A bidet (pronounced buh-day) is a basin used for cleaning yourself after using the bathroom. Bidets are common in Europe, Asia, and South America, so if you’ve ever traveled internationally, you’ve probably seen one.
If you’ve ever wondered about the proper way to use a bidet, now is a great time to learn, as they’re becoming increasingly popular in the United States.
Types of bidets
Bidets come in more forms than ever, which is part of why they’re becoming more popular. With various bidet models in demand in modern bathrooms everywhere, you can never really predict where you might encounter a handheld or built-in bidet.
This is the traditional type of bidet. Freestanding bidets are placed next to the regular toilet, and they look like a large, low sink. Freestanding bidets are sometimes filled with water that rises to the surface of the bowl, and they may be equipped with jets.
A handheld bidet, also called a bidet shower or bidet sprayer, is a nozzle that stays attached to the toilet. This type of bidet is manually placed near your private area to clean your genitals and anus after using the toilet, sexual intercourse, or for freshening up. With a handheld bidet, you control the positioning of the stream of water.
A built-in bidet is a toilet equipped with a bidet feature. After flushing a toilet with a built-in bidet, the toilet may automatically dispense a vertical stream of water to cleanse you.
Warm water bidet
A warm water bidet can be built-in, free-standing, or a sprayer attachment. A warm water bidet is simply hooked up to the hot water pipe system or has a built-in water warmer which provides a warmer spritz to your bottom when you use it.
How to use a bidet
If you see a bidet “out in the wild,” make a plan for how you’re going to use it before you make an attempt. Try turning the spray nozzle on or flushing the built-in bidet, so you can see where the stream of water will come from and how powerful the water pressure will be.
Tips for use
Bidets can be a great alternative to toilet paper, but that doesn’t mean that there are no drawbacks or risks associated with using them. Bidets are decidedly not for everyone, and if you have a weakened immune system, you might want to wait a bit before trying one out.
If you have male genitalia, using a bidet before having a bowel movement could result in an itchy feeling on your anus. A 2016 study in Japan strongly linked using the bidet prior to elimination as opposed to just using it afterward to symptoms of itching.
If you have female genitalia, using bidets may increase your risk of bacterial vaginitis. At least one study has demonstrated that using a warm water bidet aggravates the natural balance of flora in the vagina.
Electric warm water bidets also carry a general risk of bacterial contamination, according to a 2017 study done in hospitals.
The bottom line
Bidets may take some getting used to, but many people like them so much that they decide to make a permanent switch. If you want to try using a bidet, take a good look around at the equipment and make sure you’re prepared for the jets.
People with conditions such as hemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) might benefit from giving the bidet a try.