Why Americans may have it all wrong when it comes to bidets

The basic bidet product idea began in the late 1600s and has continued to advance over the years throughout the world. However, the United States has been notoriously slow to adopt the practice of bidet use. It might be time for the U.S. to realize what other countries have known for a few hundred years — bidets help create a healthier planet and a healthier bum.

closeup of a bidet attachment for the toilet

In short, a bidet is a device that provides a stream of water for cleaning up after doing your bathroom business. Typically reserved for the wealthiest households, bidets were first seen in Europe sometime in the late 17th century and became a popular elite option over the next few decades. This was the time of chamber pots, so bidets were commonly seen in the bedroom next to the pot. When a user finished their chamber pot business, they would then straddle the water-filled bidet to clean up. The word bidet means small horse in French, so if you can imagine mounting a horse, you can visualize the experience.

Related: Eco-friendly replacements for common bathroom products

Around 1750, new advancements added a hand pump, which allowed the user to pump water from the bowl through a hose for easier and more sanitary washing. Next came the free-standing bidet. This model came along in the early 1900s when indoor plumbing improved to the point that bathrooms became common in households. They are still the type most commonly seen throughout Europe and Asia. This bidet is a unit separate from the toilet so it still requires moving from one device to the other for washing. However, it offers an automatic water stream rather than a manual pump. The newest models offer a bidet feature built into a regular toilet. This combined model makes it easier to install and offers space savings. In addition to the separate unit and the combined option, the final type of bidet is an aftermarket style that attaches to your toilet bowl.

TUSHY is one such brand of aftermarket bidet on a mission to convert one household at a time with the knowledge that bidets eliminate up to 80% of toilet paper use. As you can imagine, that saves a lot of trees and water used in the production of toilet paper. 

During the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, we are seeing toilet paper shortages as consumers rush to stockpile. At the same time, companies like TUSHY are seeing a huge surge in sales, leading to the hope that consumers are headed towards another way of bathroom thinking.

Freestanding and combined bidets are basic plumbing fixtures, so hooking them up is similar to plumbing a toilet. For aftermarket attachments, a splitter is inserted into the hose between the water source and the toilet. The diverted hose goes to the bidet. This type of bidet offers only cold water, but if your toilet is near your sink, you can hook up a model with temperature control options using a few more hose attachments. Whether you find yourself using a standalone, seat-mounted or wall hanging model, bidets are easy to use with controls mounted to the wall or the toilet. In fact, modern bidets offer several conveniences such as a warm water wash, a heated seat, a warm air dryer, a deodorizer feature and even a remote for bidet operation.

a bidet control panel

Bidet users assuredly use less toilet paper than their toilet-only counterparts. How much less is a matter of preference and practice. Some use the spray to clean and a square or two to dab dry. Others pat the region with a washcloth once clean. Automatic air drying eliminates the need for toilet paper, and reduced toilet paper consumption equals fewer clogs to your plumbing system. Your wallet will also thank you, and you can take pride in reducing household waste resulting from packaged toilet tissue. 

According to Jason Ojalvo, CEO of TUSHY, “On average, Americans use 57 sheets of TP every single day. We use 36 billion rolls of toilet paper every year. This alone results in the loss of 15 million trees, 437 billion gallons of water, and 253,000 tons of bleach.” Any type of bidet can help solve these issues.

A discussion on the topic on How Stuff Works points out that nearly “90 percent of toilet paper sold in the U.S. comes from the virgin boreal forests of Canada, which cover about 60 percent of the country. They’re making the air we breathe, in addition to the toilet paper, and the American lack of interest in bidets means that although the country accounts only about 4.5 percent of the world’s population, its citizens use about 20 percent of the world’s toilet tissue.” 

a handheld bidet product

In addition to environmental conservation of trees and water, bidets are commonly credited with helping reduce common medical issues like fissures and hemorrhoids. It’s also an easier system for the elderly and those who suffer from arthritis, allowing them to provide for their own bathroom needs longer.

Miki Agrawal, Founder & Chief Creative Officer of TUSHY summed up the increase in bidet sales during the COVID-19 pandemic by saying, “While this could be the tipping point that finally gets us to adopt the bidet, TUSHY has been saying since 2015 that bidets will replace toilet paper and that TUSHY was going to be the brand to make bidets mainstream — bidets are cheaper, healthier, and better for the planet. TUSHY’s goal has always been to save the 15 million trees that are getting flushed down every year, save billions of gallons of water required to make the toilet paper and actually help clean bottoms properly, once and for all.”

Images via Stefano Ferrario, Brandon Morse, Marco Verch and Charlotte Barnes

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