How to Wipe After Peeing? Maybe It’s Time to Rethink Things

This guide to rethinking how to wipe after peeing was featured in Consider This, our weekly-ish newsletter of new, routine-breaking ideas.

When’s the last time you reconsidered how you wipe after peeing?


I didn’t until I was in my early twenties.

Until then, I was a pretty wasteful wiper. I’d mindlessly unwind a near arm’s-length of toilet paper, scrunch it up, wipe, and flush. Now that I think back, it’s kind of sad. All that paper down the drain.

What changed everything for me was having to pee in a public toilet in Peru. The sign on the stall’s door said to throw your toilet paper in the trash rather than flush it. I obviously obliged. And as I threw my snowball-sized wad of wasted paper into the bin, I noticed something: The other women’s wipes in that bin weren’t like mine. They were compact, efficient, folded rectangles and about 10 squares less than mine.

So why was I wiping so differently?

It was then and there that I decided to open my mind, change my ways, and pursue the answer to the question:

What’s the cleanest, quickest, and most conscientious way to wipe after peeing?

Kim pondering how much toilet paper she is going to use in the future.
It’s time to take a closer look at toilet paper.

Let’s Clean Up this Mess, Women!

It’s crazy that in this hi-tech world of the internet, artificial intelligence, and, um… TikTok, that the way we women wipe after peeing remains completely out of date.

You were probably about two years old when you had your first (and last) lesson on how to wipe after peeing. Your mom probably taught you.

But what did she really know? Your mom learned from her mom. Your grandma learned from your great-grandma. And so on. So the wiping technique is nothing more than a chain of old wives’ tales, with each link spaced apart by 25 years or so.

Or, as in my case, your mom didn’t grow up using toilet paper, invented her own approach when she moved out West and passed it on.

No wonder the approaches we ladies use to clean ourselves after going to the bathroom are all over the place. It’s not our fault for being poorly trained. But that doesn’t mean it’s not our responsibility to fix it.

It’s time to clean up this mess and come up with a better answer to how to wipe after peeing.

Chris and Kim peeing sitting down together
Chris and I peeing together at his uncle’s unique two-person outhouse.

We Can Do It (Better Than Men)

If Chris and I were to publish a post questioning men’s bathroom behavior, most guys would read the headline, scroll straight to the bottom of the post, and unload derogatory and insulting comments. Just take a look at our men should pee sitting down (at home) post for proof.

Luckily, women are generally more clean, conscientious, and open-minded than men on these matters.

For instance, millions of women have open-mindedly moved from tampons to menstrual cups. There’s no reason to believe we won’t be equally open to reconsidering the way they wipe after peeing, especially if it saves money and the environment.

Speaking of men…

Chris holding up toilet paper upon being told about men wiping after peeing.

Should Men Wipe After Peeing, Too?

The thought never crossed my mind until I stumbled on a Reddit thread about it while researching for this post. As crazy as it sounds, some men wipe after peeing!

Chris was just as surprised as me. He’d never even considered it. He doubts most men have. Urinals don’t have toilet paper beside them for a reason.

Some women in the forums were equally surprised men don’t wipe. And they’re right to wonder. There is no doubt men’s members would be a wee bit cleaner if they wiped.

Chris isn’t convinced it’s worth the effort for a drop or two, but if women are willing to try a new way of wiping, he said he will too.

What We All Can Probably Agree On

Before getting to more controversial and subjective toilet paper tactics, let’s agree on the following:

✓ We want to wipe cleanly, quickly, and conscientiously

While we may arrive at different conclusions, we all have the same goal: to find the cleanest, quickest, most conscientious way to wipe after peeing:

  • Clean: The ideal wipe gets no pee on our fingers and leaves no residue on our underwear or anywhere else. And definitely no UTIs.
  • Quick: No time-consuming toilet paper origami to prepare the perfect wipe.
  • Conscientious: The less money spent on toilet paper and few resources wasted on wiping, the better.

✓ Always wipe from front to back

This is by far the most important and undeniably true approach to wiping after peeing. Doing so avoids the risk of urinary tract infections caused by bringing in bacteria from the rear. The Mayo ClinicBrigham and Women’s Hospital, the Cleveland Clinic and the University of California, San Francisco agree.

