Happiness is a cool bum. Americans and Brits need to try (and buy) a bidet

vrDrew

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I feel odd starting this thread. I'm the sort of person who doesn't like toilet discussion or humor very much. I don't even find fart jokes very funny. And I pondered putting this in the "political, social, and religious" discussion area.

However, I've been the happy, although not necessarily proud, owner of a bidet attachment for one of my toilets for the past month. And I've been wondering how I made it through a half-century of doing what comes naturally without it.

The bidet attachment (as opposed to the standalone porcelain fixture) got its start in Japan, whose fastidious inhabitants and highly inventive engineers created a mechanical device that uses water to clean the affected area following a bowel movement. They are widely known as "Washlets" after the trade name of a company that makes them. In the US they are sold as luxury devices, complete with dazzlingly complex control panels, and a variety of spray patterns, water pressure and temperature controls, as well as unimaginable luxury features including heated seats, warm air dryers, and even deodorizing sprays. They also cost several thousand dollars, and require the services of a professional plumber and electrician to install.

In recent years, however, there has developed a market for a device that performs the same essential function, but at a price more amenable to ordinary consumers. Due to general squeamishness about such matters among Yanks and Brits, you will rarely find them sold at retail in most big box home improvement stores. But they have a rabidly enthusiastic customer base on Amazon, where people apparently feel freer to discuss matters of such a deeply personal nature. Mostly made in China, usually made mostly of plastic, you can now purchase a highly effective, and reasonably attractive cold water bidet attachment for most toilets for under $30. Installing it takes a reasonably handy individual about half an hour, with no special tools other than a screwdriver and an adjustable wrench.

I will note that using the device for the first time was a little surprising. Certainly not painful or uncomfortable. And it did take a couple of uses to really get the hang of the device.

But I will also say this: I go about my day with a feeling of freshness and comfort I never thought possible.
 
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Zenithal

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Sep 10, 2009
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My main gripe for bidets stem from the US's use of cold water, directly from the tap. The ones I've used in Europe were heated in a boiler or brought the hot water into a reservoir and let it cool a bit before spray or whatever it did. There's nothing pleasant about cold water hitting you there.
 

vrDrew

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My main gripe for bidets stem from the US's use of cold water, directly from the tap.
That was one of my considerations before getting the (cold water) unit that I did. I read quite a few of the online reviews - including the "ordinary person" ones on Amazon.

I guess I look ar it like this: My hands and fingertips are pretty sensitive parts of my body, but I don't have a problem washing them in cold water. I also kept in mind, it's not a firehose back their, drenching so much of your skin area that you body temperature drops. I'll not deny that heated, or at least warmed, water might be slightly more comfortable.

But the provision of hot water greatly adds to the complexity and cost. Unless you have a sink or other hot water source directly adjacent to the toilet, it means you've either got to do a lot of plumbing, or you've got have access to a GFI electrical outlet. Bidet attachments with warm water start at around $250, and putting in a GFI outlet was going to be a difficult, if not impossible, task in my location. Electrically-heated bidets also come with warm air blowers to dry the affected area, theoretically making the entire operation totally "hands-free". A nice choice, but I guess I wanted to start with the more basic functions, to see if they were right for me, before making a more considerable financial investment. I also remind myself that the more complex a device is, the more likely it is to go wrong and require expensive maintenance and repair.

A few weeks of use has confirmed that I made the right choice, at least for me. I no fan of cold showers, and I don't belong to the Polar Bear club. But the temperature of the water from the bidet doesn't bother me at all. Maybe I'll feel differently next December...
 

rhett7660

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Jan 9, 2008
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No, although that was one I considered. I went with an even more basic model, without the chromed plastic. But other than that, functionally identical.
Gotcha, looking at this one as it has a lot of reviews! Holy smokes folks really like these and to tell you the truth, I never thought about getting one until I read this thread!
 

vrDrew

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Gotcha, looking at this one as it has a lot of reviews! Holy smokes folks really like these and to tell you the truth, I never thought about getting one until I read this thread!
I'll admit that the positive reviews made me think a little differently about the whole topic. Most people who do try the things seem to become converted, with almost a religious fervor.

The bidet thing makes an interesting marketing study. Not least from the practical perspective. It's not like a motorcycle or a Porsche Cayman. It's difficult to take one for a test drive. There are usually only one or two times per day when you could really put it to the test. And those times rarely coincide with the time you happen to be in the plumbing aisle of your hardware or plumbing store.

