WASHINGTON– What was once seldom seen in bathrooms across the U.S. has become increasingly popular as technological advances assist with the necessities of personal hygiene.

Sales for bidets, personal hygiene devices used to clean after bowel movements, have increased significantly, experts say, most likely because as the world becomes a global marketplace, foreign products are easier to find.

New technology is at the forefront of increased sales, said David Goldberg, owner of Union Hardware in Bethesda, Maryland. Goldberg says one of the reasons traditional European bidets, separate from the actual toilet seat, didn’t take off in the U.S. is because Americans were confused with how to use the ceramic, oval-shaped basin. “You sit on them, opposite of a toilet,” he said.

To accommodate the American market, all-in-one bidets are becoming more common place.

But they come with a hefty price tag.  They can range anywhere from $600 for a bidet seat that one attaches to an existing toilet seat, to $6,500 for an all-in-one bidet, loaded with features like seat warmers, dryers and even music — all with remote control access.

“Once you’ve used one, you would probably consider it more of a necessity and not just a want,” said Michael Weaver, owner at W.T. Weaver & Sons, an appliance store in Georgetown that sells bidets.

According to Toto, the largest plumbing manufacturer in the world and headquartered in Japan, sales for its Washlet – a bidet seat – reached 40 million units globally in November. Sales for the Washlet in the U.S. increased each year by double digits for the past five years.

Despite the drought on the West coast, sales of all-in-one bidets and bidet seats remain popular and reflect similar trends to that on the east coast.

The motivation behind buying all-in-one bidets isn’t the environment, rather that they take up less space in the bathroom than a traditional bidet, said Sheila Carter, co-owner of Carter Hardware in Beverly Hills, California.

She says although the environment is not typically taken into account by the people who buy them, bidets with fans are environmentally friendly.

“You literally do not need to use toilet paper,” she said. “Maybe it is more efficient and less of a footprint.”

Adam Litberg, store manager at Russ Diamond in Santa Monica, California said little water is used during a bidet cycle and that “it wouldn’t use any more water than it would to wash your hands.”

It is not something you’ll see in bathrooms everywhere, but the idea is becoming more popular among consumers.

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