Amanda has managed her hemorrhoids with home remedies for two decades.
The Back Story
My trouble with hemorrhoids started when I was just 19 years old, after the birth of my first child. Following a visit with my doctor, I was referred to a proctologist. I didn’t know what to expect and I was embarrassed. But I was desperate to understand my malady and get help. I waited alone in the exam room until a young man in a white coat entered the room. He seemed extremely uneasy and embarrassed to speak to me about my troubles. To this day, I do not know what his problem was. Perhaps he did not expect to have such a young patient. As I asked questions in earnest, his face would turn red and he would hesitate to answer. He spoke to me, but he never examined me. I felt ashamed and decided that I would need to handle the problem on my own.
I did learn a couple of things of value though, as I probed the red-faced specialist—things I never knew, but seemed like common sense in hindsight. He told me that toilet paper is very bad for the sensitive skin of that area. He said that it is basically like using sand paper. Moist wipes or a bidet is a much better option. I tried the moist wipes, but found them to be chemically harsh. It would take another 20 years of suffering and the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 to convince me to find an alternative.
Cloth Toilet Paper
With toilet paper in short supply, I began researching alternatives for my family of six. My grandfather told me about a man he knew who ran a hotel. He had an ample supply of old bed sheets that he would cut up and use as disposable toilet paper. That sounded fine and good, but I did not have a supply of old bed sheets. I had heard of reusable cloth toilet paper, sometimes called the “family cloth”, which is a terrible and misleading name in my opinion. I hated the idea, but tried to keep an open mind as I began my research into how the whole cloth toilet paper thing works.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the entire family does not share one cloth! There are multiple small cloths that are used once and placed in a bucket or basket to be washed. Once washed on a sanitary cycle with bleach, they are clean and odor free, ready to be used again. This was all fine and good for #1, but the thought of using them for #2 still bothered me. Further research led me to the Handheld Bidet, a sprayer much like what you would see at the kitchen sink. This sprayer attaches to the toilet’s incoming water line. A refreshing spray off after #2 keeps the cloth toilet paper pretty clean. Spraying off also insures that you are using a wet wipe rather than a dry cloth, which is better for your bottom.
I decided it was high time for me to start using this method because it would help my hemorrhoid issues as well as save on toilet paper. But I wasn’t ready to try to turn the whole family to this new method. I would test it on myself first. I had an old bed sheet. Unfortunately it was polyester, not cotton. Cotton flannel would have been better, as it is softer and more absorbent. My research had suggested that thrift stores were a good place to pick up old cotton flannel sheets to make toilet paper out of. At the time, due to the pandemic, thrift stores were closed. So, my polyester sheet would have to do.
It was pretty thin, so I used four layers to make each piece of toilet paper. I decided to make squares about the size of standard toilet paper. After putting the pieces together, I sewed around the outside edge, leaving a small hole. Then I turned the square inside out, so that all the strings and seam would be on the inside. I then sewed around the outside edge again so that the pieces would stay flat. I like how these turned out. They work well and are soft enough, though not as absorbent as cotton. Once thrift stores opened in my area, I did buy two flannel sheets just in case there is ever another toilet paper shortage and I need to make more! Fortunately, the thought of having to use cloth toilet paper was enough to encourage the rest of my family to reduce the amount of regular toilet paper they used and they had enough to get by until I could buy more.
I keep the clean toilet paper squares in a basket hung on the wall. For the dirty ones, I have a little trash can with a lid that has a removable plastic bucket inside. I can go about a week before the toilet paper starts to smell. But it can certainly be washed more often. Since I am the only one using it, it is not a very big load. When washing day comes, I just take the bucket and dump the toilet paper into the washer. That way I don’t have to touch it. I run a sanitary cycle with detergent and bleach, then dry on high heat. The bucket can be sprayed with a disinfectant spray, washed or cleaned with a wipe. Usually it is dry and a quick spray is all that is needed.
The hardest thing about using cloth toilet paper is remembering to not just drop it in the toilet after you wipe. So far, I’ve only done that once. It is not a mistake you want to repeat. Cloth toilet paper will clog your pipes, prompting an expensive visit from the plumber! Make sure you put your cloth toilet paper in the basket and don’t flush it!
I have been using my cloth toilet paper squares for about a year now and they still look clean and new. I love that when I run out of toilet paper, I just do a load of wash and I’m fully restocked again! I do feel that the cloth “paper” combined with the Handheld Bidet has helped my hemorrhoids tremendously.
