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The only thorough way of cleaning your bottom is to use water – that is the firm belief of this particular expert. Find out more about toilet hygiene in an interview with Professor Alexander Herold.
Professor Herold is a specialist in coloproctology at the internationally renowned clinic EDZ Mannheim. As an expert in this field, he advocates the use of water in toilet hygiene and advises against opting for treated toilet paper or wet wipes.
Question: It is completely natural to use water for general body hygiene. So why is it not equally natural when it comes to toilet hygiene?
Answer Prof. Herold: Water is just as important in toilet hygiene as it is for body hygiene. In the past, people even made sacrifices in their general body hygiene in order to save water. Nowadays we shower almost daily, and this idea is practically inconceivable. When it comes to toilet hygiene, however, we are lagging behind.
Which cleaning method would you recommend?
My answer to that question is very clear: pure water, either warm or cold, is always the most thorough and gentle cleaning method. I would steer clear of bleached, perfumed or coloured paper due to the risk of allergic reactions. I would also advise against using wet wipes. Some people can have allergic reactions to the preservatives that give wet wipes their long shelf lives or the substances which keep them moist.
What are the risks of incorrect toilet hygiene?
Incorrect toilet hygiene can cause allergies, skin irritation and eczema, in some cases accompanied by virtually unbearable itching. The same can occur when cleaning is inadequate. Loose stools in particular can leave residues in the folds of the anus that cannot be completely removed with paper, thus increasing the risk of the aforementioned problems occurring.
What are the disadvantages of cleaning with water?
There isn’t a single one. Water cleans your bottom thoroughly and gently and is one of the most hygienic cleaning agents.
Do you have a theory as to why most people in central Europe use toilet paper?
I believe it has to do with the historical development of the toilet. In the past, toilets had no flushing mechanism and as a result, there was no water in the toilet. Consequently, people clearly couldn’t clean themselves with water, so it seems that old newspapers were the only option. This is how the use of toilet paper became established and survived to this day, even though it isn’t the most thorough method.
Which toilet hygiene methods would you recommend for people on the move?
Cleaning with water is still the best method, even if you are on the move. If this isn’t possible, I would recommend a compromise: wet some tissues under the tap and use them to clean before dabbing with a dry tissue.