Did you know—
The USA makes up 4% of the humans on earth, yet we are responsible for 20% of the global toilet paper consumption? That equates to 140 rolls of toilet paper per person every year. Yikes.
Are we using too much--or is everyone else not using enough?
The truth is, we Americans are leaving a little something behind.
Wondering what you can do about it? Well, a lot, actually--start washing.
Every day, billions of people all over Europe, Asia, and South America, rely on bidets to keep their posterior sparkling clean.
…but what is a bidet?
—And what is a bidet going to do that toilet paper can't?
In this article, I'll dive into what a bidet is, types of bidets, how to use a bidet, and everything else you want to know. But first, let's start with the basics:
What is a bidet, and what is it used for?
[Pronounced /bəˈdā/ /bəˈdeɪ/, "bi-dae" | Mid 17th century (in the sense 'horse'): from French, 'pony', from bider 'to trot', of unknown origin.]
A bidet is a specialized bathroom fixture for cleaning the nether regions (genitalia, anus, buttocks, and perineum) after using the toilet. Bidets are separate fixtures mounted in bathrooms, made of porcelain or ceramic. Bidets looks similar to a low mounted sink or a very wide toilet bowl and took up a huge amount of space in bathrooms. Modern bidet toilets, and bidet seats, use a nozzle to spray a stream of water directly at your buttocks to wash away leftover waste and harmful bacteria.The bidet is also used for cleansing the feet, although less commonly.
Although the concept of washing seems weird to Americans, washing with a bidet is how 75% of the world cleans themselves after using the toilet. For example, Vox reported that "around 80 percent of Japanese households have a toilet with a bidet function." In contrast, Scientific American said that "90 percent of Venezuelan homes have bidets."
In several European countries, it's not only common to own a bidet; it's required by law. In Italy, Installing at least a single bidet per house became required, beginning July 5th, 1975, with a hygiene code mandating that each home have at least one.
How to use a bidet
USE THE TOILET. After using the toilet, search for the bidet. It should be a separate fixture next to the toilet. If you are using an smart bidet toilet seat move on to step 2
SET THE WATER STRENGTH AND TEMPERATURE. Turn on the cold water first, and slowly make it warmer until it feels comfortable. (Some faucets are sensitive, and you don't want to be get soaked by an high pressure stream of water unexpectedly.)
SIT OR STRADDLE THE BIDET. You can decide whether you want to sit turned towards the spray nozzle or not. It will be easier for you to change the temperature of the water if you sit facing it. (You may need to take your pants off to straddle a traditional bidet. If you're using a toilet seat bidet conversion kit there is no need.)
START WASHING. If you're using a bidet with a water jet, you won't really have to do anything, but you'll need to hand scrub if you're using a wash basin. Either way, you might consider using your wet hands to scrub the area clean more quickly. You can always wash your hands afterwards! On an electronic bidet, just press the wash button.
DRY YOURSELF. After at yourself dry with a towel, napkin, or tissue paper. If using a toilet seat bidet, or a toilet bidet combo, search for the air dryer button. If you don't have access to an air dryer, use toilet paper instead.
Where did the bidet come from?
At almost 300 years old, the bidet was created by French furniture makers during the 17th century. While the exact date isn't known, the earliest written reference to the bidet is in 1726 in Italy.
Bidets in history were possibly associated with the chamber pot, which is the predecessor to modern toilets. Instead of having them in separate bathrooms, giant pots were used as toilets in their bedroom and emptied by servants when filled.
Also, although not effective by today's standards, at the time, the bidet was used as a contraceptive or birth control.
Why does America still use toilet paper?
Bidets did not grow in popularity until World War II. In Europe, bidets could be found next to every toilet in France and Italy. Although they were prevalent, they were rejected by the English, who thought that anything French could not be hygienic. Following the English, Americans became one of the only countries in the world to turn away the bidet.
When did America start using the bidet?
The first American bidet company was founded by Arnold Cohen in the 1960s. He invented the first model of an electric bidet toilet seat, which he named the American Sitz bath.