✓ One square isn’t enough

Sorry, Sheryl Crow. Unless your toilet paper’s as thick as a towel, risking a sopping wet single square that disintegrates through to your fingers is too extreme.

✓ One way to wipe doesn’t fit all

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to how to wipe after peeing. Every woman has unique preferences about cleanliness, quickness, and conscientiousness. Every pee is different. And sometimes there’s more than pee down there to wipe up.

✓ Toilet paper quality matters

All bets are off when you’re in unfamiliar territory and need to wipe with paper of questionable absorption and strength.

✓ Toilet paper may not be the best approach

Bidets, blotters, or seashells (see video below) may be cleaner, quicker, and more conscientious. Many people from many cultures around the world would say so. Some wild women even drip dry. But we’re not diving into those topics in this post.

How to Find the Best Way to Wipe for You

Time to find your own approach to wiping after peeing—one that optimizes for your personal preferences on cleanliness, quickness, and conscientiousness.

Go through each of the following wiping variables and open-mindedly consider your answers to the thought-provoking questions:

How Many Squares?

This obviously depends on what kind of toilet paper you’ve got on hand. Let’s keep it simple. Think about whatever quality you use at home.

  • What’s your number? How many do you currently use and why? If you don’t count, why is that?
  • Why is that your number? Why don’t you use more or fewer squares? If, for example, you use 6 squares of double-ply, why not 7? Or have you tried 5 before?
  • Why do you differ? Why do you think the Peruvian women I mentioned earlier seem to use so much less toilet paper? Do you think they have different cleanliness standards? Could it be that they’re more conscientious about waste? And how do you think they would think about the way you wipe?
Roll of toilet paper American bills
Are you flushing more money down the drain than you need to?
One hand holding a scrunched toilet paper and the other folded.
Which side are you on?

Scrunch or fold?

Whether to scrunch or fold toilet paper is the greatest debate in the wiping world. Which side are you on?

  • How do you know your way’s best? Have you experimented with the other approach?
  • Why do you scrunch or fold? How did you decide to be a scruncher or a folder? Do your friends feel the same?
  • What would convince you to switch sides? A reputable science experiment finding the other approach is better? A different toilet paper design? An expert opinion?
  • What’s the difference between wiping a counter and wiping yourself? Do you scrunch up a towel or rag when you wipe your counters, too?

Wipe or Dab?

Dabbing is an under-the-radar strategy for wiping after urinating that might merit your consideration. Shouldn’t you give the toilet paper time to do its liquid-absorbing job? Or do you not want to risk soaking through to your fingers?

How Many Times Should You Wipe?

  • When do you know you’re clean enough? Do you look at the paper to see how wet it is? Or do you not think about it?
  • How do you know you’re not wiping too much? Your skin’s sensitive down there and toilet paper can be abrasive.

Wipe, Fold, Wipe?

By this we mean wiping with a folded tissue, folding that wipe in half, and wiping again. Maybe even add another fold and wipe if you’re a daredevil.

  • Is it gross? Why? What could change your mind and make you think it’s not gross? Or are you stubbornly opposed to the idea?
  • How big of a surface area do you actually need to wipe? A square of toilet paper’s typically 4.5x 4.5 in / 10×10 cm. Your lady bits are probably not that big.

Thank You, Toilet Paper

Above all, let’s be grateful to live in a world with toilet paper, and for where that paper came from.

Maybe this story Chris found will help remind us.

Lonely toilet paper tree

“The TP Tree”
Author unknown

Today is my last day alive. 

I’m sad about it, of course. I’m going to miss the sun, soil, wind, rain, and clouds. Even the squirrels. But I’ve known this day was coming since the beginning and I take comfort in the fact that my ending will serve a purpose.

“Serve a purpose.”

The others would laugh if they heard me say that. They always laugh at me. They think they’re better than me because of their pre-determined purposes. The one to my right’s destined to be made into a house. She’ll shelter a family for decades. To my left, he’s going to be made into baseball bats. He gets to play an integral part in the beautiful game all over. And the one behind me has the special destiny of becoming a totem pole. She’ll keep standing in a different way for decades, telling a tall tale in a beautiful way.

Me?

