Best Bidet Seats with Side Arm Control Panels

Welcome to the world of upgraded bathroom experiences! If you’ve ever wondered about the best bidet seats with side arm controls, you’re in the right place. Our top three recommendations—the Brondell Swash Thinline T22, Clean Sense 1500, and TOTO C2—are here to redefine your daily routine. Join us as we explore common reasons customers ask for bidets with side arm controls, as well as the unique pros and cons of our top recommendations. 

A Word About Bidet Controls

SE 400 Side Arm Control Panel

In the world of bidet seats, the choice between a side arm control and a remote control can spark lively discussions. Many customers come to us wanting a bidet with a side arm control (versus a remote) because they’re concerned about losing a remote or dropping and breaking it. Others are drawn to side arm controls because they’re always within easy reach. Some customers need extra stability on the toilet and assume that a side arm control could serve as a balance aid in a pinch.

Despite the popular appeal of side arm controls, the reality is that they come with more drawbacks than benefits. First, they have nooks and crannies that act like secret hideouts for grime and germs. Plus, they’re located right next to the toilet, so they’re at risk of getting splattered with urine. Third, they’re delicate and prone to breaking under weight, especially if used as a  support by kids or individuals with balance issues as they get on or off the toilet. 

Side arm controls are often found on lower-end bidets, so the bidet itself may not last as long as a higher quality, remote controlled model. Lastly, operating side arm controls requires users to twist and look down, which can be tricky if you have physical or visual impairments. Similarly, customers with a larger frame may find that their body covers some or all of the controls, making it hard to operate the seat.

Given these concerns, many manufacturers are slowly discontinuing side arm controls in favor of remotes. With that in mind, let’s take a few moments to unravel the most common misconceptions about remotes. 

If you’re worried about losing the remote, don’t be! Remotes come with a holder that can be mounted to the wall, so you always know where it is. Plus, you can use the remote while it’s in the holder, making it super easy to reach and preventing it from getting lost or dropped. And don’t stress about the remote breaking if it falls – it’s made to handle accidental drops. Lastly, you won’t be tempted to use the remote as a balance aid as you get on or off the toilet, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bidet by putting weight where it doesn’t belong (never fear, we’ve got you covered if you need accessibility supports that are compatible with a bidet seat).

The good news is that we sell tons of affordable, remote controlled bidet seats that work well across a wide range of needs and budgets. And if you’re committed to a bidet with a side arm control panel, we’ve got good options there, too. Keep reading for our top recommendations!

Brondell Swash Thinline T22

First Place: Brondell Swash Thinline T22

When our staff tester opened the Swash Thinline T22 box, her first thought was, “Wow, this is NOT what I expected!” In this case, that’s a good thing! The T22 exceeded our expectations, earning it the top spot in our list of recommendations thanks to a fantastic blend of style and features. 

Let’s start with the Thinline T22’s visuals. When we think of bidets with side arm controls, we picture a thick, hefty seat that looks like it teleported from the early 2000s – definitely not “stylish” by most standards. The T22 turns that stodgy image on its head.

Instead of detracting from the bathroom’s overall look, the T22 felt like a genuine upgrade to the space. At just 4” thick, the T22 has a fabulously streamlined silhouette and a decidedly luxurious feel. Plus, the control panel’s slim contours help it blend into the background, which is ideal from a style standpoint. 

We were also pleasantly surprised by the number of features available on the T22, since side arm control bidets are often very basic. In addition to the usual front and rear washes you’d find on any electric bidet, the Thinline T22 also has a “strong wash” option. It was very similar to the enema washes we’ve tried – powerful, targeted, and good at stimulating the bowels.  The T22 also has an instant water heater that produces unlimited warm wash water. This is a big deal since many side arm control bidets have tank heaters that only provide 30-60 seconds of warm water.

Some of Brondell’s bidets are criticized for having weak water pressure, but that’s definitely not the case with the Thinline T22. The T22’s water pressure is strong and firm. The gentlest pressure setting is still quite strong compared to most other bidets, so this might not be the bidet for you if you deal with sensitivity down there. But if not, you’ll likely appreciate the spray’s robust feel. Our only complaint is that the front wash is almost too firm for comfort – we preferred the lowest pressure setting and wished there were even gentler options.

Another fun-yet-practical feature is the T22’s nightlight. In general, we’re a big fan of night lights because they make it so much easier to get around the bathroom in low light. The T22’s night light stands out for another key reason: users can easily change the color. 

Here’s why multiple night light colors is a big deal:

Most bidet night lights are cool blue because the bright color does a good job illuminating the toilet area. But if your bathroom and bedroom are connected, blue light emanating from the bathroom can feel too bright and even disrupt sensitive sleep patterns. The T22’s night light, on the other hand, can be programmed to shine blue, red or green, allowing you to choose a light spectrum that jives with your body.

It’s worth mentioning that the T22’s night light is located on the side of the seat and shines on the bathroom floor, rather than illuminating the bowl like most night lights. The placement meant that it was shining primarily on the tiny space between our vanity and the toilet, rather than illuminating the space in front of the toilet. On the one hand, it was definitely better than no night light and did make it easier to get around the bathroom in the dark. On the other hand, it wasn’t as effective as it could be, and if you prefer to stand to do your business, the night light won’t be any help in showing you where to aim. 

