“The only thing we have to fear is… fear of the rear itself.” Bidets are back…

‘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.’

The TUSHY Talk

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]

Tissue World Magazine ‘Consumer Speak’ pre-lockdown interview with Mark Hendriksen.

THE GAME CHANGER IN RECENT TIMES HAS BEEN ACCESS TO TISSUE PRODUCT INFORMATION… ALLOWING THE PUBLIC TO MAKE INFORMED DECISIONS ON THE ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH AND WELLBEING.” by Helen Morris Tissue World Magazine May 14th 2020

Mark Hendriksen Tissue World Magazine
Mark Hendriksen | Consumer Speak May 14 2020

London based Mark Hendriksen is a researcher and blogger about the world of toilets, with humorous and educational health related books to his credit. He’s an entrepreneur with a successful career in tourism publishing, a problem solver, a yogi and a part time traditional sourdough baker, and the award-winning owner of The Merchant’s House Boutique Hotel/B&B on Corfu, Greece. His report was written pre-lockdown. [Read the full article here.]

Tissue World Magazine is the leading independent publication and online resource for the global tissue industry.
Dedicated to keep tissue professionals up-to-date with the industry, Tissue World publishes essential information, analysis and opinions on breaking trends in business, technology, regional developments and sustainability.
Distributed across both print and digital media, Tissue World’s authoritative editorial content is accessed by over 72,000 industry professionals* every year. [*inclusive of print and digital readers, website users and e-newsletter subscribers.]

Comment on our article 24th April 2020, from marine biologist Professor Richard Thompson OBE

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a post about the 3Ps in ‘Turn your toilet paper into a wet wipe + other news & views on loos & no. 2s‘ and potential ways to help the environment by not putting anything other than Poop, Pee and Paper (toilet paper) in the loo… We asked one of the world’s leading experts, Professor Richard Thompson, for his opinion and he kindly responded having said ‘the article made good sense.’ His comments can be seen below:

“The bottom line is we all need to work toward consuming less stuff. It is especially important to  minimise any single use items where the benefit is very transitory  –  but the persistence as waste is long-lived. That’s the issue with wipes. The move toward a fine to flush logo might make sense. However, its potentially confusing for consumers if some wipes are OK to flush and others not. Perhaps the simplest message is  the 3Ps –  only flush pee, poo and paper. The idea of a spray to modify conventional paper is an interesting one and  may have merit.  I hope the containers are fully compatible with  a circular economy.

To me the key thing in all of this is the need for  product designers to fully consider end of life scenarios for their products right from the design stage; and where necessary have necessary testing done  to evaluate those outcomes before a product goes to market. Many of the current challenges relating to plastics could be avoided with  a little more thought at the design stage.Professor Richard Thompson OBE FRS

Professor Thompson is Director of the Marine Institute School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering) and leads the International Marine Litter Research Unit. Professor Thompson coined the termmicroplasticsin 2004. With thanks for his remarks and advice.

Listen to this fascinating and enlightening podcast with Professor Thompson on BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Life Scientific [listen now or download.] ‘How did you first get interested in the problem of plastic pollution in the sea?’ Richard Thompson tells Jim Al-Khalili how he alerted the world to the micro-plastics in the ocean and the harm they might cause to marine life.

When the rest of the world was waking up to the harm caused to marine life by larger plastic items, such as plastic bags, Professor Richard Thompson searched for tiny fragments of plastic, some no bigger than a human hair; and found them in oceans and on beaches all over the world. He has spent decades studying the harm these micro-plastics might cause to marine life and is concerned. His work on plastics in cosmetics led to a UK ban on micro-beads in shower gels and exfoliating scrubs.

Latest headline ‘Stick to the 3Ps when flushing’…Bidets, and other considerations from ‘The Daily Poo!’ on loos & no. 2s.

The incredible NEOREST® NX2 Dual Flush Toilet from TotoUSA [copyright TotoUSA] see article below

The 3Ps and ‘Proof before Panic!’

If you’ve not read this anywhere or, understandably perhaps not realised… ‘The use of tissues, wipes and kitchen roll is ‘clogging up the sewers!‘ Tissues, wipes and paper towels all contain plastic in their weave making them much stronger than toilet paper and therefore harder to break down in sewerage pipes. It’s only the 3Ps that should be flushed: pee, poop and paper [toilet paper] 4Ps if we include the word, ‘Please!’ We mentioned it last week but want to repeat the message. It’s an issue, even in ‘normal times.’ Plumbers who may be getting lots of work sorting out peoples pipes because of it, are getting fed up too, and so are the oceans and sea-life that suffer! The other please is, ‘Those of you who are still panicking about toilet paper… please stop it at once!’ We mentioned one calculator last week, here’s another that helps you see just how much toilet paper you need and use: https://thepooptool.com

There are more pressing issues to be dealt with, so put down those unnecessary packets of toilet paper…. and step away from the shelves – please! That said, your staying calm would really help the supply chain and logistics companies, and their amazing people, to keep doing their good work during these times, i.e. keep you supplied! Thank you to them and everyone else who is working on our behalf to get us safely through the days ahead, we love all he clapping for them that’s been going on worldwide.

