Like many folks growing up in the US, I thought that we had reached the paragon of hygiene with indoor toilets and plumbing and two-ply toilet paper. But as I grew older I started hearing about these special toilets called “bidets”. I was a bit intrigued by the idea, but heard they could be a bit fussy to use and expensive to install.
As I got older, I started to have an increased issue with a skin condition (inverse psoriasis), and found myself having to carry ziplock bags of Flushable wipes with me everywhere if I didn’t want flair ups due to toilet paper texture and not always getting 100% clean. Reading about the various issues with those, I felt it was time to look more seriously at Bidets — getting my first in-home one about 18 months ago. So let me tell you some reasons why you might also want to get a Bidet.
Toilet Paper is Not All that Good for You
First off, there’s the fact that whether you have a skin condition or not, you probably shouldn’t use Toilet Paper if you can avoid it — as the infographic below explains:
Sounds pretty wicked, right? But if you look at the environmental impact it gets even worse:
Many of the issues mentioned for Toilet Paper are only magnified for “Flushable” Wipes. While they may be a bit gentler on your skin, and there aren’t as many produced, they are even more prone to causing clogged systems. And plumbers aren’t cheap!
Bidets Get You Cleaner and Are Better for Your Skin
The example commonly given for this is to imagine you stepped in some mud. Would you get some paper towels to get it off your shoes? Or would you get a hose or shower head and wash it off? Now imagine you stepped in mud several times a day, how quickly would the dollars add up for all the paper towels.
Not to mention, if you have ever tried to remove mud or anything else like that from your shoes, you’ve probably noticed how things tend to smear around while you’re cleaning. I’ll let you fill in the blanks here…
As mentioned above, when compared with toilet tissue, using water to rinse your posterior leads to healthier skin as you aren’t wiping bacteria around that could get into skin pores and clog things up or irritate the skin and cause rashes.
OK, But Aren’t Bidets Expensive?
They can be, but they don’t have to be. One of the highest rated mechanical Bidet’s on Amazon is only about $35 as of the date of this being published. Many types of bidets can even be self-installed depending on whether the bidet attachment adds a splitter at the line going into the top toilet tank (usually an easy install), or into the wall (usually more difficult but not impossible.
Mechanical Bidets are, as the name implies, just another switch that allows water to be directed at your bum. Most of these are under $100. They tend to be a bit easier to maintain since there is less that can go wrong, and generally do not take as much installation time since they are designed to augment your current toilet and toilet seat.
Electric Bidets are the ones most folks think of when they hear about a bidet (the first image in this article is one of these). Here the Bidet is actually a replacement for your toilet seat as well as the washing attachment. Many of these will let you warm your seat as well as the water that will be used to wash you. Most of these also have a self-cleaning function to make sure the washing attachment stays spotless. Of course these require you to have an electrical outlet somewhere near the toilet. You can use an extension that has an electrical breaker in many locations, but that’s usually a good time to check your local housing code.
OK, But What About When I’m Not at Home?
This is the area of bidets where the most innovation is currently happening. You can get great 3rd generation electric bidets that have remote controls and all, but portable bidets are still trying to find a good model.
Many of the early portable bidets were either a squeezable bottle (which tended to leak because they needed some way to get air in to add pressure), or an attachment to a water bottle that tried to give you the same ability to squeeze and aim. Toto, a few years ago, came up with an electronic model that used AA batteries and a small DC pump in a handheld gadget, but the amount of water it could hold was limited, and the pump didn’t generate much pressure.
A number of newer designs have come along, and there’s one I have had a bit of a hand developing that I will be talking about soon. So keep your eyes open on developments here.
A Final Word
Hopefully you are not at least willing to consider taking your first steps toward getting a bidet. If so, you will probably want to be aware of the Reddit subreddit known as /r/bidets where you can get more questions answered. Of course you’re welcome to drop me a comment here as well!