Brondell Swash Thinline T22 Side Angle View

Though we prefer remote controls over side arm controls, we have to give the T22 major props for the control panel’s modern and intuitive design. In addition to looking much sleeker than the average control panel, the T22’s panel has colored lights that indicate which settings are activated. For example, the light next to the seat temperature button turns green when it’s set to low, yellow for medium temperature, red for high, and unlit when the temperature is turned off altogether. The water pressure setting has a series of little lights next to it that illuminate one by one as you increase the pressure.

This setup is especially helpful because you can’t move a side arm control closer to inspect the buttons like you can with a remote control. Having colored indicator lights for the seat temperature, water temperature, air dryer temperature, nozzle position and water pressure made it easy to see at-a-glance which settings were in use, and simplified the process of selecting our preferred settings.

Another of the Thinline T22’s strengths is that it comes in both round and elongated seat sizes, so it’s compatible with most bathrooms. Just keep in mind that you must buy the size that matches your toilet bowl’s shape. While some elongated bidets can be installed on round toilets, this isn’t true of the T22 – an elongated model really, really won’t fit on a round toilet and vice versa (trust us, we tried it!) So be sure to measure your toilet and buy a T22 in the size that matches. 

We were definitely impressed with the Swash Thinline T22, but there are a few things we felt could be better.

Our biggest complaint involves the T22’s front wash: it just doesn’t extend far enough forward to comfortably clean the frontal regions. To be fair, most front washes require some body repositioning to get the spray in the right spot. However, the T22’s front wash range was more limited than most. In order to get clean, our tester had to lean her torso forward 45 degrees (which angled her nether regions towards the spray), or push herself as far back on the seat as possible and hold that position. Neither option was particularly comfortable.

The Thinline T22 does offer nozzle oscillation, which is great for covering more skin area. However, we noticed that the oscillation on this seat felt slow and choppy compared to other seats with quick oscillation. It did a good job widening the wash range, but it didn’t have the soothing effect that a quick oscillating wash provides.

In addition, the Thinline T22 was unexpectedly noisy for a seat with such a high end feel. It’s not that we expect total silence from a bidet (some noise is totally normal), but we were a little thrown by the amount of mechanical whirring and humming that happens after selecting a wash. 

Final Thoughts: All in all, the Thinline T22 is one of the most impressive side arm control bidets we’ve ever tested thanks to its sleek design, strong water pressure, unlimited warm water, deodorizer, multi-colored night light and warm air dryer. Because the front wash nozzle range is so limited, the T22 is not our first choice for anyone who plans to use the front wash feature heavily. But if you’ll be using the seat mainly to clean up after bowel movements, it’s a terrific option!

Second Place: Clean Sense 1500

Clean Sense 1500 Top View

After testing the Clean Sense 1500 side by side with the Brondell Swash Thinline T22, we had to admit we were pretty impressed! It has many of the same features as the T22 but comes in at a fraction of the price, making it a great choice if you’re working with a tight budget. 

Like the T22, the Clean Sense 1500 generates unlimited warm wash water and has excellent water pressure. In fact, the Clean Sense has a wider range of pressure settings than the Thinline T22, so it’s easy to take the wash from gentle to very firm with a few button presses. Yet even at its gentlest, the Clean Sense’s spray does a good job cleaning waste off skin. We also felt that the front wash was soft enough to feel comfortable without losing its effectiveness. 

The Clean Sense’s wash spray is a bit unique because it has a gentle pulse sensation built-in that’s quite soothing. If you want to add extra oomph to your wash, you can turn on the actual “pulse” mode, which intensifies the pulse action, or activate nozzle oscillation to swiftly move the spray forward and backward.

The Clean Sense also has an enema wash with pressure that can be adjusted up or down, depending on whether you need more or less intensity. Our tester reported that the Clean Sense’s enema wash felt stronger than the T22’s “strong wash”. Without getting into details, let’s just say that the enema setting did its job extremely well, so if you deal with frequent constipation, we’d recommend the Clean Sense 1500 over the Thinline T22.

The Clean Sense 1500 also comes with a unique feature that’s not commonly found on bidets: child wash! This setting automatically tones down the water temperature and pressure so it’s gentler on little bottoms. Is a child wash mode absolutely necessary if you have kids who want to use the bidet? We don’t think so. Our tester helps her preschool age kiddo operate the bidet anyways, and her older child is totally comfortable adjusting settings independently. So while child mode is a handy bonus feature, we don’t consider it a necessity.

Clean Sense Control Panel

Like the Thinline T22, the Clean Sense 1500 is available in both round and elongated seat sizes, so you’re not limited by the type of toilet you have. It’s possible to successfully install the elongated version on a round toilet, but with round options available, just buy the size that fits your toilet! 

