from The Wall Street Journal November 15, 2013 by Sanette Tanaka
Long a source of bad jokes, the bathroom fixture is catching on in high-end homes
The Bidet may finally be having its moment. A personal cleansing method that traditionally requires a stand-alone, toilet-like fixture, the bidet populates bathrooms all over Asia, parts of South America and Europe-but has mostly been a source of bad jokes in the U.S. In the 18th century, when the bidet was invented by the French, the British dismissed it as immoral and risque. Early settlers in America adopted that sentiment and the practice never caught on.
Now there’s increased demand spurred by foreigners planting roots here and Americans experiencing bidets when abroad. Plus new technologies are breaking down the bidet barrier, primarily by incorporating bidet functions into the primary toilet,thus doing away with the need for that unfamiliar second basin. Many of the new hybrids have built-in dryers, eliminating the need for toilet paper, and proponents say the result is more hygienic, effective and eco-friendly.
Last year 20% of new single-family luxury homes in the U.S. included bidets, up from 12% in 2009, according to a survey of builders conducted by Home Innovation Research Labs. Toto, the world’s largest toilet manufacturer reports that U.S. sales of their bidet seats-toilet -shaped seats with bidet plumbing lines and nozzles built into them-have quadrupled in the past 10 years.