Is 2019 the year bidets make a splash in North America?

A bidet in the Villa Savoye
CC BY 2.0 A bidet in the Villa Savoye/ Lloyd Alter

It's about time; they are better for the environment and for your bottoms.

Mark Frauenfelder of BoingBoing asks Why didn’t bidets catch on in the United States? He writes:

Many people around the world use bidets so they can clean themselves properly after using the toilet. I discovered them in the 1980s in Japan and I installed them in the toilets in my house.

I have a TOTO Washlet bidet on my toilet and don't know how I ever lived without it, but even my own family is not convinced and, as Mark puts it, "They would rather use toilet paper and have dirty butts."

Frauenfelder points to a video on Tech Insider that pretty much tells the story of where the bidet came from and why North Americans don't use them:

Yvonne's bidet in the middle of the bedroomBidet used by Yvonne, wife of Le Corbusier in Paris/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Americans first saw them in World War II in European brothels, so many associated them with sex work. By the time Arnold Cohen tried to introduce them to America in the 1960s, it was too late. He couldn't seem to defeat the stigma, and he quickly discovered that no one really wanted "to hear about Tushy Washing 101."

TreeHugger types should appreciate the environmental benefits:

...using a bidet actually makes a huge difference. For one, it's more environmentally friendly. The bidet uses only one-eighth of a gallon of water, while it takes about 37 gallons of water to make a single roll of toilet paper. Americans spend $40 to $70 a year on average for toilet paper and use approximately 34 million rolls of toilet paper a day. Investing in a bidet seat or bidet attachment can lower your spending on toilet paper by 75% or more. You'll also be saving some of the 384 trees that are cut down to make a single person's lifetime toilet-paper supply.

It does seem that they are catching on; according to USA Today, "Bidet seats and bidet toilets in the U.S. are currently a $106 million category expected to grow 15 percent annually through 2021."

According to a forthcoming 2019 trends study out in February and conducted by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, designers consider a toilet with a bidet squirting feature the most important thing to put in a new bathroom today, with more than half of the 500+ designers surveyed saying they install cleansing toilets as opposed to regular ones, for clients.

toto toiletLloyd Alter/ toto toilet with washlet/CC BY 2.0

You don't have to spend $7,000 on a Kohler Numi or $1200 on a TOTO Washlet like I did; there are non-electric versions like Mark Frauenfelder uses for under fifty bucks. Most North American bathrooms don't have electric outlets by the toilet, so this is the easiest kind to install, although it can be a bit cold on the tush.

Three years ago I asked Is 2017 the year of the bidet? Perhaps I was just too early. Perhaps 2019 is finally the breakthrough year.

Is 2019 the year bidets make a splash in North America?
It's about time; they are better for the environment and for your bottoms.

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