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What is a Bidet?

Posted by Brian Inami on Jun 20th 2012

Bidet was invented by the French.  The first known use of the word is 1766 and translated it means pony.  The name is derived from the way in which the user would have to straddle the wash basin, as in riding a horse.

Traditional standalone bidet

The traditional bidet is a separate fixture, usually made of porcelain, found close by the toilet in the bathroom.  When one is done using the toilet they move over to the bidet and straddle the fixture, turn on the water to desired pressure and temperature and cleanse the appropriate area.  Many associate the bidet only with women but the bidet is not only used to in feminine washes but also in rear washes as well which benefits both men and women.  Once clean, a dedicated towel or paper is used. A modern innovation on the traditional style bidet is the electronic bidet toilet seat.  These newer style bidets simply install on the bathroom’s toilet replacing the existing toilet seat.  This is a much more convenient way to experience the benefits of a bidet.  Not only is it more convenient but the bidet toilet seat is packed full of features such as a heated seat, deodorizer, warm air dryer, oscillation and more all controlled, typically, by a wireless remote control.  Other benefits of bidet toilet seat over the traditional style bidet is that there is no need for costly remodeling for extra plumbing water supply and the expense of an additional large porcelain fixture.  Most bidet toilet seats are self-installed in about half an hour and come with all parts that are needed for installation.  A GFI electrical outlet is all that is required in addition to what is needed for the existing toilet fixture.

Bidet toilet seat installed on the toilet

There are also other bidet type products that are popular as well that include the bidet toilet seat attachment that installs between the toilet and the existing toilet seat and hooks up to the water supply line at the toilet.  There is also the hand held bidet or toilet shower (also referred to as a Muslim shower or shattaf) which is a sprayer head with a trigger that is operated in the palm of the hand and holsters, typically, on the side of the toilet tank.  These are very economical ways of experiencing the benefits of a bidet on any toilet.

FreshSpa bidet attachment installed with water spraying

Hand-held bidet sprayer

The traditional style bidet is popular in Europe with Italy and Portugal leading the way.  The bidet toilet seat is popular in Asia with Japan and South Korea leading the way.  And, the hand held bidet is popular in the Middle East, South East Asia and South America.