To echo something I wrote in my last piece, the COVID-19 pandemic, more than anything else, will bring about many, many societal changes. It’s going to linger in the ether for a long time after it’s over, and there will be numerous, perhaps even permanent changes to daily American life.
That all being said, the American people are now faced with a golden opportunity. An opportunity for all of us to reassess what our relationship to our own lives are, what we want or what we are willing to accept and what our relationship is to the world at large and the people who populate it.
It’s also an opportunity for us to reassess our relationship with our own collective nether regions.
It’s time to buy a bidet.
We all know deep down that this toilet paper shortage situation sucks. It’s humiliating to have to feel vulnerable because you’re worried about what you’re gonna have to clean yourself with when you run out. The stockpiling is embarrassing — it’s classist and it is wrong. There has been and, in theory, still is plenty of toilet paper to go around in this country. Anyone who has been grocery shopping in the past few years knows how expensive toilet paper can be. Not everyone can afford to stock up for several months at a time, especially when said products are suddenly scarce.
But there is a better way. A cleaner, environmentally friendly, more egalitarian way — the bidet.
I will address you directly now, dear reader: I understand your hesitance. As a matter of fact, you’re probably thinking, hey, why am I even reading this weird guy’s article about butt stuff? I hear you. Just hang in there with me, and I will walk you through the litany of questions I personally had before I bought one. I mean, most likely you are at home like me mindlessly scrolling through your phone, so why not just stay for a few minutes and hear me out?
After all, as an American, I get it. We’ve long clung to our national disdain and derision towards the bidet. One question that has always troubled me, from around the first time I ever heard what a bidet actually was — why did so much of the rest of the world swear by this nether-part washing device while we treated them like some perverse affliction of the European fancy class?
According to an article in Business Insider, much of the red, white and blue cultural rejection of bidets stems from the American military encountering them in European brothels during WWII. When the men returned home, they brought the negative perception that they were associated with sex work home with them. That story tracks, as it’s aligned with good old fashioned American hypocrisy and speaks to our inherantly puritancial views on sex.
As an American, I was skeptical too as I had been wiping with nary a second thought for my entire life. I had some questions.
Let me walk you through those questions and, after having cleaned myself with one for more than two weeks now, give you the answers about bidets as I now see them.
Are they affordable?
That depends. Me, I’m none too fancy, and I often prefer to focus on function over form when it comes to purchasing decisions. I landed on an Omigo Element bidet attachment ($69 on sale, $79 regular price), largely due to the company’s aggressive marketing on Instagram. It looked very bare bones but had good reviews. The period of time between when I ordered and the product arrived at my house was about two weeks, but that was stated up front and I was willing to be patient.
The Omigo Element bidet attachment
Bidet products range from the types of attachments I purchased that you affix to the existing toilet to whole toilet seats all the way up to whole-unit “smart” toilets. Advanced features for bidets include heated water, a dryer and/or fancy lighting. Each step up the chain obviously gets exceedingly pricier. But if you’re like me, a booty-washing neophyte just looking for some relief from toilet paper insecurity at a reasonable price, bidet attachments are the way to go.
Other popular bidet brands include Tushy, BioBidet, Brondell and Toto.
Would it be hard to install?
In theory, no. It’s just a matter of hooking your toilet’s supply line to a T-valve provided with your shipment and placing the attachment under your existing toilet seat. But I encountered a small challenge due to needing to replace an old, worn-down supply line hose, costing me an additional $7. This required an extra trip to Home Depot, which I was trying to avoid but became a necessity due to the whole thing leaking all over the floor. With a hose that is in good, working order, installation is simply the matter of removing your toilet seat, unscrewing one thing, easily screwing three in its place and reattaching the seat. The whole shebang should take about fifteen minutes, tops.
If you’re worried about your level of handiness (I’m at about a C+ level), you can find very short yet effective how-to videos on YouTube that should leave you feeling well prepared.
Does it feel weird?
At first yeah, kinda. Maybe even a little invasive if you turn the pressure nozzle all the way up early along the bidet learning curve and especially since if it only shoots cold water, like the one I bought. After the first few times though it wasn’t bad at all. Refreshing, even. Eventually, I arrived at the conclusion that I should have done this way sooner.
Now, I’ll stop by every now and again just to liven up my days in quarantine a little bit.
Does it actually work?
Yes, yes, yes. I have literally never been so clean down there.
Do I still need TP?
Yeah, kinda. But only a few sheets per each visit, and really only for a quick dry and spot check. Your need for toilet paper should be reduced drastically and in the time of the virus, that’s huge.
Will my bathroom be soaked all the time from errant water?
Nope. The only time this happened was when I was installing it, and testing my plumbing job. I did this with the toilet seat up, not knowing any better. Turns out I had indeed installed the bidet attachment correctly.
Is it of any benefit to me, personally?
Besides the obvious benefits of not having to risk contracting or infecting others with the coronavirus while constantly having to be out searching high and low for toilet paper, you end up using a substantial amount less of it when you do have some and you have the confidence of knowing you are actually cleaner and healthier than you’ve ever been in that region. Bidets are thought to reduce conditions like rashes, urinary tract infections and hemorrhoids.
There’s the environmental factor to consider, as well. Buying a bidet helps to keep the sewers clean and lowers the earth’s dependence on cutting down trees. According to the same Business Insider article cited earlier, the average single roll of toilet paper takes around 37 gallons of water to produce. Bidets, by leveraging water pressure, use a fraction of a fraction of that amount of water to clean your privates. All while saving money and keeping you, the reader, clean as a whistle.
When all is said and done: the bidet, yes or no?
When you buy a bidet and start using it regularly as your primary means of cleaning, ahem, yourself, you are instantly accomplishing the following things:
- Lessening your dependence on a scarce resource, thereby freeing oneself of the insecurity of trying to procure said resource.
- Helping the environment in a few pretty significant ways, including lessening your contribution to deforestation, consuming considerably less water, cutting down the need for plastic packaging and helping to maintain a (relatively) clean and functioning sewer system.
- Maintaining and improving your own personal hygiene and limiting hygiene related conditions i.e., making sure your butt don’t stink.
- Limiting excessive shopping trips hunting for toilet paper and the associated risks of being infected or infecting others with the coronavirus.
- Saving money.
In summation — it’s gonna be a yes from me, dear reader.
Travis Danner is the arts and entertainment editor and social media mentor for The Express. Follow him @travydoesdallas.