Brief mention: More wiping

In an earlier note, I looked at bath tissue as a substitute for toilet paper or bathroom tissue, both of those serving as euphemisms for some more direct reference to material for wiping the anus clean of feces. Bath tissue is sufficiently indirect that it can take some work to understand out of context.

Since then I’ve moved into a more complex world of wiping, thanks to my not having showers as the grand scheme of bodily hygiene. (My shower is a glass enclosure over a tub, and it’s a big step into the shower — way too big for someone with a new hip implant . So it’s sponge baths and other workarounds.)

There are two needs here: anal wiping again, now to be managed without a shower cleanup; and general body washing (including rinsing and drying), which would ordinarily be done (in the absence of showering) with soap and a washcloth at a sink or basin, This stuff eventually gets a lot easier, but at the beginning the project is much like infant care or elder care, and the cleaning products needed are pretty much the same.

So off you go to shop for the products, only to discover that the two kinds of wiping are sometimes imperfectly distinguished. Probably this is partly the result of excessive modesty about toilet functions and partly a consequence of an enormous emphasis on softness in all sorts of wiping products (inluding facial tissue, under its many names).

For infant care, we have companies offering two large lines of products: diapers of many kinds (not my main concern here), and a variety of wipes. In the Kimberly-Clark Huggies® line (besides the diapers):

Huggies Natural Care® Wipes are the sensitive, gentle clean [note nouning] for new baby’s naturally-perfect skin. Improved softness with fewest added ingredients  – Aloe & Vitamin E  – Hypoallergenic, fragrance free and alcohol-free

Correspondingly, other sites (here for instance) offer (besides adult diapersadult wipes, under a variety of names:

(personal) cleansing washcloths (not made of cloth), cleansing wipes, (disposable) adult wipes, washcloths (not made of cloth)

These are pretty clearly meant for general body washing (“best uses: daily cleaning”), but some could serve as well as well for anal cleaning; the ones identified as flushable certainly are.

I’ve moved to washcloths that are actually made of cloth and can wash at the sink with both hands, since I’m getting better and better at standing unsupported (so long as support is close by). I still can’t quite fathom the labels given to the different boxes of wipes, though.






5 Responses to “Brief mention: More wiping”

  1. Bob Richmond Says:

    Thinking of the most unfortunate bit of ad copy I ever saw in my life, about 50 years ago, in a magazine ad for Northern Tissue brand toilet paper:

    When Mother Nature’s good to you,
    Softness comes in colors, too.

    That was in the heyday of Ernst Dichter, who advocated applying Freudianism to advertising. He disappeared in some recession, as I remember. Aber wozu Dichter in dürftiger Zeit, as Hölderlin observed a couple of centuries ago.

    The people who make Kleenex spend a lot of money trying to keep their trade name. They used to run full page ads in Writers Digest telling writers that it’s to be called facial tissue.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      The Kleenex fight against genericization is a fascinating story. In a way, Kleenex is a victim of its own success: it’s a great brand name, both snappy (direct clean but with a demotic K) and sort of therapeutic in tone (the -ex), only two syllables — whereas facial tissue still strikes people as the (semi-)technical term it started as. So the company has a hard fight against genericide.

  2. Licia Says:

    I suppose there might also be some cultural factors at play. Bidets are a standard feature of all Italian bathrooms and in Italian cleaning products meant for bidet usage are commonly known as prodotti per l’igiene intima*; they are widely advertised on TV and Italians travelling abroad are always surprised to discover that they don’t seem to be easily available also in other countries. The wet wipes you describe are called salviettine / salviette per l’igiene intima and can be bought in any Italian supermarket; baby wipes or any other cleaning wipes are salviett(in)e detergenti.

    * Products for general body washing are called  prodotti per l’igiene personale whereas toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash etc. are prodotti per l’igiene orale.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      So long as these (semi-)technical terms are widely known and generally discriminated as you indicate, this is a great system. Current usage in American English (I’m too long away from British usage to talk sensibly about it) seems to suffer from linguistic modesty (though the Italian terms aren’t immodest). Cultural factors, as you say.

  3. Dude Wipes « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] (Earlier wiping postings on this blog: on toilet paper, here, and more on wipes, here.) […]

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