I’m destined to be toilet paper. 

Go ahead. Take the piss on my crappy destiny. I’ve heard it all before. I don’t mind anymore. 

After struggling and soul-searching early on, I’ve come to embrace my destiny. I get to improve tens of thousands of people’s lives. People need me. I’m honored to have the chance to help.

Look around. I’m the biggest tree here! That’s because I’ve worked harder than anyone to stand up straight and grow as big and strong as I can. I can help more people that way. You bet I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and what I’ll become. The other trees can laugh all they want.

I just hope people appreciate me. 

I want to help as many of them as many times as possible before my entire existence is flushed down the toilet. That’s all.

Truly yours,

The TP Tree

What’re You Going to Do?

What’s your conclusion on the best way to wipe after peeing? Are you going to experiment with a different approach, or stick to your ways?

Please share your approach and opinions in the comments. Put a fake name and email if you’re embarrassed. I can’t be the only one who’s curious about what other women do. And I think that learning from each other can help.

Are You Willing to Reconsider Other Things, Too?

If you’re open-minded, willing to experiment, and want to live less complacently, subscribe to get a new experiment to try, idea to ponder, or place to explore every week or two in our newsletter, Consider This:

Read This Next:

Disclosure: Whenever possible, we use links that earn us a cut if you pay for stuff we recommend. It costs you nothing, so we’d be crazy not to. Read our affiliate policy here.

Chris and Kim

Kim and Chris started The Unconventional Route in 2018 to share their experiences exploring extraordinary places, things, and ideas. Now, over 150,000 people a month read their questionable advice. Every week, they share a new complacency-challenging and curiosity-tickling idea in their newsletter, Consider This.

20 thoughts on “How to Wipe After Peeing? Maybe It’s Time to Rethink Things”

  1. Dude here, and I’m really okay with the whole guys sitting down to pee thing. In our house, I’m usually the one doing the bathroom cleaning, and washing down floors covered in old pee residue is pretty nasty (even if it’s my fault), so I’m thinking an ounce of prevention – know what I mean? And guys, it’s cool to wipe after peeing, rather than doing the shake and letting the last drop go down your trouser leg. And think about it – if you sleep with someone, they will appreciate it if you don’t go straight back with a wet one into the cuddle after that midnight visit.

    Reply
    • Absolutely! Well said, Joel. The dribble is not a great look. Thanks for being such a conscientious wiper. Cheers!

      Reply
      • I second that. Just for the record, it raises a man’s sex appeal by at least a couple extra points on my book. Hint, hint to civilized men everywhere.

        Reply
  2. My issue is my bubble booty and the pee always drips down it, so even when I’m only going #1, I still have to wipe so much surface area in order to prevent wet spots from getting on my undies or pants or whatever. BUT, I will definitely be experimenting and trying different methods now! I go through TP waaay too fast – bad for the environment and for my wallet!

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Kelly. I never thought about this, but it makes sense! Have you ever tried a badet? Let us know what method(s) end up helping you use less TP while simultaneously keeping you clean and dry.

      Reply
    • I found I have that issue too and learned that it has nothing to do with my butt at all but actually my spine. I have. A spinal curvature so it causes me to slunch more shifting my pelvis forward some for everything to drain back. If you sit up straighter and lean slightly forward it should reduce or eliminate that.

      Reply
  3. Three sheets folded. Wipe, fold in half, wipe again, fold in half, wipe again, as needed. If number 2, and it’s needed, repeat until clean with new sheets. I use Charmin Ultra Solf toilet paper. I find this way keeps me clean and isn’t wasteful of toilet paper.

    Reply
    • Nice technique, Lauren! I love reaching for Charmin too and definitely use less of it compared to the cheap, supermarket brand. Who wants to wipe with sandpaper that rips?

      Reply
  4. This was an interesting article. I actually fold each sheet in half. If the paper is thin I increase by 1 or 2 sheets from the thicker paper. I do fold at times. I find that dabbing is better especially of the paper is not absorbent. The reason I chose to dab is I find that wiping sometimes leaves small pieces of old paper down there and I hate that. So I also think guys should wipe to avoid the spatter and if they sat down you might not find as much urine all over the seat. Just to add a note of something of topic..( close the lid before flushing to avoid all that bacteria from flying everywhere. So folding is my go too.
    Thanks
    Patricia

    Reply
    • Hi Patricia, thanks for your comment! Interesting that you like the dabbing technique. Aren’t you afraid of it getting soaked, especially if the TP is thin? Thanks for the tip about closing the lid!

