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.

You Can Now Order—and Donate—Girl Scout Cookies Online

It's OK if you decide to ignore the recommended serving size on a box of these beauties.
It's OK if you decide to ignore the recommended serving size on a box of these beauties.
Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts may have temporarily suspended both cookie booths and door-to-door sales to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be deprived of your annual supply of everyone’s favorite boxed baked goods. Instead, you can now order Thin Mints, Tagalongs, and all the other classic cookies online—or donate them to local charities.

When you enter your ZIP code on the “Girl Scouts Cookie Care” page, it’ll take you to a digital order form for the nearest Girl Scouts organization in your area. Then, simply choose your cookies—which cost $5 or $6 per box—and check out with your payment and shipping information. There’s a minimum of four boxes for each order, and shipping fees vary based on quantity.

Below the list of cookies is a “Donate Cookies” option, which doesn’t count toward your own order total and doesn’t cost any extra to ship. You get to choose how many boxes to donate, but the Girl Scouts decide which kinds of cookies to send and where exactly to send them (the charity, organization, or group of people benefiting from your donation is listed on the order form). There’s a pretty wide range of recipients, and some are specific to healthcare workers—especially in regions with particularly large coronavirus outbreaks. The Girl Scouts of Greater New York, for example, are sending donations to NYC Health + Hospitals, while the Girl Scouts of Western Washington have simply listed “COVID-19 Responders” as their recipients.

Taking their cookie business online isn’t the only way the Girl Scouts are adapting to the ‘stay home’ mandates happening across the country. They’ve also launched “Girl Scouts at Home,” a digital platform filled with self-guided activities so Girl Scouts can continue to learn skills and earn badges without venturing farther than their own backyard. Resources are categorized by grade level and include everything from mastering the basics of coding to building a life vest for a Corgi (though the video instructions for that haven’t been posted yet).

“For 108 years, Girl Scouts has been there in times of crisis and turmoil,” Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo said in a press release. “And today we are stepping forward with new initiatives to help girls, their families, and consumers connect, explore, find comfort, and take action.”

You can order cookies here, and explore “Girl Scouts at Home” here.

Can't Find Yeast? Grow Your Own at Home With a Sourdough Starter

Dutodom, iStock via Getty Images
Dutodom, iStock via Getty Images

Baking bread can relieve stress and it requires long stretches of time at home that many of us now have. But shoppers have been panic-buying some surprising items since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to pantry staples like rice and beans, yeast packets are suddenly hard to find in grocery stores. If you got the idea to make homemade bread at the same time as everyone on your Instagram feed, don't let the yeast shortage stop you. As long as you have flour, water, and time, you can grow your own yeast at home.

While many bread recipes call for either instant yeast or dry active yeast, sourdough bread can be made with ingredients you hopefully already have on hand. The key to sourdough's unique, tangy taste lies in its "wild" yeast. Yeast is a single-celled type of fungus that's abundant in nature—it's so abundant, it's floating around your home right now.

To cultivate wild yeast, you need to make a sourdough starter. This can be done by combining one cup of flour (like whole grain, all-purpose, or a mixture of the two) with a half cup of cool water in a bowl made of nonreactive material (such as glass, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic). Cover it with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let it sit in a fairly warm place (70°F to 75°F) for 24 hours.

Your starter must be fed with one cup of flour and a half cup of water every day for five days before it can be used in baking. Sourdough starter is a living thing, so you should notice is start to bubble and grow in size over time (it also makes a great low-maintenance pet if you're looking for company in quarantine). On the fifth day, you can use your starter to make dough for sourdough bread. Here's a recipe from King Arthur Flour that only calls for starter, flour, salt, and water.

If you just want to get the urge to bake out of your system, you can toss your starter once you're done with it. If you plan on making sourdough again, you can use the same starter indefinitely. Starters have been known to live in people's kitchens for decades. But to avoid using up all your flour, you can store yours in the fridge after the first five days and reduce feedings to once a week.

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