I don’t think I’ve ever giggled this much in my life.
Seriously. I was feeling a mix of emotions checking out a new bidet — not just any ordinary one, but a smart bidet! While uncommon here in the U.S., bidets have long been a staple bathroom fixture in many European countries. With toilet paper continuing to sell out like hotcakes during this pandemic, it’s no surprise that consumers are open to the idea of adopting one as an alternative.
They don’t come cheap, though, with many of them priced at $400 to start. You could undoubtedly buy a good supply of toilet paper that’ll keep you stocked for months at that rate, but bidets offer us that sliver of severing our TP dependency, and much more. But how practical are they?
Here’s what my butt thinks.
You don’t need to be a professional to install
I was surprised I didn’t have to call a professional to install the Omigo bidet, which took me about 30 minutes to set up. All that was required was to remove my existing toilet seat, attach the necessary hoses, and then connect the bidet to the mounting bracket. Done! Though I sometimes question my own handyman skills, I was relieved that I didn’t screw up this installation.
You’ll need to plug in the Omigo, something that may be a problem, as not all bathrooms have an AC outlet near the toilet. My nearest outlet is nowhere near my toilet, so I snaked an extension cord to make the connection. If this is a problem, the company does have an alternative that’s more of an add-on attachment, the $79 Omigo Element, which doesn’t require power from an outlet to function — it instead uses the pressure coming from the water intake valve.
A thrill ride with many expressions
Once installed, the Omigo bidet looked a bit intimidating. I never thought of toilets as imposing figures, but even my two cats were careful to inspect it up and down. My worry dissipated the moment I gave it a whirl.
The Omigo bidet comes to life once the “Let’s Go!” button is pressed on the accompanying remote. Once the stream started, I could not stop laughing throughout the experience. With the remote, I was able to adjust the strength of the stream, its position, and temperature. It’s a roller coaster ride, for sure. My behind was entertained because I didn’t know what to expect next.
Beyond its ability to deliver a solid clean, there are many other features that differentiates it over your standard bidet, or bidet attachments. The Omigo features include a heated seat, soft-close lid, carbon filter deodorizer, self-cleaning and sterilization, built-in LED night light, and even a warm air dryer. With a traditional bidet, you’re just getting a stream of water to clean your backside.
Toilet paper savings; you’ll go through fewer rolls
I thought that having a bidet would bring me independence from relying on toilet paper, but that’s not the case.
One thing that’s often overlooked is the wet bum you’re left with, even after you sit through two minutes of air drying. Who wants a soggy derrière? I found that the bidet didn’t manage a complete dry, which means that you’ll still need some toilet paper to dry off.
While you still need toilet paper, you’ll need a lot less than before. Georgia-Pacific LLC, the makers of Quilted Northern and Angel Soft, claims the average U.S. household (about 2.6 people) goes through an equivalent of 409 regular rolls per year. If a roll costs you $1, that’s $409 per year. If you really want to get the specifics, there’s an online calculator that will tell you how long your toilet paper will last you.
It’s important to know it’s possible to save at least half as much on toilet paper using a bidet. Let’s theorize that you use two wipes each time you visit the john — one for the initial dirty work, and another for the “just to make sure” wipe. A bidet eliminates the need to use toilet paper with the initial wipe. You still need to use toilet paper for drying, but that’s it.
Now, if you’re a bit more liberal with your TP — three, four, or even five wipes before you’re satisfied — a bidet can eliminate all but the last one to make sure your tush is dry. Unless the drying system used by these smart bidets improves, you’ll still need a little bit of toilet paper.
The unintended costs
Our toilet paper dependency can be mitigated using a bidet, which can save families hundreds of dollars per year. But then again, there are a couple of unintended costs to consider. I’m talking about the increased use of water and electricity.
Interestingly enough, Omigo has a link on its web site for the environmental impact of making toilet paper — including how much water is required to produce a single roll. Yes, water is needed in the manufacturing process — a total of 37 gallons in fact.
In order to match the same volume, you’d have to use the bidet approximately 21.5 times to match the amount needed to make a single roll of toilet paper. That figure is determined by the one pint of water that most bidets use per wash, combined with the 1.6 gallons of water required by a single flush.
The numbers are sobering, but you’re still going to incur costs for water and electric consumption. Bidets that operate on 110V electricity are rated to cost upwards of around $65.70 per year, or $21.90 on the low end. As for water usage, the annual cost is about $1.93 — and that’s with high usage. What does this mean? It signifies the cost savings of owning a bidet versus strictly buying toilet paper.
A future fixture in the bathroom
The bathroom has seen its fair share of upgrades over the years. We have smart toothbrushes that tell you how well you’re brushing as well as showerheads that play music and can access Alexa. However, the toilet has often been neglected — but no more.
If this pandemic has shown us all something, it is our ability to adapt to the changes. And you know what? Bidets as a whole should become a staple fixture in the bathroom. Sure, there’s the initial part of overcoming our misconceptions, but the savings you’ll reap from using them, as well as the cleaner rear end you’ll get, are reasons enough for bidets to stay around. Your behind will thank you.