Big on Bidets: What is a bidet & how do you use it?

by Lisa on November 2, 2011 in Personal Stories & Musings,Random,Travel Tips,World Travel

  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Big on Bidets: What is a bidet & how do you use it?
  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Big on Bidets: What is a bidet & how do you use it?
  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Big on Bidets: What is a bidet & how do you use it?
  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Big on Bidets: What is a bidet & how do you use it?
  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Big on Bidets: What is a bidet & how do you use it?
  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Big on Bidets: What is a bidet & how do you use it?
  • wp socializer sprite mask 16px Big on Bidets: What is a bidet & how do you use it?

 What is a bidet & how do you use it?

Warning: If you are squeamish or prude or don’t have genitalia, this post may offend you.


If you read the title as “big on bid-detz” then this is going to be a hard sales pitch.  But hear me out.

The poor, little bidet.  It gets a bad rap and is probably the most misunderstood bathroom fixture this side of the Atlantic.

Well, I think bidets (bih-DAYS) are awesome.

Bidets are Great1 Big on Bidets: What is a bidet & how do you use it?

If you’ve been reading along here for awhile, you know that I do preach that just because something is different, it doesn’t mean it might not be better than what we are used to.

I know at first, many Americans think a bidet is ‘gross’ or dirty.  But I am here to argue the opposite.  Read and learn people.

Definition: A low oval basin used for washing one’s genital and anal area.

Ew, gross.  Who wants clean genitalia? Well, I do.  And a clean anus? Well, that’s just fantastic!

Bidets are Great4 Big on Bidets: What is a bidet & how do you use it?

A bidet is used to clean your ‘delicates’ or ‘undercarriage’ in those times that maybe you aren’t feeling so fresh – maybe you’ve just had sex or yes, have your period, or even, for heaven’s sake, defecated (you dirty, dirty, waste-producing human!).  You can shower – yes.  But how many of us shower every single time we go to the bathroom?

Instead we just wipe and wipe with dry paper or perhaps a moistened ‘wipe’.   Now isn’t that actually kind of gross? To me, using the bidet far surpasses using toilet paper from a hygiene standpoint.

How about a quick, mini-shower with soap and everything for your undercarriage? I say a resounding, ‘yes!’

How is this gross?  Cleaning ourselves just as we would in the shower (assuming you do, crazily enough, touch yourself in the shower–sicko) in a bidet.

Despite the fact that some think it looks like a toilet, you must think of the bidet as a low sink or wash basin.   There you would have soap and a towel to dry yourself just as you do in the shower.

Why has the bidet not caught-on yet in the United States?  Why do most Italian households have bidets and think of us as gross since we don’t shower or wash every time we go to the toilet?  Which do you think is cleaner? Wiping or washing?

I thought about making a demo video, but thought better of it.  So instead here are some very simple Wiki instructions on using a bidet.

Let’s hear it America – hip hip hooray for the bidet!

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

adventureswithben UNITED STATES November 2, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I'm quite surprised to read that people don't like the bidet. I love it. It's so weird how we don't have them here in America. What's up with that?


Lisa Lubin UNITED STATES November 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm

For some historical reason – cost? size? It just never caught on here. Now it would be quite hard to change habits. People are afraid of what they don't understand. I wasn't sure either, but took the time to learn and now I wish I had one!


April UNITED STATES November 2, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Ha! I love that you posted about this. I also love bidets or the little power wash hoses you find throughout Southeast Asia. So fresh and so clean! I have decided that I’m going to install a wash hose next to my toilet if we ever settle down and buy a place. Or maybe just move to Europe where bidets are more standard!


Lisa Lubin UNITED STATES November 3, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Thanks April! I know. Maybe we can start a movement in the US? We are the 1% for Bidets?!


vegan girl next door UNITED STATES November 3, 2011 at 9:50 am

OMG. I love this post. Hilarious and so true. I have been wanting to write about the Moon Cup (http://www.mooncup.co.uk/). I think you have just given me the courage to do so. ;-)


Lisa Lubin UNITED STATES November 3, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Thanks Christine!! I think some friends of mine wrote about a similar item!


dave925 PERU November 3, 2011 at 10:11 am

Lol, nice job with a sensitive topic!

