If you’re reading this, we’re pretty sure you’ve just stumbled upon one of life’s greatest gifts: the humble bidet.

Perhaps you’re overseas or at a friend’s house and you went to the bathroom to find a magical thing there. You weren’t quite sure, but it certainly piqued your interest. Then, after you answered nature’s call or made a special sacrifice to the porcelain throne, you thought, why not. What have I got to lose here?!?

And lose you did, but only the will to ever have to rely solely on scratchy, unhygienic toilet paper ever again. Upon using the bidet, you discovered what post-toileting freshness really felt like, and now you never want to go back. The experience has left you more than curious. What even is a bidet? How do they usually work? Are there different types of bidets available? How much do they cost and how can I get one?

Never fear, bidet convert, we’ve got all the answers for you.

History of the bidet

To understand what a bidet truly is, we have to understand where it came from. And the bidet certainly has an intriguing history.

Who invented the bidet?

Sadly, we’ve got no one to hug for the invention of the bidet – we simply don’t know who created the first-ever one. But what we do know is that in the second half of the eighteenth century, the Queen of Naples and Sicily personally requested a bidet in her bedroom at the Royal Palace of Caserta. She really started something, it seems: bidets now feature in 97% of bathrooms in Italy (their installation has been compulsory since 1975). Back then, though, bidets weren’t necessarily the stuff of royalty, despite the fact that most royal families used them. They were similar to what we might call a chamber pot – a small, hand-held device for washing after you’d used the loo.

By 1900, the bidet began to evolve in leaps and bounds because… we invented plumbing! Suddenly, bidets became that bit more hygienic as they moved from bedrooms to bathrooms. And people saw them as not just hygienic, but useful in a myriad of other ways. Then (and up until the pill was invented in the 1970s), bidets were often used as a form of contraception.

It wasn’t until 1928, though, that the bidet inherited one of its now-infamous features – the nozzle. A gentleman by the name of John Harvey Kellogg applied for a patent on the ‘anal douce’ (John, go you good thing), and the ‘modern’ bidet with a nozzle spray was born.

When was the Japanese bidet invented?

But of course, bidet innovation didn’t simply end there. In the early 1980s, the Japanese made the bidet even fancier by adding electricity to it. Named the ‘Washlet’ or, aptly, the ‘Super Toilet’ suddenly, there wasn’t anything the bidet couldn’t do. From spraying warm water, to night lights, heated seats, deodorisers, and remote controls, the bidet became a true legend in its own right.

Nowadays, at its most basic, a bidet is a plumbing fixture or type of sink that’s used to wash our private parts. But as bidet-converts would know, it certainly feels like much more than that.

Bidet toilet seat nozzle spraying water

Why use a bidet?

If you’re fresh off a bidet, you’ll know why you should use one: because, quite simply, washing in a bidet just feels good. But as it turns out, there’s a whole bunch of other reasons why you should consider using a bidet.

Are bidets more hygienic than just using toilet paper?

Yes. Of course.

A bidet is the epitome of good personal hygiene, and here’s why: you get to leave all of that nasty toilet bacteria behind. Whenever we use toilet paper (and especially after we’ve done a number two), we wipe bacteria into different places. Sure, we mostly get what we can off with subsequent wipes, but what about what we can’t see (or, awkwardly, leave behind?).

Leaving behind remnants can cause serious issues. Dr. Austin Chan from Boston’s Brigham Women’s Hospital says that poor wiping can, over time, lead to irritation and infection, and if you’re a woman, it can also lead to urinary tract infections or bacterial vaginosis.

But even if there are no remnants per se, the bacteria in our poop can be just as bad. It can contain E. coli and the norovirus that causes diarrhea, as well as bacteria that cause other respiratory infections such as hand-foot-mouth disease. But – we hear you saying – most of us wash our hands after we visit the toilet, so it’s all good, right?!? Wrong. Research shows that a staggering 95% of people either don’t wash their hands or don’t wash their hands well enough to kill harmful bacteria.

So it’s fair to say that when it comes to feeling and being hygienic, bidets have a very useful role to play in washing away bacteria.

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If you use a bidet do you still have to use toilet paper?

Yes. But you can use a helluva lot less of it.

We’re not going to paint you a mental image of this because we know you just get it. You’ve dropped the kids off at the pool and it’s a bit, err, messy. They’d also run out of the soft stuff at your local supermarket so every pooping incident in your house has been a bit rough lately. But right now, it’s about to get a whole lot rougher. Eugh.

