How to Use a Bidet: The Wonders of This Efficient Personal Hygiene Tool
Bidets are an essential household commodity in certain parts of the world. Estimates show that bidets are used in about 80 percent of bathrooms in Europe, South America, the Middle East, and Japan.
But how does a bidet work, and why do many people consider it crucial for their personal hygiene?
The Hygiene Miracle That Is the Bidet
The bidet originated in France in the early 1700s. The word “bidet” comes from the French stout pony by the same name. Sitting astride a bidet is similar to the position you would use when riding a horse.
The bidet’s primary purpose is to provide and promote cleanliness. It allows you to wash yourself thoroughly without contaminating your hands. It uses water and is gentle on your skin. A bidet can also pay for itself in the long run with the money you save on toilet paper. Plus, using one is good for the environment, as it eliminates the need for toilet paper and reduces waste.
The first bidets were actually a bowl full of water, from which you could splash water using your hands. It received a transformation in 1750 when a hand pump was added so that water could be sprayed upward. This eliminated the need to use your hands when washing.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans have yet to adopt this form of personal cleansing.
Theories Why Americans Don’t Use Bidets as Much
Many Americans still choose to use toilet paper to wipe off urine or fecal matter, and associate the bidet with “immoral” and “unsanitary” practices. Here are some possible reasons why
- In the 18th century, the British had a disdain for French aristocracy, which were some of the first users of bidets. When the early colonists came to America, they may have instilled the sentiment among the locals.
- During World War II, bidets were commonly used in French brothels (and probably nowhere else). This may have given US soldiers the idea that bidets were “dirty” or “immoral.”
- When first introduced to the public, bidets required the use of your hand to cleanse your genitals directly. Americans have traditionally been conservative in this regard and probably preferred toilet paper to “shield” their hands from waste matter.
Why Toilet Paper Is a Waste
Using toilet paper may help prevent soiling your hands with urine and fecal matter, but it increases your risk of skin irritations like dermatitis as it allows germs to spread to your genital area. Dry toilet paper may aggravate bowel conditions like hemorrhoids, constipation, or even diarrhea, and lead to itching, pain, and, in rare cases, bleeding. Toilet paper with dyes and perfumes is even worse, as it exposes you to harsh and potentially toxic chemicals that can further irritate your skin.
In addition to the unnecessary discomfort, here are a few more reasons why you should give toilet paper the boot:
- It promotes environmental degradation – Americans use up to 8 million tons of toilet paper every year, and to cater to this demand, forests are cut down
- Its production leads to wasted resources – Aside from the pulped trees, toilet paper production uses over 400 billion gallons of water on an annual basis.
- It increases your exposure to toxic chemicals – Manufacturers bleach toilet paper using chlorine and its derivatives, such as chlorine dioxide, leading to the creation of cancer-causing chemicals, like dioxins, trihalomethane, and furans.
- It pollutes the environment – Various estimates state that the amount of toilet paper tossed into US dumps and landfills can reach up to 35 to 40 percent of total landfill mass. Moreover, chlorine byproducts can transfer to the air, waterways, soil, and eventually, the food chain.
Before the invention of toilet paper, people around the world used common, practical items found in the environment to clean up. Some environmentally conscious families use an item called “family cloths” in lieu of toilet paper. These “reusable wipes,” which include soft cloths, flannel, or even an old t-shirt, eliminate the need for toilet paper and work better when paired with a bidet.
How to Use a Bidet
Bidets today are smaller and more compact, each built with features, such as hand pumps, temperature controls, air dryers, and even motion-activated lids. Some models can even be installed without a plumber. Some view them as an upgrade for the toilet and even a high-luxury item.
Even though it sounds complicated, learning how to use a bidet is quite straightforward.
Unless you’re using the European-style or porcelain bidet – which requires you to transfer to a different unit – other bidets won’t require you to move from the toilet. Examples of these are the bidet seat or bidet toilet (bidets with wands under the toilet seat), which are mounted or attached to the toilet. Another model is the handheld bidet, which is similar to a shower wand and allows you to control the direction of the water.
Of course, when you use a bidet, you will still need to dry yourself. I advise going without toilet paper and using a towel or a reusable cloth.
Bidets Have Health Benefits, Too
For people suffering from bowel conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, constipation, hemorrhoids, and diarrhea, a bidet can potentially offer some relief. Toilet paper, on the other hand, can irritate your skin and cause more unnecessary problems. There is also a theory that using a bidet may help prevent urinary tract infections due to its ability to cleanse thoroughly.
That said, the bidet is very popular among the elderly as using one allows them to quickly practice good hygiene without excessive assistance. The same is true for people suffering from temporary injuries, permanent handicaps, or people who’ve recently undergone surgery around their genital area.
Women can take advantage of the bidet’s gentle nature during their monthly period or after childbirth.
A Quality Bidet Should Have the Following Features
You don’t need to get a luxury bidet just to experience its superior cleansing ability. There are products below $100 that are just as efficient. Here are some questions you should ask yourself when looking for a bidet:
- Does it use external power? Some manufacturers, including those who produce “toilet” bidets, require electricity to operate.
- Is it within your budget? Some “toilet” seat bidets cost over $500, and a separate European-style bidet can cost even more.
- Is it easy to operate? Consider this because if it’s hard to use, you or any member of your household might not use it at all.
- Is the unit easy to clean? Not all bidets have a self-cleaning function. Look for one that has this feature so you can save time and effort.
- What are its features? If you’re only after the cleansing benefit of the bidet, you certainly don’t need one with a dryer or heater. Instead, look for a model that has features you can use, like a double nozzle that can support dual cleansing.
- Does it rust? Review the product’s materials. Not all are durable and come with rust-resistant components.
- Is the unit easily removed from your toilet? This one is a bonus. Separate bidets, once installed, are pretty much permanent and cannot be easily removed.
- Does it come with a warranty? Not all manufacturers provide a comprehensive warranty and guarantee. Review the fine print.
Fortunately, you don’t have to look far. Here’s a product I recommend and personally use…
Introducing the Mercola Soft Spray Bidet
The Mercola Soft Spray Bidet is built to provide thorough cleanliness and immediate refreshment, and help you avoid using toilet paper to clean yourself after urinating or defecating. You won’t need any help to learn how to use it. It’s built with an adjustable nozzle that can wash your genital areas with ease.
The entire installation process is less than an hour but basically, all you need to do is attach it to your toilet seat. Plus, this product is made with durable ABS resin material that won’t rust.
The Mercola Soft Spray Bidet is reasonably priced and won’t put a big dent in your wallet. It is backed by the manufacturer’s 1-year warranty and is covered by a 30-day Satisfaction Guarantee.
All in all, if you’re really serious about your bathroom hygiene, drop the toilet paper and switch to the cleaner, more refreshing, and more hygienic choice. Whichever kind of bidet you pick – a high-end or economic model – you’ll definitely do your health and the environment a great favor.
We’re sorry for any inconvenience, but the Soft Spray Bidet has been discontinued.
However, I’m proud to offer my Stop-N-Go Stool as a solution to help you maintain good bowel health.
The Stop-N-Go Stool allows for a natural squatting position on your existing toilet, which aids in elimination from the bowels and facilitates a healthy posture.
This inexpensive solution to help with bowel and digestive issues is available in two types to complement your bathroom décor: bamboo and BPA-free white plastic.
Discover More About the Stop-N-Go Stool