How To Use A Bidet, What To Expect, & Reasons You Should Have One

How to use a bidet 1

How to use a bidet

Bidets are not especially common in the United States, and this can lead to some confusion when people encounter them. However, in Europe, Japan, and the Middle East they are much more likely to be a fixture in a hotel or home bathroom.  But again, only 8% of Westerners actually own a bidet in their household.  So how can we break the stigma and teach everyone how to use a bidet?

A bidet is a device that allows you to wash the genitals and anus with water, either reducing the amount of toilet paper needed to clean yourself or making paper completely unnecessary. They generally take one of two forms: either standalone devices that the user sits across to wash themselves with water, or attachments that fit on to existing toilet seats to add extra features.

They are popular for reasons of hygiene – in hospitals, for example, where they provide a higher level of cleanliness after operations, or for cleaning yourself during menstruation (the hygiene benefits of bidets are explored in greater detail at the end of this article). Some people also use them for cultural reasons – as is the case in the Middle East – and they can often appeal to people who want to reduce the amount of waste caused globally by toilet paper use.

Different types of bidet

As stated above, there are two main types of bidet, with various attachments for each. The first is the traditional, standalone porcelain bidet, while the second is the more compact toilet seat bidet.

How to use a bidet

Standalone bidets

Generally, standalone bidets come in two varieties: either floor or wall-mounted.

The first evidence of floor-mounted bidets is in 1710, 200 years after the first toilets were being invented, which has led many people to believe that they are old-fashioned pieces of equipment. However, this is far from the case, with many suppliers offering sleek, modern bidets that fit perfectly alongside contemporary bathrooms.

Many floor-mounted bidets look like low-level hand basins, with taps at one end that allow the user to fill the bidet and a plug socket so they can empty it once they have finished cleansing. In order to use these, do the following:

  1. Use the toilet normally. Generally people wipe with toilet paper before using the bidet, but this is only necessary when there is excess fecal matter that might clog it up.
  2. Use the hot and cold taps to fill the basin up with water to your preferred temperature.
  3. Crouch down and straddle the bidet. It may be necessary to hold a rail to provide additional support if you find it difficult to support your own weight.
  4. Lower yourself into the water. In some cases this action might be sufficient cleansing; alternatively, it may be necessary to clean yourself using your hands.
  5. Dry with paper.

More recent floor-mounted bidets make use of water jets, which the bidet user can switch on and then position themselves accordingly depending on whether they want to clean their genitals or anus. These can be used as follows:

  1. Use the toilet normally. Generally people wipe with toilet paper before using the bidet, but this is only necessary when there is excess faecal matter that might clog it up.
  2. Adjust the hot and cold taps to set the water jets to your ideal temperature.
  3. Crouch down and straddle the bidet. Depending on whether you wish to wash your genitals or anus, you may wish to face the jet or face away from it. It may also be necessary to hold a rail to provide additional support if you find it difficult to support your own weight.
  4. Direct the area of your body that you wish to clean towards the water jet.
  5. Dry with paper.

Floor-mounted bidets will generally provide a gentle stream of water – although the pressure of jets can vary considerably according to model, so it is worth establishing this before getting started!

Regardless of the type of nozzle, when the bidet user has finished, they should remove the plug and allow any excess waste to drain away.

In contrast, wall-mounted bidets often look much more contemporary, and avoid the need for users to squat down so far to clean themselves. They offer a similar range of attachments and differ chiefly from floor-mounted bidets in terms of their style, although many users have found that they also make better use of space in their bathrooms.

How to use a bidet 2

Toilet seat bidets

Rather than plumbing in a standalone bidet, many people choose instead to save space and simply install a bidet attachment for their toilet seat. These can be found in both hospitals and high-end hotels, and the prices vary wildly, going up as far as $1000, although cheaper models can be found for around $30.

There are two types of toilet-seat bidet: non-electronic and electronic. Non-electronic toilet-seat bidets often take the form of a nozzle (movable or fixed) added to either the back or side of an existing toilet’s rim, generally providing either a vertical water jet or a horizontal one. Most basic units simply offer a cold water wash, although more expensive options offer warm water and a self-cleaning option, allowing the user to clean the spray nozzles by just turning a dial. Equally, some attachments have two nozzles allowing the easy cleaning of both the genitals and anus. They are used as follows:

  1. Use the toilet normally. You may wish to wipe with paper but this should not be necessary.
  2. When finished, turn the dial or knob on your device to activate the under-seat jets.
  3. If appropriate, direct nozzle towards the desired area for cleaning; if not, move yourself so that the desired area to be cleaned is in line with the stream of water.
  4. When clean, dry yourself with paper.