Here’s the tail (tale) that could soon wag the dog, the dog being the toilet paper manufacturers and the tail being bidets.

Some while back we wrote about the option to use a ‘bidet’, bum-gun or an ‘attachable shower wash’ instead of the total wipe option. What started in France was the bidet, [Bidet: Mid 17th century (in the sense of straddling a ‘pony’) from the French bider ‘to trot’, of unknown origin.] A separate low basin for sitting and washing your bum. In fact other regions had been using small vessels of water called lotas or tabo for cleansing centuries before bidets appeared on the scene. Interestingly, (for those reeling in disgust or disbelief) it’s a very popular method across Europe, in the Arab world, and in Japan where their toilet technology is extraordinary. With bidets in approx. 80% of Japan’s homes that’s barely surprising.

Is this just a ‘flush in the pan?’

However, since Covid-19 and the toilet paper purchasing stampede/panic, bidets have begun a resurgence as ‘traditional wipers’ consider all the options and in doing so begin to see the benefits of owning one. Importantly, the design developments have meant you don’t need a separate ‘basin’ either, just an attachment to your current toilet system. Though we should point out that you can get an ‘all singing and dancing toilet’ in the first place, in other words a toilet/bidet and all sorts of other luxuries built in. Think; wash, dry, music, gadgets and even medical body checks all included. To get you started, look at Business Insider‘s ‘Best Bidet Toilet Seats‘ and then look at what’s hot in Japan…

‘The winds of change are blowing!’ [pun intended :)] But, seriously this has become a real disruptor and nothing indicates that more that the uptake by Americans, as the USA is the world’s largest consumer of toilet paper [36 billion rolls a year according to Statista.] Yep, stop and take that in for a moment… think trees, carbon footprint, water usage (it takes a huge amount of water to produce toilet paper btw!) According to The Scientific American, ‘It takes about 473,587,500,000 gallons of water to produce all that toilet for Americans and 253,000 tons of chlorine to bleach it. To break this statistic down further, it takes up to 37 gallons of water to make a single roll of toilet paper!’

Now think about a bidet style wash by comparison. Of course, as with so many cultures that wipe, they grew up with it and changing public perception takes either a long time, or a world-changing moment to break it. We just have one right now!

The companies who produce and sell ‘bidets’ are getting lots of views and whereas a major player like GEBERIT offers some super cool and funky remote control bidets (see the video) the likes of TUSHY make it accessible to (practically) all. That in turn is educating consumers and their previous behaviour. Add to that the realisation that washing yourself with a bidet can help with cleanliness, may lead to fewer instances of rashes, hemorrhoids, urinary infections, can also be a better option for people with IBS and other medical issues. Then allay other fears, i.e. ‘If you’re worried about using toilet water to clean your intimate parts, then you shouldn’t be. It’s tap water, just like the water you’re already using when you take a bath or shower.

The question of ‘tail wagging dog‘ as posed above is becoming more probable. To give you an idea of the current movement [it just goes with the subject;)] towards bidets take a look at TUSHY who we mentioned above. An American company founded back in 2014 who offer an affordable, easy fit bidet for your bathroom, and guess what, as the New York Post reported just last week ‘Sales have been up about [tenfold], which is pretty crazy,’ Jason Ojalvo, CEO. TUSHY also claim their device reduces a person’s use of toilet paper by 80%. That’s got to be an affordable alternative to toilet paper, that may be worth a second thought and… will pay for itself in no time at all.

TUSHY bidet on Instagram

If you have any questions about the whole bidet business, ie How to use it, how to dry off afterwards, hygiene, health, how happy your butt’ll be etc. head to the TUSHYAll your Questions Answered‘ page – it’s enlightening!

I feel we’ve done a lot to get to the bottom of this in today’s post [sorry!] The main thing and our point is, there’s been a greater awareness of bidets than ever before, the USA was the least likely to adopt them and yet it’s begun to happen. Will this be a flash in the pan? We think not. With the other topics we love to keep discussing, like the companies that are changing the way toilet paper is produced, sold and marketed e.g. Who Gives a Crap, Cheeky Panda and such like as well as other of the ever familiar names popping up in bathrooms everywhere, PooPourri to name but one – yep, times they are a changing!

In fact John Branden writing for Forbes in an article about, ‘What Coronavirus Trending Topics Say About Our Current Predicament‘ commented, ‘According to several apps I’ve been using to track trending topics on social media and online, what we care about is bamboo toilet paper, Instacart, and (very curiously) Drizly. Also — UHT milk. I had to look that one up. (It lasts much longer. Go buy some.)

It’s not just the toilet paper manufacturers that are the only ones who are being disrupted, America could also be on the way to losing the toilet race! Bidets are already out there in vast numbers, it’s not like you have to create a product (like the i-phone was for example) it’s just education, desperation or realisation. On a final note, why not look at all that’s included in the $17,000 NEOREST by Toto (Japan) and imagine that in your bathroom. Now that’s a throne fit for a King or Queen!!

Let us know your thoughts… chat@thedailypoo.co.uk We’ll be back next Friday!