As the novel coronavirus spreads germs and fear worldwide, many (either voluntarily or by government decree) are hunkering down at home with a stockpile of household items. Among the most prized? Toilet paper, which, rather inexplicably, has all but disappeared from store shelves.
Amid this apparent TP shortage, people seem to be scrambling for new ways to clean their backsides, which may explain the sudden surge of interest in bidets.
“We are, for lack of a better word, swamped,” James Lin, president of online retailer BidetKing.com, told realtor.com® by email. “With all the TP panic-buying, we have seen significant increases in both traffic and sales: 600% to 800%, conservatively. We’re really slammed on all fronts and running very low on inventory.”
Traditionally, a bidet—a basin you straddle so a stream of water sprays your nether regions—has long been a popular bathroom feature in Europe. Today, it’s gaining traction in the U.S., and can refer to a broad range of products. Some, like bidet wands, are portable, whereas others are massive, toilet-size permanent fixtures that require bathroom remodels. They also have features like heated seats, air dryers, Bluetooth integration, and remote controls.
And get this fun fact: The average American uses 50 pounds of toilet paper a year, amounting to $243 per person. Just think of how much you’d save—in cash, TP shortage anxieties, or even the last-minute aggravations of finding yourself stuck on the john staring at an empty cardboard roll.
So if a bidet piques your interest right about now, check out all there is to know about this nifty bathroom feature below.
Bidets were already a hot home trend—even before the COV-19 outbreak
Truth be told, bidets were already trending in homes, long before the TP-buying frenzy.
Lori Miller, owner of LGC Interior Design in Melville, NY, calls bidets “a symbol of status.”
“We do believe they will be more popular, as this feature is now being incorporated into regular toilets,” she says. “This allows for space in smaller bathrooms and is seen as a single purchase rather than two separate toilets.”
And while a bidet may take some getting used to, those who install them in their homes are typically very happy with them, says John Heidenry, managing partner of Red Bridge Condos, in Hoboken, NJ.
“After they’ve used them, all of my clients have expressed their love for bidets,” he says, adding that advanced hygiene and heated seats are popular features.
One problem, however, is the cost: The average cost of installing a bidet ranges from $200 to $700, which requires plumbing installation, and $250 to $500 for a bidet toilet seat, which may require a separate waterline and nearby GFCI outlet.
“Retro installations of bidets are very expensive: Electric ones obviously need an electric outlet, they need a different water connector than regular toilets, and they are very expensive,” Heidenry says. “It’s not as easy as taking out the new toilet and adding a bidet.”
Bidets could potentially save homeowners money, though. It would eliminate the need for toilet paper, for one, which also creates less waste. Not using as much toilet paper is also easier on the plumbing and causes fewer clogged toilets, points out Benjamin Joseph, co-founder of Liberty Home Guard.
“While it doesn’t add tremendous value to a home sale, it is safe to say that the cost of the bidet is adequately offset by the savings in toilet paper and the marginal increased value in the home,” Joseph says.
What’s the best bidet for you?
Considering installing a bidet? Check out these options, from the portable to the permanent.
When you’re ready to commit to a new addition to your bathroom, install a floor-mounted bidet right next to your toilet. This one from Duravit ($449.99, Wayfair.com) features a modern design and comes with an overflow valve.
Electric warm-water bidet
This Washlet brand toilet seat bidet ($379.99, Wayfair.com) fits most toilets, and it’s electric so you can cleanse with warm water. It features an automatic air deodorizer, heated seat, hands-free warm air dryer, and control panel.
Remote-control bidet toilet seat
Another toilet seat bidet option ($187.49, Walmart.com) is this one by SmartBidet, which comes with a remote control. It also features a warm air dryer, heated water and seat, oscillating sprayer, and adjustable water pressure.
Handheld portable bidet
A portable bidet ($35.99, Walmart.com) is a solid option if you’re not ready for permanent bathroom modifications. Fill it with water and adjust the 180-degree rotary nozzle to get clean—and, you can take it with you wherever you go.
This bidet attachment ($30, Walmart.com) fastens to your existing toilet seat, so no new plumbing or complicated installation is necessary.