‘When Did you and the Bidet First Meet?‘ According to the majority of dictionaries a Bidet is still described as, ‘A small, low bath in which a person washes the lower part of their body.’ That’s exactly how I remember seeing a ‘bidet’ for the first time in a relative’s bathroom. I didn’t have a dictionary to hand, there was no, ‘Okay Google…’ so I figured it was time to introduce myself. With the bathroom door firmly locked I checked out the white stand-alone low-level oval porcelain tub with taps. Positioned between the bath tub and the toilet, why would I even think about shuffling from the WC (with my trousers around my ankles) to go wash my bum? I guessed it was for washing my feet and I did. I ended up using 3 rolls of toilet paper to mop up the shower of water I’d sent cascading across the floor and took five attempts to flush the soggy evidence down the toilet. Departing none the wiser, until my second acquaintance on a trip to France by which time I’d figured it out and finally, in Japan, I got to feel the real deal. The question that struck me most, prior to trying out a bidet was, ‘Why having grown up with toilet paper would I want one?’ But the new bidets are easy to install, hygienic and above all they’re changing peoples perspectives.
Why Bidets Got a Bum Rap. Way before my first encounter, America a big potential market for bidets, had failed to adopt them (the low-level sit and wash version) because they got a bum rap. Many Americans associated the stand-alone bidet with sex-workers, having seen them being used in European brothels during World War II. The question of space and additional plumbing for bidet fixtures in, ‘the smallest room‘ didn’t help its cause either, added to which the use of toilet paper was gathering pace. Travelling even further back in time, long before the Romans sat in their rows of toilets with a ‘sponge on a stick‘ to mop up after themselves, the world was already awash with ‘washers.’ The options for the finishing touches included; stones, leaves, grass, corn cobs, animal furs, sticks, snow, bits of porcelain, seashells or simply your hand.
Toilet Paper is ‘On a Roll.’ The Chinese are credited with inventing the new alternative, toilet paper, as far back as 1391 and by the late fifteenth century it was widely available throughout China. Fast forward to 1596 and, rather like computers, the invention of the modern WC/Toilet provided the hardware for a wider audience. The software sales (toilet paper) took a further 260 years to take off when eventually in 1857, Joseph Gayetty of New York, marketed a modern commercially available toilet paper, ‘Medicated Paper, for the Water-Closet.‘ The first perforated toilet paper rolls were finally introduced in 1890 and by 1930 toilet paper was widely manufactured and ‘splinter free.’ Since then toilet paper has gone ‘on a roll‘ (pun intended) for wipers worldwide as being, ‘The go to, when you go do!‘. The appearance of toilets in every home coupled with improvements to the softness and strength of toilet paper and its extensive sales and marketing went on to influence a social change, and social conditioning in countries like the US and UK (still two of the leading wiper countries.) With bidets (in their original format) failing to take off and get deep enough into the human psyche, the momentum was lost and led to a generation of toilet owners (in the USA, UK, much of Europe and many East Asian countries) becoming keen wipers and subsequently dedicated toilet paper users. Until now that is…
‘Douche and Dab’ or Wipe. It’s a long time since bidets first appeared in France back in the late 17th century, and although the first flushable toilet was invented in England (1596) WCs/Toilets didn’t gain popularity until 1851. It took approx. 100 years longer to establish themselves in the modern world. In 1980, the first ‘paperless toilet‘ was launched in Japan by manufacturer Toto. Since the 1980s technology, design and functionality have gone on to transform the product, the experience and the accessibility of both toilets and bidets. In regards to ‘wash vs wipe,’ billions of ‘washers‘ around the world had their cleaning experience happily established for ages. In many parts of the world [e.g. South East Asia, The Middle East, India and some European countries] washing has always been the preference over wiping. Their culture is a flip on the way ‘wiping society‘ thinks with our reliance on toilet tissue. For the residents of many nations, washing with either bowls, ‘bum guns’ (washing wands) and/or bidets are ‘the main event,’ the toilet paper is the ‘(back) side show,’ or even a complete no show. In trying to persuade people, it’s far easier to ‘upgrade’ a habitual and established washing method, rather than change the habits of a lifetime, i.e. get them to exchange ‘douche and dab,’ for the waterless wipes with toilet paper. Quite understandably when you put it like that.
Team Wipe vs Team Wash. This has meant that for some while ‘Team Wipe‘ have been sitting on their backsides (so to speak) focussing on how they could upgrade their own experience with things like softer or more eco-friendly tissue options. Meanwhile, manufacturers and designers for ‘Team Wash‘ have been coming up with a range of smart new inventions and health benefits to enhance their offering. You’ll no doubt be familiar with toilets with built in bidets, and functions such as; wash, dry, self-clean, funky lighting, music, automatic seat open and close, health checks and a whole lot more. But hey, I hear you! 😉 ‘That’s all very well but it’s not so easy to make the switch if your current set up is a standard toilet, plus toilet roll holder(s)… and there’s a great range of toilet rolls to choose from these days.’ Okay, let’s get to the bottom of all this.