His father had a medical condition that causes significant discomfort in the anal region. Arnold Cohen created the bidet seat to ease his father's pain. The electronic bidet system could easily wash and dry his father behind and was convenient for douching and colonic irrigation.
However, the United States was not ready to talk about the cleanliness of their behinds. Due to abysmal sales, Arnold sold the patent to Toto, a conglomerate from Japan, who built the washlet, a bidet toilet combo. To this day, the washlet has been the most popular bidet toilet throughout Japan.
The Different Types of Bidets
Now you have a better sense of what a bidet is and the benefits that come with it. So now, I'd like to go in-depth on each of the different types of bidets. This should help you get a good idea of which bidet would be the right fit for your budget, available space, and lifestyle.
OTHER NAMES: Standalone bidet, washbasin, shower basin
What is a bidet?
A traditional bidet is like a washbasin filled with water to clean after dedicating. They are typically made our of ceramic or porcelain, and look like a very low sink. Although they have similar features to toilet bowls, they are a completely separate fixture with its own water supply connection.
Almost always positioned right next to a toilet.
Stand alone bidets have a faucet for water jet control and another one for temperature control.
Floor mounted units are attached to faucets via a flexible hose, whereas wall mounted units are hanging with the plumbing connections behind to the wall.
How much do they cost?
Stand alone bidets range in price from $350 to $800. However, most likely you will need to search for a professional plumber. Installation costs run around $200 to $400, so you should be prepared to spend upwards of $1000.
How do I install it?
Unless you are a skilled plumber, it's suggested to have your bidet professionally installed. If you prefer DIY, I would recommend a toilet seat bidet add-on.
OTHER NAMES: Washlet, Japanese toilet, Toilet bidet combo, Bidet systems
What is a bidet toilet?
A bidet toilet, or washlet, is a bidet toilet combo that is especially popular in Japan for its high-tech features, hygienic properties, and, most importantly, convenience. It is similar to the bidet toilet seat, except the seat is integrated into the toilet.
How much does it cost?
$2000-$5000 w/ installation. Bidet toilets are about 10 times more expensive than budget options yet have similar features.
How do I Install one?
Unless you are a plumber, definitely get a pro to install this in your bathroom.
Bidet Toilet Seats
OTHER NAMES: Add-on bidet, toilet seat bidet, bidet converter kit, bidet seat, automated bidet seat, wash dry toilet seat
What is a bidet toilet seat?
An electronic bidet toilet seat, is a fixture similar to bidet attachments, which can attach to your existing toilet, and has a built-in spray nozzle, warm water, heated seats, self-cleaning ability, and a lot of other modern features. Some bidet seats have a vertical spray jet intended to allow washing and rinsing the perineum and anal area easy access.
Bidet toilet seats may look complicated to use at first glance. But actually, they are actually very simple. Check here for a quick guide on how to use a bidet toilet seat.
How much does it cost?
$200 to $600 depending on the model and included features. Check out our most popular and affordable bidet converter kit.
How do I install one?
Toilet seat bidets are quick and easy to install. DIY is highly recommended. All you need is 10 minutes of your time and a screwdriver.
Here’s a video showing what you can expect during a typical bidet toilet seat installation.
What is a bidet attachment?
Bidet attachments are a cheap upgrade for any existing toilet. It serves the same purpose as a standalone bidet or washlet does, but at a fraction of the cost, and without all the high end features like warm water or an air dryer.
How much does it cost?
$50-$150 depending on model.
How do I install it?
Bidet attachments are very quick and easy to install. They attach right under your toilet seat and make use of your existing water supply and drain system.
OTHER NAMES: Shattaf, bidet sprayer, bum gun, bidet hose
What is a handheld bidet?
A bidet shower is handheld hose and nozzle that is attached to the existing toilet, or the showers, water supply. To use it you simply hold it under your body while seated on the toilet or squat over it for anal cleaning. Since it is just a nozzle there is no option to use warm water.
How much does it cost?
$30-$60 depending on model.
