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Bidets have been around for centuries, yet many still question their cleanliness. Due to myths and misunderstandings about the bidet, the traditional toilet is still the toilet of choice in the U.S.
This is unfortunate, given the level of cleanliness afforded to us by bidets.
A bidet is very sanitary. It works by spraying a stream of water onto the user’s bottom, effectively washing away bacteria and fecal matter. The water comes from the clean water supply, and self-cleaning nozzles ensure that the bidet water is not contaminated.
If you’re not convinced, and you want to know more about the cleanliness of bidets, continue reading! This article will tell you how sanitary bidets are, how clean they can get you, how bidets compare to traditional toilets, and more.
Are Bidets More Sanitary Than You Think?
Contrary to what some believe, using a bidet is the cleanest way to wash up after going to the bathroom, (short of hopping in the shower.) We will tell you exactly why in the sections below.
Bidets Use Water To Get You Cleaner
While a bidet does not get you as clean as soap and water does, it still does get your skin cleansed. (Link) The stream of water breaks up and washes away fecal matter, and sends it down into the toilet bowl.
After your bottom has been sprayed, you’re ready to dry off. You can either pat yourself dry with a small amount of toilet paper or use the “dry” function on your bidet (if your bidet is equipped with this feature). Either way, you’ll be left with a clean bottom after using a bidet.
Are Bidets Cleaner Than Toilet Paper?
While there is not much concrete evidence or scientific studies confirming or disproving the claim that bidets are cleaner than toilet paper, common sense can uncover some interesting information.
While toilet tissue ads claim that you can get yourself absolutely clean with toilet paper, there is no evidence to support it. I think we can all agree that expecting to remove all traces of fecal matter with thin, dry pieces of tissue just doesn’t seem logical.
In stark contrast with wiping waste with toilet paper, a bidet actually cleans your skin.
Using a bidet is much better than using toilet paper. Spraying away the waste rather than trying to wipe it away with toilet paper is more effective. Add to that, the fact that you can wipe off afterward with toilet paper after spraying it clean, and you’ve got a clean bottom.
Do Bidets Over-Spray Mess Everywhere?
People who are not familiar with bidets may think that bidets spray you with a high-powered jet stream of water that shoots an over-spray of water everywhere. This is not the case.
Bidets are designed to spray your skin with a precisely targeted stream of water, just forceful enough to remove waste. Immediately after the water makes contact with your skin, the dirty water falls right into the toilet bowl.
So, you don’t have to worry about fecal matter being sprayed all over your clean bathroom.
Is The Water From Bidets Clean?
If you thought that the water from bidets comes from the toilet bowl, you’d be relieved to know that it does not. In fact, bidet water comes from the same water supply that delivers water to your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, and dishwasher.
In addition, the large majority of bidets come with a self-cleaning nozzle. The point of this function is to make sure that the water that comes out of the bidet is always sanitary.
How Does A Bidet Nozzle Work?
It may offer you some peace of mind to go over how a bidet nozzle cleans itself. Many bidet models have a self-cleaning nozzle that remains exposed during use, retracts to be sanitized, and then re-emerges after it is cleaned.
The nozzle is cleaned either with an antibacterial solution or with clean water.
- If a bidet’s spray nozzle is exposed at all times, the self-cleaning nozzle will be equipped to clean it with an antibacterial solution (Link). This is because when a nozzle is exposed, it is more likely to come in contact with urine or fecal matter.
- If the nozzle is tucked away inside the toilet, where no fecal matter or urine can come in contact with it, the nozzle will only be cleaned with clean water.
If you are concerned about the cleanliness of your bidet’s nozzle, and your bidet is not equipped with an adequate cleaning function for the nozzle, you can clean it yourself. To do this, you can use an antibacterial spray or extremely hot water and wipe the nozzle down.
Each bidet will function differently, so before you buy one, it’s important to ask how the self-cleaning nozzle works. This will ensure that, when you use a bidet, you can be rest assured that you aren’t spraying contaminated water on yourself.
Can Bidets Curtail Infection Spread?
