“Imma tell you what the big lie is,” Matt Damon explains in that scene from Deadpool 2. “Toilet paper.” And in a way, he’s right. (Or rather, the beer-drinking redneck who’s hanging major gut on the tailgate of a pickup truck is right.) You probably wouldn’t wipe fresh shit off your face with a dry paper towel or some toilet paper and call it “clean.” So, suggests Damon’s character, the move for taking care of shit where it ~usually~ comes out is to use a mixture of dry toilet paper and Huggies Natural Care Wet Wipes. Which, admittedly, sounds like a great idea, and many people do opt for the TP-wipes-TP cleanup strategy. (Though I’m not sure how many of us blow-dry our butts post-bathroom trip, as per the character’s final piece of advice.)
The problem? Many of the “flushable” wipes on the market are actually wreaking havoc on the environment—and our sewer systems.
While Huggies notes that their wipes aren’t flushable, the company is an outlier in its transparency. As Anne Gaviola reported for VICE Canada in 2019, “A team of researchers at Ryerson University released a damning report this month after testing 101 single-use products (23 of them were described as ‘flushable’ by the manufacturer) and they found that none of the wipes were ‘able to fall apart or disperse safely through the sewer system test, which can negatively impact household plumbing, municipal sewage infrastructure, and consequently, the environment.’” In fact, Gaviola reported, “the Municipal Enforcement Sewer Use Group estimates that $250 million is spent annually across Canada to remove blockages caused mostly by flushed wipes,” which “contain synthetic fibers including plastics which then do terrible things to our waterways and wildlife.”
Naturally, people that incorporate flushable wipes into their bathroom routine might be, ahem, bummed out to hear this particularly shitty news. I too, was troubled to find out that even though I was following the “safe to flush” instructions on the packages of flushable wipes I used, I was actually messing up my area’s sewer and environment. (Though, I guess lots of things are technically “flushable,” as in “you can literally flush this, but it may cause a massive, turd-iceberg headache for you or a plumber who will NOT be thrilled to pull out six Tamagotchis from a sewer main.”)
So, what’s a guy to do? What’s anyone to do when your b-hole needs soothing relief after a night of naîvely ordering your pad kra prow “most spicy” (you fool), but you don’t want to wreck your pipes? (Pun.) Well, friends, I think I’ve found the answer. Allow me to introduce you to Fohm, a new device that touts itself as a sustainable alternative to flushable wipes.
What is Fohm?
Fohm is a touchless foam cleanser dispenser that adheres to your bathroom wall next to your toilet paper roll. “It won’t clog your pipes or your planet,” explain creators Jerry and Alissa on their website. The couple “started Fohm out of [their] NYC apartment, launched it in 2019, and immediately started making waves in the toilet industry.”
I tried it out, and I have to say, it’s pretty sweet.
FOHM IN THE WILD (Ian Burke)
How does it work?
When my bathroom kit came, it included a wall mount, adhesive strips, instructions, the dispenser, the cleanser cartridge, and a micro-USB charging cord, sans block. The website says that one cleanser cartridge lasts two people for around three months, and a 10-month refill supply is only 38 bucks. (Which, compared to constantly buying packs of wipes, ruining the sewers, and pissing off Mother Earth, seems like a pretty low investment.)
FOHM KIT (Ian Burke)
To install it, you charge it for an hour (which the brand says lasts for around five months of regular use), stick it onto your wall with the included 3M Command Strips, and voila.
In my experience, you should plonk the 3M strips to your wall and wait at least overnight before attaching the unit—especially if you have a small bathroom that gets steamy when you shower. At first, I stuck the metal bracket and strips on the wall and waited an hour (per the instructions), but found that when I popped the dispenser on, it kept falling off, so I left the strips and wall mount on until the next morning before giving it another shot, which worked perfectly. After inhaling a dozen spicy arepas and downing half a bottle of fiber gummies to try to get this article out the door (kidding, plz don’t try @ home), I gave it a shot.
FOHM'S PACKAGING (Ian Burke)
Honestly, I was kind of expecting my cheap-o, one-ply bodega toilet paper to immediately crumble to ash Thanos-style when it met the foam cleanser, but to my surprise, it held its structural integrity pretty well. And trust me when I say you literally cannot buy worse TP than the rolls that currently live under my bathroom sink in Brooklyn. (For some reason I’m not a fan of the soft, luxury toilet paper people seem so fond of; it just doesn’t seem to get the job done as efficiently.) The no-touch dispenser worked pretty well, and the foam itself is cooling, and works just as well—if not better—than your garden variety “flushable” wipe. It’s also not as wet as a wipe, which means your hands stay dry, and the follow-up wipe with dry toilet paper is a lot easier. Another advantage is that you can choose how large your wad of TP is, rather than only having the lil’ 4”x6” surface area of a wet wipe to work with.
Basically, if you’re not ready to pull the trigger on a sweet bidet, Fohm is an awesome and worth-it option. It feels nice, it won’t make your toilet paper break apart in your hand, and it’s significantly better for the environment. The dispenser itself is also elegant and low-profile, and having a foam dispenser in your bathroom will be a cool-ass (heh) thing to explain to party guests. (Your friends might finally start returning your calls!) Plus, if your roommate, like mine, often takes 30-minute bathroom excursions that sound like a weathered fisherman throwing alarmingly large buckets of chum into a rough ocean, it’s a good investment—for everyone.
Go forth, and wipe with confidence.
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