Considering adding a bidet to your bathroom? Here's everything you ever wanted to know about bidets, but were too afraid to ask—including the very best bidet toilets and sprayers that are easy to install and highly rated.
Bidets. Most Americans seem to be shy—or completely baffled—about using the bathroom appliance that washes the goods below the belt. Our bathrooms rarely have one, and when Americans first see one, they might confuse the basin for a urinal.
But in Europe and other parts of the world, bidets are a mainstay. Created and popularized in France in the 1600s, it was seen as a second step to the chamber pot process, and one that royalty and upper class saw as a mandate to normal bathroom protocol. In fact, Marie Antoinette had one in her prison chamber before she headed to the guillotine, because the indecency of not having one was clearly monumental. For us, though? Toilet paper seems to do just fine. Even now, with the push of wet cloths to, ahem, help us out down there, the extra step doesn’t seem to be catching on as fast as some would like.
But the founder of Thinx underwear (a brand that's slowly but surely changing how we think about periods and menstrual products) wants to change all that with the launch of Tushy. Their Tushy Classic and Spa products attach to your toilet to basically convert your plain ol’ commode into a more European affair. Not quite the same as having a separate bidet, but you know, the influence (and cleanliness) is there. The Madonna of toilet conversions, if you will.
But will bidets ever truly catch on with the American public? And, more importantly, should they? Some doctors believe them to be more hygienic than just plain toilet paper alone.
"Bidets are absolutely more hygienic than toilet paper," says John Cluley, MD, a gastroenterologist based in Texas. "If our hands get dirty, we don't use dry paper to wipe them off. We rinse them with water to get them clean. We should be doing the same with our butts."
But it's not just about cleanliness, he adds; bidets can also be helpful for conditions such as hemorrhoids, skin tags, anal fissures, and rectal prolapse. "These conditions typically lead to additional skin and folds which can be difficult to ‘wipe’ clean,” he explains. “The washing action of a bidet not only helps with more effective cleaning, but it can prevent the additional irritation to these sensitive areas caused by repeated wiping with dry paper.”
If you’re going to use a bidet, the only thing to keep in mind is to be gentle. “The only concern I have about the safety of bidets is the wide range of water pressures among different models,” says Dr. Cluley. “Care should be used not to adjust the pressure too high, as this could cause trauma or even a small tear in the anal canal.”
Here are some bidets worth checking out should you be looking to change your bathroom habits (and that won’t break the bank).