Whether it’s Bryan Cranston and Keegan-Michael Key in the 2016 hit comedy “Why Him,” Larry the Cable Guy as the voice of Mater (the Southern-accented tow truck from Radiator Springs) in 2011’s “Cars 2,” or Paul Hogan in the 1986 classic “Crocodile Dundee,” it’s hard not to laugh at the antics that ensue on screen when a bidet shows up at the movies.
But the bidet (pronounced “bee-day”), which is said to have been invented by 17th century French furniture makers, is more than just a punchline or casual amusement. It’s essentially a bathroom sink for washing your bottom (or your derriere, if you want to stick with French) and other private parts. The device carries the same name as that used in France to refer to a small, stout pony.
Why? Because early designs of the bidet required you to squat awkwardly over it during its use. Very popular in Southern European countries, particularly France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, the bidet is growing in popularity in the U.S. and Canada.
In the not-so-good-old days, bidets were exclusively standalone units, separate from the toilet, and they functioned much likes sinks. You’d squat over the bidet and splash water up to the areas that needed washing and subsequent rinsing. Modern designs provide a means to spray the water where needed. Some can even warm the water, and high-end models include air dryers.
Although bidets were originally designed to be standalone units, separate from the toilet (another French-derived term, by the way), you can now find devices that convert a standard toilet into a dual-purpose toilet/bidet. Once such device is our ReFresh-It Bidet, which includes a small, built-in lever you can use to direct the stream of water to wherever you need it instead of having to shift and shimmy your way into position.
Regardless of the make and model, all bidets have several common benefits, as we showcase in this post.
If you get poop on your hands (or on any other part of your body), you don’t just wipe it off with toilet paper or a paper towel — you wash it, and you probably scrub it, with soap and water. But after doing our business, we often resort to simply wiping with paper. Some of us have stepped up our post-poop hygiene by using toilet wipes, which is certainly an improvement, but, unless you use the flushable variety, you’re left with an additional paper product that’s inconvenient and potentially embarrassing to dispose of. Besides, if you have a tender derriere, you’re well-advised not to use wipes that contain soaps, fragrances, alcohol, or other harsh chemicals.
The bidet enables you to rinse off with plain water. Then, you can typically dry yourself with a single wipe or a few gentle pats.
You probably pay more for toilet paper than you realize, especially if you have a large family or someone in the family who uses a half roll simply to tidy up (every family has one). Using a bidet, you can slash your toilet paper bill. Think about it. If you pay $20 for toilet paper every month, that’s $240 a year. Trim your use by 75 percent, and you just saved yourself $180. That’s $180 you’re literally flushing down the toilet!
According to Southeast Green, the average American uses 50 pounds of toilet paper per year (57 squares daily). The average per capita use among Western European countries is about half that, and among the new European countries bordering the Baltic Sea, the average per capita use is only about 8.5 pounds — less than one fifth of that in the U.S.
All the toilet paper you ultimately flush down the toilet requires cutting down trees to produce, and then it ends up as environmental waste via a sewage or septic system. Using less toilet paper saves trees and reduces waste.
Easier on Your Bottom
Tender, itchy bottom? Hemorrhoids? Anal fissures? Many doctors will offer the contradictory advice to clean more thoroughly, but wipe less and not as vigorously. They may recommend dampening your toilet paper prior to wiping (ever tried that? sheesh!) or suggest using water-based or natural baby wipes. The ideal solution? You guessed it — a bidet. With a bidet, your raw rump gets a thorough, yet gentle, cleaning.
Easier on Your Toilet
When’s the last time you had to take a plunger to your toilet? You can probably remember the day. People who use bidets can’t. It’s rarely the poop that clogs the toilet. More often than not, it’s the toilet paper. And with the increased prevalence of low-flow toilets, the problem has only gotten worse. Use less toilet paper, and you can do away with that ugly, bacteria-infested plunger you’re trying to hide behind the toilet, or at least relegate it to the garage, where you can reach it for the rare emergency — perhaps a less cultured guest who hasn’t been educated on the benefits of the bidet.
If you’re on septic instead of municipal sewer system, you probably fret about buying the right toilet paper and being careful about the other stuff you send down your pipes. Too much of the wrong stuff will destroy your system or at least upset its delicate balance and perhaps lead to the added expense of having your tank pumped more frequently.
With a bidet, you still need to be careful to buy the right toilet paper, but you can significantly reduce the amount of it that ends up in your tank.
Fun (or Funny) to Use
When you first encounter a bidet, as Cranston’s character did in “Why Him,” you may think it’s a practical joke — having a stream of water squirted up your butt doesn’t exactly sound like a pleasant experience, especially if it’s a cold stream of water. Not only that, but if you’re not in the right place at the right time, you might just spray your face or one of the bathroom walls, as Hogan’s character almost did in “Crocodile Dundee.” Yes, a bidet can be loads of fun.
If you have a funny story about your first encounter with a bidet, please post it here for all to enjoy. In addition to earning bragging rights for the best story posted, we’ll send a free Squatty Potty t-shirt and ReFresh-It Bidet to the person who contributes the best of the best.