Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Check the Squalor Archive for assistance. Are you still dirty? Email her.
I think you may be able to help with an oversized problem in my life. My wife is always getting upset with me for leaving brown streaks/marks in the toilet after I go to the bathroom. Is there a type of toilet I can buy that will avoid this? Perhaps something in my diet or that I can apply to the toilet?
This question arrived shortly after last week’s Ask a Clean Person on the subject of orange stuff in toilets (technical term) hit the internet. It’s been some time since we tackled a personal-care question—though I suppose that the recent post on cleaning fancy flip-flops delved a bit into that realm, what with all the foot-washing instructions—so we’re due. Moreover, this is my way of punishing my editor for not changing last week’s headline, which I described to him as being “evocative in all the wrong ways” when I suggested he do away with it in favor of something that sounded less diarrhea-y. [Editor’s note: Look, I was busy.]
I feel pretty certain that you all were aware of the fact that I’m secretly evil, but in the event you aren’t, now you know! But I also think this is a pretty interesting question, mostly because there are three separate topics worth addressing, plus the whole thing gives me an excuse, as if I needed one, to research toilet design, and that’s the sort of shit (BAH-DUM-BUM) that I live for.
I’m going to shuffle the deck a bit and tackle the three separate issues out of order, starting with this nice fellow’s eating habits.
My instinct was that the best overall solution to the problem of leaving skid marks in the toilet bowl is a change in diet to include more fiber. Like, eat a green apple every day, dude! Easy peasy. But instinct can only get us so far, and I wanted to learn more about why some poops are more prone to hanging onto the bowl even after flushing. Well! The website Women’s Health Foundation tells us—in a post entitled ”What Your Poo Says About You!” and in the section on skid marks—that “If your poop leaves a skid mark in the toilet after flushing because it’s sticky, it’s likely because you have too much mucus. The two most common mucus-forming foods are dairy and wheat gluten.”
They suggest eliminating dairy and gluten for 21 days, which is standard practice for determining if you have sensitivity to those things, but is not strictly necessary if you’d rather just take their next suggestion and include more fiber in your diet. They suggest incorporating “both soluble and insoluble [fiber]—pears, apples, leafy greens, chia and ground flax, lentils and beans.” This is a good time to ask you to tell us what high-fiber foodstuffs or supplements you’ve had good luck with! My diet is naturally high in fiber, because I’m a vegetable monster, and also because I’ve developed a Gala apple addiction this year. (I get exceedingly cranky without my daily apple. I don’t even know how this happened.) But I’ve also found that the Fiber One 90-calorie bars are exceedingly tasty for a good-for-you dealie. One last factoid and we’ll wrap this part up: According to the Institute of Medicine (by way of WebMD), the typical American takes in 15 grams of fiber a day, which is much lower than the recommended amounts of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
My instincts were not quite as on the money when it came to the issue of why toilet-bowl design might lead to skid marks. My thinking was something along the lines that the appearance of skid marks correlates to the angle or depth of the bowl. But without any basis for why I thought so, I took to Googling “toilet design no skid marks,” because this is my life. And right: What I found out is that when it comes to toilet design, it’s not the shape of the bowl, but rather the way in which water circulates through the bowl when you flush. Makes sense! Furthermore, toilets that are designed to use less water are going to be more prone to skid marks.
At the risk of discouraging people from choosing water-efficient toilets—which we should really all consider, what with the drought in California—there are a few models that offer a higher volume of water to flush and/or are designed in such a way that the water can cover more of the bowl upon flushing. American Standard makes a toilet called the VorMax that has a flush design that covers the entire bowl, helping to wick away any leftovers. The VorMax is also being marketed with one of the more unsettling commercials I’ve seen in a long time.
As for toilets that the skid-prone among us should avoid, according to commenters on the GardenWeb forum (where I am ALL THE TIME, no lie), Toto toilets have a finish called “Sanagloss” that helps to prevent those unsightly marks. (The Kohler Cimmaron and Memoirs toilets get low marks for skids, according to the same forum.) That same group also suggests coating the bowl in Rain-X to prevent skid marks. Now then, this makes total sense to me, but I haven’t actually tried it myself; would one of you like to volunteer to do some field research and report back to us? Thank you!
But blaming the victim—which, in this case, is the poor pooped-upon toilet—seems unfair when there’s such a simple solution to the problem of upsetting your wife: If you leave a skid mark, clean it up. Either use the toilet brush that should be next to your toilet, or grab a wad of toilet paper and wipe the bowl just like you wiped your butt. Then wash your hands. Done and done. But don’t leave it for your wife to clean up. That is not honoring your wife. You took a vow. Honor her, darn it!
Jolie Kerr is the author of the book My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag … And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha (Plume); more of her cleaning-obsessed natterings can be found onTwitter, Kinja, and Tumblr.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.
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