No toilet paper? No problem!
Concern about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. has inspired droves of shoppers to stock up on toilet paper in recent weeks as they anticipate an extended period of social distancing in their homes.
That stockpiling quickly correlated with TP shortages — and a spike in business for companies selling add-on bidets that replace the need for bathroom tissue.
“Basically, we’re having a Black Friday–like day every day. Sales have spiked 10 times,” Tom Lotrecchiano, co-founder of Omigo, which makes “luxury bidet seats” that can be easily installed on an existing toilet, tells PEOPLE. “While the toilet paper shortage is inspiring this spike, customers are telling us they love it so much they’re never going back.”
Adds Lotrecchiano: “We think they’re taking a good look at toilet paper and realizing they might not need it anymore.”
According to TUSHY, a company that bills itself as “toilet crusaders” and offers add-on bidets, Americans use an average of 57 sheets of toilet paper per day. And, as many store shelves were left empty recently, TUSHY, too, saw a noticeable surge in bidet sales.
“While this could be the tipping point that finally gets us to adopt the bidet, TUSHY has been saying since 2015 that bidets will replace toilet paper,” founder Miki Agrawal tells PEOPLE. “TUSHY’s goal has always been to save the 15 million trees that are getting flushed down every year, save billions of gallons of water required to make the toilet paper and actually help clean bottoms properly, once and for all.”
New bidet models simplify the installation process, acting as add-ons to standard toilets and connect directly to a fresh water line.
“It’s supplement to your existing toilet. No need to replace the throne,” Lotrecchiano says, describing models that “slide underneath” the toilet seat and others that replace the existing toilet seat and “provide instant warm water with custom washes, a heated seat, nightlight and tons of other features all controlled by a wireless remote.”
“You want to give it regular cleanings to make sure everything stays sanitary, but nothing special is needed to give your bidet a nice long life of butt-washing,” he says.
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A spokesperson for BioBidet tells PEOPLE that the manufacturers have “all hands on deck” to process their increase in orders, hoping to reach “as many homes as possible.”
“Many people simply haven’t experienced or encountered [bidets] after being accustomed to toilet paper for so long, but with shortages occurring throughout the nation, people are starting to take a different perspective on their hygiene,” says the spokesperson. “It’s all about being clean, comfortable and cutting back on toilet paper.”
Even as bidets have become common fixtures in homes internationally, the U.S. continues to be mostly mystified by the concept. Touting benefits of cleanliness and environmental impact, makers of bidets hope this sudden spotlight on the toilet paper alternatives marks a new normal.
“Bidet adoption in the U.S. is a word-of-mouth thing: Once you get one, you tell your friends and family,” says Lotrecchiano. “That’s how we’ve been growing our business. It’s true that bidets are having a moment that will transcend the current crisis, but we would trade that success in a second for this crisis to be over, the country to be safe and everyone’s lives to go back to normal.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.
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