You’ve decided that maybe – just maybe – you might be interested in a bidet. Well congratulations, because your life is about to change forever – for the better!
Bidets – the revolutionary bathroom addition that Americans have been missing out on (right along with the metric system).
Today we’re covering everything you’d ever want to know about bidets, from popular features, recommended models, the history of bidets in society, and why Americans have been so hesitant to adopt them (although today that’s beginning to change).
Bidet Features to Consider
We’ll start our bidet guide with some info on what features to consider when shopping for a bidet.
The features in green are what we consider “must-have” features – stuff that users absolutely went crazy for and we felt were important.
The orange section holds bonus features – options that we thought were pretty cool to have, but definitely aren’t essential for a great bidet experience.
Our Must-Have Features
Definitely a top favorite feature, heated seats mean a warm toasty bum. Especially essential for those who live in cold weather climates. In the summer you can easily switch off the heated seat.
Adjustable Water Streams
This feature lets you choose the style of water stream you want. Some units let you choose everything from a wide stream, a pulsating stream, or an oscillating water stream. This can be a fun bonus feature, but it’s certainly something you can live without.
Many bidets feature self-cleaning nozzles, which is tremendously helpful for keeping your bidet clean. We consider it a must-have feature because we’d rather reduce toilet cleaning time as much as possible.
Warm Water Option
Many bidets don’t just allow for a warm water option – they even allow you to choose the specific temperature!
Bidet fans adore this feature – especially when the weather gets cold.
Feminine Wash / Front Spray Position
The feminine wash option, which is commonly found in most bidets, allows the bidet’s nozzle position to be adjusted to a different angle, moving from the nozzle’s rear angle to a further up position for women’s frontal area.
This feature is also often referred to as a front wash.
Toilet Bowl Pre-Mist
The pre-mist option sprays the toilet bowl before you use it. The idea is that pre-spraying the bowl will make it more difficult for poo to stick to the bowl’s insides. A nice feature for those who hate cleaning the toilet.
Stream Pressure Options
Some bidets let you choose the exact amount of pressure you want for your water flow. Some folks like an ultra-powerful steam, while others prefer something more gentle. Bidet pressure options let you choose what works for your behind.
Power Saving Mode
This allows your bidet to go into a kind of sleep mode, which will conserve power more effectively.
If the toilet isn’t used within a certain time period, it lowers the seat temperature. If it’s not used for a very long time, it will shut off the heated seat and warm water completely.
Custom Nozzle Positioning
Some bidets let you choose the specific position and angle of your water stream for complete customization.
Most units simply offer a front or rear wash angle. While the ability to choose custom positioning is nice, for most users it’s not necessary.
Soft Close Lid
The soft close lid prevents the loud banging of a toilet lid or seat falling down. Definitely a nice advantage, but not essential.
Some bidets actually offer the option to dry your bottom area through the use of a targeted air dryer. Some air dryers are even heated!
It’s handy and certainly sounds ideal, but since the dryers don’t tend to be very powerful, you’ll be stuck on the toilet for quite some time before you’re good to go.
Still, if you have mobility issues or have an elderly family member who can’t wipe well, the dryer may be a game-changing feature.
The UV light is a feature germaphobes will adore – it’s a UV light that kills germs.
The UV light works by hurting the germs’ DNA through a light that emits light onto the bidet want or the whole toilet bowl.
Truthfully though, if there is even a small gap between the toilet seat and the bowl, germs can escape the damaging light, rendering the germ-destroying UV light ineffective.
All toilets have this gap, so don’t bother searching for one that doesn’t have it!
The deodorizer feature absorbs odor by fanning gases through a filter system. The bidet actually will have a small fan on the side that sucks the air in. Filters need to be replaced about every 6 months.
While this might be a nice feature for those especially squeamish about bodily odors, others consider deodorizers loud and non-essential.
Just remember, the deodorizer can combat odors but not bacteria – that’s still there no matter how many fans you use!
other things to consider
Control Panel Configuration
Bidets have two main methods of allowing users to control the bidet – through a control panel attached to the side of the toilet seat (it ends up looking a bit like an arm rest), or a remote control unit.
