When Will Bidets Catch On in America?

When Will Bidets Catch On in America?

In recent years, the use of bidets has increased all over the world, but it is found in few bathrooms all over America. In fact, Americans have a reputation for using huge amounts of toilet paper – according to business research company Euromonitor, the U.S. as a country spent a whopping $9.6 billion on toilet paper alone in 2014.

Why Don’t Americans Use Bidets?

There are several plausible theories why Americans don’t favor the use of bidets, and these can be classified into two broad categories – historical reasons, and conservatism.

  • History

According to sociologist Harvey Molotch, bidets got off on the wrong foot with America right from the start. In the 18thcentury, the Britons associated the bidets with French prostitutes and hence had a disdain for it. When the early British colonists came to America, they were likely to have brought this sentiment with them, and here it stayed. As a result, it became a habit to wipe instead of wash after using the bathroom. 

The situation was worsened during World War II. During the war, it is likely that US soldiers saw bidets in French brothels, and this reinforced the notion that they were ‘dirty’ and undesirable.

  • Conservatism

Sociologist Harvey Molotch also states that American culture deems bathroom activities to be a taboo topic. This limits the growth of the bidet industry because it makes bidets a product that is difficult to be marketed – after all, how can you market something if you aren’t allowed to talk about it? In fact, America was so conservative that even the flushing of a toilet was not seen on film until the 1960s.

Additionally, the traditional bidets involve using your hands to cleanse your genitals directly. Conservative Americans were averse to this idea and preferred having the ‘shield’ of toilet paper to reduce any direct contact between one’s hands and genitals.

Is It Better To Use Bidets As Compared To Toilet Paper?

Choosing to use bidets instead of toilet paper is in fact better for both the user and the environment.

  • Bidets are better for personal hygiene

Toilet paper has a tendency to irritate the skin, especially if you rub too hard. It is also not a very sanitary way of cleaning up after using the toilet because simply cleaning with toilet paper tends to leave residue in the anal area. This could lead to medical complications. On the other hand, using a bidet will help to effectively wash out all residue and prevent any potential medical complications. 

Urologist David M. Kaufman adds that bidet is especially ideal for feminine hygiene as it can have a big impact on the urinary health of women.  This is because toilet paper only cleans the outside of the vagina, and not the inside. As a result, bacteria are left inside the vagina, and this can result in urinary tract infections. It is only through irrigation with a bidet that the bacteria can be washed out properly.

Apart from the genitals, bidets are also great for cleaning the anal area. According to colorectal surgeon Allen Kamrava, bidet has a gentler effect on the anal region than toilet paper. This makes it fantastic for people who have had surgery below the belt, or women who have just given birth, since using the bidet reduces chances of irritating the skin or reopening wounds. He also adds that bidets are useful for people who have irritable bowel syndrome as these people have to use the bathroom a lot, and using toilet paper that often is likely to irritate the skin.

A lesser known benefit of using the bidet is that it can help to maintain the natural oils necessary for optimal anal health. Like any other part of our body such as the hairs on our head, the skin at the anal area has natural oils which are essential. If you wipe vigorously or use soap and water after going to the toilet, these natural oils are likely to break down. In contrast, using a stream of plain water from a bidet allows you to enjoy good personal hygiene without compromising your level of natural oils.

  • Bidets are better for the environment

Just imagine, if just half of America switched from using toilet paper to using bidets, $4.8 billion worth of toilet paper can be saved per year. That is a huge amount of paper and other natural resources that can be put to better use elsewhere. The use of bidets also reduces the amount of waste produced, since irrigation with a water jet produces little to no waste.

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  • Kevin Thill