January 11, 2010

Toilet Paper, Bathrooms, All that Good Stuff.

TP or not TP...That is the Question.

I was reading a post on Sabrina's Slice of Lemon about toilet paper, over vs under. (It should be over by the way) I started to think about how most homes I go to here, don't have toilet paper. It's sold in supermarkets. Most public bathrooms in restaurant chains and Malls do but not in people's homes.

All toilets here have a built in bidet type deal called a shatafa, or the hose spray beside the toilet. It's far superior that a watering can or water bottle. This is what people in the Middle East use to wash. I'm sure there are lots of people who do used toilet paper but most use just this. See pics below, for those of you who've never seen it.

Hey look they have TP in both pics! I suspect that this is because these photos were taken by expats living or staying abroad. Most Arabs don't photograph toilets.

I'm not judging at all here, but what I don't get is, how do I put this gently? I mean, there are times when I think water alone isn't enough to do the job. Unless it was like high pressure car wash sprayer. Even if it is enough. You just air dry? Or don't dry? Doesn't that make for some...wetness? Help me out here people. How does that work? Can't that lead to infections or something?

The combination of water and toilet paper is best but I don't get how people use water alone.

Another thing is squatting toilets. On our trip around Egypt, there were some places where these were the only toilets available, so we had to use them. It was weird and worrysome but we got through it. I understand that the squatting position is best, but it could be messy if you're not dressed right or know exactly how to sit/squat. I'll take a commode over this any day of the week, but hey, that's just me.

Picture this but grosser.

Lastly, what is up with swampy bathrooms in the Mid East? Yes, we make wadu/ablution but the bathroom mirror doesn't need wadu, and neither does the floor. Most places here also don't have tubs. It's stand up showers with or without a curtain and with or without an actual square where you stand. So I guess you can see how the whole room can get wet. That's why you always need flip flops.

The good part is cleaning is easier. You just wash everything down and squeegee it towards the handy drain in the floor. I always thought those bath mat/rugs and toilet set covers were gross anyway so there's a lot to be said for water park bathrooms.

What's your take? Is toilet paper your friend? Ever squatted over a hole in the ground? Wet n' Wild bathrooms, yay or nay?


  1. Anonymous6:56 PM

    Toilet paper is my friend for sure. The combo you mentioned is best, especially for #2!!!!! I have tried to squat over the hole...its not easy at all. My kids refuse to use any bathroom like that, but sometimes you just have to. So, I recommend taking all your bottoms off and trying to keep your feet as dry as possible...assuming there is a place to put hang your bottoms. I have also met people who only know how to use that kind of toilet. I guess everyone is different, right? Regarding the toilet paper position, its outside!!!! As they do in hotels.

  2. Anonymous7:27 PM

    Oh man! I always wondered about that. It actually really concerns me; you know, if I ever travel to a part of the world that uses water instead of TP. My (Bangali) husband isn't real open about this and I asked him lots of questions. I'm loking forward to reading more comments when they come in. Thanks for the uhm, slightly gross but much appreciated post! And for all other posts about your beautiful family and life in Egypt. I've been reading your blog for a while. Love it!

  3. Anon, I don't plan on using one of those anytime again soon but if I am left with no choice one day, thanks for the tips. :)

    Melissa, Thanks. Yea I guess it is slightly Gross. Maybe I should have put a disclaimer. Not for the squeamish. But if you're reading a post titled TP and Bathrooms you should already have an idea of the subject matter, right?

  4. a combo for sure :)

  5. A'salaamu alaikum ukhti. I used a "squatter" when I was in India. Let me say this... when you are in less-than-clean areas I was GRATEFUL for the squatter (except for the clothing issue!). I was happy I didn't have to touch anything nasty which a commode surely would have been foul.

    I was also loved the ease and completeness of cleaning that type of toilet. Why do western-style commodes HAVE the show the s-shaped part? I mean those are just little dust and hair collecting area. :-)

    I only had 2 problems with the floor toilets: one you had to be pretty agile to hold up your clothes and balance and clean yourself. Two I was "indisposed" for much of my trip to India and 15 squats a day was uncomfortable. LOL Sorry for TMI just telling it like it is.

