Since the discovery of the germ theory of disease in the second half of the 19th century, hygiene and sanitation have been at the forefront of the struggle against illness and disease. Due to the current pandemic situation around the world, good personal hygiene is a hot topic again. Household and baby wipes demand soars amid COVID-19 crisis but it also brings international attention to the issue lurking beneath our feet. Wet wipes, originally used for cleaning babies, have grown in popularity in recent years and are increasingly marketed as a replacement for toilet paper.
Nowadays more and more adults are using wet wipes for improving their personal hygiene because they care about their bottom health and spotless underwear. However, while single use wet wipes are easy to use, environmental concerns have raised the need for alternatives.
The major disadvantages of wet wipes according to wastewater treatment specialists, plumbers, and environmental organizations include:
- Increasing plastic pollution in our oceans and seas.
- Littering beaches and riverbeds. 23000 wet wipes were counted and removed from one stretch of the Thames foreshore in just two hours in 2019.
- Main component (over 90% according to Water UK) in Fatbergs, that are wrecking wastewater infrastructure and costing taxpayers billions of dollars globally.
- Pipe blockages can be very costly for homeowners, repair costs can go up to tens of thousands in worst case scenarios.
- Disrupting the production of biogas, which has been adopted at most major sewage treatment plants
- Ruining airplane/ship/train toilets resulting in higher ticket prices
The devastating effect of wet wipes has caused a global outcry. Fortunately, the following alternatives are already available and recommended:
A bidet is, definitely a good option, but often time-consuming. Also, there are strict rules we need to follow. Always use special soaps or foams, because water does not clean the skin, only washes the dirt to other areas, and may dry the skin. Never direct the water from back to front because it may spread dangerous bacteria near the genital area. Negligent behavior with bidet toilets may aggravate vaginal microflora, either by depriving normal microflora or facilitating opportunistic infection of fecal bacteria and other microorganisms, correct water temperature, drying the area, and pressure is also equally important, but when you do have time, the right products, and knowledge, it is one of the best ways to clean yourself.
2. Gel Wipe
A modern solution that is gaining popularity among travelers, cyclists, hikers, and white-collar workers, among others. You apply the product onto regular toilet paper before wiping, a finishing touch, it cleans, moisturizes dry skin, prevents irritation, and is flushable. The special formula keeps the gel from soaking through the paper, so it will not break apart and your fingers stay clean. The compact bottle is also handy and portable.
3. Water Bucket
The bucket full of water has always been a solution in many Asian countries where you hardly will find flush toilets because plumbing cannot handle any paper whatsoever being flushed down. The cleaning of hands with soap/ liquid soap after this cleansing process is mandatory. Locals often use only the left hand for rinsing the anal area so culturally left hand is never used for serving food, greetings, or religious activities.
4. Reusable Cloth Wipes
These clothes are often made from synthetic materials and a great source of microplastics that end up polluting the environment and drinking water. Acrylic is the worst offender, releasing nearly 730,000 tiny synthetic particles per wash, five times more than polyester-cotton blend fabric, and nearly 1.5 times as many as polyester according to the team at Plymouth University in the UK. Simply use lukewarm water, cotton wool, or cotton cloth, and then dry with a towel. After cleansing, apply a hydrating moisturizer, barrier cream or balm, to protect the skin.
5. The Lota
The lota is a small pot with a large spout filled with water that is used by many Muslim people. Anything is acceptable, as long as it can hold liquid and provides a controlled stream of water. “Islam teaches that the condition of the body affects the condition of the spirit, so it’s essential to be clean at all times—especially before offering prayers — which is why lots of Muslims use lotas,” explained Javaria Akbar for Vice. For many Muslims anal cleanliness is not a choice – it is their faith.
6. Electronic Bidet or Shower Toilet
This practice emerged from Japan and has since gained widespread popularity around the world. In essence, it is a toilet combined with the bidet. It has a multitude of functions that includes all the bells and whistles like music, warm air dryer, and lighting. It may look intimidating, but it is not as difficult as it seems.
Our choice is Gel Wipe, but it all depends on your budget, needs, and habits because there are many different options out there, so you must test at least a few of them yourself to be sure.