The minute a visitor from another country goes into an American bathroom, they’ll notice that something very important is missing: a bidet. Why don’t Americans use bidets? While there is no one single answer, there are some popular theories as to why this bathroom appliance hasn’t caught on in the United States. From history to connotations to straight-up confusion, there are plenty of reasons why bidets aren’t a fixture in American bathrooms. Check out these top reasons and see if any of them resonate.
Americans Love Tradition and Habit
For better or for worse, the United States adores tradition. Americans will do things out of habit, even if the act is outdated or futile, just because it’s been done for decades. This could explain why bidets haven’t made their way to American homes. If anyone is going to start the trend of having bidets in the bathroom, it’s going to be the younger generations.
Millennials and Gen Z tend to be more open to turning traditions on their heads and challenging patterns of behavior. This age group is also less likely to shy away from talking about taboo subjects, which makes them prime candidates to introduce the American public to the magic of the bidet.
There could also be a tradition of disliking bidets that dates back to the 18th century. Research suggests that the Britons in the 18th century used their disdain for the upper classes in France to cast their lifestyle in a negative light. Their extravagant and luxurious items were greeted with disgust, a sentiment that may have passed along to the American colonists since they used the Britons as an influence.
Another theory states that when American soldiers during World War II visited brothels (again, in France), they got their first glimpse of a bidet. The appliance then became synonymous with the sinful, distasteful lifestyle of prostitutes. While not a direct answer, this may explain why bidets never really caught on with Americans throughout history.
A Lack of Information About Bidets
In short, most Americans just don’t know how to use a bidet. There is a significant lack of information in the United States about what exactly a bidet is and how to use one. For that reason alone, many Americans just stay away from the appliance. They assume that it’s too expensive and difficult to install and that they need a huge bathroom to accommodate a stand-alone bidet.
However, there are hose and sprayer attachments, as well as toilet seat additions, that are super easy to install. Most people don’t know about these options, but if they did, maybe they’d be more open to trying a bidet.
Even if individuals learn how to use a bidet, there is still that underlying fear of trying something new. This is a totally human experience and not one that is reserved only for Americans. Still, that fear can prevent people from discovering something that could really change their life. Sure, a bidet won’t solve all of their problems, but they will probably experience the cleanest post-potty booty they’ve ever had. Still, a strange, half-toilet, half-water foundation device in the bathroom can be a bit intimidating for a newbie.
In general, Americans just don’t get it. Ask a group of them why they don’t use a bidet and the most popular answer will probably be “it’s too complicated.” From trying to install it, to picking out a model, to actually using the thing, people just can’t be bothered. Couple this with a severe lack of information and a tradition of just using toilet paper, and it’s no wonder the bidet is not seen as American-friendly.
Until individuals actually learn about bidets and how they can improve the bathroom experience, the device will remain shrouded in mystery.
Potty Talk is Taboo to Americans
In general, Americans see nudity and private matters as more taboo than other cultures. Just look at Spain or France, where sunbathing in the nude is nothing to bat an eye at. Just as with sexuality, Americans tend to see private activities as something that needs to stay behind lock and key.
However, lots of other cultures are fine talking about such things, and they actually find it weird that Americans don’t use a bidet (and even stranger that some haven’t even heard of a bidet!) Perhaps it’s the conservatism of traditional American culture that has led to a lack of bidets in the nation’s bathrooms.
If one has never seen a bidet or they really don’t know much about it, then it can seem extremely strange to use one. “Why not just use regular old toilet paper?” they might ask. Well, that’s a very good question!
If toilet paper has been the norm for their entire life and they’ve just accepted it as the best way to do things, they have no reason to convert to being a bidet user. However, a bit of education can reveal that a bidet can help people get a more thorough clean after doing their business. Even so, for folks who didn’t grow up with a bidet, they just might not “get” what’s so great about it.
Clearly, it’s mostly a lack of clear communication and understanding about bidets that accounts for why they aren’t in American restrooms. Fortunately, there are brands and companies that are making the bidet experience more approachable for a United States audience.
Toilet seat attachments, hose sprayers, and more economical options are making it easy to self install a bidet.
While Americans aren’t going to embrace this appliance overnight, there are those that are warming up to the idea.
In short, blame tradition and the power of habit for the lack of bidets in this nation’s restrooms.
As much as they hate to admit it, many Americans are ignorant to the fact of what a bidet is and how it can clean a person. Until they embrace this knowledge and discover a new way of looking at private matters, the bidet will be seen as an odd extravagance.