As the country enters into yet another month of lockdowns and quarantine, things look different than they did. Unlike at the beginning of the pandemic, most grocery stores have toilet paper in stock. People no longer aim to horde as much toilet paper as possible, but as families realize what they spend each month on toilet paper, bidets become an attractive alternative.
A bidet can reduce toilet paper use by 75% or more. That’s quite a bit, especially when you consider how much the average family uses. According to an article from TODAY, “the average U.S. household uses 409 equalized regular rolls per year.”
The cost of toilet paper
At first, 409 rolls may not sound like a lot. After all, the huge 24-packs aren’t budget-breaking. 409 rolls per year is 34 rolls per month. At Walmart, one of the more affordable packs of toilet paper is $8.75 for 12 rolls.One
That equates to almost $25 per month in toilet paper costs, assuming that a total of 34 rolls are used. Over the course of a year, that’s $300. And this is for the cheap toilet paper–the kind no one really wants to use. No one wants 1-ply toilet paper. If you purchase higher-quality toilet paper, the cost will only go up, especially if you try to recreate the bidet experience by adding toilet-safe wet wipes to the mix.
For example, Charmin toilet paper appears to be cheaper if you only look at the larger roll sizes. However, the “mega rolls” are based on a multiple of the regular rolls, which are all but impossible to buy anymore. Larger roll sizes mean people tend to use more toilet paper, which means the consumption rate remains about the same. If one 30-pack of Charmin toilet paper lasts for two months, that’s $15 per month.
Families are still spending $180 per year on toilet paper by those estimates, although most families end up using more. In addition to use toilet paper for cleaning, it is also used for runny noses, spills, and much more–making the amount used even higher.
If you budget anywhere from $300 to $400 per year for toilet paper, that amount adds up. Over ten years, that’s multiple thousands of dollars.
The benefits of bidets
A bidet can significantly reduce that expense. While the upfront cost is often still steep, bidets last for a long time. They are also far less expensive to operate. Bidets use minimal electricity and only around 1/8 of a gallon of water per wash. (It’s also worth noting that it takes around 37 gallons of water, 1.3 KWh of electricity, and 1.5 pounds of wood to produce a single roll of toilet paper, according to an article from Scientific American.)
Most people consider bidets to be significantly cleaner than using toilet paper, too, although the scientific jury is still out on this topic. The argument is that dry toilet paper doesn’t do a great job of actually cleaning the area, and instead moves bacteria around.
Toilet paper carries a risk of injury, especially to those with sensitive skin. Wiping too hard can cause tears and scratches in sensitive areas. Bidets do not have that risk, and you only need about three sheets of toilet paper to dry yourself off after cleaning. One 30-pack of Charmin contains 8,580 sheets, or enough toilet paper to dry yourself after using the bidet 2,860 times.
Bidets also have a not-insignificant environmental impact thanks to the reduction in toilet paper waste each month.
Why bidets haven’t caught on
If bidets have so many benefits, why aren’t they more popular? In the majority of the world, they are. Bidets are commonplace in Europe and Asia, but they became associated with brothels early in the 18th century in America. As a result, bidets carried a negative stigma that still lingers to this day.
Many people also dislike the idea of being squirted in the bum with a blast of cold water. While it might wake you up, it’s not something most people want as part of their daily routine. The good news is that most modern bidets have water heaters, so the experience is far more pleasant.
Another reason is the cost. Only recently have bidets reached a level that makes them accessible to the average person. Previously, the price point prohibited most people from making the investment.
Now there are low-priced budget options for people that want to give a bidet a try without a huge upfront investment. The TUSHY Spa bidet attachment is $130, but lacks many of the more advanced features of other units. It doesn’t use power and hooks in to the water line underneath your sink, rather than most bidets that attach to the water line leading to the toilet tank.
A mid-range option is the CoWay Bidetmega 150. This $400 unit is more like the bidets you will find in Japan. Not only does it clean your tush, but it also has a self-cleaning nozzle. The Bidetmega 150’s control panel is lined with Braille, so even those without great eyesight can make use of it.
There are other features that make this bidet worth the investment, such as the Child Mode that caters to more sensitive skin, and a Front Mode for cleaning more sensitive areas. An included nightlight makes it easy to see when the call of nature wakes you at 3 AM. The Coway Bidetmega 150 has an ECO mode that reduces its power consumption when it’s not in use, too–a fact that further reduces the operating costs.
Both of these models are “toilet attachment” bidets, which means they become part of the toilet and are not standalone units. If you’re looking for a more traditional bidet that does it all, you might consider the Ove Tuva Smart Toilet. This is a toilet that doubles as a bidet and features a heated seat, water temperature and pressure control, and even a remote control.
It carries with it a price tag of $1,200, however. The style and design give the Ove Tuva a sophisticated look that appeals to a lot of people, and the tankless design reduces water consumption my a huge margin. It has heated seats, built-in bidet, and an air-dryer.
A bidet is a smart investment
Whether you want to reduce expenses for basic necessities or you want to improve your overall hygiene, a bidet will help. If your budget is tight, investing in a sub-$200 model can get you started–but the best value comes from the mid-range models. A bidet like the Coway Bidetmega 150 has many of the same features as the company’s higher-end models but at a much more affordable price point.
Reduce your toilet paper usage and expenses by purchasing a bidet. Though the upfront cost may seem like a lot, if you divide the cost over the years you’ll use the device, it will more than pay for itself, especially as the current coronavirus pandemic continues for a while to come.
Bidets are not entirely without risk. As with any purchase, there is always a chance it might have a defect. There are stories of faulty heating units resulting in blasts of scalding water to extremely sensitive regions, but these sorts of things are few and far between. You should also consider the warranty on a bidet before you purchase, including the types of damages the warranty covers.
According to Coway, all bidets come with a 12-month manufacturers warranty that covers 100% replacement parts and labor. The company says most problems can be resolved over the phone, but if you aren’t sure you can fix a problem, they can arrange free shipping to a service center.
The main thing to keep in mind is this. You are going to spend at least $200 per year just on toilet paper, not including the cost of wet wipes. A bidet has a high upfront investment, but over the span of years will result in significant savings. Over ten years, you are looking at around $3,000 for toilet paper and anywhere from $120 to $1,200 for a bidet.
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