What Is A Bidet? | Pros, Cons & Everything Explained
If you have ever travelled to Japan, South America, or visited an upscale hotel in Paris, you may have encountered a second piece of sanitaryware next to the toilet. It has a tap for turning on a jet of water and looks a little like a toilet, however, it’s most likely a bidet.
In this post, I’ll explain what a bidet is, the available types, their pros and cons, and answer some popular questions about the topic.
Let’s get into it!
What Is A Bidet?
Most commonly, a bidet (pronounced buh-day) is a ceramic bowl or receptacle that you sit on (similar in size to a toilet pan or sink) with a water supply and drain designed to wash off your bottom and private parts after using the toilet.
You won’t need to toss pieces of paper down the drain and your skin is completely clean after every use. In general, bidets are regarded as a healthier alternative for your skin and are eco-friendly.
While the bidet has a reputation as a luxury upgrade for the modern UK home, they are actually a very affordable option that can be added to your tiny urban flat or semi-detached house in the burbs. As well as becoming an increasingly popular option in American homes.
Types Of Bidet
If you are thinking about adding a bidet, there are a few versions available on the market.
Stand-Alone Bidet Basin
The stand-alone bidet looks like a second toilet at a glance. It requires separate plumbing and is best added during a total renovation or new build. It is rare that you can fit it into an existing bathroom design.
A more expensive version of the stand-alone bidet can add lights, hot and cold taps, give variable water pressure and even a hand-held nozzle to reach every part of your body. It can be floor or wall-mounted and comes in shapes that complement traditional or modern bathroom designs. You’ll most commonly see this type in Europe.
Toilet Seat or Built-in
The most popular choice for many homeowners looking to upgrade is a toilet seat add-on or a toilet/bidet attachment combination.
The combination version features complete dual functionality. Once you flush, just hit a switch and the bidet turns on the jet to wash you down. The combination will have both hot and cold plumbed into the unit for a warm water rinse.
You can also replace your existing toilet seat with a bidet toilet seat. It ties into the cold water supply already connected to the toilet. A handle on the side turns on the water jet. Fancier devices can be wired and offer a heated seat and lights.
Separate Hand Spray Bidet
The third option is attaching a hand-held bidet sprayer unit to the side of your toilet bowl or on the wall nearby. While it gives you the chance for a refreshing wash after visiting the loo, the sprayer is not permanently fixed. This type is most popular in Asia.
Typically only plumbed into your cold water feed, it is likely you will be spraying down the bathroom and shower walls as you angle the unit to reach around to your bum. Still, for a £20 upgrade, a nozzle spray is not a bad investment.
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How do you use a bidet?
A bidet is intended to wash your private bits after you have used the toilet instead of reaching for toilet paper.
When you have finished your business, turn on the water for the bidet. For a standalone unit, just sit down on it like you’re using the toilet. The spray or stream of water will rinse off your bum.
For ladies, you may want the jet to clean a little farther forward. Stand up, turn and face the wall. Straddle the bidet, so the water is aimed where you want to feel clean and fresh.
Some people will leave some soap by the bidet for a fast wash. There will also be either a towel and toilet paper or two towels. The single towel is for your hands. If there are two towels, one is for your hands and the other for drying off below.
In an upscale hotel, the bidet may also include an air dryer. Some luxury home models offer this upgrade for a completely hands-free experience.
The word bidet comes from the french word for Pony, with some believing this gives an indication that it is intended to be straddled.
How Much Does A Bidet Cost?
You can add a non-electric bidet to your existing toilet for around £30–which is a great way to decide if this is the right thing for your lifestyle. More elaborate battery or wired toilet seat bidets can rise in cost up to £200.
A handheld sprayer can be added to the side of your toilet for £20 to £80.
Both types are intended to be a DIY installation that should take no more than 30 minutes with a few common tools.
A standalone bidet–one that you will install next to your toilet–ranges in price from £100 to £500. The price goes up as you add adjustable nozzles, lights, heat, and contemporary designs.
If you are replacing a bidet, you may pay a professional £100 to £200 for labour. If you are adding it to your bathroom, there will be construction involved that could push your installation and labour costs up to £1,000.
Advantages Of A Bidet
- Healthier for Your Skin: A bidet washes away more of the nasty bacteria and waste after visiting the loo. It also does not require rubbing your skin with harsh paper. Giving you improved comfort.
- No Wasted Paper: You won’t be spending money on toilet paper that is destined to clog up the sewer system.
- Better Personal Hygiene: Using water and soap to clean yourself after going to the toilet is more hygienic than simply wiping with paper.
- Refreshing Experience: Discover that just showered feeling after every visit to the bathroom.
- Limited Mobility: People with mobility issues such as the elderly, disabled, or ill can use a bidet to maintain cleanliness when using a bathtub or shower is difficult or dangerous.
Disadvantages Of A Bidet
- Standalone Units Take Up Space: If you opt for a separate bidet, you will need a larger bathroom. That is just not feasible for many homeowners.
- Still Need to Dry Off: While the bidet washes you clean, most units will not dry you off. You may still have to keep some TP on hand, which defeats the eco-friendly advantage.
- Can Be an Expensive Upgrade: If you are remodelling your bathroom, adding a separate fixture can raise your budget by £500 or more.
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How do you dry off after using a bidet?
Some people still use toilet paper to dry off. But to eliminate the added paper waste, using a towel is often a popular alternative. In a busy home, each person will have their own towel. It is not the same as your hand or bath towel.
Another option is to add a warm air dryer to your bidet for a totally hands-free experience.
Do you still wipe before or after using a bidet?
It is not necessary to wipe before using the bidet. The water stream is supposed to be just strong enough to wash away anything that might be stuck to your skin. You may, however, wish to leave some soap nearby to thoroughly clean after your visit to the bathroom.
You may want to wipe or pat yourself dry after using the bidet, but many people simply air dry.
Are Bidets Sanitary?
Many health professionals consider bidets a sanitary upgrade when it comes to your skin. When you use toilet paper, you are rubbing bits of waste around on your bum. Even if the paper gets most of it, it never gets it all.
A bidet removes more smelly bits from your bits and does not irritate delicate skin with rough paper. And like a toilet, everything is immediately flushed down the drain.
can you poop in a bidet?
Yes and no. It will depend on the type you have.
If you have a stand-alone bidet, separate from your toilet, then no, you can’t poop in this type. The plumbing and pipes are not designed for such waste.
However, if you have a built-in or a hand spray bidet, these are designed as additions to your regular toilet. As such, you can poop as you would normally in a regular toilet. You just get the added bonus of being able to use the bidet functions.
There you have it! Everything you need to know if you are considering having a bidet in your bathroom.
A clean and refreshing addition to your toilet routine and the bathroom experience. Bidets can be a great addition to any upscale bathroom. However, depending on the type you choose it will take up additional floorspace as well as add to the cost of your bathroom renovation.
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Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.