Bidets have been used for many years across Europe and Asia. However, they’ve never caught on strongly here in America. Now that they’re becoming increasingly popular and available to US shoppers, we wanted to answer some FAQ’s about bidets!
What’s a bidet, anyway?
Bidets began in Europe, originally in France (hence the French name!). In Europe, they took the shape of a basin or sink that you’d use to wash your nether regions after using the toilet. In many European countries today, you’ll see a bidet fixture next to a toilet. You turn on water from a nozzle, and clean yourself before drying off.
Bidets are also incredibly popular in Asia, particularly in Japan. There, they’re integrated with the toilet itself. So, after doing your duties, a nozzle under the seat will wash you off, and usually blow-dry as well.
Why are bidets so great?
For one thing, they basically eliminate the need for toilet paper. Many people actually think bidets do a better job cleaning your bottom than you can do with your hand and a wad of bathroom tissue. So, you can save lots of trees without sacrificing cleanliness at all! Even if you want to use some paper to do a preliminary wipe or dry off at the end, you’ll still end up using much less.
For another, they’re very enjoyable to use. Bidets usually offer adjustable water pressure and temperature, much like a shower head. So, you can get a personalized experience exactly how you like it. And while it will seem strange to newcomers, having a warm rinse down below is a lot more pleasant than rubbing away with paper until you’re chapped. Since some models have heated seats, too, they turn the whole bathroom experience into a mini spa visit!
Why haven’t I heard of one before?
For some reason, bidets have never caught on in a big way with American consumers. To some degree, that’s probably due to lack of exposure. Even upscale hotels don’t have them here, whereas every public bathroom in Japan does.
Still, as the population begins to travel more and become more globalized, a lot of Americans who have used bidets abroad are demanding them here at home. Toto (the leading manufacturer of toilet-integrated models) offers a whole range of bidet seats here now, and there are some rather good independent/Euro-style offerings as well.
Do I have to buy a whole new toilet?
Nope! Unless you want the full Japanese experience, with a tech-filled toilet costing thousands, you’ll probably be using either a separate bidet fixture or a bidet toilet seat. Either way, you won’t have to buy a new toilet! Bidet fixtures can fit neatly between a toilet and a sink, and the seats should fit any standard US toilet, as long as you choose one matching the shape of your toilet bowl.
How do I install a bidet toilet seat?
Very easily! You’ll need to unscrew your old seat, and get rid of that. Then, fit the bidet toilet seat over the mounting holes, and bolt that on. Your new seat should come with a water hose to supply it, and a T-bracket that will fit between your toilet’s water line and tank hookup. Once you’ve added the diverter valve, you’ll just need to plug in the power cable, turn the unit on, and wait until the water’s warmed up!
Which models are the best to buy?
Toto was the original manufacturer of bidet toilet seats, and of toilets with integrated bidets. While many brands have produced knock-off’s for less money, they still don’t compare with the original. So, if you’re in the market for a bidet toilet seat, you’ll want to choose something from Toto’s Washlet lineup.
Toto Washlet C100
If you don’t mind ditching a few luxuries, the C100 is a great entry point into bidet life. It has many of the same features as the more expensive C200, but costs substantially less. You’ll have to sacrifice remote control and make do with an attached control pad, and ditch the ability to save user preferences. There are also fewer adjustment options.
Still, it gives you a decent range of settings to choose from, and it works well. The C100 heats up water promptly, dries effectively, and has a great reputation for reliability.
Toto Washlet C200
If you can send a bit more, the C200 is our recommendation to the average buyer. It has more settings in the adjustable features, plus the added convenience of a remote control. The water stream oscillates, which is both comfortable and more effective at cleaning. You can attach the control panel to your wall, or keep it in a magazine stand.
Aside from those upgrades, the C200 is largely the same as the C100. It looks practically identical, and has the same basic features: pre-misting, blow-drying, and adjustable temperature for the seat and water flow.
It’s the best you can do without spending around a grand for a premium bidet/toilet combo.
Duravit D-Code Bidet
Finally, if you want a Euro-style standalone bidet, Duravit makes a great unit for a low price. This is a very simple porcelain fixture that works with any number of design styles. You can customize it however you like with a bidet faucet ($50-$500).
Need help finding a bidet faucet to go with it? Hansgrohe makes a very classy one:
Enjoyed this guide? Find more of our expert product recommendations for the best toilets on our homepage!