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Though cases of coronavirus continue to climb, the panic over toilet paper and the hoarding household goods and supplies seems to have subsided — thankfully — for now. But while staking a line at your nearest Trader Joe’s or placing a bulk order on Amazon is one way to replenish your stock, the best way to combat a toilet paper shortage in the future might be skipping the TP altogether and backing up to the old-school appeal of a bidet.
According to research firm, BRG, the overall bidet market has seen a “13 percent lift” over the last few years, and it’s only picked up since the Covid-19 outbreak. James Walsh, the Vice-President of Product Marketing at bathroom fixtures brand, American Standard, says “Orders for manual bidet seats have increased to five times more than the monthly average, while entry-level electronic bidet seats increased by three times the monthly average.” American Standard also saw a 168% increase in website traffic to its SpaLet pages over the previous period in the week immediately following stay-at-home orders last March.
Meantime, Jason Ojalvo, CEO of the bathroom brand, TUSHY, says sales of the brand’s bidets have grown “from double to triple to 10 times” (and counting) after fears over the coronavirus caused a toilet paper-buying frenzy. With toilet paper in short supply, “This could be the tipping point that finally gets Americans to adopt the bidet,” Ojalvo says.
What is a Bidet and How Does a Bidet Work?
Bidets are common fixtures in many European bathrooms and bougie Japanese versions go for hundreds of dollars online, but the washing basin has been slower to be adopted on this side of the oceans. Essentially a large bowl that uses a gentle stream of water to clean out your backside, traditional bidets were separate units that typically sat next to a toilet in the bathroom.
These days, a number of companies have introduced clip-in bidets or bidet attachments that are either affixed next to the toilet seat or can be part of the seat itself (the attachments are easily removable too). So-called “smart toilets” — essentially a bidet-toilet hybrid — also work, by combining both functions in one.
There are even luxury bidets like the Bio Bidet Discover DLX (pictured above), which features a built-in UV sterilizer, a touchless self-rising lid, and auto flush. The heated seat can be adjusted to your desired temperature, while a rear wash function keeps things clean (and self-contained in the basin). That little sensor on the base? It lets you make a kicking motion to lift the lid, lower the seat, and flush when you’re all done.
Bidet vs. Toilet Paper
The team behind TUSHY says you’ll use “80% less toilet paper” with the addition of a bidet (you still need to pat yourself dry after using, though you can easily swap toilet paper for a hand towel or something similar). And considering Americans use more than 36 billion rolls of toilet paper every year — resulting in the loss of 15 million trees — bidets could go a long way toward not only saving our sanity during this toilet paper shortage, but also saving precious natural resources for generations to come.
Omigo’s “Element” bidet attachment uses dedicated rear and front nozzles for a more thorough clean. With the Element, like most bidet attachments, no electricity or power is needed, so it won’t take a swipe at your energy bills. Omigo calls their line of bidets a “clean and green solution to rethinking hygiene.”
Is Using a Bidet Sanitary?
Aside from easing our reliance on toilet paper and electricity, switching to a bidet may also be better for health and hygiene. According to Dr. Alex You, an L.A.-based emergency physician, bidets are more effective than regular TP because they use pressure and water. “If you have dirt on your hands you would want to use water [too] and not just wipe it on a paper towel right?” he asks. “Using toilet paper alone just wipes and smears your poop.”
“Health-wise, using a bidet is also important because many diseases, including things like hepatitis and potentially Covid-19 can be transmitted through fecal oral transmission,” You says. “Also, its just good hygiene.”
According to the team at TUSHY, wiping with dry paper or wet wipes contributes to “30 million annual cases of hemorrhoids, UTIs, yeast infections, anal fissures and itching.” So, you know: not great.
What Are the Benefits of a Bidet?
Frankly, a bidet also just feels damn good around your under-carriage. The stream of water gently caresses your nooks and crannies without being invasive. And it’s a whole lot easier than trying to slide in there with TP alone. In just a few seconds, you’ll have cleaner cheeks and a more refreshed rear end.