How do I install it?
Installing a bidet attachment is 100% free and is definitely a DIY project. It only takes a few minutes to add a t valve connection to your current toilet water supply and you are done.
OTHER NAMES: Travel Bidet
What is a portable bidet?
Instead of installing a dedicated bidet system in your bathroom or on top of your toilet bowl, a portable bidet is a small handheld device which lets you take the power of a bidet wherever you go. Usually looks like a bulb or bottle with a stem attached. Portable bidets are awesome additions to any vacation or camping trip.
How much does it cost?
$20-$60 depending on model.
The Benefits of Using a Bidet
Reduced chance of bacterial infections
Many people use toilet paper to clean themselves after taking a #1 or #2. This is effective for removing waste, but it leaves behind bacteria that may be harmful to your health. Bidets use warm water jets instead of dry paper, which does a much better job of cleansing the skin of harmful microbes, making infection less likely.
Studies show that bidet toilet seats are more hygienic than other options and reduce the number of germs in your urine, which implies a more thorough cleaning. The same study determined that users of bidets also have a lower incidence of UTIs (urinary tract infections).
Protects the skin
"Many toilet papers contain formaldehyde as well as reactive ingredients that help to give toilet paper characteristics that people value, such as increased thickness and absorbency. Toilet paper that is thick, absorptive, strong, bleached and expensive is likely to contain formaldehyde." Dr Victor L Marchione, M.D., Pulmonologist at Belmarra Health.
"Certain toilet papers may also contain aloe or lotion, alcohol, phosphate, chlorine, peroxides, perfumes, dyes and anti-bacterial properties. All of these additives can cause an allergic reaction resulting in skin irritation, including itching of your anus and/or vulva."
In addition to chemicals, the increased pressure from wiping causes hemorrhoidal veins to swell, become damaged, and leak fluid. The use of a bidet is synonymous with hemorrhoid prevention due to its ability to cleanse one's anus better than toilet paper.
Promotes good colon health
Properly cleaning the perianal area after going to the bathroom, reduces the risk of developing a host of painful infections like diverticulitis. Diverticulitis occurs when small pockets form in the colon, and stool gets caught inside these pockets.
Use eliminates odor from incomplete wiping
Another advantage of the bidet toilet is that it reduces or eliminates that annoying, lingering smell most people experience after using the bathroom. This unpleasant odor is due to fecal matter like mucus and undigested food particles becoming trapped around the anus during the wiping process, which leads to bacterial growth and an unfortunate odor. Bidets can eliminate this fecal matter and the odor that goes with it.
Provides relief from constipation.
Prone to constipation? Using a bidet may help. Bidets target a gentle stream of water on the perianal area and provide relief from the discomfort associated with constipation. Warm water from the bidet can relax and stimulate your sphincter muscles, making it easier to have a bowel movement and requiring less straining and pushing.
Provides Symptom Relief
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
One of the common reasons why some reject washing is that they want to conserve water. However, they would be shocked to learn how wasteful they are.
Here's a surprising fact—
Here's a surprising fact— It takes 1.5lbs of wood and 20 gallons of water to create one roll of toilet paper, while a bidet only uses about 1/8 gallon.
Did you know that forests are being destroyed because of the thousands and thousands of trees needed to extract the virgin pulp, the primary material. Bidets reduce the number of paper products that need to be manufactured and transported, which means fewer trees being cut down. Washing with just water reduces toilet paper usage by 80%.
Although, bidets sometimes cost more than a thousand dollars for a high-end standalone fixture, electric bidet toilet seats, bidet attachments and, portable bidets are much cheaper. The average American uses around 60-70% more toilet paper than bidet users. That ends up equaling about $50-$100 saved per person every year.
Bidet Features to Consider
Adjustable Water Temperature
Most electric toilet seat bidets and washlets come with adjustable water temperatures. They can be set from cold, warm, lukewarm, hot (the most popular), or even extra hot!
