Toilet paper has, in fact, been used in one form or another for centuries for personal hygiene. While its use isn’t limited to the bathroom (lavatory, water closet, etc.), it’s what most westerners associate with it.
Other than its most common use, toilet paper is also used in place of the tissue paper used for things like runny noses.
I consider myself fortunate. Although my first trip to the Philippines was in 1983, my wife introduced me to using water for washing my butt after we married. Even then, I still used toilet paper most of the time. It wasn’t until after I moved to the Philippines that I started using water to wash my butt more often.
Water sprayers were attached to the toilets when our house was built (but are no longer there), which were much easier to use than a “tabo” (a container used to hold the water for washing). I’ve heard Filipinos call the water sprayers “bidets” but they’re not the same thing. They have to be held with one hand while holding a butt cheek with another hand (you know, to get in deep).
It takes getting used to using water, no matter how you use it. Unless you have a towel handy, your butt will feel wet until the last drop of water is gone. I’m used to that feeling of wetness. It’s temporary, even if you’re one of those people who refuses to wear underwear.
I feel cleaner when I use water than when I use toilet paper. It may just be a mental thing because no matter which method you use, you’re never completely clean when you’re done. I haven’t met a person who can verify their cleanliness without bathing.
If you have hemorrhoids, you already know how difficult it is to use toilet paper. If you have any kind of condition affecting your anus, washing it with water is the least painful way to keep it clean.
Some toilets are now built with sprayers, kind of like a bidet. Of course, some people have a toilet and a bidet. Anyway, you can find different types of toilets at most home supply stores (like Home Depot or Lowe’s Home Improvement).
Toilet paper costs a lot more than water, unless we’re talking about bottled water. My Filipino relatives (who live in the Philippines) simply can’t afford to behave like westerners when it comes to using the toilet. Even though I can afford it, I still wash from time to time.
If you must use toilet paper when doing your thing in the bathroom, be ready and bring your own. Especially when you’re in unfamiliar territory because it isn’t used everywhere. Even in western countries like the United States, you could find the toilet paper dispenser empty.
If you haven’t noticed, I avoided using certain words while writing this article. It took me years to break myself of certain habits. Using expletives and other repugnant words was one of them. I think most people can have decent conversations without resorting to those words.
Originally published in March of 2014. Updated for readability and minor error corrections.
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