If you’ve had an embarrassing incident with skidmarks, even once in a rare while, it’s time to take a closer look at your butt-wiping technique.
Dr. Joel Krachman, the Chief of Gastroenterology for New Jersey-based AtlantiCare Regional Medical Centre, says there aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to wiping—except that you probably shouldn’t do it hard and fast.
Up or down, paper folded or bunched, all the methods offer the same effectiveness.
However, he says, “some people wipe so vigorously that they irritate the anal area,” which can cause painful conditions like hemorrhoids or anal abscesses. When that happens, he recommends using wet wipes instead.
In fact, a growing number of people have given up on toilet paper entirely for wet wipes. Howard Stern, for one. (“You can’t get anything out with dry paper,” he once insisted on his radio show.)
Even if you opt for the flushable kind – yes, not all wipes can go down the toilet – make sure you take a close look at the ingredients.
Many popular brands contain the preservative methylisothiazolinone, which is “an ingredient that can cause an allergic reaction in a lot of people,” says pharmacologist Joe Graedon, the co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy, a consumer advocacy website.
Some of the fancy designer-brands, like Dude Wipes – which are wet wipes designed specifically for guys—don’t contain methylisothiazolinone.
Are wet wipes really that much more effective than dry toilet paper?
Ryan Meegan, one of the co-creators of Dude Wipes, uses this colourful analogy to explain: “If you were to get chocolate on your arm or hand, you would not just use a dry paper towel and call it a day, right?” he says. “You’d use a wet paper towel or a wipe to make sure you got all of the substance.”
Dude Wipes are either dirt cheap or wildly expensive, depending on how much you think is fair to invest in a clean butt. They’re $6.49 for about 30 wipes, or twenty cents for every clean anus.
(We won’t compare that to the cost of an average roll of toilet paper, because that would involve figuring out how many wipes per roll, and that’s just not a visual image we want today.)
There’s also Aquinelle Toilet Tissue Mist – $10 for about 300 sprays – which moistens your toilet paper with a combination of aloe and witch hazel, and comes in a variety of scents like Island Mist, Citrus Burst, and Ocean Breeze.
Because obviously, you won’t know if your butt is truly clean unless it smells like an orange.
Graedon recommends skipping the fancy products and buying straight liquefied witch hazel, which he says is cheaper and just as effective. Witch hazel is a shrub, and the liquid is distilled from its dried leaves.
Pick up a bottle at Walmart for under a buck and a half, he says. After your usual wiping, add a few drops to a small wad of toilet paper – just enough to dampen it – and give your butt a final wipe.
You may not be clean on a microscopic level, Graedon says, but a witch hazel cleanse ensures “far less bacterial contamination.”
Post-pooping isn’t the only time you should be concerned with butt hygiene. The shower is another excellent opportunity to clean your butt.
And by “clean” we don’t mean “I’m sure some soapy water landed in that general direction.”
Your best strategy is to use a hand-held showerhead, for direct, up-close-and-personal cleansing. And buy a bar of soap specifically for your butt. Not just to avoid cross-contamination, but also because you’re dealing with an especially sensitive area.
Dr. Krachman stresses the use of a soap that’s gentle on the skin. When you’re butt soap shopping, look for words like “gentle” in the description. Or pick up an Oatmeal soap like Aveeno.
This article was originally published on MensHealth.com