Americans took awhile to warm up to them, but now bidets are making a splash

Bidet brands say they’re flush with demand.


March 17, 2020

Toilet paper is flying off the shelves. So in loo of those quilted rolls, Americans are turning to their next-best option for posterior hygiene. 

In the midst of the pandemic, sales of bidets — basins and toilet add-ons that clean your delicate bits with a jet stream of water — have been out the wazoo. 

Bidet brands like the startup Tushy told Business Insider that they’re flush with demand: they’ve witnessed a “huge uptick” in sales — as much as 50% in some cases — since the arrival of COVID-19.

At first, Americans were slow to get off the pot

The first bidets hit the scene in 1600s France — initially, as an upper-class instrument fashioned with wood and a leather cushion. The word “bidet” comes from the French word for “pony,” which hints at an essential engineering feature: you have to straddle it. 

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Although bidets have since crossed oceans, becoming a mainstay in much of Asia, Europe, and Latin America, Americans have avoided them. 

Their reluctance dates back to World War II: American troops stationed in Europe mostly encountered bidets in the context of sex work, cementing them as a symbol of sex — and as the butt of jokes.

But when it comes to TP, hindsight is 20/20 

Americans spin through as many as 3 rolls each week, but some rear-facing experts insist that bidets are way more sanitary.

As rectal surgeon Evan Goldstein said during last year’s appropriately named Butt-Con, “Charmin and all these brands have done a great job making us think that toilet paper is hygienic. It’s not.”

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