A friend tells me that in certain cultural pockets of the world, a lot of fun was had at the expense of Americans when we started hoarding toilet paper as our first line of defense against COVID-19. “I’ve seen so many gleeful posts about Americans’ dirty butts,” he says.
While the novel coronavirus is no laughing matter, our country’s deeply-held attachment to toilet paper very well may be. “The fact that we’ve been so indoctrinated to believe that dry toilet paper actually cleans the dirtiest part of our body is kind of crazy,” says Mika Agrawal, founder of bidet company Tushy. “Imagine if we jumped in the shower, did not turn the water on, and just used dry toilet paper to wipe our bodies down.”
Like many unnecessary things (and necessary things, too, of course!), toilet paper is the product of capitalism, explains Agrawal. It’s the end result of two men—the Scott Brothers—trying to come up with something to sell that consumers would need to use daily. A century later, American soldiers abroad were exposed to a solution that made a great deal more sense—the bidet—however, they discovered the bootie washers in French brothels, which led them to associate bidets with filth and shame. (Could this story get any more American?)
All of that’s led us to where we are today, furiously accumulating paper to keep our butts clean despite the fact that it doesn’t do a very good job of it. “It’s no wonder there are so many cases of chronic urinary tract infections, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and anal itching,” says Agrawal. “All of it can be resolved by just using water, which is a universal thing that people use to clean themselves.”
This idea—long since adopted in many parts of the world, from India to Japan—has been gaining some steam stateside in recent years due to the environmental concerns posed by toilet paper consumption. The coronavirus-induced TP shortage, however, has caused bidet demand to skyrocket in recent weeks. According to another spokesperson for Tushy, the company’s bidet sales have grown tenfold since the shortages began.
Bidet use certainly reduces paper consumption and in doing so, ultimately saves consumers money, but what about Agrawal’s health claim in favor of washing versus wiping? According to urologist Lamia Gabal, MD, it checks out. “I very often recommend bidets for my patients with recurrent UTIs,” says Dr. Gabal. “I feel it helps to evacuate the stool completely, decrease the bacteria in the area and, in turn, decrease the risk for infection. We always teach girls to wipe from front to back to keep the bacteria away from the urethra; a bidet is even better to clean this area.”
If you’re interested in having a butt fewer people can make fun of for being dirty, want to help reduce deforestation, or just can’t find toilet paper anywhere, it might be time to hop on this bandwagon. Walker Hill, founder of the BidetKing website, offers some advice in navigating your first purchase. He says there are three types of bidets—bidet attachments, bidet toilet seats (which come in both electric and non-electric versions) and the traditional bidet. Any work, but he has a personal favorite among the options. “Bidet toilet seats are really the best bidets, with steady streams, warm water, pressure adjustment options,” he says. “They even have built in night lights, heated seats, and remote controls.”
With that said, these can be an investment, so if you’re looking to experiment at a lower price point, attachments might be your best bet. “Tushy makes a beautiful bidet attachment, and Brondell makes one with some better-engineered parts,” he says.
In terms of what to look out for, he offers just two areas of caution. “Design is the greatest area of variance; most bidets are very functional but some look great while others are very industrial,’ he says. “[Also], often the lids on the bidet toilet seats can’t be sat on without breaking; however, certain units, like the Brondell 1400 for example, allow people to seat on the toilet seat like they are used to.”
When choosing among the best bidets, consider all of the above and find one to suit your needs below.
These are the best bidets you can buy at several price points
TUSHY CLASSIC, $79, or TUSHY SPA, $109
This is probably the most beautiful bidet attachment, and the price point can’t be beat. Choose the spa over the classic if you want the option of warm water as well as cold. As an added feel-good incentive in dark times, a portion of Tushy’s proceeds go to help build community toilets in impoverished parts of India.
Noted by Hill for its superb engineering, this simple attachment features posterior and feminine cleansing nozzles. While it doesn’t offer a warm water option, reviewers agree its “cold” water is more like room temperature.
LUXE BIDET NEO 120, $60, oR LUXE BIDET NEO 320, $88
The Luxe Bidet Neo 120 is the highest-rated bidet attachment on Amazon. The 320 version is a small upgrade which offers warm water as well as cool. It also features a second nozzle for cleaning your lady bits during your period.
Of all Biobidet’s options, this is the company’s most popular. It features temperature control, dual nozzles for back and front cleaning, pressure adjustment, and more. Plus, if keeping track of a remote worries you, this bidet seat might be your best option as the controls are fixed into its side panel.
THE TOTO WASHLET C200, $429
In addition to the Washlet’s self-cleaning back/front nozzle, adjustable temperature settings, air dryer, and deodorizer, the seat has a few fancy features: its lid automatically raises and lowers, and the seat is heated.
COWAY BIDETMEGA 400, $599
This seat doesn’t just aim water at your behind; instead, it features a multi-stage wash and adjustable temperature, pressure, and motion. It’s good for posterior and feminine washes, and it also has a child mode. Additional features include a seat heater, a dryer, and even a night light. Plus, Coway offers a 90-day trial during which you can make sure this seat is the right fit for you and your bits.
BRONDELL Swash 1400, $650
The Bidet King’s choice, this toilet seat is electric (literally). It features two adjustable stainless steel nozzles for posterior and feminine cleansing, water pressure adjustment, four temperature settings, a variety of spray widths, a warm dryer, self-cleaning nozzles and on-demand sterilization, and a deodorizer. Plus, it comes with a programmable remote.