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A Piece of Bidet History

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

a Barumi EF-BM-4000 bidet toilet seat and a timeline

Nowadays, having a bidet installed in the comfort of our bathroom is still uncommon, but rapidly gaining popularity. Whether it is a cheap bidet attachment or a luxurious electric bidet toilet seat, either is extremely helpful in maintaining good personal hygiene and preventing infections after going to the bathroom.

However, have you ever thought about how, or when, the bidet was invented?

Many people think the bidet is a recent invention, but its history starts much earlier.

In the Middle Ages, around the 15th century, people used a communal toilet with water in a cistern. The women of the family used a jug to wash after going to the bathroom. Could this be where the idea of creating a bidet came from?

The traditional bidet was invented in France, a few hundred years later, during the 17th century. No one knows who invented the bidet, but It is believed that furniture makers Christopher Des Rosiers was the inventor. At that time, only wealthy families could afford to have a bidet installed in their bedroom or dressing room. The Bidet is a French word that means "pony" and "to trot" in Old French. The word derives from the idea that one straddles or rides a bidet much like you would on a pony. The bidet, after moving to Italy after WWII, spread like wildfire across Europe. It then spread to Spain, Eastern Europe, and Russia by Spanish travelers.

The bidet's first upgrade occurred in the 18th century when a water pump and tank were added. This invention allowed bidet aficionados to simply spritz their bottoms with a spray of water. The installation of a water pump and tank eliminated the need for the users to cleanse themselves with their hands.

During the 19th century, some bidets were combined with an armchair forming a two-seater toilet. Despite its new qualities, this invention was still only available to the upper class until mass production allowed people from all social classes to afford it.

In the later part of the 19th century, bidets were added as "water closets" (toilet). With the advent of indoor plumbing in the 19th and 20th centuries, the bidet was transformed into a porcelain bowl and ended up as a somewhat commonplace fixture in the bathroom.

In 1965, a man named Arnold Cohen, along with the American Bidet Company, unveiled an adjustable spray nozzle attached to a toilet seat. Despite aiming to make the bidet a regular fixture in homes it was a pricey fixture that was seen as unnecessary by most of the American public. Eventually, Arnold Cohen sold the patent to a Japanese company.

The Bidet Becomes Electric

During the 20th century, electric bidets started to emerge. The history of the bidet has evolved every decade because new technological developments allowed it to evolve and improve. In the early 1980s, a company from Japan invented a smart toilet seat with many functions, such as washing your bottom, drying your skin and also deodorizing. The seat and the bowl were controlled with a single lever. The same company created a very expensive bidet seat in 1964, which ultimately flopped.

Why Don't Americans Use Bidets?

image of a Barumi EF-BM-4000 bidet toilet seat and a USA, JAPAN, and France flags

In many countries around the world, such as Europe and Japan, bidets are a "must-have" for any household. However, in America, they're still viewed with curiosity and at time, even mockery.

The general reason they were never heavily adopted in America is because soldiers were first introduced to bidets in Europe during WWII. American soldiers viewed the bidet as an unsanitary product and brought this sentiment back to the US.

Nowadays, even though bidets are becoming more prevalent, Americans know little about how they actually work and why they are beneficial. Currently, many Americans falsely think of bidets as being unsanitary because of many false assumptions, such as using the toilet tank water to spray and clean.

The good news is the recent push for more "hygienic" bathrooms is happening, allowing the introduction and installation of bidets in hotels and senior homes. Hopefully, this means more and more Americans will start to accept bidets and realize the benefits of using this modern fixture.

Look to the Future

4 images of the Barumi EF-BM-4000 bidet toilet seat

The history of the bidet is always evolving and will continue to do so. Sometime in the near future, we’ll be able to connect our bidets directly to our smartphones, just like we’re doing with other appliances around the home.

Today, there are different types of bidets, each with its own functions. For example, some bidets are non-electric with manual controls for everything. Instead of pressing a button for operation, the controls for non-electric bidets are 100% manual. This also means certain functions, such as an auto-retracting nozzle, will not be available. For electric bidets, all the controls and features are utilized via an electric control panel.

Although the bidet has been around for a long time, its popularity is growing exponentially and will continue to grow into the future. Just remember, has come a long way from when it was first introduced to the world and to where it is today.


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