In an attempt to avoid warring over toilet paper in the wake of the coronavirus, 32-year-old Eric Porter took the advice of a friend who worked in health services: “Get a cheap bottle bidet from Amazon instead.”
The friend assured Porter that this humble device — a small baby-blue bottle with a long white neck that bends at a 120-degree angle — would be more economical, environmentally friendly and far less stressful in the event of a nationwide quarantine.
There was just one problem: Porter didn’t know how to use it.
“I was sitting on the toilet trying to figure out if I should be putting it between my legs or reaching around my back,” Porter tells me. During his first attempts, Porter missed his butthole, spraying the back of his thighs instead. When the bidet’s nozzle did get to the right area, he ended up squeezing the bottle too hard, giving his ass a surprisingly violent shot of cold water. And even then, Porter says, the bidet hadn’t cleaned everything. He still had to dip into his toilet paper rations.
Learning curve or not, his overall interest reflects a much larger global interest in bidets. Because since COVID-19 has intensified over the last few weeks, resulting in people stocking up on — and even creating a black market for — toilet paper, the interest in bidets has been spiking.
In Australia, for example, bidet sales have grown by 500 percent. But with all these new converts, there’s been a lot of confusion about how exactly a bidet works.
How tricky is it really, though, to wash your butt with water?
Growing up in a Muslim family, the lota — a spherical water vessel often made from brass that’s pretty much found in every home in the Middle East and North Africa — was ingrained into my potty training, which, much to the chagrin of my already overworked mother, meant months of me learning how to hold the vessel correctly, and determining the proper amount of space between the nozzle and my ass so that I could control how much lukewarm water was being used. After all of that practice, I finally got it, but I still know others who leave the toilet seat covered in water after they use their bidet.
Like with most things, there are dozens of online guides demonstrating how to use a bidet, including this particularly helpful wikiHow, which should make using a bidet fairly self-explanatory for guys like Porter (and frankly, my friends who still shoot water all over the bathroom). But as bidet manufacturers — clearly taking advantage of the moment — tell me, their product can still be intimidating, especially for guys who’ve been taught how to clean with only toilet paper.
And so, they’re attempting to make things as familiar (and easy) as possible. “We offer a simple design with just three control options — those being water pressure, temperature and nozzle angle — to hit the bullseye every time,” explains Jason Ojalvo, the CEO of the toilet add-on Tushy. Additionally, each of his customers is given a four-step guide. “We break it down like this: 1) Do your doo; 2) turn the knob and spray your butt; 3) pat dry; and 4) wash your hands,” Ojalvo continues. “Cleaning your butt shouldn’t be a science.”
As for Porter, he does say that he’s getting used to his bidet. Slowly, at least, what used to be a shock to the butthole is becoming more and more of an enjoyable experience. “I feel cleaner for sure,” he says. “It’s like the feeling of just coming out of the shower.”