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How do I Use a Bidet?

By T. Flanagan
Updated May 16, 2024
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Using a bidet, which is a low basin used for personal hygiene after using the toilet, is simple and hygienic. Bidets are common bathroom fixtures in Europe, the Middle East, South America and some parts of Africa and Asia. Encountering a bidet in the lavatory can be daunting for many people, but once you understand the basic design, you will have no trouble using any bidet you come across. You simply position yourself appropriately in order to wash the desired area, turn on the bidet and then dry yourself off when finished — and you should always follow common bidet etiquette.

There are several different bidet designs. There might be a tap that pours water into a basin, which can be plugged and filled like a sink. Other bidets have a water jet that propels an arc of water into the air with varying degrees of pressure. In some cases, a bidet might be nothing more than a nozzle attached to an existing toilet.

Using a bidet is a simple process. First, use the toilet. Before moving to the bidet, wipe yourself with toilet paper at least one time after having a bowel movement. This prevents excess fecal matter from being washed into the bidet and clogging the drain.

On most standalone bidets, you can face either direction. You might choose to straddle the bidet while facing the faucet. This position allows easy access to the controls but generally requires you to remove your pants. Choosing to face away from the controls, as on a toilet, is also common. The direction might also depend on the bidet design, the part of your body you intend to wash or the angle of the water spout.

When you use a bidet with a water jet, position yourself so that the stream of water is aimed at the area to be cleaned. Most bidets do not have seats, but you can sit directly on the rim. Some people prefer to use a bidet by hovering above the rim.

Turn the faucet on gradually, and adjust the water pressure. Be cautious when performing this step, because many bidets are capable of producing a very strong jet of water, and you might accidentally soak yourself. Some bidets require you to hold the control to keep the water jet on, similar to a drinking fountain.

Test the water temperature with your hand before aiming it directly at the area to be cleaned. To use a bidet, either allow the water spray to clean you or use your hands to wash yourself, as you would in the shower or bath. Soap may be used but is not always necessary.

When you are clean, turn off the water and pat yourself dry with toilet paper. Discard the toilet paper in the trash can or in the adjacent toilet. Never put toilet paper into the bidet, because it will clog the drain. There will often be a towel hanging near the bidet. This towel is intended for hand drying only.

Some newer bidets have built-in air dryers. These are usually controlled by an electronic panel. After washing, you press a button to activate the dryer, and a stream of air blows across your bottom. This feature is similar to hand dryers found in public restrooms.

Bidets are primarily used to wash the genitalia and anus, but they also can be used to clean any other part of the body, such as feet. Although they are similar to a toilet in appearance, bidets actually have more in common with sinks and bathtubs. Many people find bidets useful to bathe babies or young children, because bidets are small, easy to clean and use less water than a bath tub.

People who have physical disabilities or limited range of motion might find it very useful to use a bidet. Bidets are also very effective in relieving inflammation caused by hemorrhoids or diarrhea. Doctors might advice the use of a bidet, when available, for irrigating sensitive areas following surgery or giving birth.

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