Although most people around the world rely on toilet paper to clean themselves up after using the bathroom, it turns out it may not leave people feeling as clean as they once thought.
In fact, one author has claimed that using toilet paper does very little to keep people clean. Rose George, author of 2008 book The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters, recently explained that using toilet paper simply moves faeces, rather than removing it from the anus.
“I find it rather baffling that millions of people are walking around with dirty anuses while thinking they are clean,” he told Vice. “Toilet paper moves sh**, but it doesn’t remove it. You wouldn’t shower with a dry towel; why do you think that dry toilet paper cleans you?”
His claims have been backed up by many on the internet, including one Reddit user who described the practice of wiping as “disgusting” and unhygienic”.
Originally from America, the person behind the post claimed he always used toilet paper until he moved to Asia and the Middle East and began using a bidet after using the bathroom.
“I’ve come to see it as backwards,” he wrote. “Just because your ass isn’t exposed, doesn’t mean you should walk around with faeces residue in your butt cheeks. Especially on a hot day. I fail to see how wipes haven’t caught on as the norm.”
In addition to personal vendettas against toilet paper and claims it can leave people feeling unclean, a dirty anus can also cause a series of serious health problems. Poo that isn’t cleared properly with toilet paper can spread E. coli or other harmful bacteria and viruses, cause urinary tract infections and even damage the sensitive skin in the nether regions if used forcefully or excessively.
And, as harmful as an unclean backside can be, other studies have found toilet paper dispensers in public bathrooms can also be a cause of concern. Research from the University of Arizona published by Infection Control Today found the average toilet paper dispenser in America has more than 150 times the number of bacteria than a toilet seat.
Interestingly, other research published in the Preventive Medicine Reports Journal found fragranced consumer products, such as scented toilet paper, could also cause further health issues including gastrointestinal problems, nausea, bloating, cramping and even diarrhoea.
“Fragranced products are creating health problems across Australia,” lead author Anne Steinemann wrote. “The effects can be immediate, severe and potentially disabling. But they can also be subtle, and people may not realise they’re being affected.”
So if toilet paper isn’t as useful as once thought, what are the solutions? Some argue dry toilet paper should be used along with wet wipes to ensure the area is properly cleaned.
Website Satu Laboratory offered a number of other toilet tips. Where possible, taking a shower and cleaning the area with soap and water is advised, while using a bidet is another option. Gel wipe can also be used as it cleans and disinfects the area, whereas dry toilet paper or water doesn’t always remove the poo.
The health concerns around toilet paper come after the rise of reusable toilet paper in recent times. Some eco-warriors are embracing a trend for reusable toilet paper in the hope of cutting down wastage in the bathroom.
The brightly patterned, fabric new-age loo rolls come in a roll with easily detachable squares — except once used, they go in a special basket instead of down the toilet. The soiled material is then washed and reattach them to form the original roll again.
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