“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]

‘Finishing Touches.’ The touch-free future of our Public Toilets & Restrooms.

‘We want to make an impact on human wellbeing, by changing the definition of a toilet break. ‘ OneHundredRestrooms

How easy is it to lose touch? As demand for touchless products increases, could bathrooms be entirely touchfree and perhaps, more importantly since coronavirus could we see more TouchFree Public Toilets, office buildings and common public areas. This week we’ll take a brief look at everything from the more familiar touchfree moments, such as ‘automatic doors, taps, soap dispensers and hand dryers’ to the less imaginable ‘totally touchfree toilets’ featuring lids that open and close automatically, automated washing and drying functions, self-flushing and cleaning.

Public Inconvenience. A public inconvenience has recently been experienced, spotlighted and amplified by the closures of numerous public toilets following the outbreak of coronavirus. We touched on this in our article, ‘Beauty Spots’ where to go when there’s nowhere to go? ‘ on June 4th. Press and media reports on the subject caused much debate as closures headlined around the world. To distinguish, when we talk about ‘Public Toilets‘ we refer to old and new stand-alone ‘wash+WCs’ in parks or on street corners, which are by far the most challenging to manage and improve. The others, which we’ll refer to as ‘Toilets for the Public,’ are the ‘restrooms‘ that sit within shopping malls, airports (public transport hubs) and similar private/public spaces, petrol stations, restaurants, bars, hotels and offices. The majority of which are ordinarily far better managed by nature of their locations, constant checking, attendants, higher quality fixtures and fittings, hygiene and cleanliness, and the all-important key to their overall success… funding, or clever funding models.

Why do Public Toilets Matter? There’s reams of government information about the provision and accessibility of public toilets and the importance to us all as a society. Issues they addresses include; public health, older and/or disabled people, women, families with young children and tourists, hygiene, cleanliness, safety, privacy and of course funding. There’s equally as much written about the failures of public toilets in addressing those issues and about the lack of accessibility or sufficient number. In our modern day society public toilets should be a well-respected service for the community, providing a clean and hygienic, safe and welcoming environment. If they are not treated as such by the public, nor supported, funded, maintained and well managed by politicians, local governments, architects and planners alike, then it impacts our society and society suffers, particularly women, children and the disabled. Perhaps rather altruistically, better public toilets could be a catalyst for change in public opinion and perception about their worth and necessity. To give some perspective, for 2 billion people (25% of the world population) public toilets, access to water and/or any basic sanitation doesn’t even exist.

‘Back to the Future.’ As ever, the more cutting-edge technology, innovation and design that’s introduced and succeeds, the greater the chance of its increased use and integration on a grander scale. We’ll get back to the wider subject of the outside ‘Public Toilets‘ in another post. This week we wanted to showcase a Dutch company that we’ve been keeping an eye on and their vision for the future, ‘OneHundredRestrooms‘. One strapline is, ‘We Create Moments for Better Wellbeing‘ and since they started back in 2017 ‘health & hygiene’ has been part of their DNA. As health and hygiene is increasingly more relevant to us all, their concept to disrupt with a difference is succeeding by contributing to improved hygiene, sustainability and innovation whilst creating publicity, awareness and acceptance of a change for good. These days, where everything can be connected and smart, toilets and bathrooms remain a very undervalued and untapped area. However, they potentially offer the perfect environment and place to take care of yourself. As more and more people look for ways to monitor their complete well-being, and do so continuously, in privacy and without having to change their daily routines. Not forgetting in light of the global pandemic there’s now a general health-driven purpose to getting insights into personal and public health conditions. As recent epidemiology and science studies of waste have highlighted by acting as an early warning sign for coronavirus outbreaks.

The Motivational Mirror

OneHundredRestrooms. The OneHundredRestrooms concept can transform your trip to the bathroom into a visit to a wellbeing hub that offers and introduces new intelligent toilet technologies. These can provide insights into our personal health during a moment when we pause and refresh. It’s not all high-tech as the touchless products with sensors can partner those adaptations that can be operated by avoiding the need to touch surfaces with our hands i.e. foot-switches, or using our elbows or wrists. OneHundredRestrooms provides an environment in which you can take care of yourself and grab a little ‘me time.’ The experience includes; Roca In-Wash® Inspira Smart Toilets. There’s a self-check area offers solutions to monitor health indicators like weight, blood pressure, length and body mass index, or perform a skin analysis. The restrooms are kept super clean by their ‘comfort crew’ and are spacious, relaxing, soundproofed and ‘non-touch.’ You can buy all of your ‘on the go’ essentials such as baby diapers, tissues, tampons, plasters or first aid kit from their vending wall. There’s a disabled room, family and nursery rooms and even a shower room. Before you leave you can stop at the ‘motivational mirror’ while washing your hands, then give feedback at the rating pad and suggest improvements or ideas. These wellbeing hubs provide a ‘5-minute wellbeing boost,’ a far cry from our usual perceptions of public restrooms. In the near future OneHundredRestrooms plan to have; medical toilets, skin analyses, drowsiness detection, alcohol checks and a whole lot more.  To quote OneHundredRestrooms COO Andy Donaghy, “Feeling safe about the hygiene of public spaces is more important than ever. After all, hygiene and health go hand in hand.”

Technology. Experience. Environment. Good technology creates a desirable experience and should encompass environmental impact as high priority. Toilet and bathroom technology need to be part of a good experience, and with the knowledge you’re helping the environment. Appreciably, for domestic bathrooms, not everyone can afford a high tech smart toilet. For example, if you look at an early game-changer like the Neorest® NX2 from Toto Japan, (approx. $17,000) it clearly illustrates the technological possibilities with, wait for it… a self-cleaning retractable pinpoint accurate ‘wand’ (washlet) to wash and dry your rear (bits and butts) and you are in control of the pressure and temperature. It actively fights bacteria, waste and limescale by spraying a ‘pre-mist’ into the toilet bowl using electrolysed water to prevent waste from accumulating. The toilet bowl itself is coated with a special zirconium coating, the hydrophilic properties of which ensures that waste and bacteria are effectively eliminated. To add to the self-cleaning process and the pre-mist, there’s and an integrated UV light that combines with the zirconium coating to trigger the decomposition process, making a toilet brush unnecessary. It also has a number of additional convenient features, such as a sensor-based toilet lid that opens and closes automatically, a heated seat and a deodoriser to absorb unpleasant smells. Plus, (in case you were wondering) a remote control – ‘with no place to hide it!’

Is the New Night Out a Night In? However, that’s not all that ‘Smart Toilets‘ can do for you. The Grohe Sensia Arena has a ventilator system in the toilet that shields and extracts odours, before processing them through a carbon filter. There’s a lot of innovation and ideas out there right now and Kohler’s Numi 2 adds to the previous list of accessories; high-quality built-in speakers and lighting features that can be paired with the speakers to create different ‘spa-like’ environments within a bathroom space. An Amazon Alexa is built into the product and provides voice control of Numi’s features as well as access to tens of thousands of skills. But, regarding add-ons that keep you glued to your seat? I thought you were meant to be on and off the toilet PDQ as it’s the healthiest option for your undercarriage. Unless, in view of future social distancing, those speakers and multi coloured lights are the closest you’re going to get to a wild night out in Berlin? The focus has to be on the real benefits to ourselves and our families. That includes being touch-free, aiding health, our wellbeing and use of environmentally friendly services to save water, recycle or offer sustainability. Touchless products with sensor technology are ideal for this scenario. They avoid us touching surfaces and can also reduce water consumption, bringing us back to the perfect marriage of technology, experience and environment.

Our Daily Routine, parts 1, 2 and 3. I guess we’ve all had that experience when we’ve found a restroom that had something, or some ‘gadget’ that we went on to tell our friends or family about (my Dutch wife loves the serenity of the restroom at Schiphol Airport where you hear the sound of the sea, I like the picture of a fly, strategically positioned in the urinals.) The main point here is that amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life OneHundredRestrooms‘ concept is a personal ‘experience’ and it’s got lots of genuinely useful ‘gadgets.’ It is incredibly convenient and provides a really easy way to get a health check, whilst going about your normal business (no.’s 1 and 2.) For just €1 you can get an entry ticket with multiple benefits, visitors get all of the aforementioned services and even free drinking water. As the retail ads say, ‘it’s value for money.’ If you can add all that together as a no.3 during your toilet break, and do so in an oasis of calm and relaxation, then… ‘what’s not to like?’ It’s definitely my next ‘go to’… when it’s time to go!

[Thank you to Marielle Romejin, co-founder and Chief Brand Officer OneHundredRestrooms for use of the photos and her kind help with providing us with information for the above article.] We’ll be back next week.