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It's time for Americans to catch up with the rest of the world and adopt bidets — here's why

It all comes down to cost and convenience.

It all comes down to cost and convenience.

Photo Credit: iStock

Bidets have been popular in many European, Asian, and South American countries for some time, but they received a second look by a number of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, when toilet paper was scarce. When used properly, these devices bring with them some intriguing benefits. 

How do bidets work?

There are different types of bidets on the market, but the concept is the same: They spray water to wash away any … residue after you use the toilet. This reduces the need for toilet paper by as much as 75%.

While standalone models may be seen in hotels or when traveling abroad, other options include handheld fixtures, toilets with built-in bidets, bidet seats, and even portable sprayers. 

The devices, which date back to 17th century France, are also helpful tools for people with mobility issues, as many models are activated by the touching of buttons.

"Bidets are extremely useful for the elderly and those with limited mobility, such as those with arthritis, an injury, or a neuromuscular condition that limits range of motion and coordination,"  Dr. Sean Rea, a family medicine specialist at Arizona's Banner Health Center, said in a statement published by the center. 

The typical American uses 50 pounds of toilet paper every year, and those trips to the bathroom result in approximately $180 spent on TP. Switching to a bidet, though, can significantly cut that expense, with an estimated savings of $135 based on the 75% figure mentioned above. 

Then there are the environmental benefits. 

While it may sound counterintuitive, using one of these water-spraying devices actually reduces the amount of water waste associated with bathroom activities. That's because it would require more than 2,000 gallons of water to manufacture a year's worth of TP for one person for many brands, whereas each bidet use takes up just an eighth of a gallon. 

So even 10 bidet sprays a day for a whole year would only add up to about 450 gallons of water by comparison, and the average person is going to be spraying a lot less. 

The production of toilet paper also contributes to deforestation, disrupting local ecosystems and reducing the number of trees that are able to soak up planet-warming carbon pollution. And wiping, especially with so-called "flushable" wipes, often leads to problems in pipes, sewers, and septic systems.

These days, people don't have to spend a lot of money to acquire one of these eco-friendly devices, with some models going for as little as $40.  

"Bidets are becoming far more affordable, especially as bidet attachments become increasingly available that don't require additional bathroom space or a separate water supply (line) to be run," Dr. Rea said in Banner Health's bidet breakdown.  

Are bidets easy to use and maintain? 

When using a bidet, it's important to be mindful of how you're spraying the water.

"The stream of water from your bidet should flow front-to-back, just like when you wipe," Dr. Rea said for Banner Health.

Bidets have to be cleaned, too, but the process is simple — like cleaning a toilet bowl. Some models even come with self-sanitizing nozzles. If your bidet doesn't come with that feature, water and natural antibacterial soap or vinegar should do the trick, eliminating the need for harsh chemicals.

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