I'll admit I've avoided bidets thus far. I found the electric Japanese toilet seats, which I mainly appreciated for their warmth, usually had a water feature for cleaning your undercarriage as well. Avoided pushing that button. But your article will get me thinking twice.


Lisa Lubin UNITED STATES November 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Go for it Dave! After a few uses…you'll be wondering why you didn't do it before. Of course…i don't have one at home, but I wish I did! Sigh…


Kevin Ftizpatrick UNITED STATES November 3, 2011 at 10:11 am

Nothing "butt" the facts, ma'am. I rarely encounter these hygienic devices in suburban Chicagoland. Butt when I do, I realize I'm in a decent place. Like a Lazy Boy recliner, they aren't the easiest things in the world to get up from though. It makes complete sense to me that you would be a big fan of these fine fixtures. I bet you would choose having a Bidet over a mini bar in a room you check into. Butt what do I know!


Lisa Lubin UNITED STATES November 3, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Yes! I don't know if I've EVER seen one in Chicago. I think I did once at a big mansion. Someday I can dream of having my own! :)


Keith NETHERLANDS November 3, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Love it too! They're big in southern European countries & in the Middle East. My favourite type of toilet can be found in Japan. It has a (bidet)shower and blow-dryer integrated and it all works at the push of a button! You can even adjust the temperature of the water used in the bidet, and that of the toilet seat (awesome for those cold winter days!). My sister had them in her home in Japan and I loved it! :-)


Lisa Lubin UNITED STATES November 3, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Thanks Keith!! I've been to Japan and never tried those things. I think I was too scared at what would happen when I pressed the wrong button. Now I need to go back and dive right in. Well, not literally!


Monica TURKEY November 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Haha. Funny, I had a bidet in a very nice hotel in Manhattan during a recent stay. I had no idea how to use it so I left it there. I'll think about it next time


Lisa Lubin UNITED STATES November 3, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Thanks for checking in from Turkey Monica. You might be lucky and find one there. Then…go for it! :)


Glen AUSTRALIA November 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm

hey Lisa,
When I was working in Pakistan for a few months back in 2003, i noticed that all the toilets there always had a tap adjacent to the toilet bowl with a hose attached.. Couldn't figure out what it was all about until it was explainedto me. People couldn't afford to install bidet's so basically after doing the business , they grab the hose and direct the water to where it's needed and then use toilet paper to wipe the affected part! At first I thought it was quite gross but the more i thought about it, it's really more cleaner than what we do…

I always thought Mick Dundee made the bidet popular in the US :)


Lisa Lubin PORTUGAL November 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Hey Glen! I noticed those hoses a lot in Asia too…but without towels so i guess 'air-drying' is key!


Oneika the Traveller not found November 4, 2011 at 6:15 am

Bidets make SO much sense. I don't know why they are reviled in North America!!


Lisa Lubin PORTUGAL November 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Hey Oneika! Just like most things…when it's new…it's considered 'odd' to Americans. We are used to 'our' way of doing things…and unfortunately, a lot of people think it must be the right way!
Great to meet you at WTM!!


Aisleen UNITED KINGDOM November 4, 2011 at 11:08 am

Haha, gotta love a post about bodily functions! Bidets make sense to me. Way less frightening than the japanese mutli-bum washer/dryer contraption! I think i'd prob want to establish a rule about two hand towels in the bathroom though!

ps. i'm glad you decided against the demo vid! ;-)


Lisa Lubin PORTUGAL November 12, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Hey Aisleen! Thanks for checking in. I think that's my next challenge to master the Japanese toilet seat and all it's techie controls. Now…I just need a ticket to Japan!


Durant Imboden UNITED STATES November 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I recently stayed at a hotel in Venice, Italy where the bathroom was too small for a bidet. The hotel designers had compromised by installing a bidet toilet seat–not one of the fancy electric variety, but one with a mechanical lever that directed an arc of warm water at the guest's underside. (No hot-air dryer–the user needed to use a towel if he or she didn't want to leave the bathroom with soggy undies.) I shot a YouTube of the mechanism in action–minus the user–and my four-year-old grandson thought it was fascinating.


