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Bidets: Everything You Need to Know About the Home Bidet

  • Published: 2010-11-11 (Rev. 2016-03-20) - Contact: bidetsPLUS, LLC
  • Synopsis: Information facts and advice on the advantages of home bidets including how they work and installing.

Definition: Defining the Meaning of Bidet

Bidet - A low-mounted plumbing fixture or type of sink intended for washing the genitalia, inner buttocks and anus.

Main Document

"Water is a more soothing way to clean as opposed to using toilet paper. This is especially true for those who are sensitive in that region."

Many of us have heard the argument for using a bidet - that it saves toilet paper. According to Scientific American, Americans use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper a year, representing the pulping of some 15 million trees. Yes, that's a lot of trees. But saving paper isn't the only reason why people should use bidets. In fact, even if paper waste wasn't reduced, there are still several reasons why a bidet is better.

One of the most compelling reasons is that using water to wash yourself is more effective and hygienic than using dry paper. Let's take washing your face, for example. When you want to wash your face, would you just grab a piece of dry paper and start rubbing your face with it? Of course not. You would go to the sink, splash some water on your face, and wash it that way.

But hypothetically speaking for a moment, let's imagine what would happen if we all just used dry paper to clean ourselves. Without any water, the dirt and oils on your face would continue to build up over time. To counter-act this, you could rub the paper harder - but could lead to mild facial abrasions and micro-tearing of the skin. Not to mention that the paper you're using is bleached with chemicals (to make it white in color), and often perfumed. Both of which could cause further irritation.

So if using dry paper is not very effective and abrasive at the same time, why would you clean your bottom like that? It's the most sensitive part of your body! Yes, washing with water is the best way to clean. But many of us have been conditioned since childhood to accept something different. We've been taught to use dry paper to clean ourselves. But it's wrong.

Here are some other reasons why a bidet is better:

A New Level of Comfort - Water is a more soothing way to clean as opposed to using toilet paper. This is especially true for those who are sensitive in that region.

It's Hands-free - There's less of a chance of getting bacteria on your hands (and spreading germs) because bidet usage is a touch-less experience. Your hands stay on your lap, while the bidet works beneath you.

Medical Conditions - Bidets are great for those who have certain medical conditions. Many hemorrhoids sufferers use bidets with a lot of success. Persons with disabilities who can't wipe themselves find bidets to be especially useful. Any patient who has gone thru surgery in that region will also find comfort in a bidet.

Women & New Mothers - Menstrual periods can often produce feelings of un-freshness. Washing yourself with water will help you feeling clean. Mothers who have recently gone thru childbirth can be very sensitive in that area. Bidets can be a more soothing and relaxing way to go.

Seniors - As we age, it can be increasingly difficult to use the restroom. Some turn to care-givers for assistance with wiping. This can lower a person's self esteem - having to depend on someone else to use the toilet. Increase confidence and regain your independence!

Types of Bidets:

Warm Air Dry:

After using a bidet, there is a bit of residual water that remains after washing. It's similar to having beads of water on your skin when first stepping out of the shower.

Before the modern electronic bidet came along, people would use a towel to dry themselves off. Using a towel is unnecessary these days however, since the electronic bidet comes equipped with a warm air dry. This is perhaps the bidet's most popular feature.

The air dry is a practical solution for drying oneself after using the bidet. It's very similar in concept to hand dryers frequently found in public restrooms. When done washing, press the "Dry" button on the bidet's control panel to activate. The stream of air comes from a small vent near the wash nozzle's housing pocket, and blows across your bottom. Just like hand dryers, it will take a minute or two to get completely dry.

Originally, putting hand dryers in restrooms was designed to cut costs on paper towels. For a busy bathroom, the cost of refilling the paper dispenser alone could be several dollars a day. This results in paper towel expenses exceeding $1,000 annually for just one bathroom. Saving on these costs was a huge selling point for hand dryer manufacturers early on - spend $300 on a hand dryer, and save $700 every year. Fast forward to today, and we can see why hand dryers have become so prevalent everywhere we go.

