What is a bidet? A bidet is a bathroom fixture used for cleansing the genitals and perineal area after using the toilet and for cleansing the genitals before and after sex.
Evolution of Bidets
The bidet has evolved over the years from being a standalone basin-like fixture that resided near the toilet, to being a functional feature that is attached to, or integrated as part of, the toilet itself.
- Original Bidets
Bidets appeared around the late 17th century in France. At that time, bidets existed as a separate bathroom fixture that consisted of a porcelain basin with a water faucet attached to or over it.
Once a person finished using the toilet, they would move from the toilet over to the bidet, turn the water on, straddle the bidet bowl and manually splash the water upwards to bathe the genitals and anus. This type of bidet is still available for sale today.
- Modern Bidets
In recent times, new technology has neatly combined the toilet and the functionality of a bidet into one convenient bathroom fixture.
When using a modern-style bidet, the user remains seated on the toilet. At the simple push of a button, one or more nozzles emerge from the toilet (or toilet seat) releasing a steady stream of water upwards to cleanse the genitals and anus. Toilets can be purchased fully equipped with bidet features, or alternatively, a special bidet toilet seat or handheld sprayer can be installed to quickly turn a standard toilet into one that offers the advantages of a bidet.
Who would benefit from a Modern-Style Bidet?
- Persons With Incontinence:A bidet can be particularly helpful addition for persons suffering from incontinence – making it much easier to stay fresh and clean.
- Persons Who Can’t Wipe: It can be a blessing for persons who aren’t able to reach back and wipe themselves, helping to prevent the need to ask someone else to assist with this private task.
- Caregivers: Bidets definitely make a caregiver’s job much easier by making it both cleaner and easier to assist a person who requires help with toileting hygiene.
- Everyone: The modern-style bidets make toileting hygiene easier for everyone. It does the washing – no wiping required!
Types of Bidets/Bidet Equipment
Modern bidets can be found in a variety of forms ranging from toilets that are fully integrated with bidet features to simple, portable, travel-friendly options.
- Bidet-Toilet Combo: Some toilet models have bidet features conveniently integrated into the toilet’s design.
- Bidet Toilet Seat: Special toilet seats can be purchased to quickly turn a standard toilet into a bidet-toilet combo. This option simply requires removing the old toilet seat and replacing it with a toilet seat enhanced with bidet functionality (a.k.a washlet).
- Bidet Toilet Seat Attachment: Alternatively, a special bidet attachment can be added underneath your existing toilet seat. It includes on/off controls and a wand that releases a steady stream of water upon demand.
- Hand-Held Sprayer: This type is similar in concept to a garden hose. It’s designed to be attached on or near the toilet and includes a hose, nozzle and a handle (or button) that can be squeezed to turn the water on and off. The user remains seated on the toilet, leans forward, reaches the sprayer down inside the toilet and directs the water upwards to cleanse the genital area. Most models are only designed to offer a stream of cold water. Some handheld sprayer models can be hooked to the warm water supply line if a sink is located near to the toilet.
- Portable/Travel Friendly Bidet: Portable bidet devices typically consists of a screw-on nozzle and a pouch or bladder for holding the water. The user fills the container with water, attaches the nozzle, and then squeezes the pouch (or bottle) to release the water for rinsing the genitals and anus.
It is important to take into consideration your own physical skills when choosing the type of bidet and it’s corresponding features.
- Arthritic Fingers/Poor Grip: If you have arthritic hands or poor grip strength, it is probably best to avoid the handheld sprayer models because this type requires you to hold the sprayer in your hand continuously throughout the duration of the cleaning process. Instead consider a bidet toilet seat, bidet toilet seat attachment, or a toilet with integrated bidet features because they simply require pushing a button to operate the water spray and the equipment does the rest.
- Poor Sitting Balance: If you have compromised sitting balance, it is probably best to avoid the handheld sprayer type because they require you to have the skills to lean forwards, while simultaneously holding the sprayer in one hand, reaching down inside the toilet bowl, and aiming the spray upwards at the genitals. The bidet toilet seats, bidet attachments, or toilets with integrated bidet features would be better considerations because you only need to turn the water on and the equipment does the rest.