      Reply
  5. During the lockdown and no TT in the stores era, I learned to love boxed tissue for wiping. On double layer, folded 2″×3″ and wetted with cold water works the first time. For #2, I, sometimes, need two double sheets. I fold once, wet it, after first wipe I fold it again and sometimes again leaving the residues inside each fold. Works well. Feels clean, fresh.

    Reply
    • Oh man, boxed tissue is so soft! You wet it before you wipe? Kind of like a wet wipe? I like your style. Mid-way between dry TP and a badet 😉 Thanks for your thoughts Angela!

      Reply
      • Just a note: toilet paper is specifically made to break down quickly to prevent clogs in the pipes/prevent damage to septic systems. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think that is the case for boxed tissues. So that is something to check before continuing this method.

        Reply
  6. I have a spinal curvature so I have to sit as straight as I can and lean slightly forward so everything comes straight down instead of draining back onto my butt we always by two ply or higher and if I have to choose between soft or strong toilet paper I choose strong because I find the soft causes more lint. I use four sheets for the front and fold… Or more like roll them around my hand and pull my hand out. I have small hands. I wipe then fold it in half and wipe again. I use the same method for the back but usually repeat it twice of how ever many times is needed to get everything clean so usually 8 squares total. I remeber when I was potty training my brother made fun of me once when he walked in and saw me checking the toilet paper to make sure everything came back clean. I was only like three but have a Mexican condition where one of the good symptoms is that you remember things at a lot younger age than the general population. Anyhow he was making fun of me saying it was gross I check the TP until my mom looked at him and said “that’s probably why your underwear always have skid marks in them even though you were potty trained 11 years ago and hers don’t.

    Reply
    • Thanks for making my morning with that anecdote, Jamie! Happy to hear you’ve found a process that works for you. Have you ever tried a badet? I tried my friend’s Tushy for the first time last month and was pleasantly surprised with its cleaning capabilities. Hope your brother’s learned how to properly wipe by now. If not, send him this post.

      Reply
  7. My method is similar to Angela’s, but I wipe with just toilet paper first, then I wet another few sheets with water and then wipe. I feel much fresher that way because I don’t feel like I left dried pee there. After #2, I do the same, wipe with toilet paper only and then a wet one but after that, I (flush first and then) pour water with one hand and use a slightly soapy other hand to clean my butt. It’s part of my culture (I’m Filipino, but I grew up here in the U.S. – look up “Filipino tabo”). That’s similar to a do-it-yourself bidet. You can use a large cup, plastic pitcher, whatever. I use one of those cylindrical containers Chinese restaurants put take-out large soups in. I feel much cleaner knowing I didn’t leave any poop “behind” (pun intended).
    This can also be done in the front area if it’s that time of the month.
    Sorry for the long comment, but hope it might inspire someone to try it out!

    Reply
  8. My technique is similar to Patricia’s. I, however wrap the TP (Charmain of course) around my hand and I realize now that I don’t really pay attention to how many sheets I use. I dab & then fold & dab again. I also don’t care for the little pieces of paper that wiping can leave behind. I use the same method for #2, only wipe & fold ect. I also close the lid before flushing…so many germs & nasty bacteria flys out while flushing otherwise!! This was a great article…really makes you think especially when we’re all trying so hard to save the environment!!

    Reply
  9. Quilted Northern Soft and Strong, 4 squares. Careful dabs.
    Had to go test it out immediately after reading this article, btw. Tried only 3 squares initially. That turned out to not be quite enough to completely feel dry. I used only one at the end to finish off (very carefully).

    I am glad I came across this article for two main reasons: to not be wasteful with TP. And, because someone finally addressed the disgusting pee dribble that the majority of men seem to be completely unconcerned with and inconsiderate of their female partners.
    It is a real turn-off to me. I have actually kicked a man out of bed four this (if you must know).

    Reply

What do you think? (Leave a Comment.)