Last but not least, the Clean Sense 1500 comes with very thorough, clear instructions for installing and using the bidet. Our tester especially loved that it came with a laminated, quick reference guide outlining the control panel’s different functions. All in all, Clean Sense does a great job taking the guesswork out of installing and operating the bidet.

With great features and an even better price, you may be wondering why we ranked it in second place. Great question!

Clean Sense 1500

For starters, the Clean Sense 1500 looks bulky compared to newer seats like the Thinline T22. Sure, the design was cutting edge back in 2006 when the Clean Sense first came out, and the seat itself feels roomy and comfortable, but it definitely isn’t sleek by today’s standards. Similarly, while the side arm control has clear, easy to understand buttons, the design is aimed at ease of use, not style. So though the Clean Sense 1500 functions like a luxury bidet in many ways, it doesn’t look like one. 

Another downside to the Clean Sense 1500 is that it doesn’t have a night light. Our tester was surprised by how much she missed that feature! There’s so much else to love about the seat that the lack of a night light is especially noticeable, especially at night when you’re trying to get to the toilet in the dark.

Finally, the Clean Sense 1500’s air dryer is quite weak. In general, bidet seat dryers are not fast, usually taking 5 to 7 minutes to do their job. However, our tester ran the Clean Sense’s dryer for over 9 minutes and still had very wet areas. If you have mobility issues that prevent you from patting dry, we would recommend a bidet seat with a stronger dryer like the Cascade 3000 or Eco Nova.

Final Thoughts: The Clean Sense 1500 offers a fantastic wash with tons of comfort features, all for an extremely affordable price. Sure, it’s not the prettiest bidet seat on the market, but it knows how to deliver a solid cleanse. That said, if you need a strong air dryer due to mobility issues or a night light to get around safely, the Clean Sense 1500 is not the bidet for you! Otherwise, it’s a great choice for budget conscious customers. 

TOTO C2 Top View

Runner Up: TOTO C2 WASHLET

Don’t be fooled by the unusual name, the C2 WASHLET is a bidet seat like all the other recommendations on this list! We’re highlighting the C2 because it offers several unique features that aren’t often found on seats with side arm controls. Plus, it’s made by one of the best known brands in the bidet business. 

Owners of beige bathrooms rejoice! The TOTO C2 is one of a handful of bidets that come in both white and beige. In addition to coordinating seamlessly with most bathrooms, the C2 also makes it easy to keep your toilet clean. It does this by lightly misting the toilet bowl with a film of water before every use. This prevents waste from sticking to the sides, which results in less cleaning for you!

As a general rule, most bidets with side arm controls are considered “entry level” and don’t offer sanitizing features. The C2 breaks the basic bidet mold with a sanitizing system that generates sterile, electrolyzed water. This EWATER+ is used to mist the bowl and to clean the nozzles each time the bidet is used. Users can even run extra cleaning cycles by pressing a button on the control panel. 

TOTO C2 Control Panel

From a wash standpoint, the TOTO C2 offers gentle to moderate spray pressure. The nozzle design ensures that the wash feels soft, not sharp, and the front wash is the most comfortable out of all the seats recommended here. If you’re on the more sensitive side, this is going to be a plus! If you’re someone who needs an enema wash or just enjoys how a firm wash feels, you’ll be happier with the Brondell Swash T22 or Clean Sense 1500R. The C2 also comes with pulse mode, nozzle oscillation and a warm air dryer.

Let’s talk about the downsides for a minute. 

First on the list is the C2’s water heater. While the Swash T22 and Clean Sense 1500 have instant heaters that produce unlimited warm water, the TOTO C2 has a tank heater that stores a limited amount of warm water. After 30i-sh seconds of wash time, the warm water in the tank starts to run out, and the bidet slowly begins supplementing with cool water. As the wash continues and the warm water runs out completely, the water will get cooler and cooler until it’s completely cold. Once the wash ends, it takes the bidet about 5 minutes to fully heat the cold water in the tank.

If you’re a quick wash sort of a person, this setup may not bother you. But many people (including us!) often extend the wash beyond 30 seconds, especially after bowel movements, and cold water can be a jarring interruption. The other issue with a tank heater is the amount of space it takes up in the back of the seat. This gives the seat a bulkier look and cuts into the sittable space. And less sittable space = a less comfortable environment.

TOTO C2 WASHLET

Next we have to mention price. TOTO bidets are pricy across the board, and the C2 is no exception. Though it’s a steal compared to other TOTO units, it’s not cheap compared to other brand bidets with similar feature sets. For example, it offers fewer features than the Clean Sense 1500, but it’s quite a bit more expensive.

Another of the C2’s limitations is that it’s only available in an elongated seat size, so if you’ve got a round toilet, you’re out of luck. Additionally, TOTO’s installation guide is rather unique, relying heavily on detailed illustrations. We don’t consider this a bad thing per se, but our tester found the level of detail to be more confusing than helpful. That said, when it comes to using the bidet, the user manual’s thoroughness is a plus – anything you need to know about your bidet can absolutely be found there!

Final Thoughts: If you want a trusted name backing your purchase, along with high quality parts, a sterilizing system and a comfortable basic cleanse, the TOTO C2 is a great choice!