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With toilet paper in short supply, Americans are snapping up water-spraying bidets

Tushy's bidet attachment hooks into an existing toilet’s water supply.
Tushy's bidet attachment hooks into an existing toilet’s water supply.(Tushy)

Liz Smiley’s bidet, a toilet paper alternative that sprays a cleaning stream of water, took a bit of getting used to, but now she says she wishes she had switched sooner.

“You just feel cleaner,” said Smiley, 45, of Chicago.

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Long a punchline among Americans, the bidet (bih-DAY) is finally getting some respect due to coronavirus-related concerns about toilet paper shortages. On Amazon, a few popular models are sold out, and the Brooklyn bidet-maker Tushy said in an email that sales are 10 times higher than before the coronavirus. Tushy is taking preorders for April 20 shipping on two models, and increasing production.

Among the bidets available online were the portable Tushy Travel and a range of highly rated models on Amazon. Prices and configurations vary widely, with some bidets taking the form of toilet seat replacements, and others operating as attachments or simple hand-operated sprayers.

Bidets reduce the need for toilet paper, which is generally used just for drying.

In recent weeks, concerns about the availability of toilet paper have grown, with frustrated shoppers posting photos of empty store shelves on social media.

On Saturday police in Newport, Oregon, asked residents to stop calling 911 because they had run out of toilet paper. Police explained that they can’t deliver the household staple, and there are plenty of alternatives.

Facial tissues such as Kleenex are a good substitute for toilet paper, but even patting with paper towels or napkins can work, according to a written statement from Dr. Amy Paller, chair of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

"Remember, though, that toilets are not designed to accommodate thicker materials — so please make sure to discard elsewhere. If using fabric towels or household rags becomes necessary, be sure to wash and dry on hot,” Paller wrote.

Smiley said her brother gave her a bidet for Christmas, along with the magic words, “I will install it for you.” He’s a handy guy, she said, but not a professional, and it took him 15 minutes. Her version is the Tushy Classic, an add-on that goes under your toilet seat.

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“It’s the best thing ever,” she said, echoing other bidet converts.

“We went on vacation and actually missed it, and now with the coronavirus, (toilet paper) hasn’t really been a huge concern. Our toilet paper consumption has dropped dramatically.”

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