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Our Obsession With Hygiene Is Really Dirty

Using wet wipes instead of toilet paper is a crappy idea.
Not your average cup of joe.
Not your average cup of joe.

When I'm feeling a bit headachey, or have low energy, the first thing I think of doing is pouring coffee-water into my bottom while doing a few yoga poses and resisting the urge to defecate. And yes, I am most definitely talking shit, because that sounds both logistically tricky and exceptionally uncomfortable.

But performing coffee enemas is totally a thing. And after seeing about 8000 posts on Instagram touting their benefits, I can't help but wonder why we're so obsessed with cleaning our bodies in such a dirty way.

As it turns out, there are a bunch of other 'hygiene' procedures which do very little for our health and, in some circumstances, can actually be pretty dangerous.

Take ear candling, for example. When I first heard about this, I thought it sounded amazing. What's better than someone sticking a hollow candle into your ear and lighting the end, creating a vacuum which 'sucks' your earwax up into the candle.

Seriously, though, when you see the oh-so-satisfying before-and-after pics of the candles full of wax, you'll be rushing to make an appointment. But before you do... don't. Because it doesn't work. We did some good old investigative reporting here at HuffPost Australia and found out that the luscious wax you have the privilege of viewing after your session comes from the candle, not from deep inside your ear hole. Ear candling can also cause "facial burns and perforated ear drums from a bit of ash or whatever landing on the ear drum". Ouch.

While we're on the topic of ears, you won't want to hear this sad truth about ears and cotton buds. I know, I know... we all do it. There are few things more satisfying than cleaning your ears after a nice, steamy shower. But according to the experts, what you're really doing is pushing your ear wax further into your eardrum until you think you need to book an appointment with a person who practises ear candling. As my doctor told me after I had jammed one of those polystyrene bean bag balls into my ear as an eight-year-old (no, Mum, of course I wasn't inside the bean-bag cover): "Never put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear."

I reckon the same rule applies with bottoms. Butt hey, that's just me.

Another hygiene habit I used to like is hand sanitising. It just feels so... clean. Before eating? Sanitise. After eating? Sanitise. Toilet? Wash. Then sanitise. Before cooking? Sanitise. Standing next to a bottle of sanitiser? Sanitise.

When I was a teenager, one of my best mates was the queen of sanitising, and I used to love going to her house so I could rub that cold goop onto my hands and feel the menthol freshness of it. But now the research says it's better to ditch the sanitiser in favour of good old-fashioned soap and water.

There's been some discussion about links to antibiotic resistance (with no proof, mind), and the active ingredient, triclosan, has been linked to cancer risk. But the main reason I've decided to ditch the stuff? Well, have you ever accidentally licked your hands after sanitising? Do it. Actually, take my word for it. Don't.

But the one hygiene habit that really gives me the shits is wet wipes instead of toilet paper. There is not one skerrick of science which suggests a single benefit of wiping your bottom with a damp, antibacterial wipe rather than good ol' TP. Not to mention the fact many of them aren't actually flushable -- they clog the drains and create enormous 'fatburgs' in the sewage. They're expensive, full of chemicals, and I don't know what they do to your lady parts but I don't think that delicate ecosystem is supposed to be anti-bacterialised. (FYI, it also doesn't need to be washed with vaginal wash. It's not dirty. Just clean, fresh water will do the trick, ladies.)

And you can probably guess what I think about treating cuts and scratches. Forget betadine and band aids, just rub a little dirt on it.


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