I commiserate with you. Before Pristine, and for a majority of my life, I was a closet wet wipe user. I am well acquainted with the spectrum of emotions that accompanies the affliction – the shame of being outed by a guest in your house, the lies to cover it up, the embarrassment of the grocery store check out counter. “Maybe the cashier will just assume I am a parent buying these for my child,” but you secretly believe the cashier knows the truth. The emotions may be partially fabricated because we believe that most people view adult wet wipe use as juvenile, even when they may not. But the persecution is at least partially real, as I have been the “butt” of many wipe jokes throughout my life. To those wipe users who are loud and proud, I commend you. One day, it will be the norm to use wipes, Pristine, or other cleansing products beyond dry toilet paper. But for now, the stigma is real.
I believe there are two camps of closet adult wipe users: those that never gave it up from childhood because of the inability to acclimate to the discomfort of uncleanliness, and those that were “born again” later in life when they rediscovered the comforts of feeling clean. No matter the camp in which you fall, we were likely all wipe users indirectly through our parents. At one point in almost everyone’s life, they knew the comfort of a clean beyond dry toilet paper. While many may have moved on to abandon wipes as they grew older, the abandoners also adopted a numbing mechanism to ignore the discomforts that almost undoubtedly arise upon transitioning to dry toilet paper. Us closet wipe users could not become so accustomed, and so we opted for a life of secrecy over discomfort.
The symptoms of closet wipe use are common. You have your go-to hiding place, your go-to excuse, or both. Under the sink, behind the toilet paper is a classic go-to spot. But inevitably, you will slip up, you will leave them out, and a lucky guest will find them. Some guests may not mention it, and you will realize your oversight, in shame, after they’ve left and without the ability to offer your excuse. Some guests will confront you with it, and you will be left to defend your crime on the spot. Parents are lucky, as they can always point to the children when wipes are left out on the toilet or bathroom counter. But when the guests are gone, we know who else uses those wipes. If you don’t have children, the excuses get ambiguous. Maybe a nameless “someone” left them at you house. Maybe they were an artifact “from a long time ago,” but have amazingly retained their moisture all those years. Or maybe you begin an excuse, realize its unlikelihood half way through, and confess. We’ve all been there, and it is never an enjoyable conversation.
Every closet wipe user also has an internal debate at work. Do you accept discomfort for the whole day after using the restroom? It may depend on the time of day, and how long you have to withstand the discomfort? Do you risk getting caught wetting paper towels or toilet paper in the sink? If you go for wetting toilet paper, you have to pass the sink to go to the stall first, return to the sink, then return to the stall again – quite cumbersome. If you go for paper towels, you are well-versed in clogging toilets with those paper towels. Every closet wipe user has tried the paper towel in moments of duress. We know well that the paper towel is not flexible enough and does not disintegrate easily enough to avoid the clog. Or do you opt for the wet pocket by shoving in a wad of wipes that are hidden in one of your desk drawers? If you opt for the wet pocket, you try to dodge questions from coworkers on your way to the restroom to prevent the bleed of moisture from the wipe. Your worst fear is getting drug into someone’s office with a wad of wipes soaking in your pants. It is a conundrum that every closet wipe user experiences at work.
The closet wipe user almost certainly plans ahead for travel by packing wipes. But the travel packs are never quite as good as the real deal. You typically end up with a brand or type that you don’t use, and the travel wipes just don’t feel the same. It really throws off your game. Some of your worst memories on trips are when you are frantically digging through your luggage only to realize that you must have forgotten them. You are frustrated with yourself because you realize your forgetfulness or lack of foresight has led to a trip of discomfort, paper-towel-clogged toilets, wet crumbling toilet paper, or all of the above.
One thing is clear closet wipe user – you are not alone. There is evidence of closet wipe use all around us, you just have to look. I have used the restroom at several house parties to find that the host (who did not have children) had mistakenly failed to return wipes to their hiding place. I don’t mention it because I don’t want to cause embarrassment, but there is at least a small feeling of solidarity and understanding when you identify a fellow closet wipe user. You return to the party and, for a moment, look at them differently knowing that they “get it.” Have you ever been on a cruise where an entire hall cannot use their restroom because the ship sanitation system is clogged? If you’ve ever been on a boat, you understand that boat sanitation systems are fragile and not equipped to accommodate anything but toilet paper (and some boats cannot even tolerate toilet paper). Cruise ships constantly have clogging issues, and if I were in Vegas, I would bet the house that those clogs arise largely from wipe users, unable to abandon the clean feeling to which they are accustomed. I have friends that work on oil rigs that report that hours upon hours of time are spent every week unclogging sanitation systems. The culprit is regularly wipes or paper towels inappropriately flushed down the toilets. City sewer systems and water treatment facilities are constantly clogged and damaged by flushed wipes – a topic we will discuss in detail in the future but, for now, functions as evidence of widespread closet wipe use. Every now and then, you will stumble upon someone wetting a paper towel in a public restroom. After being caught, they will wipe their face with the wet towel in a failed attempt to conceal the wet paper towel’s true purpose, but you know the truth. The evidence is all around us.
I now encounter closet wipe users very regularly while promoting Pristine. People ask about Pristine. I explain the thought process behind its inception – that the public is ignoring a hygiene issue and that it should be customary to require the same cleanliness after restroom use as we do in every other facet of our lives. After I make the first concession, the closet wipe user sheepishly opens up. Once they realize that I recognize the problem of discomfort, and that I am open to resolving that problem rather than ignoring it, the closet wipe user feels free to share their woes. And the floodgate of woes is opened. I would estimate that 1 out of every 2 people in my conversations engages in some form of closet cleansing method beyond toilet paper.
The obvious question that I will leave you with and that we will explore in more detail in the future is: why is there such a resistance to improved hygiene? Whether you are a Pristine user, a closet wipe user, a paper-towel wetter, or a crumbly-toilet-paper wetter, you all at least recognize an unclean area of your body should be properly cleansed, and that dry toilet paper is unsatisfactory for the level of cleanliness that you desire – that we all should desire as humans. Yet this is not the norm, and much of the population continues to live in discomfort. Our society has reached a level of cleanliness that now demands improved cleanliness beyond dry toilet paper. The closet wipe user has taken that step to accept an alternative that is commensurate with every other cleanliness habit in our modern lives. I submit that each of us should at least take that first step – whether it be with wipes or with our eco-friendly alternative to wipes, Pristine.