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What’s A Bidet?

As an American, I never came a cross a bidet until the first time I went to Europe. The first thing I saw when I finally got to my hotel room was a funny little fixture next to the toilet. It looked like a short sink. “Maybe for kids?” I said to my girlfriend. “No, silly goose,” she said, “That’s a bidet.”

“But baby,” I said… “What’s a bidet?”

what is a bidet

Since that day that changed my life, the bidet has gained ever more traction as the coolest, most modern, eco-friendliest, and hygienic-est alternative to traditional toilet paper since sliced bread. If you’re telling me that sliced bread was never used as toilet paper, then I’ve been wasting A LOT of bread.

Bidets came straight outta France, way back in the 17th century, so they come with a nice, fancy-sounding French name none of us seem to know how to pronounce as a bonus. The bidet has evolved significantly since those days, and even since the days when I imagined cutle little kids washing gtheirt cute little hands in them. These days, a bidet is a common fixture in bathrooms worldwide. Even in as bathroom-backward place as the USofA!

So if you’ve been hearing the murmurings and rumors, and were maybe a little shy to ask, we’re here to give it to you straight, no frills, and definitely without judgment. We’re not fancy, and we poop too. So let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what a bidet is, its history, it’s many benefits, the different types, and why bidets rival covid-19 for speed of their spread. In a word, bidets are cool.

What’s a Bidet?

A bidet is a bathroom fixture designed to clean and refresh the genital and perianal areas after using the toilet. It typically resembles a low-mounted basin or a specialized toilet seat equipped with water nozzles for cleansing. Unlike traditional toilet paper, bidets use water to provide a more effective and hygienic cleaning experience.

From Whence Came the Bidet?

The bidet’s origins can be traced back to France in the late 17th century, where it was initially used by French royalty. The word “bidet” itself is derived from the French term meaning “pony” or “small horse,” possibly reflecting the straddling posture one adopts when using a bidet. Over time, bidets became more widespread in Europe and Asia, evolving in design and functionality.

Benefits of Using a Bidet

Improved Hygiene:
The hygienic benefits of bidets are substantial, offering a superior cleansing experience compared to traditional toilet paper. Bidets utilize a stream of water to thoroughly and gently clean the genital and perianal areas, removing bacteria and reducing the risk of skin irritation. This targeted cleansing not only provides a more effective solution for personal hygiene but also contributes to overall well-being. For individuals with specific medical conditions such as hemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bidets can offer relief and comfort. Moreover, the use of bidets minimizes the reliance on toilet paper, promoting environmental sustainability by reducing paper waste and contributing to a more eco-friendly bathroom routine.

The ecological benefits of bidets are increasingly recognized as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional toilet paper usage. By relying on water for cleansing, bidets significantly reduce the demand for toilet paper, thus helping to mitigate deforestation and decrease the environmental impact of paper production. This eco-conscious choice aligns with global efforts to promote sustainability and reduce carbon footprints. Additionally, the decreased reliance on disposable paper products translates to less waste in landfills, contributing to a more circular and responsible approach to personal hygiene. In embracing bidets, individuals can actively participate in the movement towards a greener lifestyle, making a positive impact on both personal habits and the planet..

Health Benefits:
Bidets offer notable health benefits by providing a more thorough and gentle cleansing experience compared to traditional toilet paper. The use of water helps remove bacteria and promotes better personal hygiene, reducing the risk of skin irritation and related discomfort. For individuals with specific health conditions such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bidets can be particularly beneficial. The gentle stream of water assists in cleaning without causing additional irritation, offering relief and promoting overall well-being. Furthermore, bidets contribute to maintaining a cleaner and healthier environment in the bathroom, reducing the likelihood of bacterial contamination and infections. The incorporation of bidets into personal hygiene routines reflects a proactive approach to health, emphasizing cleanliness and comfort.

Bidets offer significant money-saving benefits over time, despite the initial investment. While the upfront cost of installing a bidet fixture or seat may seem substantial, the long-term savings on toilet paper expenses make it a cost-effective choice. By reducing reliance on disposable paper products, bidet users can curtail their monthly expenditure on toilet paper, contributing to considerable savings over the years. Additionally, bidets are durable and low-maintenance, requiring minimal ongoing costs. The economic advantages of bidets not only make them a wise investment for individual households but also align with broader sustainability goals by reducing paper waste and promoting a more resource-efficient approach to personal hygiene.

Types of Bidets

Traditional Bidets:
A traditional bidet is a distinctive bathroom fixture with a design that typically resembles a low-mounted basin. It consists of a bowl-shaped basin equipped with faucets or nozzles, and it is usually placed adjacent to the toilet. The user straddles the bidet, utilizing the water controls to release a gentle stream for cleansing the genital and perianal areas after using the toilet. The design often includes separate taps for hot and cold water, allowing the user to adjust the temperature according to personal preference. The traditional bidet prioritizes simplicity and practicality, providing an effective and hygienic alternative to using toilet paper. While these fixtures may vary in style and features, their primary function remains rooted in promoting cleanliness and personal comfort.

Bidet Seats:
A bidet seat is a modern and innovative bathroom accessory designed to enhance personal hygiene. Unlike traditional bidets, bidet seats are attachments that can be easily installed on existing toilet bowls. These seats typically feature a sleek and compact design, with integrated water nozzles positioned beneath the seat. The user can activate the bidet seat through a control panel, adjusting settings such as water pressure, temperature, and nozzle position. Some advanced models may also include additional features like air dryers, heated seats, and customizable cleansing options. The bidet seat revolutionizes the bathroom experience by combining practicality with cutting-edge technology, offering a space-saving solution that promotes superior cleanliness and comfort without the need for a separate bidet fixture.

Handheld Bidet Sprayers:
Also known as bidet sprays or shattaf, handheld bidet sprayers are similar to a showerhead and can be attached to the toilet. They are manually operated and provide flexibility in directing the water stream. My first encounter with one of these was in a hotel in Guam that catered to the many Asian tourists to that island. It looked like a kitchen sink sprayer, but I had never seen one attached to a toilet before. Maybe it was for cleaning the bathroom, I thought. I picked it up and sprayed it into the tub, and the jet of water that came out of it was strong enough to knock the shampoo bottles off the shelf. It even had a bit of a recoil. Now that I know it’s a handheld bidet attachment, and far more powerful than any other I’ve since encountered, I have to wonder: WHO?! would spray a stream of water that powerful toward their nether regions?

Integrated Bidet-Toilet Combos:
A bidet-toilet combo is a modern and space-efficient bathroom fixture that seamlessly integrates the functionalities of a toilet and a bidet into a single unit. This innovative design incorporates a bidet feature, often in the form of a retractable nozzle or wand, into the toilet itself. Users can activate and control the bidet functions through a panel on the side, adjusting water pressure, temperature, and other settings. Bidet Toilet combos are known for their sleek and streamlined appearance, saving space in the bathroom while offering enhanced hygiene. Some models also come with additional features such as heated seats, air dryers, and deodorizers, providing a luxurious and comprehensive bathroom experience. This all-in-one solution reflects the evolution of bathroom design, offering convenience, modernity, and improved personal care in a single fixture.


The bidet has come a long way from its aristocratic origins to become a practical, hygienic, and eco-friendly bathroom fixture embraced by people worldwide. As awareness of its benefits grows, so does the variety of bidet options available on the market. Whether as a standalone fixture, a seat attachment, or an integrated feature in a smart toilet, the bidet is undoubtedly a revolutionary addition to modern bathroom design, promoting improved hygiene, environmental sustainability, and overall well-being.