Likewise, it's true that toilet paper costs would decrease by adding a bidet to your home. We view this more as an ancillary benefit though, since the primary reason for purchasing a bidet is to be able to clean with water, which has many other benefits outside of financial ones. But if you're on the fence regarding the purchase of a new bidet, saving on toilet paper expenses is worth some consideration. Another (and perhaps stronger) point to consider is the effect reduced paper waste would have on the environment.

On most electronic bidets, air dry settings can be adjusted as well. The main purpose of adjusting the temperature and/or force exerted from the air dry is that it reduces drying time. Some folks may not have time to sit through the dry cycle, so they'll just dab themselves with a bit of toilet paper to accelerate the process. Or, simply increase the bidet's air dry setting and this will accelerate drying. We've seen electronic bidets with up to five different air dry settings, so it does help to do some research and find which model is best for you.

Electronic Bidets:

Bidet users quickly realize however, that even the softest roll of toilet paper is not as soft as water.

When most people try the modern electronic bidet for the first time, the most common responses are fairly positive. Indeed, it can be a rather refreshing experience for the first-time bidet user. Think about it... these people have been using toilet paper their entire lives. They are so accustomed to taking one, two, or even three wipes with dry paper after using the restroom. It's no wonder they are pleasantly surprised at the feel and effectiveness of their first aerated, water wash.

So what do people usually say after their first bidet experience? Most people like the fact that they are cleaning with water and find it to be more soothing than dry paper, which can sometimes be abrasive. When people are shopping for toilet paper for example, they usually look for the softest one. Bidet users quickly realize however, that even the softest roll of toilet paper is not as soft as water. People also cite that using water feels cleaner, and is more natural. Since we usually take showers in the morning to clean ourselves, using a bidet can be like taking a mini-shower, in between showers, so to speak.

Others comment on the bidet's heated seat. Most people have never sat on a warmed toilet seat before, and it usually takes a few seconds to realize that the seat they are sitting on is indeed heated. This too, is a new experience. And then there's perhaps the bidet's most popular feature - the warm air dry, which helps with residual moisture after washing.

So let's give a brief overview of the features most noted when people try the electronic bidet for the first time:

The Experience of Water - The bidet uses telescopic wash nozzles to clean you after using the restroom. These nozzles extend when activated, have both posterior and frontal wash functions, and retract back into their housing pocket when not in use. Folks who try the bidet find that water is a more comfortable way to clean, particularly for the more sensitive parts of the body. What's most interesting however, is when people realize that using water to wash their body is something they do already - when taking a shower. Using a bidet can become an extension of something we do everyday.

Heated Seat - The temperature controlled, heated seat is also a popular feature. Similar to some luxury cars which have them, the bidet provides heated comfort at a temperature the user can control. The heated seat is especially useful in the cold winter months, as you won't have to sit on a freezing cold toilet seat anymore.

Air Dry - The bidet's air dry is very similar in concept to hand dryers frequently found in public restrooms. At the touch of a button, the warm air dry is activated. The stream of air comes from a small vent which can be found near the wash nozzle's housing pocket, and is directed to blow across your bottom. Just like hand dryers, it will take a minute or two to get completely dry. It's also worth mentioning that an important side-benefit of the air dry is that it reduces paper waste which in turn, is more friendly to the environment.

Remote Controlled:

Remote controls have brought a lot of convenience to our lives. We use them everyday to open our garages, turn on our home stereos, and to record that can't-miss show on our DVRs. Can you imagine actually having to get up from the couch to change the TV channel? The remote control made channel-surfing possible for all of us and for that, we are grateful.

What other devices could we operate with a remote? How about curtains? You could roll over while still in bed, reach over to the remote on the night stand and let the sun in your room. Home automation will continue to become a bigger trend in the future as well. In some dwellings, you can even control a home's entire lighting system with a remote. No more walking around the house to make sure all the lights are off. And if this trend continues, we might even have remote-operated toilets one day.

Wait a minute... remote-controlled toilet seats are already here! Yes, you read that right. Most modern electronic bidet manufacturers make two type of bidets by default - one that's operated with a remote control, and another that's operated with an attached control panel.

But do you really need a remote control to go to the toilet

When people are shopping for an electronic bidet, the question comes up frequently, "To remote, or not to remote" And when considering that remote-controlled bidets cost about 10% to 20% more, it's important to understand what you're paying for. So let's try to explain the differences.

