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The Big Bidet Toilet Boom: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Transformed Bathroom Hygiene in America

How much do you know about bidet toilets? According to Brooke Lang, principal designer and owner of Brooke Lang Design in Chicago, many Americans considered bidets “old-fashioned or European” before the pandemic. “Before the pandemic, requests for bidets were few and far between, except a few clients based in London and Asia who hired me to renovate their second homes here in the U.S.,” she explains. However, Americans’ perceptions of bidets are changing, just like the seats on some of these fixtures. According to Brooke, requests for bidets (both attachments and more expensive bidet toilet seats with various spa-like warming features) or bidet-friendly toilets (so people could install their own) have accounted for roughly 60% of her company’s bathroom remodeling projects since 2020. We have the toilet paper shortage and pandemic to thank for that!

What is a Bidet Toilet?

Woman in Mask Holding Toilet Paper // Healthier Me TodayBidets are fixtures found in bathrooms that are designed to aid in personal hygiene and cleanliness following toilet use. They are found all over the world, but mainly in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Typically, a bidet is a low, basin-like device that is positioned next to the toilet.

Types of Bidets

Cleaning the anal and genital areas after using the restroom is the main purpose of a bidet toilet. It accomplishes this by releasing a stream of water that the user can use for personal hygiene. Temperature control, water pressure adjustment, and multiple spray patterns are features that can be added to a bidet to suit personal preferences.

Standalone Bidets

To clean, a user of a standalone bidet must move from the toilet to the separate fixture next to the bathroom.

Let’s Talk About 2020!

The sudden shortage of toilet paper during the COVID-19 pandemic that swept the world in 2020 was one of the most unexpected and talked-about events. People rushed to stockpile necessities out of fear of extended lockdowns and disruptions to the supply chain, leaving supermarkets and retail establishments empty-handed across the world.

During the pandemic lockdowns, several factors contributed to the shortage of toilet paper, including supply chain disruptions, fear and uncertainty, and misinformation. Many reacted to the pandemic by stockpiling toilet paper in anticipation of running out during protracted lockdowns or quarantines. This panic buying quickly spread, leading to shortages in many areas that lasted for several weeks.

The sudden toilet paper shortage surprised people and made them look into other hygienic options. A noteworthy development during this period was the rise in popularity of bidets. People started looking for alternatives to traditional toilet paper, which led to the increase in popularity of bidets and fixtures meant to clean the genital and anal areas after using the restroom.

During the pandemic, bidet sales increased, indicating a change in consumer preferences and hygiene practices. The demand for bidets, previously seen as a niche product in many parts of the world, increased as people became more aware of proper sanitation and hygiene practices. Bidets were also more widely used because they provided a more environmentally responsible and sustainable option for using toilet paper than single-use products.

Bidets Worldwide vs. Bidets in the U.S.

Woman in Mask Holding Toilet Paper // Healthier Me TodayBidets are practically nonexistent in North America, but they can be found in two-thirds of homes in Europe. Since ancient times, bidets have been widely used in Asia as well. Many contemporary models, such as electronic ones that spray warm water and allow you to air dry after use, are available there.

Why Aren’t Bidets More Common In The U.S.?

First, bidets need help functioning correctly because U.S. plumbing systems typically have lower water pressure and temperatures than other countries. Furthermore, most U.S. bathrooms must be more significant to fit a bidet. Also, most Americans used toilet paper as their primary bathroom tool growing up. Bidets only became popular once Covid-19 hit and toilet paper became scarce.

Bidets Beyond Luxury: Addressing Accessibility

With the help and use of a bidet, which has numerous additional advantages you might not be aware of, seniors can maintain their independence for longer. Reaching, twisting, and turning to wipe underneath can also be difficult for someone with mobility issues.

Having a bidet toilet offers many benefits, such as:

  • More hygienic than conventional techniques for cleaning your butt.
  • Increases personal care independence and dignity
  • Provides a calming effect for those with hemorrhoids and encourages healing
  • Reduces the need for toilet paper and helps constipation by softening the anal tissue. 
  • It is safer to use than traditional cleaning methods because it doesn’t require reaching, twisting, or turning, especially if you have an unsteady gait.

Is Using A Bidet Like Having An Enema?

In addition to cleaning the perineum, a bidet can help with bowel movements by applying water pressure, similar to an enema but less intrusive. The anus gets a slight mist from the water. Water readily moves into the rectum, which helps to release any trapped feces and water more easily. It can also be used as a quick fix for diarrhea and soft stools, saving you money by removing the need for moist wipes.

What Does A Bidet Feel Like?

Stylish decorated bathroom with bidet // Healthier Me TodayFor people who are unfamiliar with them, it may take some getting used to using a bidet. It feels like a soft jet of water washing over your surface. But for many who regularly use one, a bidet is a more thorough and hygienic way to clean than toilet paper. Getting used to a bidet usually takes little time. After using a bidet, many users claim to feel cleaner and more refreshed.

What do Users Say?

James Lin – Creator of BidetKing.com

“This industry in the United States just took off.” James Lin, the creator of BidetKing.com, an online marketplace offering a wide range of bidet varieties, says, “You couldn’t get a bidet if you wanted to.” Everyone sold out, and a massive rush was in place to get more.

Rosanne Orgill – Suffered T.P. Scarcity

In the spring of 2020, Rosanne Orgill, who resides outside Salt Lake City, purchased three bidet attachments for her toilets. (Bidets are standalone appliances; bidet attachments and seats are installed directly onto existing toilets.) Before they were married, Orgill’s husband had visited many different countries. She recalls that he “often talked about how wonderful bidets are and… how weird it is that America doesn’t have any because there’s really no other way to clean yourself.” She saw ads for bidets and decided to buy one since the supply of toilet paper was running low. She did the attachment installation herself, which had its difficulties. She had to call a plumber because one of them got water all over the floor. She was still optimistic about using the bidet regardless of the installation experience. “I just love them now,” Orgill states. “I simply don’t understand how people get by without them.”

Ryan Deitsch – Feared Being Stuck Without T.P.

Like Orgill, Ryan Deitsch was compelled to consider other options when he realized he might run out of T.P. He was raised in Florida and remembers the anxiety of hurricane season toilet paper shortages, which caused his family to hoard rolls in case they ran out. Amid the pandemic’s chaos, he started to reconsider his life decisions.

Are the steps that we’re taking always the best course of action? What is the most effective method? “Are there any other options?” he recalls asking. “People began to seriously reconsider some aspects of their daily lives. And like many others, myself included, we bought bidets. He describes himself as a “complete fan.” He is happy that he uses less toilet paper now, saves money, and has a more minor environmental effect. He feels more refined. Now that he is a renter in New York City, he finds that compatibility between the bathroom layout and his bidet attachment is essential when picking an apartment.

Covid-19 Newsletter Changed Everything 

Bathroom interior with bidet toilet and toilet near sink and shower // Healthier Me TodayA full-fledged bathroom revolution has emerged from what began as a desperate search for alternatives to T.P. shortages. Individuals such as Rosanne, Ryan, and Sydney became ardent supporters of bidets, praising their spotless appearance and eco-friendliness. But the evidence goes beyond firsthand accounts. Bidet companies experienced unprecedented success as sales surged because toilet seats turned into a hygienic oasis. Bidets have evolved from luxury to necessity and are now commonplace in American bathrooms.