick and easy plumber-free installation!

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