First, assuming you're looking at two models from the same manufacturer, there is generally no functional difference whether you get the one with a remote control or the one without. That is to say, both bidets will have the same functions and features - it's just a question of HOW you operate those features.

Bidets with attached control panels (no remote) almost always come with the control panel on the right side. This is not because control panels work better if they're on the right - it's simply because most people are right-handed. To operate the bidet, you would just look over to your right and press the button of your choice.

Controls for remote-operated bidets however, are typically mounted on the wall (often where the toilet paper used to be). These remote controls come with a mounting bracket which can be affixed to the wall. The remote control slides out of its mounting bracket so you can take the remote out and control the bidet from your lap. Or, leave the remote on the wall and control it from there. It's up to you.

So one advantage of the remote control, is its accessibility. You can choose from where you want to control the bidet. This is especially useful for folks who are disabled or elderly, as the remote provides an ease-of-use factor. Anyone could appreciate this flexibility though, even if they didn't have any physical limitations.

Another advantage of the remote-controlled bidet is form and aesthetics. Since the bidet no longer needs an attached control panel on its side, the bidet looks much sleeker. Most remote-operated bidets don't even look like a bidet, as it can be hard to tell the difference from a regular toilet seat. Not having an attached control panel also takes up less space. It saves about two inches in the bidet's width, which helps if your toilet doesn't have a whole lot of space on either side.

It's also worth pointing out that remote-controlled bidets can be operated without the remote as well. Basic bidet functions can be operated through the use of a mini-panel on the bidet's side. While not all functions can be used this way, you'll still be able to start and stop simple wash functions.

So are remote-operated bidets worth the extra money

We think so. When buying a bidet, it's important to consider other people who might use it too. Other members of your family, friends, or house guests may prefer the flexibility the remote control provides. The bidet will look better, and it has a cool-factor too. After all, who doesn't like remote-operated gadgets

Customizing Settings:

Many folks who try the electronic bidet don't realize that the bidet's settings can be adjusted.

We sometimes hear comments like, "I wish the water was a bit warmer" or, "Do you have a different model where the wash nozzle extends a bit further" These are great questions because if the water isn't getting you in the right spot, then you're not going to feel as clean as you could be. It's like getting a pair of shoes that don't fit you quite right. And since everyone's body is unique, some people are left to wonder if they should look for a better-fitting bidet.

But fear not, for there is a solution. It just comes down to a little bidet education really, and today's lesson is this: electronic bidets can be customized to suit individual preferences. Settings are adjustable for several of the bidet's functions. To use an analogy, it's similar to adjusting the driver's seat of your automobile. Perhaps your spouse likes his/her seat a little higher or a little closer to the steering wheel than you do. Likewise, settings for electronic bidets can also be adjusted.

There are four primary bidet functions which can be customized. When shopping for a bidet, we suggest that you look at each of these areas to determine if an adjustability component is present:

Wash Nozzle Position - Probably the most important customization feature, the bidet's wash nozzle position can be adjusted to fit your body. By using the bidet's control panel, the wash nozzle can be extended forward or retracted backward. Typically, nozzles can be adjusted in half-inch increments. We've seen models with up to five different settings which translates to around two and a half inches of adjustability. We also note that wash nozzle position can be adjusted for both posterior and frontal wash functions.

Water Temperature - Let's face it, most people prefer to take showers with warm water. The electronic bidet's water temperature can be adjusted to suit this preference. Just increase or decrease the water's temperature on the bidet's control panel until it feels comfortable.

Water Pressure - Not only can you adjust the water's temperature, but the water's pressure can be customized as well. This setting controls the amount of water streaming out of the wash nozzle. Some people prefer a stronger wash while others, a new mother who has just given birth for example, may prefer a lighter wash.

Air Dry - The main benefit from adjusting the temperature and/or force exerted from the air dry is that it reduces drying time. Using a bidet will leave a bit of residual water from the cleaning, which is similar to having beads of water on your skin when first stepping out of the shower. If you don't have time to sit through the dry cycle, you could dab yourself with a little toilet paper. Or, simply increase the bidet's air dry setting and this will accelerate drying.