Bidets make this potentially rough situation survivable. Or potentially avoidable. Thank you, bidet.

In what situations should you use a bidet?

The truth is that bidets are beneficial in any situation. But in some situations, they are more beneficial than most.

When it comes to our parts down there, sometimes things get a little icky, and we’ve all just accepted that that’s part of life. But with a bidet, you can help wash away that ick and restore that glorious clean feeling, faster.

For women, for example, bidets are particularly marvelous when you’ve had a visit from Aunty Flo. They’re equally life-changing if you’re pregnant, especially in the third trimester, when your baby belly literally gets in the way of a good wipe. And if you’re experiencing any uncomfortable issues down there, such as haemorrhoids, a bidet can provide the welcome relief you’re craving.

Pregnant woman sitting on the sofa

There are many other situations in which a bidet is likely to become your best friend. Whether it be a broken arm, or the sheer effort of repetitive wiping that you’d rather avoid, a bidet is there to do the hard yards for you.

Are bidets good for the environment?

Back in 1928 when John Harvey Kellogg patented the anal douche, the environmental impact of toilet paper was probably far from his mind. Fast forward to 2019 though, and this is something we should all think about.

In the Western world, most of us use a staggering 20,000 sheets of toilet paper per year. That’s 22 kilograms worth! And to produce all of this paper in the first place, we have to engage in some pretty hardcore environment thrashing.

Collectively, we flush 27,000 trees down the drain every day. But it gets worse. To produce a single roll of paper, we need to use 37 gallons of water. Bleaching it can then use up to 235,000 tons of chlorine, and manufacturing and transporting it wastes 17.3 terawatts of electricity every year. That’s a lot of environmental impact for not a lot of benefit.

So if you care about our environment and climate change, know this: a bidet is an investment in your children’s future.

Bidet toilet seat vs. Bidet toilet suite

By now, we’re pretty sure you’re ready to invest in a bidet of your very own. But how on earth do you decide which one is for you?!? Here’s a rundown of the different types of bidets.

 

Should I get a bidet toilet seat?

A bidet toilet seat is typically is a bidet that’s used in your existing toilet. This means no need for any additional water supply outlet, as it is attached via a threaded tee pipe (T-valve) adaptor.

Although the bidet toilet seat is the most basic of bidets, there’s still a heap of options to choose from. Some add-on bidets have movable or fixed nozzles attached to the existing toilet, and some replace the toilet seat. Others still produce a vertical water jet, and some even have what’s called a ‘family nozzle’ for washing the anus and a bidet nozzle for washing the vulva.

But! A bidet toilet seat can also be a bidet that’s been plumbed entirely separately to the toilet (if you so choose). If you invest in one of these, you’ll have a bidet throne of your own!

Should I get a bidet toilet suite?

A bidet toilet suite (also known as a smart toilet suite) is the next step up in bidet-land. It’s the bidet that is truly a service to yours-truly.

Smart toilet suites are most usually electric, so they often have conveniences that include but are not limited to, electronically-controlled nozzles, heating, automatic flushing, and much, much more. Investing in one of these and going to the toilet will surely be a treat.

How do I use a bidet?

Disclaimer: we realise that you either found this article because you’re interested in bidets or alternatively because you’re in a land far away, you’ve just discovered a toilet with a million buttons in a language you don’t speak, and you’re wondering just how much fun you can have.

Given that bidets come in a million different varieties, it’s hard to provide uniform instructions, But in general, follow these guidelines:

  1. Do your thing: Answer when nature calls or crunch that grumpy, you good thing.
  2. Adjust the temperature: If you’re using an adjustable bidet, adjust the water pressure and temperature to your liking.
  3. Angle the nozzle: After you’ve made the adjustments, it’s go time! Angle the nozzle to the right spot or alternatively, angle your body!
  4. Dry off: After you’re all done, pat yourself dry or if there’s the option, use an air-drying function.
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How much do bidets cost?

Given that bidets range in form and functionality, they also range in price.

Bidet toilet seats (the most basic toilet seat attachment) start at around $100 and can be anything up to $1000+. If you decide to have a separate bidet altogether, you’ll also have to factor in plumbing costs.

Bidet toilet suites are usually more expensive (but worth it!). Given their incredible range of functionality, they usually start at $1,500. From here, you can really toilet like a king – they can range up to $11,000.

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Conclusion

Bidets are truly incredible inventions, and worth every cent invested in them. It’s time to discover one for yourself!