They panic-bought bidets during the pandemic. It changed their lives.

Bidet installed on a standard toilet.

While the toilet paper shortages that hit the United States during pandemic lockdowns in the spring of 2020 ultimately eased up, they’ve had a lasting impact on one industry: the bidet business.

“The industry here in the U.S. just blew up. You couldn’t get a bidet if you wanted to,” says James Lin, founder of, an online marketplace for all varieties of the bathroom appliance. “We all sold out. … There was a huge scramble to get more.”

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Bidets - which clean you up with a stream of water, reducing the need for tissue - certainly weren’t the only items that people waited months for during that strange time. But while many have regretted buying their Pelotons or even their homes, those who installed the bathroom fixture at the height of the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020 are far from remorseful. Instead, they’ve become true believers, evangelizing to family and friends and trying to help the United States catch up with the rest of the world on bidet use.

Rosanne Orgill, who lives outside Salt Lake City, bought three bidet attachments for her toilets in spring 2020. (Bidet attachments and bidet seats get installed directly onto existing toilets, whereas bidets are stand-alone appliances.) Orgill’s husband, who had traveled to dozens of countries before they got together, “often talked about how wonderful bidets are and … how weird it is that America doesn’t have any because there’s really no other way to clean yourself,” she says. So, with the supply of toilet paper dwindling, she saw bidet advertisements and decided to take the plunge. She installed the attachments herself, which wasn’t without its challenges. One of them leaked water all over the floor, and she had to call a plumber.

Even that didn’t sour her on the bidet experience. “I just love them now,” says Orgill. “I just don’t know how people survive without them.”

Like Orgill, Ryan Deitsch felt compelled by the threat of running out of TP to think about alternatives. Growing up in Florida, he experienced the stress of toilet paper shortages during hurricane season, when his family would stockpile rolls in case they sold out. Amid the shake-up of the pandemic, he began reevaluating his life choices.

“Are the things that we’re doing - is that necessarily the right way? The best way? Are there other ways?” he remembers asking himself. “People really started to rethink parts of their day-to-day. And in the case of myself and many others … we bought bidets.”

He calls himself an “absolute fan.” He loves that he has cut down his toilet paper usage, which saves him money and lessens his environmental impact. He feels cleaner. And now, as a renter in New York City, an important consideration for him when choosing an apartment is whether the bathroom setup works with his bidet attachment.

Though Sydney Cano, of Arlington, Va., bought and installed her bidet attachment during the pandemic, she views the timing as coincidental rather than causal. Even before covid, she says, her Muslim friends in particular had recommended the appliance. (The Quran has specific instructions about cleanliness, and bathrooms in Muslim countries tend to have bidets of some kind.) Cano only wishes she would’ve listened to them sooner: She is now a die-hard bidet lover, who has since converted her then-boyfriend and her mom.

“No exaggeration, my life was literally changed,” she says. “I can’t live without mine now. Realistically, I will never go through the rest of my life without using mine. I have a travel one, so I’m never without it.”

Despite the wave of new converts, the United States still lags far behind many other countries when it comes to bidet ownership. (Americans, meanwhile, lead the world in per capita toilet paper usage.) About eight in 10 Japanese households, for example, have toilet-bidet combos, according to a 2018 government survey. In 1975, Italy passed a law requiring every residence to have a bidet. You’ll find them throughout Europe, Asia and South America.

The market stateside appears only to be expanding. While just 6 percent of U.S. adults already have a bidet in their home, an additional 41 percent are interested in owning one, according to a YouGov poll. Lin, of, has recently sold his wares to American hotels and even highway rest stops.

He says he’s observed a marked difference in Americans’ attitudes toward bidets, especially in the comments on his company’s Facebook ads. Pre-pandemic, “there’s a lot of, ‘Oh, my God, this is so weird.’ ‘Oh, why would anyone want to do this? I’ll just wipe, thank you very much.’” Now, he says, those types of remarks appear much less frequently.

It helps, he says, that bidet converts tend to be an enthusiastic bunch. “A bidet user - they can’t stop talking about it with their friends. They’re telling their friends about it, they’re telling their family. … Just because you can go out again doesn’t mean you’re just going to switch back to toilet paper. We’ve got you for life.”

Miki Agrawal, founder and chief creative officer of bidet-attachment start-up Tushy, says the company saw fivefold revenue growth during 2020 that still hasn’t flattened. In fact, she says revenue has continued to increase 20 percent year-over-year ever since.

Agrawal sees the toilet paper shortage as the push that helped the bidet-curious finally take the leap. For years, she says, companies like hers had been laying the groundwork, making the case to the marketplace that toilet paper is less hygienic and more expensive, and can exacerbate chronic conditions like urinary tract infections and hemorrhoids. “And then 2020 rolls around, and we had millions of people who were peering over the edge and they all jumped,” she says.

In fact, so many people jumped that consumers like Josh Stutte were boxed out. He couldn’t find a bidet in his online searches (a lot of sites selling them during the pandemic were new and seemed like scams), so “we were just living on rations, like the one-ply that we were getting from Safeway and wherever,” he says. Then, for Christmas 2020, his brother-in-law bought his family the perfect gift: a bidet. In the end, Stutte says, it was worth the wait: “It’s just better.”

Giving bidets as gifts has become a surprisingly common practice, according to Bill Strang, president of operations and e-commerce at Toto, a Japan-based manufacturer of luxury toilets and bidets. Typically, bathroom appliance sales settle down before Thanksgiving, he says, because people don’t remodel as much during the holidays.

But Toto has seen the opposite trend when it comes to its bidet business. “It doubled and tripled in some cases [around the holidays]. It was remarkable,” says Strang. Consumer research told them that people saw the product as a luxury that loved ones weren’t likely to buy for themselves.

At the annual Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas in February, bidets continued to enjoy their moment in the sun. Nicole Krawcke, the chief editor of Plumbing & Mechanical and PM Engineer magazines, attended as she does every year. One trend for 2024: She saw the industry leaning hard into the appliance’s benefits for the aging and people with mobility issues, adding handles and other safety features. “Getting something like this in your home soothes the caregiver and also the person they’re taking care of … making it easier for them to go to the bathroom and not have to feel embarrassed about asking somebody for help,” she says.

It’s not as if Krawcke needed much convincing, though, of the myriad advantages of the bidet. She not only covers the industry as a journalist, she herself is the owner of a bidet attachment that she says she bought initially for “research” purposes. It dispenses heated water and it has a heated seat. “They say, once you try it, you never go back,” she says. After three years, “we still use ours in our home.”

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