Why You Should Definitely Get a Bidet

Cristian Storto Fotografia/ iStock via Getty Images Plus
Cristian Storto Fotografia/ iStock via Getty Images Plus

Other cultures may love the bidet, but Americans have long been loath to give their butts a good wash after pooping. But, if we’re going to get down and dirty about it, bidets can vastly improve your bathroom life—and for a relatively low price, too.

Mental Floss took a test run with a toilet-mounted bidet from Tushy, a company of "toilet crusaders" founded in 2014 that sells non-electric bidet attachments. Tushy's main models include "Spa" (includes warm water and cool water; $109) or "Classic" (one temperature setup; $79). We tested the cold-water-only device, because hooking hot water up to the attachment requires open access from your toilet to the pipes under your sink. Our verdict? Once you get used to it, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Who doesn’t want a little cold spray to wake up in the morning?

As promised, the installation was relatively simple. Even with no previous knowledge of where toilet water even came from, this first-time plumber was able to install the splitter that allows you to channel water to both your toilet tank and the bidet (without mixing the two). The bidet comes with Teflon plumber’s tape, which is used to seal the joints where the parts connect. (Full disclosure: For a hot second during installation it seemed like no amount of tape would stop the water from spraying out of the connection between the hoses, but eventually the magic sealing tape worked and the water stopped leaking onto the bathroom floor.) A month later, the amateur plumbing job has held, so the easy-installation claim gets a thumbs-up.

The addition of that adjustable spray of water to a bathroom routine is, quite honestly, eye-opening. So fresh! So clean! Without getting too gross, it’s the difference between cleaning off your muddy rain boots with a hose or wiping them with a paper towel. For ladies, it’s a more pleasant way to get through the mess of a period, and if you’re spending a lot of time sitting on the pot, using water is a great way to avoid unwanted toilet paper chafe. Since you'll be using less toilet paper, using a bidet also saves you money (especially if you rent your home and your landlord pays your water bill).

At first blush it might seem like the extra water a bidet uses with each flush would be wasteful, but compared to the manufacturing of toilet paper, a bidet is gentler on the environment. According to one estimate, it takes 37 gallons of water to create a single roll of toilet paper, and Tushy reports that Americans use 57 sheets of toilet paper every day. Compare that to the 1.3 gallons of water a week it takes for the typical user to splash themselves with the bidet, and the winner is clear.

Lest you leave the restroom dripping wet, a little bit of toilet paper is necessary to dry yourself after using the bidet. But if you are really looking to be eco-friendly, Tushy sells towels to replace your toilet paper. For someone who has used toilet paper for decades, the prospect of wiping your bum with a reusable towel (especially one that’s 100 percent bamboo fiber and soft enough to become your favorite face cloth) is horrifying. How is this sanitary?

In search of answers, Mental Floss reached out to the company’s PR team. According to Tushy’s Elliot Friar, many people who have “mastered using Tushy” only wash their towels every few days. If you clean yourself thoroughly with the bidet, the only thing standing between you and truly green washroom habits is your own adherence to cultural bathroom norms. “They're definitely something new and go against the booty belief systems we've created as a culture for hundreds of years,” Friar says.

In short: If you love your butt, get the bidet. A Japanese toilet that heats up and plays music may be overkill, but you can find bidet attachments on Amazon for as low as $30. Tushy’s bidets are more stylish than your average attachment, and the price reflects that. Either way, your bum and Mother Nature will thank you.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

This article originally ran in 2016.

7 Top-Rated Portable Air Conditioners You Can Buy Right Now

Black + Decker/Amazon
Black + Decker/Amazon

The warmest months of the year are just around the corner (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), and things are about to get hot. To make indoor life feel a little more bearable, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the top-rated portable air conditioners you can buy online right now.

1. SereneLife 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner; $290

SereneLife air conditioner on Amazon.
SereneLife/Amazon

This device—currently the best-selling portable air conditioner on Amazon—is multifunctional, cooling the air while also working as a dehumidifier. Reviewers on Amazon praised this model for how easy it is to set up, but cautioned that it's not meant for large spaces. According to the manufacturer, it's designed to cool down rooms up to 225 square feet, and the most positive reviews came from people using it in their bedroom.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Black + Decker 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner and Heater; $417