Lisa Lubin PORTUGAL November 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Hey Durant-
Thanks for stopping by. At least your grandson didn't think it was a water fountain! But very cool that you took him to Venice…lucky kid!


Leyla Giray FRANCE November 5, 2011 at 3:07 am

Well done, Lisa! Being brought up in southern Europe I had one of these all my life. Imagine my mortification when I got to North America to go to university and asked where the bidet was in the residence hall bathroom… :-(


Lisa Lubin PORTUGAL November 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Thanks Leyla! I'm staying with a family in Portugal right now…and there's one in the bathroom. I'm one clean bean! :P


The Travel Chica not found November 5, 2011 at 10:21 am

I have to admit that I have been converted to a bidet-user since I have been in Buenos Aires for so long.


Lisa Lubin PORTUGAL November 12, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Hey Travel Chica – that's great! See it's not so hard to form good, new habits! I love Buenos Aires. How long have you been there? Such a great city.


Gray UNITED STATES November 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I'm actually quite surprised to hear there are people who think bidets are gross. How can it possibly be gross that they help improve hygiene? I think they rock! They should be in every bathroom on the planet. I wish I had room for one in my home.


Lisa Lubin UNITED STATES December 2, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I agree Gray! I have heard those who are unfamiliar with them (read: Folks that see them for that '1st' time), not understand them…and therefore, unfortunately, assume the worst. I recently had a Spanish friend tell me he just used it to put his foot on when he clipped his toenails!


Julie UNITED STATES November 17, 2011 at 9:38 am

LOL! I love that you wrote about this, it is so honest. I have travelled in Europe and I see these everywhere. I have not actually used one, but I don't think it is gross, maybe just a little uncomfortable (no seat cover). But the best bidet I have seen was in Japan. It had heated seats and electronic buttons – and a front AND back bidet spray. No manual process involved. :)


Lisa Lubin UNITED STATES December 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Hi Julie! Try one out next time. You will feel like a bouquet of roses! Okay, maybe just feel like you have a squeaky clean bum! I am disappointed I didn't try the techie ones in Japan. Have to go back now!


Katrina not found November 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Have been singing the praises ever since living in Italy. I remember discussing it with a couple of expat Italians here in Ireland. We were all happy when one of the group found an apartment that had a bidet. A clean, refreshing miracle! ;)


Lisa Lubin UNITED STATES December 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Thanks Katrina! Maybe I've finally found my real blog niche?! Bidets all the time! ;)


Majida SWITZERLAND September 2, 2013 at 5:17 am

I am so glad you wrote about it and very well, down to the fact, esp on the whys! We Asians know this fact for ever, however cleaning one’s underside with water has always been frowned at as gross, also here in Europe! The propagate wipes- okay, yes for a temporary use, but do you really feel clean and fresh after them? I use the wipes to clean the seats, however if no water around, there is no choice!

May be someone has written this already, but I can’t resist writing, that as soon as I leave Europe and head eastwards, the ratio of clean public toilets increases. Doesn’t it? Just look at Dubai- even in the middle if the night, you will find clean washrooms, even at the metro station, unless you go to the old bus station. This has been the only exception to the rule there and we have been to Dubai now almost 4 x. However same – clean washrooms- goes for Singapore, Hong Kong and southwards, for South Africa. All the washrroms at the highways were clean and cleaned as soon as you left- and without you paid! In Switzerland we have clean toilets at the railways stations, however at the price of CHF 2/- ; men can use the pissoir for CHF 1/. (how unfair!!) ;)

It is always a luxury to land in a eastern country and have a bidet or a hand shower (for some reason, they are called Muslim showers) in the washroom! Thumbs up to a clean underside!


Confused not found April 9, 2014 at 2:32 am

I dont understand how bidets are thought to be clean. From what ive read its a sink for your butt. All i can picture is hundreds of people using the same soap and drying towel…it screams std’s


class flyer UNITED STATES June 25, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Dear Confused… I have a request. Will you please stay in Billings, Montana and refrain from traveling to other countries? (Although I imagine you are the sort who will never have sufficient funds to travel, I have read that people of your class sometimes win one of the lotteries which are used to tax the uneducated.) You make me embarrassed to be an American.


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