Can Toilet Paper be used as Gauze? (No, Here’s Why)

can toilet paper be used as gauze

Have you ever wondered, can toilet paper be used as gauze? If you haven’t got any gauze handy, it might seem like the best thing to cover a cut with, because it is absorbent.

Toilet paper isn’t great for covering wounds, because it disintegrates too easily. If you cover a cut with toilet paper, you are likely to find that it just breaks down and leaves fibers in the cut. This is not good for keeping the cut clean.

Cuts should be covered with proper gauze before you tape them, so in this article, we’ll look at what you can use instead of gauze and why toilet paper isn’t a suitable option.

Can I Put Toilet Paper On A Cut?

You should try not to put toilet paper on a cut. If you are in a real emergency and you have absolutely no other supplies, you may wish to blot a gash with toilet paper to encourage the bleeding to stop, but you will need to clean the wound afterward, and you shouldn’t use toilet paper in the place of gauze.

Gauze is a robust substance that has been specifically designed to be in contact with open wounds. It will not shed fibers into the wound, and it will lift off cleanly when you uncover the wound. It keeps dirt out, but helps the injury to breathe.

Toilet paper doesn’t offer any of these advantages. Indeed, it is specifically designed to break down when it comes into contact with liquids, so you’ll find that it disintegrates against your injury. This will leave little shreds of paper in the cut, which may make it harder for the cut to heal and increase the risk of infection.

Toilet paper is also very easy to tear, so it won’t protect the cut much from the outside, as it’s likely to rub off while you go about your day.

Furthermore, toilet paper isn’t designed to be as breathable as gauze because this isn’t a property that it needs. You may find that it makes cuts wetter, which increases the risk of infection. If you do need to use toilet paper for a wound, make sure you are changing the toilet paper regularly and sterilizing the injury in between.

Is Toilet Paper Sterile?

No, toilet paper is not sterile. If you use it on an injury, you will need to clean the injury again afterward, or there will be a higher risk of infection.

Toilet paper is clean, but as pointed out by PhilForHumanity, it is not a sterile thing to add to a cut. It may still harbor germs and bacteria.

Blotting a minor scratch with it is probably not going to be a problem, but it’s not something you should be using on major gashes, because it has the potential to introduce dirt and fibers to the wound.

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Gauze?

If you don’t have gauze available to you, the best thing to use on a wound is clean, open-weave fabric. A piece of cotton, such as a t-shirt or scarf, is one good option for covering an injury. This will allow the injury to breathe, while protecting it from dirt. Cut a square of fabric that will fit comfortably over the injury.

Remember that the point of gauze is to reduce the risk of infection. It isn’t designed to stop bleeding, although it may catch some small amount of blood. You should put pressure on the wound until the bleeding stops, and then add the gauze or fabric.

If the fabric soaks up a lot of blood, put more pressure on the injury until the bleeding stops, and then swap for a fresh piece of fabric.

Can I Use A Paper Towel As Gauze?

You can use a paper towel as gauze if you don’t have access to fabric. It isn’t ideal, but it is preferable to toilet paper. This is because paper towels are more robust and do not break down when they come into contact with liquids.

A paper towel will therefore not leave many fibers in the cut. It can be folded into a neat rectangle that will create a barrier between the cut and the rest of the world, preventing it from getting dirty. This is the main purpose of gauze.

The downside of paper towels is that they are not particularly breathable. This means that there is a risk of the wound getting too wet and becoming infected. Although a damp environment is the best for healing, you don’t want to create a very wet one. You may find that you need to take the paper towel off fairly frequently so that air can circulate over the cut.

You can then clean and re-dress the injury before you start doing anything work-related with your hands. If possible, switch to using gauze when some becomes available, rather than continuing to use paper towels.

Should You Always Cover A Cut?

As explained by HealthClevelandClinic, you should generally cover all but the smallest cuts and scrapes. Being covered helps to protect the new skin cells and can speed up the healing process. It keeps dirt out of the wound and can encourage any topical ointments or creams to soak in.

You should still check on the cut and change the dressing regularly, as being too wet can promote bacterial growth and may lead to an infection. Leaving the wound uncovered for short periods when you are in a clean environment may help it to heal.

Small cuts and grazes do not need to be covered up, as they are so minor they should heal over quickly even without your intervention. Covering them may prove irritating, especially if you dislike the sensation of gauze.


It is not a good idea to use toilet paper in the place of gauze. Toilet paper is not sterile, and has been designed to disintegrate when it comes into contact with liquids. It will therefore leave shreds and fibers in the wound, which increase the risk of infection. Opt for clean fabric or paper towels instead of toilet paper for any wound.

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