    Love your posts and your blog and pray for the best for you and your family, ma salaam...

  6. i've never used a squatter...
    but i really miss bidet!!!!
    honestly i cant just go #2, and then just wipe....after wiping needs more! to feel clean.
    since they dont have hoses in the states...and my husband refuses to attach a small hose to the sink :) ...i've settles on wipes. if they are good for a babys butt....then they are good for mine :)

  7. The Mrs, lol yea.

    Umm Aminah, I like those new toilets that kind of hang from the wall so you can mop under. I bet all those squats were a good work out though :)

    Angie, lol yea they have those flushable ones, just as good I think.

  8. Oh sorry... I always put my tp over the top and I prefer to have both water and tp. Although when I was in UAE most places only had water sprayers. I looooved the high-powered ones there; felt like a firemen's hose but did the job great. lol

  9. Umm Aaminah, ouch! Lol.

  10. Those shower things are actually quite powerful and I would say they are probably quite effective. But no, without toilet paper I wouldn't get anywhere.

    Don't ask about the 'squatted' type. I've had too many emabarassing moments. I really can't figure them out, they are just too much. But they are of course way better for you and recommended especially if one has abdominal and anal problems.

  11. Anonymous12:57 AM

    Toilet paper is a must!And...I couldn't live without a bidet.I don't use this one every single time when I do my thing :DDD,but I use it every day,depending on how much I need it.Plus,it's great for washing the feet.
    This post made me smile,but it's a good one :).I like it...it's day to day life :)!

  12. I use those spray things. you can adjust the pressure of the water coming out actually. then u can dry yourself with tissue paper.

  13. Ahaha Umm Aaminah! I definitely agree about the firemans hose thing. When I was in UAE/Bahrain they had one where you could control the pressure so it was the best clean everrrrr. I am still laughing at all the comments on this post hehe.

  14. Those little bidet/shower things would make life so much easier. And I think things could get...messy without the ol' TP.
    I hope I never have to encounter the squatter toilets. I'm pretty uncoordinated as it is.

    Now, why wouldn't you like the rug/seat cover sets? They're my obsession. I buy new sets every week. :)

  15. Haha! I remember the first time I saw the squat toilets in Turkey! It wasn't as bad as I thought, until I had to go in the middle of the night and the bathroom was outside! I woke my husband up to go with me! (his parents lived in an old house at that time)
    I have to use paper, I like to use paper first, then water and then dry with paper.
    In Turkey, people don't have the hoses, they have either the bidet in the toilet or if it's a squat toilet there's a spigot and a bucket of water...Ew, I'm not going to 'wash' with my hands.........

  16. Oh I hate the wetness of the toilets too.. it's DISGUSTING!! And public toilets in Arab countries have to be wet! With no TP.

    I definitely prefer, and perhaps NEED, both.

    The worst toilets unfortunately are the Makka (Masjid Al-Haram) toilets - man those are nasty. I always go back to the hotel for anything, then back to the Masjid. Something serious needs to be done there :(

    Interesting post idea :)

  17. Great!!! Please lets hear more! I also had this issue in Morocco---I couldn't figure out the clothes with the squatting ones, nor the spigot placed in front of the toilet, so how do you wash with water and not drip it across your bunched up clothes??? And having to cup water in your hand while moving it that far?
    And please, I am so curious.... do you get used to being wet or is there a trick to not being sopping down there? I wonder how it works w/o TP? I'd probably not wear undies in that case.
    Not to be gross either, but most bathrooms there did not have trash bins, so where do they put their sanitary pads?

  18. Cosmic Cook, yea,lol. Thanks for commenting.

    Jasmina, I like the built in bidet better than those separate ones you know?

    Nur Aminah, That's the best way.

    Ellen, It's funny isn't it??

    Janny, they just seem like they would be germ magnets. But I'm sure if you change them a lot it's clean.

