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The great toilet paper shortage of 2020 — aka the period at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic when toilet paper virtually disappeared from store shelves — solidified toilet paper as an essential in American life. During a virus outbreak, virtually nothing aside from Lysol and N95 masks were as difficult to find as toilet paper.
But while the U.S. fought over rolls of paper, much of the rest of the world remained virtually unphased. That’s because they use bidets.
Americans cringe at the thought of bidets, which even historians and experts find a bit of a mystery. It may be because American soldiers in World War II were arguably the first large group of U.S. citizens exposed to bidets, which were in brothels and resulted in a tie with immorality, according to Wired. Other experts suggest Americans rejected bidets when first introduced in the U.S. in the 1960s because of small bathroom sizes.
Whatever the reason, Americans often see bidets as unusual, unneeded and unsanitary. But that’s not the case with the majority of the world.
Most know bidets for their popularity (and origin) in France. But they are also popular in western Europe, South America, the Middle East and Asia for different reasons — from cleansing after using the restroom to rinsing before and after sexual activity. For example, 80 percent of Japanese households have bidets, while about 90 percent of Venezuelan homes have bidets. Bidets are actually required by law in Italian homes since 1975, with an estimated 97 percent of homes having one.
But forget the peer pressure of worldwide popularity. Bidets make sense from an environmental point of view, which is why they are common among low waste advocates in the U.S. According to a Scientific American article on bidets and water usage, a typical bidet uses about 1/8 of a gallon per wash. To make a single roll of toilet paper, however, requires 37 gallons of water. If you’re curious, the average American household goes through three rolls of toilet paper per week, according to a report by the National Resources Defense Council.
If environmental issues won’t convert you, even butt experts advocate for the use of bidets. Dr. Evan Goldstein, a rectal surgeon from New York City, told Insider in 2019 that the ideal way to clean after using the restroom is with a bidet. Several experts, ranging from gastroenterologists to OB-GYNs, expressed the same finding to HuffPost in 2020. These experts explained that toilet paper is too abrasive on the skin and doesn’t truly clean.
With the toilet paper crisis of 2020, bidets came back into conversation yet again — especially for open-minded, try-anything young people. Arguably the bidet brand to capture the most attention among Gen Z and millennial generations is Tushy. The quirky bidet brand promises a “modern bidet that saves your ass, saves your money, saves the planet and saves the world.” Tushy smartly targets a consumer base open to ideas and customs from other countries, as well as one that arguably shows more concern over environmental causes.
Because of the Covid-19 toilet paper shortage, Tushy says it broke $1 million in sales on a single day in mid-March. The company also saw its revenue jump 10 times to what it was projected to be in March. And customers are loving the product.
“My Tushy bidet has been a real game changer when it comes to hygiene and comfort,” one Tushy reviewer writes. “I’ve always been diligent about keeping things clean back there, but never really thought about a bidet until I visited a country where they are the norm. Let me tell you, it’s a real game-changer.”
Shop: Tushy Classic, $79+ ($99+)
Shop: Tushy Spa, $109+ (Orig. $119)
With the popularity of bidets rising in the U.S. during the pandemic, an unexpected new product has also emerged that actually makes a lot of sense: reusable toilet paper.
While many simply air dry or use a towel after using a bidet, others opt for toilet paper. If you are just testing the waters with a bidet, you may be hesitant to jump in sans toilet paper. Yet, using toilet paper still has a likely undesired adverse impact on the environment.
That’s where reusable toilet paper comes in.
To curb toilet paper use, but still account for American comfort, popular low waste textile brand Marley’s Monsters created reusable toilet paper. Created for use in tandem with a bidet, the sheets have sold out time and time again — much like Tushy bidets.
To use, you simply pat yourself dry after using a bidet, then put the used sheet in a sealed container for washing.
Shop: Marley’s Monsters Toilet Unpaper, 24 Sheets, $38
“These are so super soft on my booty,” one reviewer writes. “I ordered two rolls so I’ll never run out. Say goodbye to icky paper wipes!”
Whether you are a low waste lover, want to challenge American norms or just want a cleaner tush, a bidet may be a welcomed addition to your space. And don’t forget the cushy reusable toilet paper to accompany your butt’s new best friend.
If you enjoyed this story, check out these highly-rated bidet accessories.
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