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The word bidet (pronounced: Bee Day) is French for pony, a reference to sitting astride as if on a
The Bidet is not a competitor of the bathtub or shower stall, nor is it a different kind of toilet. It is an
A Very Brief History of the Bidet
The earliest known written reference to the bidet is dated 1710. The bidet originated in France, at a
time when full body bathing was done once a week. It was invented to cleanse the 'private' areas of
the body, in-between regularly scheduled baths.
In 1750, the bidet a seringue appeared. It provided an upward spray through the use of a
hand-pump fed by a reservoir.
Until the 1900's the bidet was confined to the bedroom, along with the chamber pot (a bucket that
served as a toilet.)
Modern plumbing brought the bidet into the bathroom. Where it sits next to the toilet.
Popularity of the Bidet
In continental Europe, the usefulness of the bidet is fully understood and is considered to be as
important in the bathroom as the toilet and the tub - no well equipped home is without one.
However, most Americans have never seen a bidet. Those who have, have generally observed
them in upscale hotels, either in the U.S. or in Europe. Rare is the American home that actually has
To some, this seems a bit strange, considering the American preoccupation with cleanliness. But
the majority of Americans start their day in the shower, rather than visit the Bathtub once a week.
Thus the use of the bidet for personal hygiene has not yet taken on an important role in America.
It is interesting to note, that American plumbing manufacturers are among the top producers of
bidets, and almost all of these are exported to other countries.
Who uses them and why?
The bidet can and is used by both men and women. Bidets offer the user a hands-free and
supposedly superior water wash in place of the wiping and occasionally irritating action of toilet
An invaluable aid to person hygiene, the bidet is gaining popularity among senior citizens, the
disabled and those with impaired motor functions or incontinence.
Bidets are also used for sitz baths. A sitz bath (also called a hip bath) is a type of bath in which only
the hips and buttocks are soaked in water or saline solution. Its name comes from the German verb
sitzen, meaning to sit
A sitz bath is used for patients who have had surgery in the area of the rectum, or to ease the pain
of hemorrhoids, uterine cramps, prostate infections, painful ovaries, and/or testicles. It is also used
to ease discomfort from infections of the bladder, prostate, or vagina. Inflammatory bowel diseases
are also treated with sitz baths.
In America, the bidet has developed an aura of indelicacy, largely due to its primary use - to clean
the private body parts. But the bidet can be used for anything a wash basin is used for. From foot
baths, to hand washing clothes, to soaking tennis shoes!
HOW do you use them?
The conventional bidet is designed to be sat upon, legs astride, facing the taps (faucet). While
sitting, you simply turn on the water. When the temperature is to your liking, you increase the
pressure to direct a stream or spray of water towards those spots in need of cleansing.
Some models are designed with seats, and the user sits on the bidet, the same way they would on a
toilet. Controls for these models can be at the side, the front, or the rear of the unit.
A wall mounted grab bar helps the user get up and down easily.
To make it more convenient for the user, place a shelf near the
bidet to hold soaps, wash clothes, and towels.
The Modern Bidet
Today's bidet is a sit-down wash basin. Usually made from vitreous china, it is styled to resemble
the shape of the toilet. The bidet is placed next to the toilet in the bathroom, an arrangement meant
to encourage personal hygiene.
There are four basic types of bidets:
1. Over the Rim
This model is fitted with a standard faucet. The bowl is filled with water the same way you fill a sink.
This is generally the cheapest and simplest type to install. Having a rimless bowl makes easy to
2. Heated Rim (flushing rim)
This unit has Hot/Cold handles on top, but the water enters the bowl below the rim of the basin.
The more popular models are equipped with a spray, which provides a gentle shower. There are
two type of sprays:
Vertical which has a fountain jet in the center of the bowl, and horizontal, which has special over
the rim spout that delivers a horizontal stream of water.
There is a possible risk of water becoming contaminated from
back siphonage created by spray fittings. These units must be
installed using backflow prevention devices, and should be installed
by a plumbing contractor. Consult local building codes before installing.
Some models combine the heated rim and a vertical spray option in one unit.
The standard bidet is mounted to the floor and is 15-15 ½in high. The drain trap and supply lines
can be brought in from the wall or the floor. A combination toilet/bidet is an excellent option where a
higher seat is desired or needed.
Bidets are offered in a host of styles, from the traditional to the contemporary, matching the toilet.
Options to consider
A wide, rounded ledge gives a comfortable seat to even the broadest fundament.
The bidet must be installed to provide plenty of room at the sides for your legs, and at the back for
the knees. For some models, this may mean leaving a gap of at least 4 inches between the wall and
the back of the bidet.
Geberit Shower Toilet When space does not allow for a toilet
and a bidet, consider a combination unit, such as the Shower
Toilet from Geberit.
This unit has a seat which some users may find more
comfortable than the standard bidet. In addition, those
with limited mobility will appreciate not having to move to
use the bidet.
Unique features include a warm rinsing spray, a gentle air
dryer, and an automatic air purifier. This highly functional toilet mounts to the wall or floor. When
mounted to the wall, the height can be adjusted from 15" to 19".
The spray is activated by a large button on the side of the
unit. When the button is pressed, the spray arm extends
from a protected position at the rear of the bowl. The
intensity of the spray is regulated by a turn knob.
After the spray arm retracts into its protected sleeve, it is
rinsed with fresh water ensuring that the spray arm and nozzle are cleaned every time.
Traditional bidets allow the user to control the water temperature. With the Shower Toilet, water
temperature is pre-set to 98.6°F (body temperature).
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