At the more luxury end of the market are the electronic toilet seat bidets – often seen in high-end hotels. Models like the TOTO Elongated Washlet offer features like adjustable water temperature and pressure, along with a fan and the option of heated seat and warm air to dry you after using them. Equally, the SmartBidet Electric Bidet offers users a remote control so they can easily access the features that they need. The thousands of reviews of these products on Amazon testifies to the growing popularity of bidets, and certainly suggest a reduction in the stigma that was once associated with them. They are used as follows:

  1. Adjust the control panel on your unit to set up any extra features you wish to use (ie. heated seat, air drying).
  2. Use the toilet normally. You may wish to wipe with paper but this should not be necessary.
  3. When finished, use the control panel on your device to activate the under-seat jets. Alternatively, if your device has a remote control, use this to start cleaning.
  4. In most cases, it should not be necessary to adjust nozzles to direct them towards the desired areas for cleaning – you should simply move yourself so you are in line with the water stream. However, if your device is fitted with nozzles, it may be useful to redirect these towards the genitals or anus.
  5. When clean, dry yourself with paper.

Alternative bidet solutions

How to use a bidet 3An alternative option is a Shattaf, a Middle Eastern form of washing that is popular worldwide in Muslim communities. In effect this is a hand-held bidet, made up of a hose that connects to your toilet’s water supply. They have the advantage of being inexpensive and very easy to install, as well as giving the user a good degree of control over the spray itself. However, an inexperienced user of a Shattaf can risk spraying themselves and the rest of the room if they misjudge the force of the spray, and it is advisable that users try the device before opting for it! A Shattaf is used as follows:

  1. Locate the Shattaf, which will normally be on the side of the toilet.
  2. Open the shut-off valve so that water can flow through the device.
  3. Use the toilet normally. You may wish to wipe with paper but this should not be necessary.
  4. Position the hose (inside the bowl) as appropriate for cleansing. You can either position it at the front of the bowl aiming backwards, or at the back of the bowl aiming forwards.
  5. Squeeze the trigger to release a cleansing water jet, taking care not to spray beyond the bowl.
  6. When clean, dry yourself with paper.

A final option is the use of a bidet bottle, which has the advantage of being cheap and portable. Specific bidet bottles are available, which may be useful for events such as festivals, although in a desperate situation you can use any water bottle. Whilst these are fairly straightforward to use, instructions for their use are below:

  1. Use the toilet normally. You may wish to wipe with paper at this point.
  2. When finished toileting, the way you use the bidet bottle will depend on the action you performed. If you wish to clean your anus after a bowel movement, position at the back and then squeeze the bottle to cleanse your back passage. Alternatively, if you wish to clean your genitals, it is advisable that you position the bottle at the front of the bowl and squirt backwards.
  3. When clean, dry yourself with paper.

Hygiene Benefits of Bidets

Ultimately, the growing popularity of bidets is in most cases due to their hygiene benefits. Although this topic is covered in greater depth elsewhere, some of the main benefits of bidets are included below:

They remove more waste than paper

Using water to clean yourself after using the toilet removes more waste than wiping with toilet paper (which often leaves a residue on the skin). Not only this, but some evidence shows that only 50% of people wash their hands properly after using the bathroom. Using certain kinds of bidet means that your hands don’t come as close to your bottom and so you’re much less likely to spread harmful bacteria.

They are gentler on the skin

Toilet paper is one of the worst things you can put on your bottom, especially if the area is already irritated. If you suffer from a prolapse or haemorrhoids, or if you have recently given birth vaginally, then regular wiping with toilet paper can inflame the sensitive tissues of your vagina and anus. Using a bidet reduces the need for as much wiping and so can reduce pain from chafing.

They pose less risk of transferring bacteria

Even when wiping from front to back, using toilet paper can still risk transferring bacteria from your anus to your vagina, causing infections. Equally, bacteria can easily be transferred to your hands in this process. Cleaning using the water jets of a bidet can reduce this risk, meaning that bacteria is not transferred to your genitals or even around your house.

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