The Bidet represents the ultimate post restroom cleaning experience yet North America is slow to adopt the technology. Can you blame us though? Most Americans have never seen or heard of a Bidet and shudder at the thought of jet streams blasting their tender regions clean.
The truth is the Bidet has come a long way from the archaic days of old and yonder. You don’t need an excessive amount of bathroom space nor does the Bidet need to feel like you just squatted on top of a high pressure sprinkler head. There’s a type of Bidet for everybody and now there’s no excuses not to embrace a clearly more hygienic and evolved method of using the restroom.
1.) The classic Bidet
Initial designs for the original 1700’s Bidet were simple inventions. Assuming you were French and part of high society you had 2 wash bowls. Your main toilet or “chamber pot” was located in the bathroom with a separate bowl (the Bidet) in your bedroom. The plumbing at the time did not allow for multiple fixtures in a single bathroom. You would do your business in the bathroom and then tenderly make your way to the bedroom to clean up in the Bidet. The Bidet was small enough to be easily straddled. If you were a woman you’d hike your dress all the way up and straddle the Bidet like a small pony and then wash with the water. In fact, the term Bidet was derived from the name of a now extinct French horse. The horse was very small and easily straddled.
The classic Bidet came with its own problems. To even own a Bidet required you not only have the extra space, but a servant to haul water to and from the Bidet as you used it. There was no plumbing fixed to the Bidet which required constant refreshing and refilling. Can you imagine your life as a servant back in those days? No thank you.
With the evolution of modern plumbing the Bidet found its way into the bathroom right next to the main toilet bowl. It received its own fixtures so you could easily fill the Bidet and drain it at your own discretion. You still needed quite a bit of bathroom space to own it which is one of the main reasons you don’t see the classic Bidet used in modern North American society. While still more hygienic than toilet paper, the classic Bidet hit a wall preventing it from entering into the homes of the common American man and woman (along with a few other reasons.) Visit Italy or Asia however and you will see the Bidet has been readily accepted and located in the majority of houses and hotels. Talk to any Italian and the one thing they miss most when traveling abroad is their majesty Bidet!
2.) The handheld Bidet
It didn’t take long for the Bidet to receive a significant upgrade. In the 1800s the hand pump was introduced to the market. Early handheld bidets were simple pumps one used to spray water up into the tender regions. This particular Bidet design spread like wild fire across the globe finding its way to Asia and Middle Eastern countries in particular. You cannot travel abroad to these foreign lands without running into what is known as the “bum gun.” Other notable names include the Indian Butt Hose, the Ass Gun, The Butt Bomber, The Butt Blaster, The Dingleberry Destroyer, and I’m sure a plethora of other creative variations christened by travelers and backpackers alike.
The idea behind the handheld Bidet is simple. After you are finished on the majestic throne you reach over and remove the Bum Gun from its holster. If you’re a man, lean up ever so slightly away from the toilet and position the spray nozzle up towards your nether regions. Once you have the right angle (and you’ll figure this out rather quickly) squeeze the nozzle and let it rip. After you have achieved a proper cleaning take a small amount of toilet paper or a fresh towel and dry yourself. Women, do the same thing except enter from the front.
The handheld Bidet is the most approachable for most Americans. It’s an inexpensive device that attaches right next to any modern American style toilet tank. They come with T splitters and hoses to attach right on to your existing toilets water supply. Many of them come with thumb controls to easily control the angle and pressure of the jet stream. At the end of the day if you don’t like the Bidet experience you can still use it to clean your toilet bowl! The Handheld Bidet sprayer also allows the elderly to easily use the bathroom themselves without struggling with toilet paper. The elderly often have arthritic hands and bones and it’s not easy for them to grab the paper, reach back multiple times, and wipe until they are clean. The handheld Bidet gives them the freedom to use the bathroom without requiring assistance from friends or family.
3.) The Non electric Bidet seat
This is a Bidet that installs on to your existing toilet. Unlike the electronic Bidet seats, the non electric Bidet seat uses your existing water pressure alone to create jet streams of water. These are nice because once you get them dialed in it’s completely hands free. With the handheld Bidet there’s a bit more work involved and occasionally you’re required to clean the heads. Depending on the model, non electric Bidet seats completely replace your existing toilet seat or happily sit beneath them. Non electric models offer the versatility of not needing an existing electrical connection or batteries to operate. Simply install them on your toilet, hook them into your water line using the supplied T connector, and you’re good to go. Many of the non electric Bidet seats are also adjustable to accommodate variations in toilet design. The non electric Bidet seat is another inexpensive way to test out the complete Bidet experience.
4.) The Electronic Bidet seat
The most modern and technological form of the Bidet came from a joint effort between one American inventor and the Japanese. Arnold Cohen was an American man born in Brooklyn, New York. He owned an advertising agency on New York’s prestigious 5th avenue and invented the worlds first ever toilet seat Bidet to help his aging father in the restroom. First models used a foot activated pump to offer a hands free cleaning experience. Using his knowledge of advertising he began marketing his product with little success. He discovered Americans simply weren’t ready or willing to use such a device in their homes and instead struck a deal with the Japanese company TOTO for licensing rights. TOTO made quick work of Cohens original design by creating the Washlet Sleek in 1989. The Japanese were also slow to adopt the new technology but now over 80% of Japanese homes have electronic Bidet seats installed. A massive win for the modern Bidet!
Electronic Bidet seats offer the most luxury and features out of all the different types of Bidets. The high end bidets have seat warmers, control both water pressure and temperature, and clean themselves. They’ll even dry you completely similar to drying your car at a drive thru car wash. Now that’s service! Electronic Bidets are the top of the top Bidet system and once you use one it’s hard to go back. You can sit down, do your business, hit a button, and get completely cleaned and dried very quickly – all without touching a single piece of toilet paper. The money you save on toilet paper alone will more than make up for the costs of the Bidet, plus you’re getting a truly superior clean.
5.) The complete Bidet toilet combo
The Bidet toilet combo is a complete toilet with all the features of a Bidet meant to replace your existing throne. Instead of the Bidet features being an additional add on, the Bidet toilet has everything built straight in. This is THE option for individuals completely on board with the idea of the Bidet. Perhaps you are remodeling the bathroom and want to transform your bathroom experience or you’re building a brand new house and want to get things right from the start. The complete Bidet toilet has all the features of the electronic Bidet seat built right into the toilet itself.
The Bidet toilet combo is the most expensive Bidet option available. Really, it’s a good idea to experiment with an electronic Bidet seat before you drop money on a complete solution – even if you do demand the highest degree of technology in your home!
6.) The travel Bidet
The travel Bidet gets an honorable mention because some people love the Bidet so much they take it with them on their travels. The travel Bidet is a compact way to take the Bidet experience on the road. Similar to toilet seat Bidets, travel Bidets come in electric and non electric models. The non electric models work by filling a rubber/plastic reservoir with water and operates by squeezing. Electric models operate via batteries and spray the water using the built in electronics. Most are chargeable via USB and easily pack down into your luggage. The main problem experienced with Travel Bidets are leaks and insufficient water pressure. While these might not be ideal for daily use, they can be somewhat effective on the road if you require absolute cleanliness at all times.