If there’s a crack against using a bidet, it’s that the device isn’t super portable. But many companies — including TUSHY — have introduced travel-sized bidets, that utilize an angled nozzle and squeeze bottle to get the job done. As for the myth that a bidet recycles your toilet water? Consider that fake news.
“‘Isn’t it dirty toilet water you’re spraying your butt with?’ is a myth we often hear,” says Ojalvo. “[but] the bidet uses the same water in your bathroom that you use to brush your teeth — the water comes from behind the wall, not your toilet.”
When it comes to personal hygiene, there isn’t a one-swipe-fits-all solution, but as toilet paper shortages continue, expect bidet sales to continue to rise.
“Even though they are not a staple in every Americans’ home and business, there has been a bidet buzz for years now,” says Walsh. “People are looking for convenient, sustainable solutions for health and wellness in their everyday life and bidets answer that need.”
“The reality is, once you use a bidet to clean after pooping you cannot go back to wiping and toilet paper,” Ojalvo says. “Wiping seems not just inefficient, but also barbaric, by comparison.”
What Are the Best Bidets?
1. TUSHY Classic Bidet Toilet Attachment
The team behind TUSHY says you’ll use “80% less toilet paper” with the addition of a bidet (you still need to pat yourself dry after using, though you can easily swap toilet paper for a hand towel or something similar). And considering Americans use more than 36 billion rolls of toilet paper every year — resulting in the loss of 15 million trees — bidets could go a long way to saving precious natural resources for generations to come.
This bidet attachment installs in ten minutes and doesn’t require any electricity or additional plumbing. To use: turn the knob to set the nozzle spray. Adjust intensity and duration as necessary.
2. SmartBidet SB-1000 Electric Bidet Seat
Swap your basic toilet seat for this electric bidet seat from SmartBidet. The seat is easy to install yourself (no need to hire a plumber) and accommodates up to 440 pounds in weight.
A built-in “skin sensor” activates the seat when you sit down. Use the included remote control to cycle through five different water pressure levels, three different water temperatures and five different nozzle positions. The nozzle can be used for a “posterior wash” or for a “feminine wash” as well. The “turbo wash” gives you a more invigorating clean.
A built-in warm dryer lets you finish off without needing to reach for toilet paper.
3. Luxe Bidet Mechanical Bidet Attachment
The Luxe Bidet Neo 120 is a simple, no-fuss bidet that uses fresh water and a powerful nozzle to give you a thorough, targeted clean.
Turn one of the chrome knobs to “wash,” and then use the other knob to select your desired water pressure.
What we like: a hygienic “nozzle guard gate” shields the nozzle to prevent unwanted (or unsightly) splashes. The nozzle automatically retracts behind the guard gate after each wash. The nozzle is self-cleaning.
The Neo 120 is easy to install and attaches to most standard toilets. Its slim, low-profile design doesn’t take up too much room.
4. Brondell GoSpa Travel Bidet
A discreet, convenient solution, this GoSpa travel bidet uses a simple squeeze bottle design and spray nozzle to keep you clean on the go.
The bottle holds up to 400ml of water (fill it with cold or hot water) and an air lock on the bottle allows a little air to seep in, so the bidet doesn’t overspray. To use: angle the nozzle arm under your body and gently squeeze the bottle.
This set comes with a drawstring travel bag for easy storage.
Because you fill the bottle yourself, consider adding some essential oils to your water to create your own cleaning solution.
5. TOTO C200 Washlet
TOTO takes the throne when it comes to bidets, and their popular Washlet model doubles down on thoughtful details for a cleaner, more comfortable experience.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the lid automatically opens and closes when it senses movement nearby. A “pre-mist” function sprays the inside of the toilet bowl before you sit down, to both clean and also prevent waste from sticking. The self-cleaning wand, meantime, is automatically cleaned inside and out before and after use.
The Washlet features a heated seat and both front and rear cleaning functions. You can also choose from five different temperature and pressure settings. Once you’re done, turn on the warm air dryer to finish off. A built-in air deodorizer removes any lingering germs or smells.
What we like: TOTO says its “AIR-IN WONDER WAVE” technology delivers a more effective and efficient clean. The reason: air is injected into the water, to enlarge the droplets, allowing the spray to cover more surface space without being too aggressive.