Installation:

Electronic bidet installation is actually quite easy, requiring no special skills at all. These seats are designed for "Do It Yourself" (DIY) installation.

This article will walk you through how to install a bidet attachment to your existing toilet. Note: If you need help installing a basin-type bidet, which are separate porcelain fixtures that sit next to the toilet, please contact your local plumber. Basin-type bidets may require additional plumbing and a new drainage system.

Modern electronic bidets are easy to install because they tap in to the existing cold water valve which refills your toilet's water tank. Moreover, you don't need a separate drainage system since the bidet's water just falls into the toilet bowl.

There are three main components to electronic bidet installation:

(1) Taking some measurements of your existing toilet to ensure proper fit prior to ordering,

(2) mounting the bidet onto your toilet,

(3) connecting your bidet to the existing cold water supply.

We'll explain each of these three components in detail below. Alternatively, if you'd like to see bidet installation in action, you can watch this How to Install a Bidet video at www.bidetsplus.com/how-to-install-a-bidet-seat.html

Measurement - Bidet measurements vary by model, so it's important you refer to the product specifications for the model you're interested in. But here are some general guidelines to get you started.

The first and most important measurement is the measurement in the back, where the rear of the bidet will sit. You'll notice two caps behind your existing seat, and beneath these caps are bolts which secure the toilet seat to the toilet. Measure the clearance from your water tank to the center of these caps. Most bidets require at least 1.5 inches of clearance from the front of the water tank to the center of these caps. If your tank is curved, you'll need to take that into account by measuring from the point of the water tank closest to the caps. Make sure you have at least 1.5 inches of clearance all the way across the back. More than 1.5 inches is okay, as long as it's not less.

The second measurement is the width between the caps behind your existing seat. In other words, how far apart are the caps from each other? You'll want at least 5.5 inches in width between the center of the caps. Again, more than 5.5 inches is okay, as long as it's not less.

If you have at least 1.5 inches of clearance in the back, and at least 5.5 inches of width between the caps, then congratulations - most electronic bidets are compatible with your toilet. Now we just have to determine which type of seat your bidet will come with - an elongated or round seat. Take one more measurement to determine the length of your toilet bowl. Start from the caps behind your existing seat and measure towards the front of the bowl. Elongated seats typically measure 18 inches to 19.5 inches, while round seats typically measure 16.5 inches to 18 inches.

Mounting - Now that you have properly measured your toilet and ordered the correct seat-type, it's time to mount the bidet. In the box your bidet came in, all parts needed for installation will be included. One of these parts is the mounting bracket, which is used to attach your bidet to the toilet.

Go ahead and remove your existing toilet seat by unscrewing the bolts behind the seat. After removing your seat, you'll see the two holes which will be used to secure your mounting bracket. Place the mounting bracket on top of these two holes, and then secure the bracket with the nuts and bolts which came with your bidet.

Once the mounting bracket is secured to your toilet, the bidet slides on to the bracket and attaches to your toilet. On most bidet models, you'll hear an audible "click" which lets you know when the bidet is properly fastened.

Connecting to Water Supply - Behind your toilet you'll find a water valve, with a hose connecting to the bottom of the water tank. First, turn off the water intake by closing the valve. This stops the water, preventing it from passing on through to the hose. Then unscrew the hose from the water valve. Again, make sure you've closed the valve first or else you're gonna get wet!

Now, find the metal T-connection which came with your shipment and fasten it to the valve. It's called a T-connection because it's shaped like the letter "T" and allows the water to run two different ways - one way will be back to your water tank, and the other way will be to the bidet.

Once the T-Connection has been secured to the water valve, reconnect the hose to your water tank by securing it to the top end of the T-connection. Secure a second hose (also included with your shipment) to the other opening of the T-connection. Connect the other end of this hose to your bidet. Use a wrench to tighten all connections. Turn the water supply back on, and check for leaks. Congratulations on learning how to install a bidet!

About the Author: Jensen Lee is the founder of bidetsPLUS, an online presence specializing in the modern electronic bidet. bidetsPLUS provides its users with an array of educational content on the bidet, including video presentations, and also carries a wide range of bidet products. Visit us at bidetsplus.com



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