We have been over the top about our bottoms on TreeHugger for a while now, raving about bidet toilet seats with posts like Why I spent $1200 on a toilet seat and why you should too. It has been a niche market in North America until recently; there was market resistance, perhaps left over from World War II, where according to Professor Harvey Molotch, “the bidet suffered another blow when American soldiers encountered it in European brothels, perpetuating the idea that bidets were somehow associated with immorality.”
But while the Greatest Generation may not have taken to bidets, more and more younger people are, whether they are expensive products like that Toto Washlet or the $ 6,000 Kohler Numi shown in the Case Study House above, or the cheaper alternatives we have shown.
Jennifer Goodman writes in Builder Magazine that Toto has now sold over 40 million Washlets, and Toto is launching a major advertising campaign that “builds on that rich foundation coupled with American society’s obsession with cleanliness and hygiene to motivate U.S. consumers to make the switch from outdated, ineffective bathroom habits to this modern, innovative approach to personal cleanliness.” So those of you still watching TV may be awash in bidet commercials this spring.
Meanwhile, Brondell ran a $ 30,000 kickstarter to fund and market their new Swash 1400, and blew though its target, reaching a total of $ 159,056, demonstrating that there is clearly a lot of interest in bidets these days. Kyle of Bidet.org tells TreeHugger that this year, a lot of people were buying them as gifts, although I imagine an expensive toilet seat is not what people expect to find under the tree. But it does indicate that they are becoming more mainstream.
Whenever we discuss the virtues of bidets, readers ask about the waste of water and electricity, running those heaters and fans in a complicated bit of machinery. This is an issue of tissue, which takes a lot of water and electricity to make, and generates a lot of greenhouse gas. There are things that bidet owners can do to reduce their consumption, such as buying a cheaper unit that doesn’t warm the toilet seat or the water, or have the hot air dry.
The great majority of bidet users do exactly that, and find that they don’t have to spend $1200 and can get away with as little as $ 43 in the process. I will admit to not being TreeHugger correct in this regard, the warm water is very nice.
I do hope that Builder Magazine is right, and that this is the year of the bidet. (They also point to a useful and informative PDF from US manufacturer BidetKing) A bidet is healthier, it is cleaner, it is particularly useful for the aging population, and it feels good too.