The right way to wipe: Toilet hygiene for women
Do you know the best way to wipe after going to the loo? Yes, I know it sounds obvious, but it’s only recently (yes in my 40th year of life!) that I’ve really, properly thought about the best way to wipe my behind and my front.
Wiping is about way more than just helping you clean up after you use the toilet – it’s also about protecting your health and avoiding infection too. Wiping improperly can increase the risk of a UTI and vaginitis in women, as well as itching and general discomfort. And, we all know how painful that is.
So, let’s dive a little deeper.
How do you hold your toilet paper?
Interestingly, there are a variety of different ways people hold and prepare their toilet paper before use.
I prefer to fold my paper into a neat little square, whereas many people simply crumple it into a ball. I think this says a lot about my OCD. Others, I’ve heard, wrap the paper around their hand to form a glove-like formation! The good news is that there is no research showing that any of these ways is better than the other. I find the folding method uses less paper, thus saving money and increasing kindness to the environment, however, by all means, prove me wrong!
Front to Back, or Back to Front?
The way you hold your paper might not have a huge impact on your intimate hygiene, but the technique you use to wipe certainly does. If you don’t have any physical limitations preventing you from reaching around your body to wipe from the front to back, it’s definitely the safer route to go. The reason is that you’ll be moving feces and bacteria away from your more delicate parts, lowering the risk of infections in this area. This prevents the transmission of bacteria and goes a long way in preventing UTIs or an itchy, uncomfortable vagina.
If you struggle to reach around your behind, then you can adopt a ‘dabbing’ technique from the front to help prevent UTIs in the same way that a front-to-back technique would. By dabbing your bottom area with up and down movements, instead of sweeping back to front, you are again limiting the chance of moving infection further forwards.
Remember – always be gentle! Your privates are extremely sensitive. Don’t use too much force when wiping, and never use a scrubbing motion, as this can cause microtears in which bacteria can enter. Ouch.
There’s no strict on how many times you should wipe, as every bowel movement is different, however a quick glance down at the paper will tell you if any additional cleaning is needed.
To sit or to stand?
Ultimately, it seems the nation is divided into those who sit to wipe their bum and those who stand. Personally, I’m a sitter, but my husband is a stander, which I find quite disturbing to witness on the occasions he leaves the bathroom door open for us all to see!
For sitters, the main pro is that your bottom cheeks stay spread, apart, preventing any cheek-on-cheek smearing. That means easy cleaning access. But, for standers, the bonus is that their hands don’t come near the toilet bowl or seat (I must say that when using public loos this is a huge plus), and they won’t accidentally touch bare cheeks or thighs with soiled toilet paper when they’re coming around for a visual inspection either.
Is Wiping with Toilet Paper Enough?
Most of the time, wiping with toilet tissue is enough as long as you adopt the above methods for thorough cleaning. However, there are other ways to give yourself a deeper clean, such as using a bidet (does anyone actually have one of these anymore?), flushable wipes, or a hygiene spray.
Intimate hygiene is big business, which I didn't realise fully until I went shopping in Paris a couple of years ago. While browsing in a beautiful perfume shop in the 2nd arrondissement, I discovered a whole section dedicated to intimate cleaning products, gorgeously packaged and outrageously priced! Of course, I had to try a few products out though.
I stocked up on a couple of products Swedish brand, Deo Doc, purchasing their intimate deo wipes and intimate deodorant spray. I opted for the Violet Cotton scent, although Fresh Coconut and Jasmine Pear were also available. Developed by women doctors and gynecologists, the range is all gentle, vegan, talc-free, pH balanced, and suitable to use every time you need to go.
I must admit that since I’ve started using intimate spray after using the toilet, I do feel much cleaner and more confident. I actually feel sexier and don’t have those worries about whether I have any moisture or odours in those areas. I decided the wipes weren’t the best for environmental reasons, so I have since ditched those, but am keeping my spray firmly part of my going-to-the-toilet ritual.
Don’t Forget to Wash Your Hands
It goes without saying, but handwashing is a vital part of our toilet hygiene. Always wash your hands after wiping. It reduces the risk of infection via harmful bacteria. Also, always dry your hands, don't shake them dry or leave them damp - this is an extra preventative measure you can take to avoid transmission of germs and bacteria.
Remember, when it comes to using the loo - take all the time you need. Don’t rush and make a point to consider your hygiene each time you go. Your bottom will thank you going forward!