We've been wiping our bottoms wrong the entire time

Have we been wiping our bottoms wrong the entire time? [Photo: Getty]
Have we been wiping our bottoms wrong the entire time? [Photo: Getty]

There are certain things in life we pretty much think we’ve got down. Brushing our teeth, washing our hands and, er wiping our bottoms.

Sadly though, we might have been a bit overconfident about that last one. Because it turns out we might have cleaning our bums wrong this entire time.

In horrifying news of the day, Rose George, toilet expert and author of ‘The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters’, told Tonic that relying on toilet paper alone to wipe up after a number two is not actually leaving your backside entirely poo-free.

Apparently, dry toilet paper isn’t particularly effective in actually removing dirt. Instead, it just moves it around. Bleugh.

“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?”

What’s more, as well as walking around with dirty butts, we could also be doing some harm to our health by using just toilet paper to wipe.

As reported by Metro, the friction of rubbing away with dry toilet paper can lead to irritation, injury, anal fissures (that’s a tear in the lining of the rectum) and haemorrhoids. If your wiping technique isn’t up to scratch, you could also end up getting a urinary tract infection because wiping back to front instead of front to back could mean moving bacteria from the anus to your urethra.

Toilet paper isn’t particularly effective at wiping our bottoms [Photo: Getty]
Toilet paper isn’t particularly effective at wiping our bottoms [Photo: Getty]

So how should we be cleaning up? According to the toilet sanitation experts. we should be either using a bidet (remember those?) or using wet wipes to sort things post-poop.

While bidets may have fallen out of British bathroom fashion, Tonic notes that more than 90% of homes in Spain, Italy, and Greece have a bidet, while around 60% of homes in Japan have proper posh loos with features such as spraying your bum with water and air-drying it.

But if installing your own personal bidet is a financial and space step too far, the wet wipe could well be the best option. Just make sure the ones you’re using are biodegradable and free of plastics or they could have knock-on implications for the environment (just like flushing tampon applicators down the loo can have).

Alternatively, you could always gently wet some toilet paper to make some make-shift wet wipes. Or if you want to be super environmentally friendly, you could try some reusable cloth wipes which you just pop in the washing machine afterwards.

So next time you reach for the toilet paper after a number two, try to consider your options. Your backside will definitely thank you for it, and so might the environment.

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