Some even have screens, but most agree that the screens are unnecessary and even cumbersome.
The majority of bidet users much prefer using remotes over seat panels, but often bidets with seat panel controls are cheaper.
Tankless vs. Tank Bidets
Bidets handle hot water in one of two ways – some hold hot water in a small reserve tank, while others heat the water as it is required, on-demand.
Tank models provide instant hot water, but have a limited supply that could potentially run out temporarily if multiple people use the hot water right in a row.
Tankless bidets can provide limitless, continuous hot water, but will take several seconds to begin their flow – whereas tank-based bidets can provide immediate and instant hot water access.
Most bidets tend to be tank-based, and we think this shouldn’t be an issue for most folks. They still tend to offer more than a minute of hot water (which is more than enough for most folks during one bathroom trip), and the tank heats up new water within 10 minutes or so.
Electric vs. Non-Electric
While electric tends to be most popular (and are the main type of bidet toilet seat we review here), there are also non-electric versions that come at considerably lower price points.
They lack many of the warming and other fun features electric bidets boast, but they’re still a great option for those on a tight bidet budget or those who just don’t want another device to plug in.
Toto Washlet c200
- PREMIST- using incoming water supply, a misting of the toilet bowl is performed before each useto help prevent waste from adhering
- Self-cleaning wand. Wand is automatically cleaned inside and outside before and after use
- Designed with heated seat, warm air dryer, and automatic air deodorizer for added comfort
About: The Toto Washlet C200 is a high-end bidet seat with all the core functionality potty patriots need, along with a plentiful amount of bells and whistles.
Many found the C200 to be stylish and sleek, along with a comfortable yet luxurious feel that beat out other bidets at a similar price point.
This one basically has it all – tons of water pressure settings (10 in fact), the option for pulsating or oscillating water stream, and several temperature options for the heated toilet seat as well as the warm water stream.
Users also appreciated this unit’s wall-mountable remote control unit, which tends to be a bit easier to manage than control panels mounted on the toil seat’s side.
Another feature we think is especially neat – the C200 lets you set up custom user settings (up to 2 profiles) that save your potty preferences (in case your significant other prefers the toilet seat at a balmy room temp while you like it hot as a leather car seat in the summer).
This unit is priced at the upper end of the mid-tier units. While it isn’t cheap, most users agree it’s well worth the dough. As one user notes “You didn’t know you needed it, but now you know. You can’t live without this.”
Toto Washlet C100
- PREMIST- using incoming water supply, a misting of the toilet bowl is performed before each use to help prevent waste from adhering
- Front and rear warm water cleanse with adjustable temperature and pressure settings
- Self-cleaning wand. Wand is automatically cleaned inside and outside before and after use
About: The Toto Washlet C100 is the Toto C200’s less cool little brother. It still comes from the same genes though, with a solid family tree.
The C100 rocks the same number of water pressure settings. While it too has a heated seat and heated water option, you just have three temperature settings (admittedly it’s hard to imagine you’d really need more).
The C100 also has an oscillating stream, but no pulsing option like the higher end model.
The major difference with the C100 is that this unit uses a side seat panel rather than a remote control.
Brondell Swash 300
- Dual self-cleaning nozzles for posterior and feminine warm-water washes. Three-part safety sensor system
- Water and seat temperature settings. Intelligent body sensor. 7/8″ all-metal T-valve
- Water pressure controls with aerated wash spray. Gentle closing seat and lid
About: The Brondell Swash 300 is mid-priced electrid bidet with a simple install and offers a simple, easy-to-use remote.
It’s got most of the features you want and need in a bidet, from heated seats and heated water to various water pressure options.
The Brondell Swash 300 has self-cleaning nozzles and a quick release option for easy toilet cleaning, but is missing the bonus cleaning feature of the bowl pre-spray (although the jury is out on how effective the pre-spray is anyway).
While the Brondell lacks the ability to custom control the positioning of the spray nozzle, most users agree that the pre-set back and front wash positions are fine and don’t need fine-tuning.
