“Upcycle Cardboard Boxes into DIY Toilet Paper”

“Upcycle Cardboard Boxes into DIY Toilet Paper”

Upcycle Cardboard Boxes into DIY Toilet Paper


As toilet paper shortages continue amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are getting creative about how to make their limited supply last longer. One solution is to upcycle cardboard boxes into homemade toilet paper. This simple DIY project allows you to reuse cardboard that would otherwise be thrown out and turn it into a functional, if rustic, toilet paper alternative.

I’ve upcycled cardboard into toilet paper at home, and found it to be an easy, eco-friendly way to avoid buying toilet paper for a while. In this article, I’ll walk through the full process step-by-step, from gathering materials to creating the final product. I’ll also share tips on how to make your cardboard toilet paper soft and comfortable.

Gather Your Materials

Upcycling cardboard into toilet paper requires just a few simple materials:

  • Cardboard boxes – Prioritize non-coated cardboard from food boxes, shipping boxes, paper towel tubes, etc. Avoid glossy printed cardboard.

  • Scissors or box cutter – To cut the cardboard into strips.

  • Drill with small drill bit – To punch holes for tearing off sheets. A hammer and nail can also work.

  • Sandpaper (optional) – To soften the cardboard’s texture.

  • Essential oil (optional) – For scent.

That’s it! These are items you likely already have at home.

Cut the Cardboard into Strips

Once you’ve gathered some cardboard boxes, the first step is to cut them into long strips that are about 2-3 inches wide. You want the strips to be narrow enough to fold into toilet paper rolls.

I like using an empty cereal box or food packaging for this. Be sure to cut off any excess flaps or glue on the cardboard first.

As you cut, try to keep the strips approximately the same width and as long as possible. The longer the cardboard strip, the more toilet paper sheets you’ll be able to make from it.

Perforate the Strips for Easy Tearing

Now it’s time to perforate your cardboard strips so they can be easily torn into individual sheets when rolled up.

Take a drill with a very small drill bit, nail, or awl. At regular intervals along each cardboard strip, punch a small hole partway through the cardboard. The holes should be placed about 2-3 inches apart (a good sheet length for DIY toilet paper).

These perforations will allow you to tear off one sheet at a time later. Make sure to punch holes along the entire length of each strip.

Sand Edges for Softness (Optional)

Plain cardboard has a rough, scratchy texture that you may want to soften a bit before using it on such a sensitive area. This optional sanding step makes the cardboard feel less abrasive.

Take a piece of fine grit sandpaper and gently smooth out the edges and surfaces of each cardboard strip. Don’t sand too vigorously or you’ll thin out the cardboard. Just a light sanding is enough to take off the edge.

I recommend doing this step before rolling up the cardboard, since sanding a tube is trickier.

Roll Up the Strips

Now it’s time to turn your cardboard strips into toilet paper rolls!

Start rolling one of the strips tightly along its width. Apply a bit of glue or tape to secure the end in place and keep the tube from unrolling.

The tube should be small enough in diameter to fit on a standard toilet paper holder. About 2-3 inches wide is ideal, the same width as the strips you initially cut.

Repeat the rolling process to turn all of your cardboard strips into tubes. As you work, roll them as tightly and uniformly as possible for neat finished rolls.

Add Scent (Optional)

If you’d like your DIY cardboard toilet paper to smell a little nicer, you can add a few drops of essential oil.

Before rolling up each strip, put 2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil on the cardboard. Then roll it up tightly to distribute the scent.

Some fragrant yet soothing oils to try are lavender, vanilla, rose, jasmine, chamomile, etc. Just avoid any citrus or mint oils that could irritate skin.

Use Your Cardboard Toilet Paper

Once your cardboard tubes are prepped, perforated, and scented (if desired), they’re ready to use as toilet paper!

Place a roll on your toilet paper holder and start tearing off sheets as needed to use. You’ll find that the perforations allow you to rip off one sheet at a time.

When removing sheets, be gentle to avoid tearing the cardboard across the roll. You may need to fold the sheets in half or thirds to make them thick and absorbent enough.

If the texture still feels too rough, you can set the sheets aside and sand the edges again. But try using them as-is first.

When one roll runs out, replace it with another to keep your eco-friendly toilet paper supply going!

Tips for Soft, Comfortable Cardboard TP

Upcycled cardboard toilet paper takes some getting used to. Here are a few tips to make it more comfortable and effective:

  • Use soft cardboard – Prioritize paper-based food boxes over rougher shipping cardboard.

  • Sand the edges – Lightly sanding reduces scratchiness and roughness.

  • Double or triple – Fold sheets in half or thirds for more layers.

  • Dampen sheets – Wetting the sheets slightly makes them softer and more absorbent.

  • Go easy – Don’t scrub aggressively, which could cause irritation.

  • Add lotion – Apply lotion or diaper cream to soothe your skin.

With some trial and error, cardboard toilet paper can work quite well. It may take an adjustment period, but enjoy your ingenious upcycled TP!

More Ideas for Repurposing Cardboard

If toilet paper isn’t your thing, cardboard has lots of other upcycling and repurposing potential around the home:

  • Line drawers and shelves
  • Make throwaway dustpans
  • Fold into organizers or trays
  • Cut into coasters
  • Craft into bowls or boxes
  • Upcycle into bird feeders

With all of these possibilities, don’t be too quick to throw out those cardboard boxes! Try repurposing them first.


Turning cardboard into toilet paper is a simple, eco-friendly project that allows you to get creative with supplies you have at home. By upcycling cardboard boxes, you can make your own toilet paper to keep your supply stocked or just avoid buying more. This article covered how to cut, perforate, and roll cardboard strips into DIY TP. With a few optional steps like sanding and scenting, you can make your cardboard toilet paper even more soft and comfortable. Get innovative with cardboard boxes and enjoy your homemade, zero-waste toilet paper!