I have looked around a bit, Wikipedia has an article on space toilets and one on toilet paper, but the two don't seem to be used together. According to one reference, annual consumption of toilet tissue in North America is 23.0 kg per capita. Recycling air and fluids, even solids in a farm, are all pretty well accepted concepts, but what about toilet paper?

How do you meet this essential need in space? How could you meet it on a long journey or colonization?

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    $\begingroup$ You mean if they scrunch or fold? I think they rinse, suck and blow dry, but this thread might be fun. I'm not even sure I dare describe the process I had in mind. :) $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 11:03
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    $\begingroup$ To quote Madagascar "Who wipes!" $\endgroup$
    – user106
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ Annual consumption per capita. BTW, that's really a lot. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 13:16
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    $\begingroup$ Sunita Williams covers this and a lot more in her ISS tour video. I highly recommend watching the entire clip. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ Huge segments of the world don't use TP on Earth. If you looked for annual TP consumption in Asia or Africa, you might get a surprise. So, ignoring the first half of your title (did you mean "without recycling paper"?), and going for your last question ("..could.. on a long journey"), I give you: Water! (AKA, any one of a wide variety of bidet-like options) $\endgroup$
    – hunter2
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 7:00

1 Answer 1


Current Practice

Right now, toilet paper is used (as well as wet wipes). It is disposed of in air-tight bags, according to Smithsonian.com. From the reference provided by Deer Hunter, "toilet wipes are used to wipe not only the person but the receptacle and the seat." It also mentions that the air-tight bags are discarded in a trash container.

Future Missions

As far as future missions such as long journeys or colonizations, I can't find anything addressing toilet paper use, though it isn't hard to imagine the toilets of future spaceships going completely paperless.

The University of Arizona paper "Mars Settler: A Manned Mission to Explore Mars" (Sheehan, Seo, and Bilinski) discusses the recycling of toilet paper in future manned Mars missions, which implies that they forsee the use of toilet paper.


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