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For The Ladies
Ladies, if you are wondering how this works during “that time of the month”, read on. The Handheld Bidet is a wonderful gift. A fresh spray in the morning or anytime during the day can help you feel clean and confident. Since you spray yourself down, the cloth toilet paper stays pretty clean. That said, if I do not want to spray off every time I go, I just use regular toilet paper for those few days.
The Handheld Bidet is a wonderful invention. Much like the sprayer you would find at the kitchen sink, this toilet sprayer hooks into your toilet’s incoming water line. It mounts on the side of the toilet tank. It can be used to spray yourself clean after you go or to spray dirty things off into your toilet (such as soiled clothes or cloth diapers). It can also be used to clean the toilet bowl itself. Handheld Bidets can be purchased on Amazon and range widely in price. I purchased the SmarterFresh brand for around $30.
To install, first turn off the water line to your toilet and flush to drain the water from the back of the tank. Disconnect the water line from the toilet tank and install the valve that comes with the bidet. Reconnect the water line to the new valve. Then install the sprayer water line and spray head. Attach the hanger to the toilet tank, turn the water on, and you’re ready to go. The new valve has a lever to control the water pressure that comes through the sprayer. You can adjust it to your liking. It is important to turn the water valve off each time you use the sprayer to take pressure off the line, so that the sprayer does not leak. This is not hard to do. It is easy to reach behind you to adjust the lever while you are sitting on the toilet.
To use the sprayer, first reach down and turn on the valve. Then carefully aim the sprayer. Ladies spray from the front, men spray from the back. Ladies, it helps tremendously to have your feet up on a toilet stool (see next section) when you spray. This helps angle your pelvis so that the water goes into the toilet. Otherwise, it may come out the back of the toilet between the seat and the rim. Men, I have no idea, I can’t help you.
For those of you wondering, “but isn’t the water cold?!” The answer is, yes, it is freezing! But there is a solution for that too, a wonderful little device called an anti-sweat valve. This valve attaches to the incoming water line for your toilet and mixes hot and cold water coming in, so that your toilet water is warm. It is designed to keep your toilet tank from sweating in the hot summer months. It is fully adjustable, so you can determine how warm you want the water to be. However, the installation of this device likely requires a plumber. It has to be installed where there is access to both hot and cold water. Ours is in the basement. If you have a finished basement or your plumbing is behind a wall, installation might be very costly or impossible. We already had an anti-sweat device installed, so all I needed to do was adjust it for comfort.
Another big help for hemorrhoids is a toilet stool. This is a little stool that fits around the base of your toilet. You pull it out and put your feet up on it when you go #2. This helps put you in a more natural squatting position which straightens the rectum, making it easier for waste to escape your body. As waste slides out easier, there is less straining. Leaning forward a bit helps even more. If you think about it, sitting to eliminate is not natural. Historically, people squatted and in most of the world still today people squat to eliminate. Squatting aligns your gut for a smoother exit. The toilet stool helps you form that natural position while still using your toilet. There are a wide variety of toilet stool options on Amazon at an equally wide variety of prices. I bought this one because it is decorative and made of a wood/plastic board that is easy to clean. I had to assemble it when it came, but it was very easy to assemble.
Putting It All Together Step By Step
We have just looked at a lot of information. Let’s put it all together now so that you can see how easy and sanitary the process can be.
Instructions For Going #2
- Sit down on the toilet, pull out the stool and place your feet up on it.
- Do your business.
- Reach back and turn on the water valve.
- Gently spray yourself off.
- Replace the handheld bidet in it’s hanger and turn off water valve.
- Remove your feet from the stool and push it back toward the toilet.
- Dry with cloth toilet paper. (If you use witch hazel wipes, use these before drying off.)
- Make sure you put the cloth toilet paper in the basket and do not flush it!
- Apply any ointments, oils, and/or suppositories if you use them.
- Flush, wash hands thoroughly, and go about your day.
More Help for Hemorrhoids
Of course the proctologist I saw all those years ago also recommended various hemorrhoid ointments and wipes. I never had much success with over the counter or prescription products. So, over the years I began making my own witch hazel wipes, oil, salve, and even suppositories. Using the toileting procedure outlined in this article, combined with the remedies in Homemade Hemorrhoidal Suppositories, Travel Salve, Oil, and Witch Hazel Wipes, and the dietary suggestions in Travel Hacks for Hemorrhoids has helped me manage my hemorrhoids over the past 20+ years. I hope it will help you too!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2021 Amanda Buck