Black + Decker portable air conditioner
Black+Decker/Amazon

Black + Decker estimates that this combination portable air conditioner and heater can accommodate rooms up to 350 square feet, and it even comes with a convenient timer so you never have to worry about forgetting to turn it off before you leave the house. The setup is easy—the attached exhaust hose fits into most standard windows, and everything you need for installation is included. This model sits around four stars on Amazon, and it was also picked by Wirecutter as one of the best values on the market.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Mikikin Portable Air Conditioner Fan; $45

Desk air conditioner on Amazon
Mikikin/Amazon

This miniature portable conditioner, which is Amazon's top-selling new portable air conditioner release, is perfect to put on a desk or end table as you work or watch TV during those sweltering dog days. It's currently at a four-star rating on Amazon, and reviewers recommend filling the water tank with a combination of cool water and ice cubes for the best experience.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Juscool Portable Air Conditioner Fan; $56

Juscool portable air conditioner.
Juscool/Amazon

This tiny air conditioner fan, which touts a 4.6-star rating, is unique because it plugs in with a USB cable, so you can hook it up to a laptop or a wall outlet converter to try out any of its three fan speeds. This won't chill a living room, but it does fit on a nightstand or desk to help cool you down in stuffy rooms or makeshift home offices that weren't designed with summer in mind.

Buy it: Amazon

5. SHINCO 8000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner; $320

Shinco portable air conditioner
SHINCO/Amazon

This four-star-rated portable air conditioner is meant for rooms of up to 200 square feet, so think of it for a home office or bedroom. It has two fan speeds, and the included air filter can be rinsed out quickly underneath a faucet. There's also a remote control that lets you adjust the temperature from across the room. This is another one where you'll need a window nearby, but the installation kit and instructions are all included so you won't have to sweat too much over setting it up.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Honeywell MN Series Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier; $400

Honeywell air conditioner on Walmart.
Honeywell/Walmart

Like the other units on this list, Honeywell's portable air conditioner also acts as a dehumidifier or a standard fan when you just want some air to circulate. You can cool a 350-square-foot room with this four-star model, and there are four wheels at the bottom that make moving it from place to place even easier. This one is available on Amazon, too, but Walmart has the lowest price right now.

Buy it: Walmart

7. LG 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner; $699

LG Portable Air Conditioner.
LG/Home Depot

This one won't come cheap, but it packs the acclaim to back it up. It topped Wirecutter's list of best portable air conditioners and currently has a 4.5-star rating on Home Depot's website, with many of the reviews praising how quiet it is while it's running. It's one of the only models you'll find compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, and it can cool rooms up to 500 square feet. There's also the built-in timer, so you can program it to go on and off whenever you want.

Buy it: Home Depot

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Why Does Altitude Affect Baking?

This woman is going to make a quick stop at Whole Foods' bakery section before book club.
This woman is going to make a quick stop at Whole Foods' bakery section before book club.
nicoletaionescu/iStock via Getty Images

Even if you’re highly skilled in the kitchen, you might find yourself with a deflated cake or bone-dry brownies if you happen to be baking in Aspen, Colorado, for the first time. But why exactly does an oven at high altitude so often wreak havoc on whatever baked good is in it?

According to HuffPost, it all comes down to air pressure. The higher you are above sea level, the lower the air pressure is. This is mostly because there’s less air pressing down on that air from above, and it’s also farther from the gravitational forces on Earth’s surface. With less air pressure keeping liquid molecules in their liquid form, it takes less heat in order to vaporize them—in other words, boiling points are lower at higher altitudes.

“For every 500-foot increase in altitude, the boiling point of water drops by 0.9°F,” Dr. Craig F. Morris, director of the USDA ARS Western Wheat Quality Laboratory at Washington State University, told HuffPost.

Since liquids evaporate at lower temperatures, all the moisture that makes your signature chocolate cake so dense and delicious could disappear long before you’d normally take it out of the oven. To avoid this, you should bake certain goods at lower temperatures.

With less air pressure, gases expand faster, too—so anything that’s supposed to rise in the oven might end up collapsing before the inside is finished baking. Cutting down on leavening agents like yeast, baking powder, and baking soda can help prevent this. This also applies to bread dough left to rise before baking (otherwise known as proofing); its rapid expansion could negatively affect its flavor and texture, so you might need to adjust how much yeast you’re using.

If all the ways a recipe could go wrong at high altitudes—and all the experimentation needed to make sure it goes right—seem like a lot to keep track of, Betty Crocker has a handy chart with various types of baked goods and suggested modifications for them.

[h/t HuffPost]