So you’re one of those people who’ve never heard of the word `bidet’ before today? Well, for the uninitiated like you, just understand that it’s a kind of sink installed right there in your bathroom. But, mind you, it’s no ordinary sink. It’s designed specifically for cleaning up after the toilet. In other words, it’s the place where you wash yourself after visiting the toilet. Is it, then, a replacement for toilet paper? Yes, definitely, but it’s actually much more. The hygiene, cost and environmental benefits of a bathroom bidet are overwhelmingly greater than those of traditional toilet paper.
History of the Bidet
To start at the beginning, a bidet is not a modern invention. Its use goes back to the 17th century; the earliest written reference to it is in 1710 in Italy. The bidet, however, seems to be an invention not of the Italian but of French furniture makers in the late 17th century. No further details are known, but suffice it to say that it’s an old concept that’s witnessed a revival in recent years in many European countries, and also the United States, although it’s not so popular yet in the latter. For some inexplicable reason, most Americans still prefer toilet paper over the bidet.
In modern times, the bidet gained popularity around the 1970s in Britain. What really happened was that British travelers to bidet-friendly nations, such as Italy, France and Spain, wanted to bring the sophistication of the bathrooms of these countries to their own homes. And the bidet was an integral part of that sophistication.
Demand for the Bathroom Bidet
Well, unfortunately, despite the myriad benefits, bidets are yet to catch the wholesale imagination of people in many countries. In British homes, for instance, bathroom bidets are still quite uncommon as bathrooms are small and not spacious enough to accommodate this bathroom fixture. No exact data is, however, available on how many homes really have bidets in the bathrooms in the UK. Considering the extensive use of toilet paper in the country, the number of households having bidets can’t be too high. According to available statistics, in 2014, an estimated 1.8 million people used perfumed toilet papers in the UK.
(http://www.statista.com/statistics/303006/toilet-paper-usage-by-type-in-the-uk/). And that, mind you, is only the perfumed variety.
But with increasing awareness about its benefits, the demand for the bidet is also spiraling, thus encouraging more and more bidet manufacturers to come out with innovative fixtures of this kind. From portable, battery-operated bidets to the electronic ones that are integrated with the toilet seat, there are all types of bidets available now. You can also go for bidet showers (hand-held nozzle variety) if space and portability is a major concern.
Benefits of a Bidet
Bidets are emerging as a popular alternative to toilet paper across Europe, South America and Asia (the US, as discussed earlier, is still something of an exception with the trend yet to catch up there in a big way). That’s because of their many benefits. Using these basins to wash your private parts is extremely beneficial in many ways.
Health & Hygiene
Health and hygiene, of course, tops the list of the benefits of the bidet. The principle is the same as in washing your hands. Germs on your arms or hands can’t possibly be wiped clean just with a paper tissue or towel. That’s just not going to get rid of all the germs and bacteria. So you need to wash your hands properly, with water, and preferably with soap and water. Similarly, toilet paper simply can’t clean up your private parts the way water can.
Actually, a bidet is useful not just in the prevention of health problems but also in curing a few of them. The water that a bidet throws inside the user can help people suffering from hemorrhoids or piles, and even constipation. Toilet paper is only going to leave you with more pain if you’re suffering from such conditions. The bidet, on the other hand, will have a soothing effect.
Naturally, with no paper involved, the bidet is an environment-friendly alternative to toilet paper. An interesting fact noticed in the UK is that the use of toilet paper by the British in times of recession goes up instead of declining. (http://www.tissueworldmagazine.com/latest-headlines/toilet-paper-in-the-uk). It’s suggested that this could be the result of more people staying at home during recessionary times. The point is that with use of toilet paper showing no signs of diminishing, one can only imagine the number of trees that are felled every year just to meet the toilet paper needs of people around the world. With so much thrust globally on environment protection, wouldn’t it make sense to replace your toilet paper with the more hygienic bidet?
Coming now to the cost involved, toilet paper is quite an expensive thing to have in your bathroom. And the bigger the family, the larger the consumption! So a significant part of your monthly budget probably goes into just buying toilet paper. The bidet, on the contrary, is a one-time investment that will also probably save you a lot of money in terms of healthcare costs.
Apart from these three major benefits, bidets serve some other useful purposes, too. A bidet makes your bathroom look sophisticated (that, after all, was the reason for bidets coming to the UK in the 1970s). With the huge variety of bidets now available in the market, you can easily find something to suit your bathroom scheme or theme.
Many modern bidets are also made to fit small bathrooms. You can, in fact, go for a bidet seat that requires no separate space or plumbing but can simply be fitted into the existing space and pipes. What’s more, bidet seats are quite warm and comfortable as compared to ordinary toilet seats. So you can imagine the difference it’ll make while going to the toilet on a chilly winter day.
Furthermore, with a bidet installed in your home, you no longer need to worry about the toilet getting clogged with toilet paper. You’ll also end up saving on (this is really going to surprise you) water consumption. Flushing down toilet paper can be quite water-consuming, you know. And that’s not counting the huge quantity of water used every year in just manufacturing toilet paper.
Needless to say, the benefits of a bidet over toilet paper are amazing. Bidets are indeed a great alternative to the costly and less hygienic toilet paper. No wonder the popularity of bidets is slowly but surely increasing into the West too. (Asian and Middle Eastern countries traditionally have always used water instead of toilet paper). The sheer variety of bidets that are now being manufactured across the world ensures that there’s a bidet to fit any bathroom, however big or small. It’s an alternative to toilet paper that you simply can’t afford to ignore if you care for your health and that of the environment around you.