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Sometime in the 1600s, the bidet first appeared in French homes as a way to freshen up between regular baths. By the 1750s, someone added a hand pump and reservoir system that allowed the user to spray water directly on the skin for a more thorough cleaning. This system worked so well that the bidet was a standing fixture in French bedrooms, where it stayed next to the chamber pot. By the 1900s, the bidet moved into the bathroom, thanks to advances in modern plumbing.
Bidets have been a common feature in European bathrooms for centuries and have grown in popularity across Asia and South America. It took a while, but Americans finally started embracing the bidet during the pandemic. It offered a way to cut back on the amount of toilet paper they used, which was helpful when the inventory in local stores was low.
There are three basic types of bidets: standalone, seat, and handheld. They can have different features, like hot and cold water, automatic touch buttons, a dryer option, or a heated rim that can make using the bidet more comfortable. Here’s how they compare:
Knowing which type of bidet you have is important, as it defines how you use it and how much you can modify it. For example, some people prefer the convenience of a built-in seat bidet or handheld bidet since they don’t have to move about the room to use it. They’re also less customizable — only standalone bidets have an interchangeable bidet faucet.
Using a bidet for the first time can feel intimidating, and understanding how it works can help alleviate some concerns. First, turn on the water to see where it comes from, the direction it moves, and how much pressure it has. On most bidets, turning the faucet handle raises and lowers the water flow volume..
If the toilet has a built-in bidet, sit on the seat like you normally would. When you’re ready to clean, press the wash button or turn on the water. On a standalone bidet, you have the option to sit facing the water or away from it. This is a matter of preference, but many people find it easier to clean themselves when they’re facing the water. As the water flows, you may need to position your body to make sure the water touches all the areas you want to clean. This may require moving around on the seat or standing and hovering over the stream of water. Turn off the water when you’re finished, rinse the bidet, and wash your hands.
If the bidet has hot and cold water, be careful about using the hot water. It can heat up quickly — sometimes too quickly — and burn sensitive areas. When possible, stick with cold water or use a combination of hot and cold water.
The process for installing a bidet faucet is similar to installing a sink faucet and is suitable for a beginner to complete. Grab the required tools for the job — a basin wrench, adjustable wrench, screwdriver, Teflon tape, and silicone — and keep some towels handy to soak up any water that spills during the process.