Time to ban toilet paper

What is the most disgusting thing you did today? The most likely answer is that you wiped your bum with tissue paper. The paper in loos nowadays may be softer than the Izal which caused many a haemorrhoid for older generations but it is still singularly ill-suited to its task.

Whoopee Goldberg, the American actress, is wont to go into great detail – far too great actually – about why using paper is not the right solution to the problem of how to clean oneself after a visit to the little room.

She argues strongly that basically you can never clean yourself totally in that way. She has a point. After all, if your hand slips as you pick up your dog’s doodoo and you get a smudge on your finger, you would not be satisfied with wiping it clean with a bit of tissue or a handkerchief. You would go home and scrub away, probably several times, and likely as not have a shower just to make sure.

The only reason that toilet paper has survived into the 21st century is because the derrière is so, well, derrière. You don’t see what you are doing with the Andrex which, not to put too fine a point on it, is spreading it around like a toddler and his new paint box.  And this antiquated habit has a great risk. Not washing hands properly is the most common cause of serious food poisoning.

We don’t have to do this any longer. A solution is at hand and already it can be found more civilised nations than ourselves, such as Japan and Korea (South, of course). This is the hands-free spray toilet, sometimes known as automatic bidets or, in American slang, ‘butt cleaners’. Once your business is done, press  a button and a pleasant stream of warm water will do everything that the tissue would have done and rather more. Press another and a waft of warm air will dry you.

Ms Goldberg has become a great proselytizer for her TOTO Neorest toilet, complete with blow dry and multiple other functions suitable for both women and men, and anything in between. She is spot on. It is time we all signed up. I have, and the contraption has already paid for itself in terms of saving on paper. So it is au revoir Andrex, Bonjour bidet toilet.

  • Mark Kuramoto-Headey

    It’s a difficult topic to discuss without becoming gross. My wife is Japanese, so I’ve had many a happy hour on their ‘washlets’ (though I’ve never seen one that ‘blows dry’, that may only be Korea.) However, having lived in Indonesia, where the left hand and water are the preferred method, I feel I can comment.

    A friend made the comparison between wiping a dirty dish with a piece of paper and washing it, so I decided on a test. Following the ‘left hand and water’ method, I then used paper. The paper was still soiled. Obviously, with the reverse method it is much harder to establish fecal contamination of the water, though I guess there probably was some.

    I’m not entirely sure what the proper method of using the Japanese washlets is, but every home still uses paper. I’m assuming you use paper first then give yourself a quick spray afterwards. Drying with paper may well remove the last remnants of … Unless the jet is particularly powerful the cleaning is, how can I put this, ‘superficial’.

    My current preference is a combination of dry paper followed by moist tissue. True, not exactly eco-friendly, in as much as trees still have to die, but it certainly makes you feel clean.

  • Adrian

    On a rail related note, it is disgusting when used loo paper is deposited onto the railway tracks by passing trains.

  • Jim

    My goodness Christian, you are heading the right way to be given the job of writing the Rail editorials.
    No I apologise no one can get to the.low level required to even equal Nigel Harris.

  • Dan

    Pretty sure HS2 will be toilet paper on the track free – so I guess this may win Christian round to a more positive attitude towards it?

  • The History Man

    The French invented the ‘bidet’ in the late 17th century. What a pity it now seems to be no longer ‘de rigeur’. On the other hand, such devices use far more water, a declining resource, and thus more energy. We are over obsessed with cleanliness and even a smidgeon of faecal matter on our hands is not going to start an epidemic. Most civilised people do wash their hands after a dump, anyway. Or at least, I hope so.

  • Euan Woolford

    That is so strange

  • ApathyNihilism

    Agreed. But real cleanliness requires not just water, but also soap. So best to wash with both soap and water, not just plain water from the bidet.