Apparently, those leave-behinds occur for a few specific reasons. For starters, Dr. Goldstein says many of us are over-wiping, and the more wiping you do, the more likely you are to get those teeny pieces. “Our culture is so dirty phobic and concentrated on being super clean that it leads to people doing more than what they really need to,” he explains.
Mushy poop (which no doubt leads to over-wiping) can be another reason we end up with leave-behinds. “I bet if you plotted it on a graph, the softer or more putty-like the stool, the higher the incidence of toilet paper remnants, because obviously, it’s a pain to clean up,” Dr. Goldstein says. To help with the consistency of your stool, Dr. Goldstein suggests focusing on upping the fiber in your diet.
If you’re looking for a bathroom-only solution, though, one way to clean up your act is to opt for a bamboo toilet paper, which is typically softer and stronger than the traditional kind, like Number Two ($32 for 24 rolls). (The disrupter brand even trademarked the term “butt crumbles” to describe, as the company puts it, “the unwanted gifts.”) In place of wiping motions like you’re used to, go with more of a blot (and TBH, that goes for any kind of TP user, too).
Dr. Goldstein also suggests opting for a bidet, which can help you sidestep the TP conundrum altogether. In this case, however, he stresses that it’s important to fully dry the area completely because “if it’s not [fully dry], your butt cheeks smack back together, and then the moisture sits there potentially all day,” he says. (We’ve chronicled these woes here if you’re interested.)
Ultimately, toilet paper leave-behinds are not a huge deal. But Dr. Goldstein says that if you’re not engaging in proper hygiene, you are leaving yourself open to significant irritation, especially in the hot, humid summer months. “People get a lot of localized dermatitis [in the summer], and so if you have some element of contamination on top of that, you can set yourself up for complications,” he explains.
And, hey, there’s no reason to feel shame if you’ve been living with leave-behinds your whole life and these cleansing techniques are new to you. “Nobody teaches us the right way to poop, you know?” Dr. Goldstein says. Until now, that is.
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