What is a Bidet?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A bidet (pronounced bid-day) is a small low sink that is used for washing the genitalia after going to the bathroom. It is normally located next to a toilet, but shouldn’t be considered a sink. Bidets are popular in Europe and Asia, but much less common in the US. You can buy bidet attachments for toilet seats in the US, and some people may have a bidet in their bathroom. Usually bathroom size in modern homes in the US makes having both a bidet and a toilet practically impossible.

A bidet attachment can be installed to an existing toilet.
A bidet attachment can be installed to an existing toilet.

In Europe and Asia, where the bidet is much more common, it is also thought a great deal more sanitary than merely using toilet paper to wipe after using the toilet. There are a number of very complexly designed bidets that can feature warm water jets to clean off the genitalia, and warm air dryers to dry the area. Still it’s fairly common for the European bathroom to provide toilet paper too, since using the bidet can be a little time consuming.

Bidets are found throughout Europe.
Bidets are found throughout Europe.

Some US folks are a bit squeamish about washing their genitalia, especially outside the privacy of a shower. Yet in Europe and Asia this reluctance tends not to exist, and the washing tends to be a hands on process. In fact, some people feel that toilet paper is unsanitary as a means of cleaning up after using the toilet. Some Japanese styles of the bidet do have “hands off” styles, and may be electronically or remote controlled to spray water where it is needed. Other bidets are more like sinks, where you must turn on taps in order to get warm water for washing.

Some bidets connect to a tap so the temperature can be adjusted for comfort.
Some bidets connect to a tap so the temperature can be adjusted for comfort.

The bidet can be a helpful fixture for people with certain conditions. Those with hemorrhoids can find a good washing up in a bidet very helpful to their condition. Some hospitals also have bidets in use to help with people with mobility conditions, and these are thought a much easier way to help clean a person off. Some also suggest using the bidet to wash other parts of the body. This would probably be met with significant resistance, particularly in the US, and most especially when people suggest using the bidet as a baby bath.

A bidet is thought to be more sanitary than merely using toilet paper to wipe after using the toilet.
A bidet is thought to be more sanitary than merely using toilet paper to wipe after using the toilet.

Unless the bidet is not in use to wash the rectum and vulva, concern regarding transferring germs from one part of the body to the other does exist. It’s difficult to imagine washing a baby in a sink that has the purpose of cleaning the genitalia. On the other hand, a baby might benefit from a dip in the bidet to clean the bottom after a messy bowel movement.

Some bidet toilets feature a separate hose sprayer mounted close to the toilet.
Some bidet toilets feature a separate hose sprayer mounted close to the toilet.

If you’re interested in trying a bidet, you might consider first trying a bidet attachment. These cost about 20-30 US dollars (USD), and will fit onto most toilet seats. The average bidet in the US is still relatively expensive, about 400 USD, and you need both space and access to water pipes in order to install one. Trying out the attachment first to see if it is useful may be the best first choice. When traveling through countries where the bidet is common, it’s considered appropriate to use the toilet before using the bidet, and it’s a good thing to know the purpose of that low sink, usually located next to the toilet.

Using a bidet can be beneficial to someone with hemorrhoids.
Using a bidet can be beneficial to someone with hemorrhoids.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon346726

Americans think that they are cleaner than anybody else, but I have to say that I have seen the dirtiest homes in my life in the USA. Then they say they don't need a bidet because they shower every day. Well, I shower every day too, but I go to the bathroom many times a day. How many showers should a person have every day, and do they clean themselves before going to bed? Some Americans that have been guests at my house, and were surprised that I change the bed sheets every week.

anon315966

Americans are so nasty, I am Egyptian and we have bidets in every home in Egypt. All you do is turn it on after you are done and it cleans you out. Americans would rather smell like poo than be clean. It's so typical.

bidetfactory

Nowadays it is important to be aware of proper hygiene as it contributes to a person's well-being. Bidets are really an innovation in bathroom and toiletries technology as it makes uncomfortable things easy to deal with. Have a blessed day!

anon158316

The bidet is an absolute necessity if you really want that fresh feeling. Not to mention women and that time of the month. Bidet, ladies, is the word!

Argentina and Uruguay are two countries where bidets are commonplace in every single house, apartment, hotel, etc. Other South American countries too. Some European countries too but not all of them. Some Asian countries and African too. The US? No.

People have this notion here in the US that a bidet is a dirty thing, when it is just the opposite. Then again, in the US selling toilet paper is big business, so more paper, fewer bidets equals a less than clean bum in my opinion. I vote for the bidet!

anon130342

Nobody said bidet is a alternative to toilet paper! You use both! Duh! How disgusting not to use it! I can't even imagine that. What? You think you'd go with your dirty behind to a bidet? Lol! Of course you wipe! And then you clean with fresh current water!

Nobody said you have to fill up the bidet! Do you fill up a washbasin every time you wash your hands? For god sake! Yes, they use bidets in Europe. I know because I'm European so cut the crap!

anon119620

Bidets seem like a waste to me. Toilet paper can be used much more than bidets can. Think of all the water that goes unused via the faucet of the device! A lot! Besides, either way, you wash your hands after words so it doesn't mean it's more sanitary. And, the bidet can be used by other people, causing more spread of germs!

anon91689

In argentina, in the 97 percent of the houses you find a bidet. It's really strange for us to know that in wealthier countries like europe or us you have not these parameters of cleanness.

anon76597

A separate bidet and toilet is a thing of the past. What is "in" now is a bidet-toilet combination or what the call an Electronic Seat Bidet that replaces your existing toilet lid and seat. There are several types/models of bidets - usually from high-end ones (for example Coway Bidet, Bio bidet 1000, Coco Bidet 6035 etc..) to less expensive like Renaissance 2000 bidet, Bio Bidet BB250.

Of course, the high end ones have more features and functions like heated seat, deodorizer, hot/cold water temp. For those who cannot afford expensive high end units, they can settle for really less expensive which they call hand held bidets or sprayers and travel bidet. They basically can clean you after each toilet use.

anon55159

Well these days in some asian countries a nozzle is provided below the seat and this is more convenient and hygienic then the toilet papers.

anon5713

You mentioned Europe and some countries in Asia, but let me add that Latin American countries ALSO use the bidet. Particularly Argentina, where bidets are the NORM in every house, apartment (regardless of how tiny the bathroom might be, the bidet will be there), and hotel rooms. In Argentina, people as well as Europeans find it disgusting that the US does not include bidets in the bathrooms of homes.

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