After toilet paper shortages, should you say yay or nay to a bidet? | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

After toilet paper shortages, should you say yay or nay to a bidet?

click to enlarge TUSHY bidet attachment - CP PHOTO: AMANDA WALTZ
CP Photo: Amanda Waltz
TUSHY bidet attachment
Everybody poops, and as the COVID-19 outbreak and its many well-publicized toilet paper shortages have shown, it's every butt for itself. But what are the alternatives to the roll?

If you've been paying attention to the sponsored ads popping up in your Instagram feed, you may have seen something about bidet attachments. Companies like Brondell, Omigo, and TUSHY (whose website is not to be confused with the porn site have set out to make bidets more mainstream in the U.S. by manufacturing attachments that can be retrofitted to any toilet.

These companies have also touted the many benefits of buying a bidet attachment. Tom Lotrecchiano, co-founder of Omigo, claims that bidet users in the U.S. have seen a drastic reduction in toilet paper usage (75% to 100% by his numbers, though I'm highly skeptical of the latter figure). Miki Agrawal, founder and chief creative officer of TUSHY, says that bidets are better for the environment and the body compared to using just toilet paper, which he claims “kills millions of trees per year and causes chronic infections and disease ... like UTIs, hemorrhoids, and fissures.”

Based on recent sale trends, Lotrecchiano and Agrawal say Americans have, perhaps out of desperation, turned to bidets.

“What they’re learning is that modern bidets are just better than toilet paper,” says Lotrecchiano, adding that Omigo saw a huge spike in sales and traffic to its website when the COVID-19 crisis began. “They get you cleaner, like taking a shower every time you go, and they are healthier.”

Like Omigo, Agrawal says TUSHY sales shot up “when the toilet paper shortage first happened in mid-March,” with profits hitting $1 million in a single day. Both Lotrecchiano and TUSHY CEO Jason Ojalvo claim that their respective product sales are now around 10 times what they usually are.

Pittsburgh residents are among those adopting the bidet life. Performance artist Phat Man Dee says she bought hers as soon as the isolation phase began, but had dreamed of buying one ever since she went on a European tour in 2015.

“I stayed with some friends who had one, I tried it, and I realized I’d not been living my best life,” says Phat Man Dee. “Pragmatically, it would help me use less toilet paper, which is good for the environment, but it would also help me be fresh and clean in ways I didn’t know was possible. When I saw the insanity beginning in stores and hoarding style behaviors manifesting, I realized that I should make my dreams of installing a bidet attachment come true.”

She estimates that her attachment cost around $50 and took about 20 minutes to install. While she still needs to use some toilet paper to dry off, she says her household now uses a lot less.

Hearing about it is one thing, but I wanted to experience this bidet revolution. Because TUSHY is the brand I see advertised most on social media, I asked if I could try one of their attachments. When it arrived, I was surprised at how low-tech it is, consisting of a light, plastic bidet piece, a small water line, and a few other items to help secure it to the seat.

I had to make a Home Depot run to grab a flexible water supply line that cost about $5. Once I had that, the installation process took maybe 30 minutes.

The bidet I received has three settings — Butt Wash, Nozzle Wash, and Pressure Off for when it's not in use. Consumers can choose from fancier versions that offer drying functions and hot water. The first time I used it, I was impressed/terrified at the nozzle's accuracy; it felt like I gave myself a low-grade enema. Not realizing the intensity of going full Butt Wash, I'm pretty sure I ripped my butthole a new butthole (you can adjust the dial for gentler, less invasive pressure). This is what happens when you don't fully read the instructions.

Once I got the hang of it, I was able to find a comfortable, less traumatizing setting and can confirm that bidet attachments are worth the investment. They are surprisingly affordable (my TUSHY model retails for about $79) and easy to install, with no plumbing experience required. After using the bidet for a little over a week, it's true that, while you still need to use some toilet paper, you will use far fewer sheets.

Phat Man Dee puts it best: “Don’t wait to evolve to the next stage in humanity. Cleanliness is next to Goddessliness. Do it for yourself, do it for your soul.”

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