While some believe that bidets spread infection, that isn’t the whole story. In fact, according to some medical professionals (Link), when combined with proper daily hygiene, bidet use can reduce the occurrence of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) when compared to using toilet paper alone. And here’s how:
When you wipe off your genitals or bottom while it’s dry, bacteria gets left behind. That bacteria is then able to hang out on your skin and in your underwear and cause infections to develop. Bidets with skin-drying functions also reduce the risk of infection by eliminating the use of toilet paper altogether.
When a bidet is used in conjunction with toilet paper or a towel for drying, more of that bacteria is washed away, lowering your chances of developing infections.
This is the best part: If you don’t touch your bottom to clean it with toilet paper, there’s less of a chance that you’ll have fecal matter on your hands. This reduces the spread of fecal-borne infections and illnesses.
What Are The Myths Surrounding The Cleanliness Of Bidets?
There are many false rumors circulating about bidets, and these myths deter many from giving the bidet a try.
Let’s examine some of the most widespread bidet rumors below.
- Bidets use toilet water. It is not known exactly when this rumor started, but this is one of the most outrageous myths about bidets. Once someone who isn’t familiar with bidets hears this rumor, they are not likely to give a bidet a try, regardless of its overt benefits. The bidet water is just as clean as the water you shower with every morning, as it comes from the same pipes.
- Bidets are messy. Bidets are anything but messy, and when you use a bidet with a customizable stream, you can tailor the stream’s width and power to your preferences. But, even for bidets without custom stream settings, if you are sitting on the bidet seat as the water is spraying, you won’t end up with a mess.
- Bidets spread infection. As mentioned above, there is no truth to the claim that bidets spread infection. In some cases, they actually do the opposite, especially with proper use and good daily hygiene.
All of these myths are outright false, yet they remain ingrained in the minds of many.
If Bidets Are A Cleaner Option, Why Aren’t They More Widely-Used?
Another reason why some people won’t consider bidets, is that they are not the toileting standard everywhere. This leads people to think, “If bidets are so clean, why don’t more people use them?”
Bidets are widely used in many foreign countries, including, but not limited to:
People in these countries realize the hygienic benefits of using bidets, so they have become the standard in toileting in those areas. On the other hand, in the U.S., as well as some other countries, the standard toilet and toilet paper remain popular.
The main reasons behind the U.S.’s preference for toilet paper only, are rooted in advertising and habit.
There’s no question that toilet paper giants like Charmin and Cottonelle have played a part in American’s preference for toilet paper. Their commercials and packaging both suggest that their toilet paper actually cleans the skin (versus smearing it around).
They use terms like “Ultra CleanCare (Link)”and other terms that denote cleanliness in their marketing material. Other toilet paper brands utilize the word “Ultra Strong” to give consumers the idea that their toilet paper is stronger than others’ and can clean more efficiently.
Habits are difficult to break when they’re deeply ingrained.
Americans have been using toilet paper since 1857 (Link), which is undoubtedly a long time. Since then, Americans have warmed up to the idea of cleaning themselves with toilet paper and would not even consider using another cleaning method.
In fact, in recent times, bidets are seeing an increase in popularity in the U.S. (Link)
Do You Still Need To Wipe After Using A Bidet?
It was briefly mentioned earlier that you could either wipe your bottom with toilet paper or use the built-in dryer after using a bidet. But is this necessary? The short answer is no.
If you don’t want to wipe with toilet paper or use the drying function, you can sit and wait for your skin to dry afterward. This is a great option for you if your bidet does not come with a drying function or you want to limit your use of toilet paper.
No matter what option you use, it’s important to make sure that your bottom is totally dry before pulling up your underwear and going on with your day. This will ensure that you don’t increase your risk of skin irritation and resulting infections.
Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Bidet
While bidets are not overly complicated, a slight learning curve exists for new users. Here are some tips to make the most of your bidet experience.
Mind Your Lady Parts
If you are a woman, make sure that you are using your bidet correctly. If you aren’t careful, you could introduce fecal bacteria into your genitalia and urethra. This could cause Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), which could become severe without treatment. Keep in mind; a similar risk has always existed with toilet paper, which is why a woman should never wipe from back to front after using the toilet.
What Is The Right Way For A Woman To Use A Bidet?