- Unable to Twist/Turn Torso: If you have difficulty turning or twisting due to a back injury or other related problems, the bidet toilet seats and the integrated bidet-toilet combo models that are equipped with a handheld remote are good considerations.
Bidet: Common Features
Products offering bidet functionality can be equipped with a variety of different features, which may include one or more of the following:
- Cold Water/ Warm Water: Some models only provide a cold stream of water, while others offer warm water as well. The models that offer warm water will either require that the toilet be located close to a sink (to access the warm water supply) or that an electrical outlet be located near to the toilet bowl.
- Electric/Non-Electric: Some bidets require electricity, others do not. Models that require electricity will require that you have an electrical outlet present near to the toilet. Electric bidets can more quickly heat the water on demand, where as non-electric models (the ones offering the warm-water feature) will heat up at the rate it normally takes the water to warm up in your home, which may take some time.
- Control Options: Make sure to consider the type and location of the controls when selecting a model. The hand-held sprayers usually have an on/off button that’s pushed or a handle that must be squeezed. The bidet-style toilet seat, bidet attachments, and toilet-bidet combos are typically controlled using buttons or dials that are either fixed to the side of the seat or attached to a battery-operated remote control that can be placed anywhere the user wants (e.g. fixed to the wall beside the toilet or placed on top a nearby vanity).
- Right or Left-Handed Controls? Most bidets have controls located on the right side of the unit. Some bidets can be found with the controls that can fixed on the left side of the toilet or may have a design allowing them to be positioned on either side of the toilet. Alternatively, a hand-held sprayer unit or a model with a remote control can be selected allowing a user to easily access the controls regardless of which hand they prefer to use.
- One Wand or Two? Bidet toilet seats and toilet-bidet combos include either one or two wands that emerge to perform the cleaning. One wand works well for men. Two wands are best for women because they are designed to clean both the front and rear.
- Self-Cleaning Nozzle: Models with this feature are designed to automatically rinse the nozzle(s) after use.
- Enema Function: Some models offer an enema-like function. Nothing is physically inserted inside. Models with this feature provide the option to select a higher pressure water stream that can help to stimulate the sphincter muscles to relax. For anyone who suffers from constipation (a common side effect of taking pain medicine) this can be beneficial. It can also help to stimulate the bowels for individuals who suffer from a spinal cord injury. (aka High Pressure Water Feature or Vortex Function)
- Dryer: After using a bidet, the genitals and bottom will be wet. Some bidet-toilets and bidet toilet seats include an air dryer to help dry the genitals after cleansing.
- Additional Features: More expensive models may come with an array of bells and whistles such as: a heated seat, self-cleaning nozzles, oscillating massage mode, motion-activated controls, hands-free opening/closing of seat and cover, soft close lid, night light, water filter, and even built-in speakers for listening to music!
Cost of Toilet Hygiene Aids
The average price ranges for the different types of bidet products can be found below.
- Portable/Travel Friendly Bidets: $15—$60
- Handheld Bidet Sprayers: $20—$50
- Bidet Toilet Seat Attachments: $25—$60
- Bidet Toilet Seats: $200—$1,000
- Toilet With Integrated Bidet Features: $1,000—$3,500
The Homeability Advice™
Cold Water or Warm Water Bidet? Being blasted with a stream of cold water first thing in the morning, especially on a winter morning, has potential to be a bit unpleasant! Cold-water models are usually cheaper, but if you prefer to encounter warm water in the morning, it would be worth it to splurge a bit and get one that offers warm water.
Most people find that bidet toilets and bidet units featuring a wireless remote control are easiest to use. The wireless remote control can be attached to a nearby wall or placed on a nearby counter top. A drawback for the wireless-style bidet controls, however, is that the remote has batteries that will need to be replaced periodically. On average, the bidet battery life for most models is six to twelve months.
The Bidet Toilet Seats are a more economical option than a toilet-bidet combo. The seats, however, may not perfectly fit all toilet bowls. Toilet-Bidet Combos have the bidet features neatly integrated into the toilet itself, allowing for a clean, seamless appearance.
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