So, let's get right to it: pooping.
We're stepping into that topic, but more specifically how we clean up after doing it.
For decades, we've reached for toilet paper — the dreamy-sounding Angel Soft and the cozy Quilted Northern — but now a small but growing number of folks are grabbing something else: pre-moistened flushable wipes.
They're basically a baby wipe for grown-ups, and sales have been rising steadily, like the water in a toilet bowl.
Manufacturers of the wipes are trying to change a century of bathroom habits, and they're taking it to people during prime-time TV.
Have you seen the Cottonelle commercials where a woman with the perky British accent asks: Can we talk about your bum?
Apparently, people are up for the conversation. You can spot brands of the wipes at Walmart, Target and other stores.
But not everyone is ready to clean-up down there with a moist wipe, and there are concerns that the wipes could be clogging up sewers and pipes, not just around here but across the country.
So read on for more about any potential plumbing problems locally, along with why local people are trying the wipes, a history of how we've made a clean sweep in the bathroom, and other fun facts about what we do after No. 2.
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Ask a plumber
Wipes and clogs: What does a plumber say?
Crews at La Vista-based Eyman Plumbing have seen clogs caused by wipes in the last few years. Clogs tend to happen when pipes don't have enough “fall,” or downward slope, to let gravity do its job, says president Tom Eyman.
Why do wipes plug pipes?
They don't break down as quickly and easily as toilet paper.
What about wipes labeled flushable?
Likely part of the problem because some customers tell Eyman that's what they use.
City sewers: What's happening?
Cities across the county have reported sewer problems because of wipes.
The City of Omaha says it hasn't faced troubles from them, but the City of Lincoln has.
Steve Crisler, superintendent of Lincoln's wastewater treatment facility, says wipes have gummed up pumps at lift stations near residential and commercial developments. (Lift stations pump wastewater from low or flat areas to a high area).
Are flushable wipes part of the problem?
He suspects they might be, partly because the wipes have become more common.
Why flushable wipes?
Jeff Johnson's reason for using flushable wipes is simple.
“It's a way to get cleaner,'' he said.
For Johnson, a 34-year-old Omahan, it just makes sense to finish up using a moist wipe. He thinks of it this way: What do folks do after getting their hands messy working in the yard, taking out the garbage or cutting up chicken?
They don't just reach for a dry towel. They wash with soap and water.
Marketers spend tons of cash getting people to try new products.
But Johnson got the idea for trying the wipes a few years ago from an unlikely source: rapper Trick Daddy.
Johnson was watching an episode of “MTV Cribs” which featured the rapper giving a tour of his home.
While in the bathroom, the rapper gave a little personal hygiene advice: “When you do the No. 2, use Wet Ones.”
Marketing flushable wipes
With a chirpy tone, personal-care company Kimberly-Clark tells customers on its website, “Don't just wipe ... wash with Cottonelle Fresh Care Flushable Cleansing Cloths.”
Why? You'll “experience a more confident clean.”
It's not always easy convincing consumers to try a new product, says A. Dwayne Ball, chairman of the marketing department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
But flushable wipes have something important going for them.
Marketing folks call it “trialability.”
For a few bucks you can buy a packet of wipes, and try them in the privacy of your bathroom. It's inexpensive and low risk.
A doctor's take
TP is just fine, but it only makes sense that a moist wipe could get you cleaner
People with sores or sensitive skin might benefit from moist wipes
Folks with diarrhea or who use the toilet often also might benefit.
Source: Dr. Mindy Lacey, assistant professor of family medicine at University of Nebraska Medical Center
Very important toilet facts
A toilet was discovered in the tomb of an ancient Chinese king of the Western Han Dynasty.
Ancient Romans built simple latrines over the running waters of the sewers that poured into the Tiber River.
People used chamber pots made of metal or ceramic during the Middle Ages.
During the 1800s, people realized that poor sanitary conditions caused diseases. Having toilets and sewer systems that could control human waste became a priority to lawmakers, medical experts, inventors, and the public.
Starting in 1910, toilet designs started changing from the elevated water tank into the modern toilet with a close tank and bowl.
Did Thomas Crapper invent the flushing toilet?
No. Crapper was a plumber in the 1800s, and improved the functionality of the early flush toilet.
The inventor of the flush toilet was 16th-century author Sir John Harington, who installed an early version in the palace of Queen Elizabeth I.
Equally important TP facts
14th century: Chinese emperor uses first toilet paper. Only royal bums have access to this ancient TP.
18th century: No Charmin for American colonists, just corn cobs and leaves. It wasn't just the winters that were harsh.
1857: New Yorker Joseph Gayetty introduced first packaged toilet tissue in the United States. Americans breathe a collective sigh of relief. Sears catalog and newspapers are still the go-to wipers for many folks.
1879: Scott Paper Co. starts selling the first TP on a roll. Husbands and wives probably have first arguments over whether the paper should hang over or under the roll.
1901: Northern Paper Mills in Wisconsin introduces Northern Tissue. Each bundle has a wire so it can be hung from a nail.
1928: Hoberg Paper Company in Wisconsin manufactures Charmin TP. The design was described as “charming” by an employee, and the Charmin brand name was born.
1942: St. Andrews Paper Co. in Great Britain introduces first two-ply toilet paper.
1954: Northern introduces colored toilet tissue. More proof of U.S. global dominance.
1955: Scott advertises TP on TV for the first time.
1970: Charmin TV commercials feature Charlotte Rae from sitcom “The Facts of Life.”
2003: Annual global sales of TP exceed $19 billion, and frantic families still dash to stores at midnight when they run out.
Sources: Kenn Fischburg, CEO of Consumers Interstate Corp. and author of the Toilet Paper Encyclopedia; About.com