The only features you may miss in the Brondell Swash 300 is the lack of dryer and deodorizer, but these are non-essential feature anyway and we certainly think you’ll be happy without them.
- 3 IN 1 STAINLESS STEEL NOZZLE – Offers posterior, feminine, and vortex washes, improves hygiene
- SMART SEAT-SMART DECISION – Streamlined comfort-adjustable heated seat and water, slow closing lid
About: The Bliss BioBidet is a high-end electric bidet for those that don’t mind spending extra for top-notch tush assistance.
Bliss BioBidet boasts some impressive tech in their cream-of-the-crop bidet, such as Hybrid Heating, which combines the best aspects of heating coils and tank heating to give an instant, endless stream of warm water.
Bliss has a wide array of stream modes and pressure settings, along with an especially soft feminine wash with bubble infusion technology (although we weren’t able to figure out exactly what that meant).
The Bliss bidet also has a host of features that will delight clean freaks, like the exclusive Hydro-Flush that cleans the bidet nozzle from the inside out, providing intense cleaning.
Want more details? You can learn more about Bliss BioBidet’s features on their website.
- NOTE: Please View The Images To The Left to Determine The Best Fit. Only Fits ELONGATED Toilet Models.
- ADJUSTABLE Soft To Strong Spray. Separate Nozzles For Feminine & Rear Cleansing & Soft Close Seat!
- DUAL Retractable Self Cleaning Nozzles With Rear Cleaning & Feminine Cleaning.
About: The Genie Bidet is a mid-price bidet that’s non-electric.
It lacks some of the features we consider “essential,” that are only available through electric units – like heated seats and warm water spray, but if you’re hesitant about entering the world of bidets, this is a great, reasonably priced entry model that will introduce you to the sensation of spraying down your behind.
The Genie Bidet has all the bidet basics, including a front or rear wash, a gentle or strong spray pressure option, self-cleaning nozzles, and a low profile 2 3/8″ design.
The Genie Bidet’s design is also more discreet, lacking an obvious seat control panel or remote.
Luxe Bidet Neo 120
- A LUXURIOUS LOOK AT AN EXCELLENT PRICE- With its sleek design, chrome-plated knobs, and high-quality parts, our bidet attachment will give your bathroom a next-level look. Constructed with high-pressure faucet quality valves with metal/ceramic cores and braided steel hoses instead of traditional plastic.
About: The Luxe Bidet Neo 120 is another non-electric unit, but this model is a bidet toilet attachment (unlike the other units mentioned here, which are all seat replacements). The Luxe Neo in an under-the-seat unit that is installed towards the rear of the toilet.
It relies on a single nozzle to spray water and features three different water pressure settings.
No fancy features here – just a single spray of cold water to clean off your behind. The upside is just about anyone can afford it and it’s extremely simple to install – you don’t even need to remove the water supply valve, as with most models.
Bidets come in two main sizes – round and elongated, matching the two main toilet sizes. If your toilet is elongated (aka egg shape), then select an elongated bidet seat. If your toilet is round, opt for the round bidet seat.
Elongated bidet seats actually can work with round toilet seats. The only problem with this setup is that the holes used on elongated designs won’t match up with the round toilets. This means you might only be able to get one screw in for securing the bidet seat to the toilet, and ultimately could cause issues long term.
Despite securing issues, some folks who had round toilets actually preferred the elongated bidet seats, as they found them more comfortable. You will have the bidet seat hanging off a bit in the front, which can look a bit strange, but isn’t a comfort issue.
Round toilets can often have some sizing troubles when it comes to bidets – even when using the matching round style of bidet.
Most round-fitting bidets have a small slope towards the back to connect with the water tank. This makes the entire toilet feel a fair bit smaller. Some don’t have an issue with this, but depending on your size, this could be a big problem.
Bidets & Budgets: How You Save $$
Budgets can vary quite a lot in pricing, from models in the $50 range all the way up to units that cost over $500 bucks. Of course, more expensive models come with more bells and whistles, but whatever your price range, you should be able to find a bidet that will please.
