America's most radical bathroom upgrade?

Matthew Grocoff

July 24, 2015

By: Matthew Grocoff, Green Renovation Expert

In: Bathroom RemodelingGreen Living

If you're anything like my wife and me (or like most Americans), you're at least a little freaked out by the thought of using a bidet. After all, restroom rituals are sacred. The paperless office is one thing, but a paperless bathroom . . . That's radical.

Lately, I've become intrigued by the bidet and the thought of going without toilet paper. The more I look into it, the more I'm persuaded that the bathroom of the future will have a bidet and we'll all look back on toilet paper as an unsanitary relic of the dark ages. Bidet converts have compared using toilet paper to using leaves (or sandpaper).

My wife and I are planning a trip to Italy. When we were exploring places to stay on AirBnb we noticed that every bathroom had a bidet. We realized that neither one of us had any idea how to use a bidet. I did hear from friends that their three year old used one as a convenient drinking fountain, but that's another story.

Getting no help from our friend's toddler we headed to YouTube and searched "How to use a bidet." Sure enough, there's plenty of folks willing to make a video to help you learn how to cleanse your tush. By far the most entertaining was a video of Americans (filmed from the neck up) experiencing a bidet for the first time. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLlhs-7T7Cw

Many bidets come with heated seats, hands-free air-drying, and warm water cleansing. Toilet paper becomes entirely optional, but not necessary.

So, why use a bidet? According to the guys at MetaEfficient.com:

  • Americans use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper every year (about 15 million trees)
  • It takes about 475 billion gallons of water to make that much toilet paper
  • 506 million pounds of chlorine is used to bleach that toilet paper

Okay. Toilet paper is bad, but why is a bidet good? For starters, bidets use less water and energy than the production of toilet paper. It localizes the service of a clean tush. It puts the energy and water directly where it's needed and requires no trees from clear-cut forests.

Yeah. Yeah. I get it. It's better for the environment, but why is it better for MY butt?! Bidet advocates claim that a bidet just feels better and cleaner. The people at Berkeley Wellness say it's possible that it is healthier as well. Proponents point out that you don't get your hands near bacteria, the surface gets cleaner and "some research suggests that bidets can help with such conditions as hemorrhoids, anal fissures and pruritus ani (itchy anus)." Ouch. Stop right there.

I'll be off to Italy and I'll experience a bidet for myself. When I do . . . don't count on seeing my experience posted on YouTube. But, if you've ever experienced a bidet and have thoughts, good or bad, please feel free to share them with me on Twitter @MattGrocoff.

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