We interrupt your day for an important announcement.
If you did your daily poo already, you likely didn’t correctly clean your bum afterwards. It’s likely that there are still miniscule scraps of poo nestling between your buttcheeks right this moment.
Not a pleasant thought, we know.
But we share this bit of information with you because we’re sure you’d like to know: If you’re relying on toilet paper alone to clean up after you take a dump, you’re not doing a very good job of getting yourself entirely poo-free.
As pooing expert Rose George explained to Tonic, dry toilet paper doesn’t work to clean dirt – it just moves it around.
‘I find it rather baffling that millions of people are walking around with dirty anuses while thinking they are clean,’ says Rose. ‘Toilet paper moves sh*t, but it doesn’t remove it.
‘You wouldn’t shower with a dry towel; why do you think that dry toilet paper cleans you?’
Fair point. Imagine trying to remove makeup with just a dry bit of paper. You’d just end up smearing it all over your face.
Not only that, but you’d hurt your skin by scrubbing away with something scratchy – and the same applies to the delicate skin around your bum and genitals.
The friction of rubbing away with dry toilet paper can lead to irritation, injury, and even anal fissures (that’s a tear in the lining of the rectum, and it’s as grim as it sounds) and hemorrhoids.
If your wiping technique isn’t up to scratch you could also end up getting a urinary tract infection. If you’re wiping back to front instead of front to back, you could be moving bacteria from the anus to your urethra. Anyone who’s had a UTI will know that they are to be avoided at all costs (the pain, the anguish. We don’t want to talk about it).
Basically, we’re moving bacteria around with something rough and dry, rather than actually killing bacteria, cleaning our skin, and being gentle on our buttholes. Not great.
The ideal methods of cleaning your butt post-poop are, then, the use of a bidet or wet wipes.
These actually help you to clean your butt rather than just ineffectually moving the poo around.
As Tonic notes, more than 90% of homes in Spain, Italy, and Greece have a bidet, while around 60% of homes in Japan have fancy loos with features such as spraying your bum with water and air-drying it.
Us schmucks in the UK still faffing about with toilet paper are quite far behind in the bum-cleaning game.
Of course, there are some issues holding us back from elevating our toilet habits.
Upgrading to a bidet can be pricey, while the use of wet wipes has environmental implications. Many wipes that claim to be flushable can still struggle to break down, causing blockages in sewers and forming fatbergs. Others contain microplastics, which could expose wildlife to damaging chemicals.
So what’s the answer for those of us who aren’t quite ready to invest in a bidet, don’t want to f*** up the environment, and also aren’t keen on having little bits of poo residing in our underwear?
There are a couple of options.
If you do go down the wet wipe route, read the packaging carefully to make sure the ones you’re using are biodegradable and free of plastics.
Or, if you really want to be a champion for the environment, go for reusable cloths that you wash, rather than throwing away.
You can buy packs of soft, gentle flannels specifically for this purpose, that after each use you can throw in the washing machine at a high temperature to get rid of any bacteria. To get ’em wet, you can either make your own mixture of water, essential oils, and soap, and store the wipes in a little tupperware filled with the stuff, or you can just run a fresh one under the tap and add some soap.
You’ll need to have a little bin nearby where you can throw the wipes after use to pop in the washing machine once you run out.
If that grosses you out too much, you can also just hop in the shower after having an initial wipe with standard toilet paper.
You could also buy a spray such as Freshu to moisten regular toilet paper and get the benefits of wet wipes without the sewer-wrecking properties.
See? You’ve got loads of choices. Have a think next time you’re on the toilet (that’s where everyone does their thinking, right?) and make adjustments you need to make your bum a little cleaner. Do it just for your own peace of mind – no one likes the idea that there may be little pieces of poo on their body.
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