Bidets are an alternative to toilet paper. They clean your backside using water, allowing you to forgo toilet tissue altogether. Although they’re extremely popular in European and Asian countries, they’re not as widely used in North America.
In Japan, 77% of people use a bidet (pronounced “be-day”) daily. It’s such a common fixture in Japan that you’d likely have difficulty finding a toilet without one.
Bidet users claim that the device leaves them feeling cleaner after using the bathroom. It also comes with its own set of benefits, and it can make your next trip to the bathroom more hygienic.
What Is a Bidet?
A bidet is a device that sprays water over your genital and anal areas to clean them after urinating or defecating. It comes in different shapes and forms and can be found in many countries around the world. In fact, it’s a centuries-old practice in some countries.
Many find using a bidet to be gentler on sensitive skin, and it enhances their experience in the bathroom. A bidet can be used on its own or with soap.
Benefits of Using a Bidet
Bidets aren’t just funny-looking plumbing fixtures. There are quite a few benefits to adopting the practice, both for yourself and the environment.
Bidets are more hygienic than toilet paper. One study found that using a bidet properly can decrease the amount of bacteria in your urine, which signals a more thorough cleaning. Using water and soap to clean yourself after going to the toilet is more hygienic than simply wiping with paper.
Bidets could potentially limit your germ spread. When you use a bidet, your hands don’t often come into close contact with fecal matter. That could limit particles from getting on your hands and spreading.
They could lower your risk of hemorrhoids. Using a bidet with medium-low water pressure could help relieve pressure on your anus, thus potentially reducing your risk of hemorrhoids.
Bidets enhance your bathroom experience. The same study found that using a wash-and-dry bidet in a nursing home enhanced the overall toileting experience of the residents.
Bidets are better for the environment. Using a bidet means switching from toilet paper, or just using less. That’s good news for your wallet and the environment. With a population of 384 million in the United States and counting, the potential environmental impact of normalizing bidets is huge.
Types of Bidets
There are lots of bidets to choose from if you’re thinking about trying one. They come in simple or more extravagant models, some of which only require a simple installation.
Stand-alone bidet. You might know these as porcelain toilet lookalikes that could be confused with low sinks. There’s a tap on the top of the device that sprays water to the genital area as you squat or sit down.
Handheld hose. Handheld hoses are an economical and effective option that you can install yourself. They can be found at most home improvement stores for under $100 and attach to the plumbing fixtures from the toilet.
Toilet seat bidet. You can go for a brand-new toilet seat that functions as a bidet. These options often come with other features such as a fan dry. Depending on the model, there is a control panel or remote located on the side with different functions.
Bidet attachment. This is a cost-effective option. The device is installed underneath the toilet seat with a control panel set at the side of the toilet. There’s a retractable nozzle that sprays water. The installation process is basic.
Travel bidet. Being on the go doesn’t mean you can’t use a bidet. A travel bidet looks similar to a water bottle in size, and has a long, skinny cap that squirts water when the bottle is squeezed.
Cautions of Using a Bidet
Vaginal health. Although bidet use has been linked with multiple health benefits, the research is unclear when it comes to vaginal health. There’s potential that bidets can upset the vagina’s delicate bacterial balance, but more research is needed to be sure.
Bacteria growth. As you might suspect, it’s extremely important to keep your bidet clean and sanitized. Due to its nature, it can collect all sorts of bacteria, especially if the toilet is shared. One test in a Japanese hospital found that their bidets were full of unhealthy bacteria. It’s important that the devices are kept clean for optimum health.