Cheeky Business: The Battle of Bidet vs.Toilet Paper

By Jenna Shelton
jshelton@lc.edu

With all of the shortages occurring all over the United States, it is time to talk business, booty business, that is.

I know that bathroom habits are not only a private issue but are a personal choice when it comes to the multitude of types of toilet paper, wipes, bidets and other bathroom gizmos and gadgets out there. There is better biodegradability paper, multiple plys (basically how many different layers of paper in the roll), different softness and strongness, bleached or unbleached. I have even seen scented and unscented rolls. That is just the toilet paper, I will not even get started on the other options that can be used to clean up after using the facilities.

I have always been a bit of a brand snob as I am usually always buying the Charmin’ in the red package and never thought I would see the day when there would be literally nothing on the paper product shelves for weeks on end. Unfortunately, that day came a few weeks back, and since then there has been a desperate need for certain personal hygiene products that cannot be shelved quick enough. Fortunately, I don’t really have a desperate need for a huge supply of toilet paper.

I am not going to get into any TMI personal details, but a few years ago when we moved out to the country, we had bidets installed. We had a handicap accessible house built specifically for my father who was in a wheelchair. After struggling at the old house for years as his physical health declined, he depended on me more and more for his personal hygiene needs. This was extremely difficult for him; it was almost like having to have his daughter help him in his personal needs took something away from him. He really could do a lot for himself, just certain things where he could lose his balance and fall were where I was helping with.

When it was time to have his bathroom designed, we made sure that he would be able to safely use the shower, sink and toilet while preserving his dignity. As we researched different equipment that could be used, the bidet just seemed the most ridiculous, honestly. Like, when have you ever really seen or heard about having one? Maybe in a movie or a book, but before we had ours installed, I had only seen one in person once before, and it looked like a water fountain next to a regular toilet.

We originally got the bidet to assist my father, but I am not kidding when I say almost everyone in my family ended up buying one after my dad encouraged them to try his bidet out. The fact that it could be easily installed by replacing the toilet lid with the bid and attaching a little flexible hose to the tank pipe and plugged into a nearby outlet was a huge plus for those of my relatives who lived in older homes that may be difficult to install a traditional separate bidet the way super fancy looking places may have. There was no special plumbing needed, and I even personally installed one for a relative.

Before we moved we lived in town and had a regular sewer system, but now that we were in the country we had a septic tank, so the fact that we used less paper product than we used to was a benefit. In fact, bidets cut down on the need to use surplus toilet paper or wipes that often cause blocked sewer pipes and septic tank buildup, eventually causing expensive repairs. We literally cut our paper product use by 75 percent, which during a paper product shortage like what we are facing now, is a huge deal.

Also, have you ever seen how much a basic necessity like toilet paper costs? Even the scratchy, would-not-want-to-use-on-a-regular- basis stuff—similar to that of the type of paper they have at public places and schools—can really add up when you are buying for a multiple person residence. Cutting down on the amount of toilet paper even by a small amount can really add up, and again in a time that is uncertain like it is now, every penny matters.

There are a lot of different bidets out there, from cheap little attachments to those that are top of the line, gold-plated type bidets. We ended up with a pretty expensive bidet, but lucked out with our builder who was able to buy two for the price of one. At the time, I thought there was no way this product was even going to be used, but since it was such a good deal, it was one we could not pass up. Eventually I used my bidet, and, honestly, I have used it ever since, in fact, whenever we go on a vacation we all joke about how we have forgotten how to use the bathroom without our bidet. I also know how grateful my extended family members are who are not having to worry about going out frequently or to multiple stores looking for paper products when the chance of catching a virus is so prevalent.

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