So, for many of us, our first encounter with one in the wild comes when we travel to places like Japan, or France. My first memory of the bidet was in a French hotel room, many years ago, when my father somewhat sheepishly (and dishonestly) said it was a "wine cooler." Although even then, I wondered why the French would put such an article next to the toilet.

What I'd say is this: The cost of one of these more basic devices is relatively small: From $30 to well under $100. And I struggle to think of any other home improvement expense in that budget range that you will use, literally, every day. And will simultaneously improve your quality of life in a manner you might not previously have considered.

If you are looking for an easy, simple, and inexpensive home-improvement project: Order one from Amazon. If you don't like it, you don't have to use it. You can always remove it. But I bet you won't. And I bet that whoever you may share your living quarters with will thank you for putting one in.
 

Conutz

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Oct 24, 2014
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Joburg
Permanent porcelain installed like a toilet is the way to go - those Amazon things look like proper gimmicks. Plumbed in with hot water, they're permanent, never a problem to use and last as long as your bathroom does. It's a quick way to freshen up and particularly useful when you don't need a full shower. Once you get used to them you'll battle without...
 

ibookg409

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Apr 20, 2016
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My parents always had a bidet attachment in every toilet. With warm water. The choices today are incredible.
Bidets are weird. My condo in Japan had one. No matter how I sat on that thing it always blasted me right on the "button". I always maintained that there was a bunch of guys sitting at screens with joysticks aiming the water at people butt holes.
 
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robo456

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Mar 3, 2008
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Serious question, how do you tell when you're "done"? If you have to 'dry off' (or check?) with TP, doesn't that defeat the whole purpose?

--rob
 

vrDrew

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Wish they had simple portable ones for travelers
They do.

Obviously not quite as convenient as the semi-permanent attachments. And I'd imagine you'd get some funny look carrying it through airport security. And I would also imagine it's the sort of device you'd need to spend a certain amount of time learning how to deploy, aim, use, etc. On the plus side - you could probably fill it with warm water from the sink prior to commencing operations.
 

ibookg409

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Serious question, how do you tell when you're "done"? If you have to 'dry off' (or check?) with TP, doesn't that defeat the whole purpose?

--rob
In theory you get cleaner with the water jet. Although the idea of a stream of water exiting an already ****** pool is kind of gross.
 

vrDrew

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Serious question, how do you tell when you're "done"? If you have to 'dry off' (or check?) with TP, doesn't that defeat the whole purpose?

--rob
Good question.

The best answer is that (at least with the non-electric units) is that you will still need some toilet paper to dry off. But it's more of a dabbing and patting motion, rather than an abrasive rubbing one. This serves as a visual check that things are squeaky clean back there. You will still use toilet paper, but it's generally far less.
 

robo456

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Mar 3, 2008
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New Jersey
Good question.

The best answer is that (at least with the non-electric units) is that you will still need some toilet paper to dry off. But it's more of a dabbing and patting motion, rather than an abrasive rubbing one. This serves as a visual check that things are squeaky clean back there. You will still use toilet paper, but it's generally far less.
Gotcha, thanks!
 

BeefCake 15

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May 15, 2015
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They do.

Obviously not quite as convenient as the semi-permanent attachments. And I'd imagine you'd get some funny look carrying it through airport security. And I would also imagine it's the sort of device you'd need to spend a certain amount of time learning how to deploy, aim, use, etc. On the plus side - you could probably fill it with warm water from the sink prior to commencing operations.
This can do the trick too inconspicuously and cheaper :D
 

boast

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Nov 12, 2007
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I just bought my first bidet seat ($375) last Friday. I'm excited to move on from baby wipes and give it a shot.
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
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The Far Horizon
Be glad if you have never tried toilets in Asia or Turkey....
Amen to that. A profound amen to that.

I have - so I know exactly what you mean.

Indeed, a mobile phone (not mine, it belonged to the international body I was working for at the time) died a sudden and tragic death in a deep hole somewhere in Kyrgyzstan over a decade ago in such circumstances when it fell off my belt.

The Polish guy in charge of logistics - to whom I had to report the loss - not least, in order to obtain a replacement - kept pretending that he couldn't understand English in order to hear this sorry tale more than twice; his doubled up torso and gusts of smothered laughter gave the lie to his stated lack of language comprehension.
 
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Huntn

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May 5, 2008
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Without taking a bath or shower, bidets seem to be very effective with dealing with the primary stink zone of the human body (...followed by the underarms as second. Not suggesting a bidet for that.). :)