Changing Your Perspective. The recent panic buying and fear of running out of toilet tissue has been a timely opportunity to grab the wiping world’s attention with alternatives to just using toilet paper. For the toilet paper consumer as it were, trying to sell something to ‘attach to a toilet and wash your butt,’ is no easy task. There have been various attachable bidet patents and inventions dating back to the late 1800s, the most recent appears to be from 2010. Having said that, only in the past few years have ‘attachable bidets‘ begun to get spotted by the ‘wiping community.’ The outbreak of coronavirus led to toilet paper ‘shortages,’ and then the closure of many public toilets left people with another dilemma, ‘how to go on the go.‘ Media attention turned from toilet paper to bidets as a solution with more and more headlines and greater press coverage (yep, there’s even a travel version in case you’re caught short outside). Once the public had embraced the possibilities of a bidet and were loving the buzz of other ‘new’ peripheral toilet temptations (Aesop Post-Poo Drops or Poo-Pourri as examples) the whole bathroom experience began to inspire a new audience, a wider following and a big fan base. Perspective has changed.
The Generation Game Changer. That game-changer (life-changer) for ‘the wipers’ has a lot to do with the coming of age of ‘attachable bidets‘ and for many Millennials and Generation Z they make total sense. With no history, nor necessarily any memory of ye olde off-putting bidets, ‘The Attachables‘ are grabbing their attention, and this generation are technologically immersed, care about planet earth and constantly discussing the endless list of environmental issues. Another advantage, if you rent your home, is that this is an inexpensive way to get a bidet installed, and take it with you anywhere you go. In exploring the world of attachable bidets there are some brilliantly designed alternatives out there, with all sorts of functions for all sorts of people. However, making a bidet appealing enough to promote change isn’t just about what it does, ‘it’s about what it does for you.‘ That vital part of the persuasive process takes a brilliant marketeer [Miki Agrawal] and an innovative new approach [TUSHY.]
Reasons to be Cheerful not Fearful. One of the other reasons for the attachable bidets new resurgence and success is its simplicity, in 10 minutes you can easily convert your current toilet into a bidet and… it looks good too. Costs vary but a ‘classic‘ starts at around $89 (approx. 60-100 rolls in toilet paper money;)) making it very affordable. That’s quite tempting vs the considerably greater expense of having to buy and fit a completely new smart toilet/bidet with wash, dry and other multi-functionality built in. But fear not toilet paper fans, bidets do not necessarily equate to ‘no toilet paper whatsoever’ because with bidet attachments you’ll still need to dry up afterwards. The preferred methods being toilet paper (biodegradable) or bum towels (ideally bamboo in both cases.) After all, whatever age, you’ll still have your toilet rolls (or bum-towels) close to hand. You decide how much toilet paper you use and/or how often you get to use the bidet – so sit back, relax, and… ‘ease your way into your new bidet.‘
Hello TUSHY. Let’s get back to ‘TUSHY.’ Founded by Canadian born New Yorker Miki Agrawal back in 2015. Miki, CEO Jason Ojalvo and their team have been making a big splash by changing consumer perceptions (and misconceptions) about using a bidet, or ‘making a clean start‘ so to speak. Miki, whose parents are Indian and Japanese (so she knows about bidets and the washing ways) is a disruptive innovator whose marketing approach mixes, ‘hygiene + humour, entertainment + environment‘ which confronts and cuts through traditional taboos and bravely challenges the status quo. ‘TUSHY‘ have jumped the obstacles and put attachable bidets ‘front of mind for your behind.’ Apart from convincing people that using a bidet is the best way to clean your butt, and in spite of the stiff competition, they’ve got a lot of people’s attention! The TUSHY bidet attachment is also environmentally friendly, squeaky clean, saves you money, it’s fun, totally natural to use, and it makes you feel, ‘It’s the way to go if you’re in the know.’
Health, Hygiene and Environment. Environmentally the big plus about bidets is they save water, a lot of water. Another is ‘Trees vs Bamboo’ as millions of trees are cut down to make toilet paper, check our article, ‘Is Wiping our Bottoms Wiping out Forests?’ Bamboo offers a sustainable future. As numerous stats clearly illustrate bidets are good for the environment, healthier and the most hygienic self-care option. But tell that to people a couple of years ago and ‘yer, right!’ The fact is it’s Miki has managed to get that message out there, got it across and got it to stick. The ‘better for you‘ factor is backed up by a long list of positive personal stuff that’s going to benefit us by using one including; not using our hands and/or spreading germs around, avoiding haemorrhoids, washing with water is non-abrasive, it can help with IBS, UTI’s and periods… quite a lot of which gets covered in their most recent (and amusing) advert, ‘Time To Get With The Clean Poop Program, People.’
Taking the ‘Boo!’ out of ‘Taboo.’ It would be fair to say that in my personal opinion, in terms of converting the unconverted and taking the ‘Boo!‘ out of ‘Taboo,‘ TUSHY (with their bidet attachments, bamboo tp, bum towels and travel bidet) are currently the greatest influence in moving washing back to the no. 1 spot for our no. 2s and suchlike. But there’s another great ‘finishing touch’ to the TUSHY story and that’s the fact Miki Agrawal is also a philanthropist, ‘TUSHY is passionate about fighting the global sanitation crisis and has helped almost 60,000 families gain access to clean toilets in India.’ TUSHY, ‘Thank you from the bottom of our hearts… and the hearts of our bottoms!’
We’ll be back in a week or two with another of our independent takes on the world of taboos, loos and no. 2s… As ever do get in touch with any comments or feedback. Have a great weekend! Well be back in a couple of weeks as heading off to our B&B in Corfu to check all’s well.
[All photos in the article are copyright of HelloTUSHY]