If you’ve come across articles about bidets, then it’s normal to find a rather lively discussion on bidet vs toilet paper in the comment section. Interestingly, you’ll also come to realize that some TP-people find bidet users’ bathroom habits weird in the same way that those who swear by using bidets find the washroom accommodations of TP-users inadequate.
So in this article, we weighed in on which between the two is better. Setting aside our prejudices, here’s what we found out:
Bidet vs Toilet Paper
Almost everybody knows what a toilet paper is, however, the case is very much different for bidets. Depending on where you are in the world, bidets’ popularity can range from pretty common to completely unknown. But in places where bidets are found in almost every household such as Italy and Venezuela, it is hard for a bidet user to feel comfortable with the idea of cleaning up only with toilet paper after going No.1 or No.2.
To be fair, a typical TP-user will be equally perplexed to find an extra ‘toilet bowl’ in the washroom. And you can imagine his or her consternation or discomfort as well upon being introduced to the bidet and getting fully acquainted with what it is for. Perhaps, it will take some toss and turn in bed many a night before a TP-user can be convinced to give it a try finally.
While this popular European bathroom fixture is gaining popularity all over the world, some countries, particularly in North America, are yet to open their bathroom doors for the polarizing bidet. Meanwhile, in Japan, 60% of the Japanese households have high-tech washlets that can warm your seat, squirt water from the front or rear, air-dry you down there, and conceal the deed with an air freshener.
Why this neat bathroom contraption is not selling like hot pancakes in a country like the US is based on a bad first impression that never seemed to go away—one that’s linked to sex and scandal—and the cultural aversion to talking about bathroom habits.
Ironically, the prototype of the modern bidet nozzle was invented by an American medical doctor, inventor, and businessman named John Harvey Kellogg in 1928. (If it’s any relief to you, it was his brother Will who invented cornflakes, not him). It was called the "anal douche." But most Americans up until now haven’t warmed up to the idea of using a bidet, making them one of the biggest consumers of toilet paper in the world.
If you’d ask a TP-user to use a bidet or a bidet-advocate to use toilet paper, then it’s safe to guess that you’d get the same reaction and it involves calling one method unthinkable and unsanitary. One who swears by toilet paper may struggle with the idea of getting their hands down there or using a handheld nozzle that some stranger has gotten his or her hands on. A bidet-champion, on the other hand, will argue that toilet paper will never give you that fresh and clean feeling you get from using water.
There’s no comparative research to support that bidets make you less germy down there than toilet paper. However, there are certainly studies that indicate that toilet paper especially the scented and colored varieties can cause various problems, including rashes, UTI, and yeast infections; whereas, bidets can provide relief for conditions such as anal itching and fissure as well as hemorrhoids.
On the other hand, cleaning with harsh soap and water can also cause drying out of the mucosal lining, which can cause micro cuts and inflammation, among others. Cleaning the genital area with plain warm water remains the medically-recommended method to clean the nether region.
So which one’s better? It appears proper use of either has more impact on health than your choice of a cleaning tool.
Best practices include:
- Not wiping with toilet paper or squirting water from the back to front as this can spread fecal bacteria and other microorganisms, especially to the ladies’ more sensitive private parts
- Not rubbing the toilet paper hard or using high water pressure
- Washing hands after using the restroom as 80% of diseases are transferred by human contact
If you’re talking about expediency, then there’s no doubt that a regular TP-user will be first to step out of the washroom than the more thorough bidet-user. But women on their monthly period, women who have just given birth, hemorrhoid sufferers, and the elderly are among those who will find bidets more convenient and less painful to use than toilet paper. And with different types of bidets to choose from with basic to advance features, you’re sure to find one that suits your needs or preferences.
Did you know that an average American uses 57 sheets of toilet paper per day? That adds up to 20,805 sheets in a year! Now, multiply that by the number of persons in your household, divide by the number of sheets in a roll, and multiply by how much each roll costs. We’re guessing that you’ve arrived at a considerable amount.
Should you get a $40 handheld bidet? Your year’s budget for toilet paper will be enough to pay for it and even fetch you some change. Moreover, a bidet seat or a bidet attachment can reduce toilet paper use by 75% or more, year on year.
Besides monetary cost, bidet and toilet paper usage both leave an environmental impact. In the US alone, around 15 million trees have to be cut down to meet its demand of 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper per year. On top of the 15 million trees that are felled, the costly TP habit also guzzles 474 billion gallons of water, 253,000 tons of chlorine, and 17.3 terawatts of electricity.
While there are no stats on how much water or electricity it takes to make a bidet, it certainly requires little water in action. A bidet uses only about 1/8 gallon of water per use. Moreover, the use of bidets reduces the occurrence of clogged pipes and lessens the burden placed on sewer systems.
So, which side wins in the bidet vs toilet paper battle? Clearly, bidets have the upper-hand over toilet paper in many aspects. However, it’s understandable if TP-royalists will be hesitant to try out this ‘novel’ idea as they have gotten on perfectly fine in life with good old toilet paper. Still, using bidets is worth trying even just for curiosity’s sake. Who knows you’ll be one of those who’ve tried it and never looked back.
But can we imagine a world with no tissue paper in the washroom? Yes perhaps, when all toilets have the high-tech bidets of Japan. ‘Til then a compromise seems to be a good start. After all, this issue doesn’t have to be an and-or-or situation as some bidet user will tell you.