What is a Bidet? 5 Facts for the Savvy Customer
What is a Bidet? A bidet uses a stream of water to clean off your private regions after a bowel movement, urination, intimacy or during menstruation. These nifty bathroom accessories are hygienic, easy to use, eco-friendly, and come in a bunch of different styles and price points. And unlike scratchy toilet paper, a bidet’s spray thoroughly rinses waste away without discomfort. Bidets aren’t gender specific, either — any adult can benefit from using one.
Bidet cleansing removes waste better than toilet paper, so it’s perfect for anyone who has difficulty wiping or wants greater independence in the bathroom. They’re also an excellent tool for healing hemorrhoids and fissures or for getting cleaned up after an accident. Some bidets even offer an enema wash that can alleviate constipation, allowing you to do your business without straining or discomfort.
Bidets use clean water from your bathroom’s water supply, and no part of the bidet ever touches your skin. They spray water at an angle so that the nozzles don’t get dirty while they rinse you off. Plus, the spray is specially designed to get you clean without splattering waste around your toilet. All in all, bidets offer a comfortable and fuss-free way to keep your nether regions unbeatably fresh and clean.
1. Who Invented the Bidet?
Historians aren’t 100% sure who invented the bidet, but cleaning off with water after using the bathroom is a practice that goes back thousands of years. It’s thought that the ancient Romans used a wet sponge attached to the end of a stick to clean their bottoms after using the public toilets, and cleansing with water has long been a part of bathroom etiquette in Islamic culture. Today, using water instead of toilet paper is common in regions outside North America, including Asia, the Middle East, and many parts of Europe.
The first bidets emerged on the bathroom scene in 17th century France. These early bidets were simple wash basins set into a wooden bench or seat. The user straddled the bidet and splashed water on their privates. In fact, the word “bidet” comes from the French word for pony or small horse, perhaps as a hint at how to use them. As French trade expanded, the bidet grew in popularity around the globe.
An American named Arnold Cohen is credited with inventing the modern bidet seat in the 1960s. He named his product the “American Sitzbath” and launched the American Bidet Company, with the hopes of igniting a bidet craze across the United States. However, the topic of bathroom hygiene was considered crass by many, and Cohen had a difficult time finding anyone who would run his ads or buy his product.
Though American consumers weren’t interested in the bidet seat, Japanese manufacturers were. In the mid-1960s, Cohen met with representatives from the Nichimen Jitsugyo company to demonstrate how his bidet worked, and the company ended up designing and marketing their own prototype. Then in the 1980s, the Japanese company TOTO released the first electronic bidet seat, which they called the WASHLET. Japanese consumers loved the idea of merging technology with hygiene, and the electric bidet took off like wildfire.
Today, more and more Americans are turning to bidets over toilet paper to keep their intimate areas fresh. Modern bidets have a discreet and user friendly design, plus a variety of health and environmental benefits. It’s no wonder they’re an attractive option for anyone who wants to take their bathroom experience from ordinary to awesome!
2. What is a Bidet Toilet Seat?
A bidet toilet seat looks like a regular toilet seat but has a built-in wand with nozzles on the end that spray your private areas with water. When it isn’t washing you off, the wand retracts into the seat’s shell to stay clean. The unit has a flexible hose that hooks up to your bathroom’s clean water source, and some require an electrical outlet. Bidet toilet seats come in round and elongated seat sizes and replace your existing toilet seat.
There are two types of bidet toilet seats: non-electric and electric. Non-electric bidet seats are powered by your home’s water pressure and provide a basic front and rear wash. Many non-electric bidet toilet seats wash with cool water only, and most have a firm feeling spray that’s difficult to adjust. All non-electric seats are controlled by dials or levers on the side of the seat — none are operated with a wireless remote.
Electric bidet toilet seats must be plugged into a GFCI outlet, and all offer warm water washing, a heated seat, and adjustable spray settings. However, the features available on electric seats don’t stop there! Depending on the model, they can include a broad range of comfort and convenience options like a nightlight, scentless deodorizer, warm air dryer, auto open/close lid, wireless remote, enema wash modes, special spray settings, customized user presets and nozzle sterilization.
3. What is a Bidet Toilet?
Bidet toilets, also known as integrated units or smart toilets, are a toilet that has a built-in bidet wand and nozzle(s). Most have a modern, skirted silhouette, and they are typically packed with high end bidet features. These luxury toilet and bidet combinations are a great, one-stop solution if you want to replace your existing toilet and add bidet cleansing to your bathroom routine.
TOTO WASHLET+ systems feature a high-performing toilet that’s topped with a matching bidet seat. These luxury combinations are specially designed so that the bidet seat’s cords and hoses stay hidden from view. WASHLET+ systems aren’t the same as a bidet toilet (integrated unit), but they share many of the benefits, including a streamlined look and superb bidet cleansing. WASHLET+ systems look more like a traditional toilet than integrated units, so it’s a good fit for anyone with a classic style aesthetic.
4. Other Types of Bidets
There are many other types of bidets besides those described above. Portable bidets (also known as “travel bidets”) are a small water bottle with a spray nozzle attached. Hand held bidet sprayers, sometimes called a “shattaf” or a “bidet shower”, look a lot like a sink sprayer. To use, simply point the sprayer at the parts you’d like to clean and squeeze the trigger to release a stream of water.
A bidet attachment fits between the bowl and seat of your existing toilet and has a retractable wand that sprays water. The spray position usually isn’t adjustable, so you may have to shift around quite a bit to get a thorough cleanse. They’re operated via knobs or levers located on the side of the attachment.
A classic bidet is a completely separate fixture from the toilet. They look like a mini-sink, with a big bowl, drain, water spout and faucet(s). These standalone bidets aren’t common in the US because they are less convenient to use and are more complicated to install than other types.
Bidet sprayers, attachments and classic bidets are all non-electric, which means they are powered by your home’s water pressure. Some come with adjustable pressure controls, but it’s still pretty difficult to get a soft spray. In other words, customers are more likely to feel that the spray is too forceful rather than that it’s too weak. Many wash with cool water only, though some have an extra hose that can connect to your bathroom’s warm water source.
For everything you need to know about the different types of bidets, check out our Complete Bidet Buyer’s Guide!
5. What Does a Bidet Cost?
Bidets cost as little as $20, as much as $18,000, and everything in between! Here are a few average ranges (keep in mind that these prices reflect our current inventory and don’t include discounts or sales):
- Portable / Travel Bidet: $20-70
- Hand Held Bidet Sprayer (Shower Bidet / Shattaf): $40-130
- Bidet Attachment: $40-150
- Non-Electric Bidet Toilet Seat: $100-200
- Electric Bidet Toilet Seat: $250-1400
- WASHLET+ System (TOTO Toilet + Bidet): $850-3500
- Bidet Toilet (Integrated Unit / Smart Toilet): $1200-18,000
- Classic Bidet: $650-1500
Looking to do a full bathroom upgrade? Find other bathroom upgrade tips here
More Questions? Contact Us!
We know there’s a lot to consider when buying a bidet, and we want you to find the best bidet solution. If you’d like customized feedback, please reach out to us for expert advice and personalized bidet recommendations. Here are the best ways to connect with one of our bidet specialists: