Indians clean themselves with water and the left hand. This ensures that they are able to clean off every bit of poop from their butts, and in that way it is a very hygienic way to wipe. I’d like to explain to Indians why Americans think this is gross. I’d also like to explain to Americans why it isn’t as gross as it sounds.
I was going to explain how to use them, but this website does it much better:
First, toilets in India might be sit-down toilets like we use, or they might be squat toilets. The way you wipe yourself on either toilet is the same. Squat toilets look confusing to Americans. I want to add is that once you do it a few times, it becomes very comfortable. Also, squat toilets are better for the health of your bum and your colon!
Second, cleaning with water gives you the advantage of getting all residual poop off your but each time you shit. Mentally, it seems gross to wipe this way, but keep in mind that Indians think it is gross to wipe with paper only as the American way sometimes leaves shit on the butt. If you make sure to wash your hands with soap afterwards, this way of cleaning is probably more hygienic than just using tp.
Third, Indians are not walking around with wet butts. Once you get the hang of it, your butt will not be wet afterwards either.
Fourth, washing your hands afterwards is really important. Make sure you carry soap because most places will not have it if you are traveling away from fancy places.
Fifth, you can also carry toilet paper, but keep in mind that many Indian toilets will clog up when you throw paper in them. Most toilets also do not have wastepaper baskets. So really you are left with the option of throwing your paper on the floor or stopping up public toilets. It might be more polite, especially when you are at someone’s home, to learn how to do it the Indian way sometimes. When in Rome…
First, I’ve heard Indians say that Americans think it is gross to touch their butts. This is not true. Americans have no objection to touching their butts. The objection is to touching shit. It might be surprising to you, but most Americans try to make it through their entire lives without ever once touching shit. Every now and then, when they change a child’s diaper or when they are wiping themselves with toilet paper, a tiny bit of shit might get on their fingers. When this happens, Americans think it is the most disgusting thing ever! They immediately run and wash their hands. It will probably even make them gag.
Second, Americans do not object to using water. Most have never thought about it because they simply do whatever they grow up doing without reflection. However, if you were to point out that cleaning with water is more hygienic, they will probably agree with you. What they object to is using your hand. Americans do not understand why you don’t use wet toilet paper, wet wipes or a hose so that you don’t have to touch your shit. In know that the hose is becoming more popular with middle class Indians, but it is not the norm for all Indians.
Third, Americans who have been to India are mostly disgusted by the lack of soap and hand washing- not with the way people wipe. Any Westerner who has spent some time in Asia accepts that people clean themselves with water and the left hand and that this is a valid and hygienic way to do it. The problem is that most people do not use soap to clean their hands afterwards. I know that middle class Indians always do, but the vast majority of Indians are poor. There is almost never soap in public places like trains, average restaurants and hotels, etc. Many poor people in slums defecate in the street and in villages they do it in the fields. I’ve seen them do it, and they are not carrying a bar of soap with them. Then these same people harvest crops, sell food in markets, wash dishes, cook in restaurants, etc. For some reason, middle class Indians get very angry when a Westerner mentions this, and they even try to say it isn’t true. But anyone who has traveled beyond the posh urban clubs and private condos of wealthy India will see with their own eyes how the majority of people in the country live.
Fourth, Americans use toilet paper, and yes are correct that it does not clean off the butt as well. I wrote about that in the previous section.