Adjustable Water Pressure
Most modern bidets have settings allowing you to set how strong the stream of water can become. Bidets can offer variable water pressure jets that allow the user to adjust the water pressure between low, medium, and high. Some bidets even have a pulsating massage feature that provides extra relief for those suffering from constipation.
The best bidet toilet seats will have an air dryer that blows warm air after the user has finished cleaning. This is extremely useful for elderly people and those with limited mobility.
Adjustable Air Temperature
Most bidet seats have adjustable air temperatures that can be set to low, medium, or high depending on your preference.
Everyone hates cold toilet seats. Using a bidet is no different! All of the best bidet toilet seats come equipped with a heated seat function that is activated by pushing a button on the remote control.
In addition, some people find these functions useful if they suffer from chronic pain conditions such as arthritis which make it difficult to sit without being in constant discomfort.
Adjustable Seat Temperature
There are many different models of bidet seats that offer adjustable seat temperature. It just makes sitting on the toilet feel perfect, no matter if the weather changes throughout each day. Temperature can be adjusted between low, medium and high depending on your preference.
Bidets are much more than just a bathroom fixture to clean waste. They have the ability to turn your bathroom experience into a spa visit, that not only cleanses, but also treats medical conditions.
One of the best features is a built-in Enema Function, which uses water pressure to help relieve constipation and hemorrhoids. Some models have adjustable enema function settings so you can choose high or low intensity depending on your condition.
Bidets equipped with self-cleaning abilities provide an extra layer of protection. What the self-cleaning mode does is it washes the sprayer nozzle after use with fresh water so it's sanitary for each use. This prevents any bacteria growth inside the nozzle opening which could cause urinary tract infections. In addition, self-cleaning also maintains optimal performance of the water jets without clogging up over time.
Eco mode is a setting you can turn on that reduces the amount of electricity or water wasted by your device.
Luxury bidet seats come with a child safety function, where when it senses a child is sitting on it, the temperature and pressure settings will be set to the most mild level.
Check out this blog article to learn more about bidets and your children.
Many bidets come equipped with one button removal that makes it easy to remove the bidet toilet seat when maintenance or cleaning is needed. This prevents any bacteria buildup inside your device, which may lead to clogs over time if not removed periodically, depending on usage level.
Massage Mode function that is designed to provide additional relief for users with constipation or similar conditions. People who suffer from hemorrhoids can use this mode to stimulate blood flow in the anal region.
The user can choose from several massage options depending on their preference for either soft or strong pressure which makes it easier to cleanse sensitive areas of your body with added comfort.
Some fixtures are equipped with deodorizing capabilities that control any bad odors coming out of your bowl after going number two. This is a great option for those who work from home, or have roommates and don't want to make their house smell like a bathroom all day long!
Many bidet toilet seats come equipped with nightlight features that light up the toilet bowl. This is a considerable convenience late at night when trying to find your way to the bathroom in the dark.
Soft Closing Lid
Many of these bidets also come with soft closing lids that close silently instead of slamming loudly, waking everyone in the house. This is great if your family members are early risers who don't want to be disturbed by every little noise coming out of the bathroom when trying to sleep!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do bidets get poop on them? Do bidets get poop everywhere?
Nope! The fear of being sprayed with fecal matter is a common misconception about bidets. A lot goes into making sure this doesn't happen-like the use of a concentrated stream of water and directing it to your bottom, not spraying randomly everywhere as if you're in some kind of poo rainstorm. The nozzle or wands are fixed at an angle so you don't need to worry.
Is a bidet for a man or a woman?
Bidets can be used for both men and women, but in different ways. In feminine wash mode, using a bidet is useful if menstruating because it helps cleanse the labia and perineum following bowel movements. For males, most find the back wash more effective in thoroughly cleaning them after defecation. The bottom line is they're not exclusively designed for either sex; they're simply an option for users of all genders.
Can you convert a toilet to a bidet?
Yes, you can add a bidet toilet seat converter kit to your existing toilet. Most of them can be installed yourself within 5 minutes, and then you're good to go! If you are looking for a Bidet toilet seat conversion kit, check out Barumi!