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.
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This article originally ran in 2016.