March 17, 2020

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

Bidet brands say they’re flush with demand.

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. 

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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