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How Well Do Bidets Really Work?

Posted by Brian Inami on Feb 9th 2021

Some things sound great in theory. Maybe you’ve tried an eco-friendly deodorant only to find yourself smelly at the end of the day, or maybe you switched to a cheaper shampoo and ended up with dull, greasy hair.

What about bidets? Sure, a bidet might be better for the environment or could help you save money on toilet paper. But what about their main purpose: thoroughly cleaning your butt? Are bidets great in theory only, or do they actually get the job done?

Do bidets actually work?

The basic question is “do bidets work?” But some more specific ones might be “how well do bidet toilet seats work?” and “is a bidet toilet seat more effective than a bidet attachment?”

A bidet toilet seat, which replaces your existing toilet seat and often runs on electricity, might have more features designed for your comfort. For instance, a luxury bidet toilet seat might have a seat warmer feature or self-cleaning cycle. A bidet attachment, on the other hand, attaches to your toilet to provide basic water cleaning, sometimes with dual temperature control. But when it comes to effective cleaning, any style of bidet will work. That’s because the power of a bidet lies in some simple but effective magic: a hygienic splash of water!

It might seem like the answer can’t be that straightforward. But when you think about it, water has been used for centuries to get things clean! As Rose George, author of The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters, told Vice, “We wash every part of our body except the dirtiest part.” She compares a bidet to a shower: “You wouldn’t shower with a dry towel; why do you think that dry toilet paper cleans you?”

The problem with the status quo — good ol’ TP — is that wiping with toilet paper alone smears fecal matter around the skin. Toilet paper just doesn’t get the job done. As rectal surgeon Dr. Evan Goldstein explained to Insider, “Charmin and all these brands have done a great job making us think that toilet paper is hygienic. It’s not.” Instead, Dr. Goldstein advocates the cleaning power of a bidet to actually wash all residue off your skin and into the toilet. Similarly, Dr. Phillip J. Buffington of the Urology Group in Cincinnati, explained in an interview with Self. “Think about using dry toilet paper. You’re leaving a residue of stool and bacteria, whereas if you’re using a bidet, you’re washing that away.”

Does a bidet really get the job done by itself?

The more thorough (or skeptical) shopper might have some follow-up questions: okay, a bidet can clean you, but do bidets clean well? Just how well do bidets work? Do you wipe after using a bidet?

Most bidets allow you to control the pressure of the water flow, allowing you to control how you get clean. Once you get a bidet, you can experiment with different water pressures and washing for a longer or shorter amount of time to see what gets you feeling your cleanest.

Everyone has their own bathroom habits, so what works for one bidet user might not be best for someone else. That’s why there are different styles of bidets! Some people want a completely hands-free experience, so they opt for a bidet with a dryer feature. Others prefer a simpler bidet and use a small amount of toilet paper to gently dab the skin dry. Regardless of the type of bidet, the powerful stream of fresh, clean water will wash everything down into the toilet where it belongs. (And no, you don’t need to use any soap with a bidet — in fact, most soaps will irritate the gentle skin down there. The pressure from the water works on its own to get you clean without causing itchiness or infection.)

The bottom line

Bidets really work. Just like a shower to wash away sweat after a workout or a thorough hand-washing after working on a project, all bidets use the power of water to clean off your skin simply and effectively. Bidet attachments and bidet toilet seats might be the way of the future, but the power of water is as old as time.