Did You Know?: The Bidet

“You have a bidet? Wow!”

One might consider the usage of a bidet to be a bit abnormal and even luxurious in the United States. The reality is: the United States is the anomaly. Akin to the cultural differentiation found in many parts of the world, the bidet is quite orthodox in many other parts of the world.

Enter the beautiful country Italy – welcome to the home of the Roman Colosseum, amazing food, and beautiful sports cars (come on, who wouldn’t want one of these?) just to name a few things. Italians are known for having an extreme passion not only for their personal presentation, but also their hygienic habits as well. The bidet has become normalcy for many private/residential bathrooms and lavatories, which is a testament to the desire of staying clean. It is even a requirement for Italian building law (translate article 7). Certainly, if Italian law dictates the necessary installation of these devices in their residential buildings, they should be given some mention and consideration given how foreign they are to many people.

But, what is a bidet, and what makes them so appealing in the first place?

It looks quite a bit like an ordinary faucet, but most bidets actually have this appearance. A bidet is not a replacement for a toilet, but instead serves the purpose for further cleaning (“freshening up”, if you will). Utilization of a bidet is considered hygienically superior than a normal toilet visit, as it allows for more direct cleaning of intimate areas. A bidet will release a temperature-controlled stream of water whose height and strength can be controlled, allowing for full adjustment to any and all heights and statures. Of course, in order to effectively use a bidet, one would have to thoroughly clean themselves at the toilet first. Here’s an appropriate simile: a toilet is to a car wash, as a bidet is to a car detail – most people would be well advised to completely clean up first before applying the finishing touches.

It turns out that Italy is not the only place in the world that very heavily favors bidets either; the Japanese have also invested time and money in creating something known as a washlet, that combines the process of using both a toilet and a bidet at the same time. Over 70% of bathrooms in Japan use these, and not surprisingly, as the method of washing up and cleaning up are combined into a single streamlined process.