The right way to use a bidet, if you are a woman, is to spray from front to back (Link). This is similar to the toilet paper rule above. Whatever way you clean up after using the toilet, this rule is critical. If you are careful and you use the bidet correctly, the risk of UTI will remain low.
It’s also important not to spray the bidet water into your genitals. Some bidets have the option to spray water into the genitals, but that does not mean that you should use it. Spraying water into your nether region can upset the natural flora in your genitals, causing an infection (Link). Bacterial Vaginosis is a common infection that can be caused by using that bidet function.
The good news is that you can avoid that function entirely, greatly reducing infection risk.
Become Familiar With Your Bidet
Not all bidets function the same way, and there are many types of bidets on the market. From stand-alone bidets to bidet attachments, each of them has its own functions and settings. So, it is wise to become familiar with your particular bidet or any bidet that you are considering.
This way, you can avoid accidentally spraying yourself with water, you won’t spray fecal matter on your walls by standing up prematurely, and you can avoid any other cringe-worthy messes.
Becoming familiar with all types of bidets will also help you to choose the right one for yourself and your family. For the best overall results, don’t skimp out on the research step.
Know Your Anatomy Before Attempting The Use Of A Bidet
We are all made differently, and this makes using a bidet a little different for everyone. You will need to position yourself on the seat correctly in order to get a good clean.
Imagine the trouble you’d have if you weren’t sure exactly where you need to spray. Also, keep in mind that it could take a couple of tries to get used to using a bidet. Many people take some time to orientate themselves around a bidet.
Benefits Of Using A Bidet
Bidets are loved for much more than their cleanliness. There are tons of benefits to using a bidet, and we will examine them in this section.
Use Less Toilet Paper: Save Money And Help The Planet
If you compare using a bidet to using toilet paper, a bidet will save you money on toilet paper. Toilet paper, while not expensive, can cost a lot of money over time. Most families spend hundreds on toilet paper every year and use over 150 rolls per person per year (Link).
If you switch to a bidet, you will not use half as much toilet paper as you are using now. This equates to hundreds of dollars in savings per year, just on toilet paper.
Not only will you save money by using less toilet paper, but you will also save the environment by doing your part to reduce the amount of toilet paper used globally. After all, to make one roll of toilet paper, it takes more than a pound of wood (Link).
Spend Less On Plumbing
Toilet paper is the main culprit behind toilet clogs and plumbing issues. While you may still use a bit of toilet paper to dry yourself after using a bidet, you will use less toilet paper with a bidet than you use with a traditional toilet. If you use less toilet paper, you can reduce the amount of money you pay over time on plumbing.
Great For Those With Mobility Issues
For anyone who has trouble cleaning themselves off after going to the bathroom, a bidet is a godsend. Instead of struggling to adequately clean yourself with dry toilet paper, older people and pregnant women can spray themselves clean with the bidet water, pat themselves dry, and go on with their day.
Gentle On The Skin
Most people have experienced the uncomfortable feeling of skin irritation and abrasions after wiping with toilet paper. Switching to the bidet means that most of the cleaning will be done for you, so swiping at your skin repeatedly with toilet paper won’t be necessary.
Many people don’t know that their infection risk is heightened whenever the skin is broken, so keeping your skin intact with gentler cleaning methods that lower your risk of infection.
For people who are dealing with hemorrhoids or any other skin condition on their bottom, a bidet will clean you without adding to the pain or discomfort that you feel.
Are There Many Bidet Models Available?
After you’ve made the choice to purchase a bidet, the next decision is to determine which type you want. Some models are technical, while others are very simple and easy to use. It’s great to have variety.
If you are a beginner bidet user, you can start with a bidet attachment that goes under your existing toilet seat. You don’t have to fiddle around with complicated electronic controls and special features that come with some bidets. And as a plus, bidet attachments are among the most affordable bidet types on the market.
Other types of bidets include:
- Handheld bidets
- Built-in bidets
- Portable bidets
- Stand-alone bidets
Throughout this article, we’ve shared why bidets are sanitary, tips for how to use a bidet for the best results, and much more.
Now you know a ton of useful bidet information that you can use to help you decide whether it’s time to add a new bidet to your bathroom.