    Melissa, don't even say that, ugh. Yea the hole in the ground is scary. A little kid could fall in lol.

    Stimulus, I had no idea that was a problem, that's sad to hear.

    UmmMalaak, Lol, I want some bonafide non tp user to explain it! Oh and about the no trash bin, um yea that's a good question. I bet they wrap it up in a bag or something and throw it in the main bin? I dunno.

  19. My husband is such an Egyptian that he ordered a bidet from online and had a handy man install it in our bathroom here in the states. I have to say though that life has never been better. All my family who come over my house are in love and dying to get one now.

  20. I think the combination of both is best! I hope to have a hose installed on my toilet soon. In Egypt, they bought TP for me when I came, but I think they didn't normally have it. There was a towel beside the toilet always, but it was near the bath too, so I hope it was not for that... If it wasn't, then that means they just ended up being wet there... I hate wet! Couldn't do it!

    The sprayers I encountered in Egypt had a lot of pressure. The water jet would go directly in the bum if it was aimed that way! I kinda moved around to clean the area and tried to avoid that but my husband said we needed to clean the inside too! I thought that was really weird...

  21. When I lived in Jordan, I always took my own tp when I went downstairs to see my inlaws. I always wondered if/how they dried themselves after using the bidet! And you're right, TP should go over ;)

    I had to do the squatting thing when we went to Aqaba once in a cheap bus without a bathroom. It's so easy for the guys, but not so much for us girls! Good thing I found where the regular toilets were in several parts of town.


  22. Aneesah, Lol, such passion!

    Candice, Oh wet towels are icky. Especially when you don't know where such moisture came from. HA Lol about the pressure. They could give you an enema!

    Anisah, I'm gonna go ahead and assume the non TP households just don't dry. Yea men have it easier. I saw this thing for sale for women to use when camping that's kinda like a funnel of sorts...You can imagine what I mean.

  23. I also hated the water all over the floor, and all over the sink.

    Athough I did love the easy way to clean, I called it "flooding". Time to flood the floor!


  24. We use the splasher first then TP to dry. We ordered a splasher on-line that fits under the seat and splashes from the back, then I have another hose that I connected to the water and it hangs on the wall like the ones in the picture. I have done the squatter in Bahrain and Egypt...not pretty. I always ask my husband how the women dry in Egypt because there is no toilet paper in any homes I've ever been to and he said he supposes the women have their own towel or something (like he would know!) The first time I visited his family home they have the splasher that's just the hole in the back of the toilet and when I pressed the button the water flew out and went all over the wall and floor. I was mortified. That's when I was thankful for the tile floor. That's why I always carry the little packs of tissues in my bag when we're abroad.

  25. Anisah, yea it's an easy way to clean for sure.

    Om Kareem, I really want to know as well. It's not something you can just ask. Well not in real life I guess.

  26. my in-laws in Algeria have these squat loos..it always takes me a week to get used to it..I tell hubby I have 40-odd years of potty-training to overcome...
    one time in Algiers city centre my then 4 year old insisted she could manage herself..needless to say she spent the rest of the shopping trip walking like John Wayne with wet tights..

  27. June Seghni, Lol @ walking like John Wayne. Those do take some practice!

  28. Often the hotel will have wandering photographers or waitstaff with access to cameras.

    Palermo Hostel

  29. Anonymous3:37 AM

    first time in theis blog been having this problem for 5 yr iam from egypt and live in usa and i have to have water .cause everything with water is pure

  30. Anonymous3:54 AM

    water makes everything pure .been living in usa for 5 yr and cant give a way water .i missed you egypt lol

  31. If it seems like water pressure alone isn't enough to clean up after #2 then your instincts are correct. What they do is to wipe/rub the area with their fingers while the water is spraying on it. So it's not just spraying water that gets the area clean. Then they wash there hand with soap and water (if they have it). In many places there is no soap. That is why in many of those countries you only shake with the right and and wipe with the left.

  32. tolit water hose; tolit hose


Thanks for commenting!