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BP 101 - Washing Your Bottom W/O TP
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Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
BP 101 - Washing Your Bottom W/O TP on 12/07/2008 18:52:45 MST Print View

Alright, somebody has to do it -- Here's the step by step:

1. Time to go? Take your water bottle, trowel, and hand sanitizer.
2. Locate a good spot away from people, trails, and water sources.
3. Dig hole (6 inches) -- squat -- do your thing.
4. Done? Cup your hand, pour a bit of water and wash your bottom. You do this by using the 'balls' of your index and middle fingers to clear out any residue -- with an assist from the water in the palm of your hand -- which you tilt as needed. Repeat a few times (the final time is basically rinsing).

5. Pull up your pants (you did wear wicking/quick-drying undies, right?) -- cover the hole -- with LNT in mind.

6. Sanitize your hands. Return to camp.

Being right handed, I always pour water with my left hand and do the cleaning with my right. Keep consistent to avoid cross-contaminating water bottle vs. your cleaning hand.

Generally speaking, sitting on a toilet, there may still be a lot of residue (eeeww factor) -- but when squatting, I find that the bowel pushes out most everything much more easily and freely. So the 'eeeww factor' is not that bad -- once you've done it two or three times -- it may well disappear altogether. Now that's liberating, isn't it?

Just think: no more counting/allocating TP -- less stuff to pack (or burn) -- and best of all -- nothing to pack out (unless you are camping at places that specifically require bagging and carrying out your solid body waste).

Edited by ben2world on 12/07/2008 19:24:27 MST.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
toilet Paper Free (water class) on 12/07/2008 18:58:32 MST Print View

Right on Ben!

I have used this method, and it's fine.

This is basicly the step-by-step I give in the BPL article. (with cartoon).

I guess I would advocate soap and water over hand sanitizing, just from the studies I've read. If you use hand sanitizer, you need to use a lot. Squirt out a glob at least the size of a peanut M&M.

Edited by mikeclelland on 12/07/2008 19:01:08 MST.

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
But.... on 12/07/2008 19:03:52 MST Print View

Do these methods work if you eat a lot of peanut M&Ms?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: No Butts.... on 12/07/2008 19:06:25 MST Print View


This method works easily and beautifully even after a whole week of eating gas-and-fart-producing Mountain House freeze-dried meals! Really.

As for sanitizer -- you do NOT need copious quantities of sanitizer -- and certainly not a glob the size of an M&M. You only need enough to moisten all surface area of both hands.

Oh one more thing, wash/clean with the 'balls' of your index and middle fingers. Don't "scratch the stuff out" with your nails. Nails are harder to sanitize.

Edited by ben2world on 12/07/2008 19:09:26 MST.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
a nice clean bottom! on 12/07/2008 19:08:56 MST Print View


Read the article, here's the LINK:

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: a nice clean bottom! on 12/07/2008 19:12:28 MST Print View


I find that relying solely on water and gravity will use up a lot more water. I prefer my method. Much more efficient with water usage -- and much cleaner too.

Edited by ben2world on 12/07/2008 19:22:14 MST.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: a nice clean bottom! on 12/07/2008 22:00:03 MST Print View

How many times is Clelland going to reference an article that costs money to read.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: a nice clean bottom! on 12/07/2008 22:07:13 MST Print View

A clean bottom....
yet another benefit of BPL membership.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
bottom washing on 12/07/2008 23:09:03 MST Print View

To Joe the Backpacker:

I keep referencing the article because I put a lot of work into it, and I really tried to make it as informative (and entertaining) as I could.

People are carrying toilet paper into the backcountry, and then leaving it there - as far as I can tell, it's not really laziness, it's ignorance.

This is a website for advanced lightweight skills, but it seems some very basic skills are being ignored.

I've been recommending the article because I really believe it contains good information - a lot of it from my 14 years of teaching, and from a school that created the Leave No Trace list of ethics.

If there is one less person leaving toilet paper in the mountains because of my repetitive posting - then I feel good about my pestering.

The article is good. You should join and read it! You'll get your money back in the on-line store discounts...

Anyway - I am gunna back off and limit my postings on this subject. I feel like I've said everything I could say.


Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: bottom washing on 12/07/2008 23:39:58 MST Print View

Oh no, don't go Mike! I love it when you talk about poo! And your articles are great... that's one of the benefits of being a subscriber Joe!

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: BP 101 - Washing Your Bottom W/O TP on 12/08/2008 10:02:26 MST Print View

OK, so how do you deal with using water in the winter? Isn't it a bit cold???????
:- 0

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: BP 101 - Washing Your Bottom W/O TP on 12/08/2008 10:40:05 MST Print View

The water is then in a convenient granular form, easy to pick up and apply where needed.

Yes, it is a bit cold, but the results are amazing.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
SNOW as butt wash on 12/08/2008 11:00:13 MST Print View

Winter is the BEST! Your butt will stay CLEAN!

It's all in a very informative article.


Read the article, here's the LINK:

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: SNOW as butt wash on 12/08/2008 11:06:19 MST Print View

I loved using snow on WT3 this year. Very refreshing.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Which is the lesser evil? on 12/08/2008 11:26:21 MST Print View

Nice article Mike, and something to really think hard about, but Leave No Trace also discourages picking leaves. I have to wonder in a high use area if the damage to the vegetation wouldn't be worse than a few buried sheets of decomposing toilet paper. Although you recommend gathering a few leaves here and there, if everyone does that then there will eventually be a lot of impact I think.

And if using stones, in a high use area, eventually all the best stones are going to be poo-covered and under a bush aren't they?

I can see where snow would be the best as it's generally plentiful and renewed often. Most places in the east it's not going to be around past winter though.

A little toilet paper around a site is annoying, but at least it eventually goes away, at least in areas where there is rain and active decomposition in the soil. What I hate seeing is the empty pop bottles, charred tuna can in the fire pit, broken equipment, discarded socks, etc.

I think a lot of the arguments about toilet paper apply differently in different environs.


Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Which is the lesser evil? on 12/08/2008 11:44:24 MST Print View

Just amazing this thing about cultural habits. Lots of people would just shake their heads at this 'soul wrenching' debate about leaves vs. TP -- when neither is necessary and both are actually suboptimal!

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Which is the lesser evil? on 12/08/2008 11:59:21 MST Print View

Am I wrong or dont cultures who use their hands have a "bad" hand (the evil left) that they wipe with and a good (right) hand that they eat with.
A traditional punishment being to chop off the left leaving you the humiliation of using the same hand for both?

Buy the way, ancient Romans used a stick with a wad of wool or cotton like material on the end.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 12/08/2008 12:01:16 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Which is the lesser evil? on 12/08/2008 12:13:36 MST Print View

Our own culture used to force everyone to write with their right hand, etc. -- in a similar way, many cultures stipulate using your left hand to clean and your right hand to eat.

A beloved and well-traveled hiker friend who also posts on BPL related a story of the time he was in Iraq -- invited to 'picnic' with an Iraqi family. Amongst the many delicacies was a huge pan of rice. The friend accidentally reached for it with his left hand -- and suddenly the silence was deafening! After a few seconds of hesitation -- and many glances exchanged -- the entire pan of rice was taken out and "discreetly" disposed.

As for the Romans, below is a photo of the remains of a Roman public toilet. Folks sat on stone slabs. Water would flow continuously along the small gutter that you see. Cleaning sticks (with sponges at one end) would have been placed every few feet. After doing their business, "patrons" would clean their bottoms with the sponge sticks -- then dipped them back into the gutter -- ready for use by next patron. Perhaps the more squeamish ladies brought their own?

Edited by ben2world on 12/08/2008 12:29:33 MST.

John Carter

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Washing Your Bottom on 12/08/2008 12:20:31 MST Print View

...reminds me to never shake hands with another backpacker...

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Washing Your Bottom on 12/08/2008 12:24:16 MST Print View

Following what I wrote re. cultural traits... do you really think that a few pieces of toilet tissue would form an effective barrier? Countless surveys have been done to show that many people don't bother washing their hands after doing their business. You have shaken more dirty hands than you can shake a cleaning stick at! :)

It's not how we clean our bottoms. It's whether or not we wash or sanitize our hands afterwards.

Edited by ben2world on 12/08/2008 12:33:03 MST.