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Bidets Are Making a Splash as the Next Bathroom Must-Have

By Amy Zimmer | March 1, 2016 5:21pm
 Bidets are becoming more popular, whether for $9,000, $500 or $57.
Bidets Are Having a Moment
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MANHATTAN — Bidets are having a moment.

Last month, Kylie Jenner Instagrammed her $9,000 all-in-one toilet/bidets from Japanese brand Toto. The photo was liked by more than 870,000 of her Instagram followers.

With the recent invention of the $57 cleansing device that attaches to a toilet from a start-up called Tushy, founded by Miki Agrawal (who brought us Thinx “period” panties and their controversial subway ads), bidets have never been such an accessible luxury as they are today.

Once reserved for only the highest of the high-end properties, bidets are becoming a more affordable experience. But bidets are still kept hush-hush when it comes to real estate listings that boast of bathroom features like radiant-heated floors or deep soaking tubs.

Tushy, at least, hopes to change the conversation.

“We aim to flush the antiquated poo-taboo down the toilet in exchange for a bottom cleaning renaissance that’s healthier, reduces waste, and helps people around the globe defecate with dignity,” the company says on its website, noting that its clip-on sprayer not only helps prevent urinary tract infections, hemorrhoids and “smearing,” but also saves trees since so much less toilet paper is needed. (See how they're installed here.)

U.S.-based reps for Toto said that sales for the company’s less pricey “washlet” have increased by double digits each of the last 5 years. The high-tech toilet seat that can transform a regular toilet into a bidet with its warm water spray and dryer, among other features, ranges from $499 to $1,560.

Mitchell Weissburg, owner of Krup’s Kitchen and Bath on West 18th Street in the Flatiron, estimates that sales of washlets have gone up about 40 percent over the past year — though admittedly the year before he only sold about 15.

In fact, last week, he ordered one to install in the bathroom at his showroom, so potential shoppers can try it out for themselves, he said.

“I can turn your toilet into a bidet that’s so advanced, with a seat that can go up and down automatically, saving marriages,” joked Weissburg, who has a washlet at his Rockland County home.

“It’s nice to be completely hands-free,” he added, noting that “once you’ve tried one, you gotta have it.”

And though bidets were not among the many luxurious touches mentioned in the $18.5 million listing for Dr. Sam Rizk’s four-bedroom condo at Trump World Plaza in Turtle Bay, the unit's high-end toilets — which include a bidet spray feature in three of the four bathrooms — have been winning approval from discerning house hunters.

Rizk, a renowned plastic surgeon, was ahead of the curve, installing his Toto toilets with heated seats, an air purifying system and gentle aerated water spray, six years ago in his home at 845 United Nations Pl. He put a similar one in his Park Avenue office a decade ago.

“We installed it for hygienic purposes,” Rizk said. “Also we don't use as much toilet paper since the toilet also is heated and has a dryer. It is now become something we are so used to, when we go on vacation we miss it.”

Home buyers consider a combined toilet/bidet a “welcome luxury” though not yet an expected one, said Patricia Levan, of Levan Real Estate, who is representing Rizk’s condo.

“The bidet toilet is a big selling point for ultra luxury buyers who want such high-end features,” Levan said. And though it’s not explicitly mentioned in Rizk’s listing, Levan said, “It is the brag of the bathroom [and] always a big hit.”

Levan recently spoke with a former client who purchased an apartment on East 52nd Street a decade ago that had once belonged to Greta Garbo and the Rothchilds banking family. While the apartment previously had a stand-alone bidet, it had long been removed, and the current owner hoped to re-install it during an upcoming renovation.

But his architect told him there’s not enough room, so the owner will likely install an all-in-one, Levan noted.

“I think it is highly unusual to see a traditional freestanding bidet in a typical apartment,” she said. “Most New York City dwellers/developers simply don’t have the budget or the room for a second toilet.”

Anna Barska Rocki, an agent with Miron Properties, recently had the rare rental listing for a 2-bedroom unit in a 4-unit Greenpoint walk-up where all apartments had standalone bidets that were installed during a renovation about seven years ago. (Again, no mention of the bidet in the listing.)

“The building attracts a lot of couples, and when they see the bidet, they start giggling,” she noted, saying the washer/dryer in the $3,100-a-month unit was more of a selling point for the couple that signed the lease.

At the St. James Tower, a 106-unit condo on East 54th Street built in 1983, all of the units have standalone bidets, noted Mary Lou Currier, a broker with BOND New York, who has used such bidets when traveling in France, the Caribbean and Morocco.

“Initially, I thought the bidet was for washing lingerie or something,” she said. “They’re just a clean, female thing. To me, they seem Old-World, with sexy connotations.”

When she showed a $1.2 million apartment at the St. James last summer to a 25-year-old woman from Philadelphia (whose parents were helping), the woman didn’t even react to the bidet.

“She probably didn’t even know what it was,” said Currier. “People don’t like to talk about this stuff. No buyer I've worked ever remarked to me about bidets, positively or negatively."