- Did you ever think the pandemic would get us to start hosing our butts?
An American traveling abroad might be faced with an odd sight when visiting a restroom – a strange hose by the toilet, drawing water from the faucet connections. What is this strange device and what could be its purpose?
Well, that’s a bidet, and you use it to wash your butt and private areas. And although Americans have traditionally shunned the butt hose, the coronavirus is slowly but surely changing their minds.
As you’re no doubt aware, the early days of the coronavirus epidemic bought with them a fascinating societal side effect. That is, people started stockpiling toilet paper.
Toilet paper hoarding might’ve opened up fascinating windows into the human mind, but for the most part it kind of sucked. Finding toilet paper to wipe your butt with became a real challenge for a while.
Faced with such a butt cleansing conundrum, it’s no wonder that Americans started looking for alternative solutions. And it seems the bidet might just be getting a foothold in the U.S. as a result.
Before delving into this further, let’s quickly explain what we’re talking about. A bidet is a hose, bowl, or other kind of receptacle that dispense water that you can use to clean yourself after going to the toilet.
There are several kind of bidets in existence, but the one we’re talking here is the hose bidet. Think of it as a gardening hose for your butt.
Bidets are exceedingly popular in some parts of the world – to the point that using toilet paper is considered exotic. Such places include the entirety of the Islamic world, sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Europe and France, and certain South American countries.
In fact, in some of these places, it’s illegal to have a toilet without a bidet. That just goes to show how essential they can be.
No matter what type of a bidet you use, they work along the same lines. You spray water on your butt and genitalia after doing your business, and then dry off.
Although they’re legally mandatory in some places, the Anglosphere has never really caught onto the bidet craze. Until the COVID-19 hit, that is.
James Lin, the owner of an online bidet shop Bidet King, told Wired that his website has seen an unprecedented bump in interest. According to him, the company’s Facebook posts have had record numbers of posts related to the toilet paper scarcity.
“We’re seeing increased site traffic, customer engagement, and sales volume,” Lin said. “If you want to practice better hygiene and social distancing, getting a bidet sent to your home is a no-brainer.”
According to a January 2021 survey conducted by Bespoke Surgical, more than 65% of Americans said that they were either somewhat or very likely to purchase bidets in the near future. An almost identical number of people said they were ready to pay up to $125 for a butt hose.
Apart from buying decisions, Bespoke Surgical found out that American attitudes toward bidets are changing too. Nearly 87% of those surveyed thought bidets would become more common in America going forward.
Additionally, almost 89% believed that bidets should be used more commonly in the U.S. Truly, it is the dawn of the bidet.
A Long Way to Go
Bidets still have a long way to go if they want to take over the U.S., though. Only 12% of Americans currently have access to water-based butt cleansing.
Bidets are the most common in Alabama, where 23% of the population has regular access to a bidet. Behind them are the D.C., Arkansas, Hawaii, and Michigan.
If there’s a trend to this, we can’t see it. But the point is, bidets are a rare luxury in America – that is, if you consider the ability to hose your bum a luxury.
Save the Planet, Hose Your Butt
The lack of toilet paper on the shelves might be biggest current selling point for bidets. But there are more benefits to them than just dealing with the butt wipes.
While there is no conclusive, peer-reviewed scientific evidence, many people – doctors included – swear that bidets are more hygienic than toilet paper.
“I have always been a huge proponent of bidets,” Evan Goldstein, a Manhattan-based rectal surgeon, told Wired.
“People should be utilizing bidets because they gently remove residual feces, meaning that all you need are a few quick dabs of toilet paper to dry off. In the event of a toilet paper shortage and/or crisis, reusable towels can also be used, along with blow drying,” he explained.
There could be environmental benefits to bidets, as well. According to Scientific American, the U.S. consumes 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper – 15 million trees’ worth – every single year.
Add to that the 473 billion gallons of water and 253,000 tons chlorine (for bleaching the paper) that toilet paper production uses annually. You can start seeing why using a bidet might be more environmentally conscious.
Sure, a bidet will consume water as well. Still, that’s a lot less than the amount of water used to make the sheets of toilet paper you would use.
Maybe it’s time we all voted with our butts and chose the bidet.