It’s worth taking into account a few budgeting items to really figure out the perfect bidet price range.
For one, consider how much toilet paper your family goes through each week. We Americans tend to go through a ton of toilet paper – some studies say that we use an average of 81 toilet paper rolls per year!
Let’s do a little math. Toilet paper costs an average of $1 per roll, and with the average individual using 80 rolls of TP per year, you’re looking at a total cost of $80 per person. For a family of 4, that’s $320 a year!
Bidets can cut toilet paper usage by as much as 75%. This means that a family can save around $240 per year, making an even pricey bidet worth the money spent over the years (and that’s just from a practical value).
How to Install Your Bidet
If you have a tank toilet, installing a bidet toilet seat is a snap. However, a tankless toilet will likely require the expertise of a professional plumber.
- Adjustable wrench
- Phillips-head screwdriver
- Disposable cup to catch falling water during installation
- Power cord extension (in some cases)
Remember that electric bidets need to be plugged into a power outlet to function properly. If you have an outlet close by, running the bidet power cord to the outlet may not be an issue (and thankfully there are plenty of ways to conceal unattractive cords).
If an outlet is not nearby, you may need an electrician’s help adding an outlet, or use a heavy-duty extension cord.
Steps for Installing:
Step 1: Shut off the water (and flush a few times)
Step 2: Remove water supply hose from the base of the tank that connects the toilet tank to the wall.
Step 3: Use a “T” or “Y” splitter and two new pieces of piping to connect the supply hose to the bidet, and the other line from the supply hose to the tank. Most bidet seat kits will include detailed instructions on this step, along with the required connector.
Step 4: Remove the old toilet seat, add the mounting bracket, and then slide the new bidet toilet seat in place.
Step 5: Place cup beneath the piping (consider a towel to collect water as well). If all goes perfectly, nothing will leak, but in some cases, you may not have screwed something on tightly enough or screwed a piece on the wrong way. If you witness leaking, just turn off the water, make adjustments, and try again.
Step 6: Remove the nozzle tape and get down to business! Don’t forget, many bidets require pressure on the toilet seat to turn on, so the bidet won’t work unless you’re plopped down.
For those not use to handy work, this may be an intimidating installation, but most folks testify that it’s quite easy, and shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.
Just remember that the whole installation must be done in one fell swoop, as you can’t use your toilet while the installation is underway (so make sure to relieve yourself first if you don’t want to end up using the sink)!
Manufacturer installation guides should be included with your seat, and there are also many installation videos online to help guide you. Apartment Therapy also offers tons of info on the installation process behind several non-electric bidets.
Check out this great instructional video – there are plenty more like this online!
History of the bidet
French furniture makers first began making bidets in the late 17th century, although the exact inventor is unknown.
In fact, the word “bidet” comes from the Fench word for “pony.”
This is because, with the original bidet design, users would straddle over it while using their hands to wash with water from the basin.
It’s believed that early bidets were used, in part, as a means of contraception (although it’s hard to believe bidets could have helped much in that regard).
The bidet really began to take off after World War II, and became a beloved fixture in many southern European bathrooms.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that the electric toilet seat bidets we know and love today became popular, born in – you guessed it – Japan, the bidet technology capital of the world.
Bidets, Americans, & The world
While bidets are a common feature in washrooms all over the globe, they are notably absent from American bathrooms.
In Southern Europe, you’ll find bathroom bidets that are entirely separate plumbing fixtures, resembling tiny sinks. In Tokyo, you can find bidet toilet seats in public restrooms that play the sound of a running brook to protect privacy. In Vietnam, you’ll find bidet sprayers installed in washrooms across the country (even when paper is missing in action).
In some countries, bidets are actually mandatory for any bathroom installation. In Italy, bidets can be found in 97% of bathrooms, and they’ve been mandatory since 1975!
However, a bidet in the United States is an authentic anomaly. They simply don’t exist!
Americans can be quite strange and neurotic about their hygiene, generally feeling that a paper shield between one’s hand and behind is the only way to go.
