Anal cleansing

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Anal cleansing is the important [1] hygienic practice of cleaning the anus after defecation.

The anus and buttocks may be cleansed with toilet paper or similar paper products, especially in many Western countries. Elsewhere, water may be used (using a jet, as with a bidet[2], or splashed and washed with the hand). In other cultures and contexts, materials such as Rags, sand, leaves (including seaweed), the left hand, corn cobs or sticks are used.

Alternatives to toilet paper

In some parts of the world, especially before toilet paper was available or affordable, the use of newspaper, telephone directory pages, or other paper products was common. Old Farmer's Almanac was sold with a hole punched in the corner so it could be hung on a nail in an outhouse. The widely-distributed Sears catalogue was also a popular choice until it began to be printed on glossy paper (at which point, some people wrote to the company to complain). In Hervé Bazin's book, "Viper in the Fist", a Catholic family uses pages of the Catholic newspaper, La Croix (after tearing off the cross of Calvary). In modern flush toilets, using newspaper as toilet paper is liable to cause blockages.[3] This practice continues today in Africa; while rolls of Western-style toilet paper are readily available, they can be fairly expensive, prompting less well-off members of the community to utilise newspapers, etc, and particularly maize kernels.

Water

Using water to clean oneself, often along with toilet paper or sometimes in lieu of toilet paper, is common in the Indian subcontinent and the Muslim world, where people use their left hand to clean themselves and their right hand for eating or greeting (in parts of Africa, though, the converse is true, and a right-handed handshake could be considered rude). The use of water in Muslim countries is due in part to Muslim sharia which encourages washing after defecation. It is not uncommon to find South Asian and Middle Eastern people express their disgust for the use of dry toilet paper as they doubt the effectiveness of just wiping with toilet paper and feel it is impossible to completely clean one's anus and washing is absolutely necessary. Toilet paper is not as rare today in these households, but in many countries, a hose with a water sprayer (called a "muslim shower" or a "health faucet" or a pail of water is found instead of a water sprayer. In Japan, a nozzle placed at rear of the closet aims a water jet to the bottom and serves the purpose of cleaning; however this arrangement is common only in "Western" toilets, not in the traditional toilets.

In France, toilet sanitation was supplemented by the invention of the bidet in the 1710s. With the improvements to plumbing in the Victorian era the bidet moved from the bedroom (where it was kept with the chamber pot) to the bathroom. Modern bidets use a stream of warm water to cleanse the genitals and anus (before modern plumbing, bidets sometimes had a hand-crank to achieve the same effect). The bidet is commonplace in many European countries, especially in France, Spain and Italy, and also in Japan where approximately half of all households have a form of bidet. It is also very popular in the Middle East.

Another popular alternative resembles a miniature shower and is termed as a "health faucet". It is placed on a holder near the toilet, thus enabling the person using it to have it within an arm's length for easy accessibility.

In Philippine, and other South-East Asian countries such as Thailand, house bathrooms usually have a medium size wide plastic dipper (tabo) or large cup, which is also used in bathing. However, households utilize toilet paper, "health faucets", or bidets (in some rich mansions) as well. Some health faucets are metal sets attached to the bowl of the water closet, with the opening strategically pointed at the target anus. Toilets in public establishments mainly provide toilet paper for free or dispensed, though the dipper (or even a cut up PET bottle or plastic jug, or disposed ice cream can) used for this purpose is occasionally encountered in some establishments.

Japanese toilet

Main article: Japanese toilet

The first "paperless" toilet was invented in Japan in 1980. It is a combination toilet, bidet and drier, controlled by an electronic panel next to the toilet seat. This has famously led to tourists accidentally activating the bidet and causing a jet of water to shoot high into the air and spray all over the bathroom floor, usually a result of investigating the unfamiliar fixture's buttons, all labeled in Japanese (the fact that some toilets use a button on the same panel to flush exacerbated the problem). Many modern Japanese bidet toilets, especially in hotels and public areas, are labeled with pictograms to avoid the problem, and most newer models have a sensor that will refuse to activate the bidet unless someone is sitting on the toilet.

Notes and references

  1. http://www.schoolsanitation.org/BasicPrinciples/AnalCleansing.html
  2. In Japan, some toilets known as washlets are designed to wash and dry the anus of the user after defecation.
  3. http://www.schoolsanitation.org/BasicPrinciples/AnalCleansing.html

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