Before toilet paper became the commodity it is today, most folks used the Sears Roebuck catalog to wipe their behinds. The catalogs even included a small hole in the corner so it could be hung on a nail inside the outhouse!
The lack of bidets is due in part by toilet talk taboo that is especially present in American culture. In fact, when toilet paper first became manufactured, marketers were quite frustrated in trying to promote it, as it was considered unseemly to promote the real intention of the velvety-soft paper.
The concept of toilet paper was so offending to all parties involved that the Scott brothers didn’t even take credit for their invention until 1902 – over a decade after they released it!
This prissy posturing about the potty is why bathroom technology hasn’t gotten very far in the US.
In podcast Freakanomics’ episode Take Back the Toilet, host Stephen Dubner notes that, even when we’re inundated with music across shopping malls and airports, the restrooms are often silent (and arguably this is the one spot where you might really prefer a bit of ambient sound to cover less appealing natural noises).
So little talk – and therefore little thought – is given to the American restroom, and as a result, many Americans end up missing out on cool bathroom tech like bidets.
Types of Bidets
This article focuses largely on electric toilet seat bidets, along with a few non-electric toilet seat attachments. However, there are quite a few different bidet designs. Main types include:
Bidet Toilet Seats. These are installed via a toilet seat addition and feature a nozzle that extends and does the spraying. Most are electric, although there are some non-electric models. This is the most popular style of bidet and is the variety we reviewed in this article.
Shower Bidets. These are handheld bidets that resemble the nozzle found on a kitchen sink sprayer. This style of bidet is common in Southern Asia countries like Vietnam. They are a bit trickier to use – you must take the nozzle and manually spray yourself, requiring quite a bit more effort and flexibility on the user’s part.
Travel Bidets. Bidets for those on the go who can’t imagine life without a bidet. These resemble water bottles with a nozzle that sprays out water to clean you off.
Standalone Bidets. As mentioned above, this type of bidet is most commonly found in Southern Europe. The design resembles a small sink.
Bidets and the Environment
Eco-fans have even more reasons to buy a bidet than most, as research has shown bidets to be better for the environment, due to the reduction of toilet paper.
Americans use 36 billion rolls of toilet paper each year (equating to about 15 million trees), along with 400 million galls of water used to make the toilet paper. That, along with the chlorine, electricity, and shipping, make toilet paper a product with a high environmental footprint.
Yes, bidets use more water than the traditional potty process, but in the end they are much easier on Mother Nature than billions of TP rolls.
In fact, the typical bidet tends to use about 1/8 gallon – to put that in perspective, the average toilet uses around 4 gallons of water per flush!
A few commonly asked questions when it comes to bidets.
Do I Need To Hire A Plumber To Install My Bidet?
Probably not. Even generally non-handy folks find the installation process straightforward and rather easy (at least most of the time).
A few people have found they need to buy a small part or two from the hardware store, but most get through the installation process without a hitch. Hiring a plumber will likely cost an extra $100 – $200 dollars, so it’s really best avoided.
However, toilets without tanks or models that generally deviate from the norm may need professional assistance.
How Do I Dry Myself Off?
After using the bidet, most people use a small square of toilet paper to dry off. When your bum really gets soaking wet, some people use a towel to pat dry.
If You Don’t Sit Correctly, Will Water Spray Up Between Your Legs?
These bidet nozzles really are positioned expertly – we’ve never heard of this happening. However, we do imagine this could be a problem for small children, so we suggest they keep their little hands off the bidet controls!
Are Bidets Just For Women?
No way! Bidets are beneficial for both the sexes.
Sure, most women will definitely appreciate the front wash (aka feminine wash) angle, but the rear spray is well-suited to all genders.
If you’ve got a butt, a bidet is for you.
Can Bidets Improve My Health?
There isn’t any intensive research on the matter, but at least one study does seem to show that using a bidet can relieve rectum pressure, possibly alleviating hemorrhoids and anal fissures. Who doesn’t want less of those?
That’s all we’ve got when it comes to bidets! How did you first discover bidets? What do you think about them? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Last update on 2019-02-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API