OK, we are all adults here, so what is a bidet for and how do I use it?

  • Confession time: I am from one of these barbaric countries where the use of the bidet is not widespread. So I have no idea...

    Question 1: What is the bidet good for?

    Question 2: How do I use it?

    bidet Image Source: wikipedia

    Apparently the bidet is a necessity of daily life in some countries and we have already had questions such as
    OK we are all adults here, so really, how on earth should I live without bidet?
    but to my surprise nobody has ever questioned as to how to use them.

    Assuming I'd be travelling to e.g. Italy and encounter such a bidet in my hotel bathroom,

    • What should I use it for?
    • What should I not use it for?
    • How should I use it?
    • How should I not use it?
    • Bonus question: What is the social aspect of bidet usage in countries where they are widespread? Is it implicitly assumed everybody uses this device on a weekly/daily/hourly basis? Should I dare not talk about it or is there no taboo around it? E.g. when I say "I just used the bidet." does that sound like "I just washed my hands" or is that akin to "I just took a dump", i.e. a rather awkward thing to mention as small talk?

    This is perfectly on-topic here on Travel SE as part of the bathroom usage 101 series (not in chronological order, omissions possible):

    1. OK we are all adults here, so really, how on earth should I live without bidet?
    2. OK we're all adults here, so really, how on earth should I use a squat toilet?
    3. OK we're all nerds here, so really, how on earth should I use a Japanese toilet?
    4. We're all adults here - how to use a squat toilet if you have trouble squatting?
    5. Are the hoses in toilets in Asia something I should know about?
    6. How to use toilet paper
    7. How do you use a traditional hot-air hand dryer so your hands are actually dry afterwards?

    You could assume for this question I have no physical disabilities that would e.g. cause me trouble squatting.

    All we need to complete the "OK we're adults" collection is a question about tampons and condoms.

    @JonathanReez Gotta love Travel. You learn so much. :P

    I have a bidet, and have had a bidet since before I got married and in 5 or 6 houses since. I'm married to an EU contintental and have been for about 20 years. First bidet was installed in the UK. After proving my credentials I hope I can provide guidance from 20 years of experience: I have no idea. Never used it.

    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about how to use household fittings, not about travel.

    The people who know how to use a bidet think it's obvious how they work. The people who don't know how to use a bidet think it's obvious that they're confusing.

    @DavidRicherby, the only time I encounter bidets is when I travel. Just like the only time I encounter passports is when I travel. This question is on-topic.

    Note that unlike the local style of toilets, you can safely ignore the bidet. It might or might not be useful but I am yet to see a tourist accommodation with a bidet but no basin/shower/bathtub.

    "What should I not use it for"? Speaking from personal experience, I can safely say that a bidet is *not* a urinal with hot and cold water.

    As Mick "Crocodile" Dundee once concluded: "it's for washing your backside in!" ;-)

    I've never understood this. If you had a greasy mess all over your *hands*, would you try to rinse it off with water, or wipe it off on a paper towel?

    @MasonWheeler soap is much more effective at removing grease than a paper towel.

    @phoog Yes, but do bidets spray soapy water?

    @MasonWheeler No, but neither does the sink that I use to wash my greasy hands. Still, somehow, soap works its way into the process, allowing the removal of the grease.

    @phoog Do you understand that this is meant to be an analogy?

    @MasonWheeler yes, I do. To make my point in more explicit terms, anyone who uses a bidet to wash any particular body parts can use soap on those parts and then rinse it off with the water from the bidet. It's a perfect analogy to hand washing in a sink, which also requires soap. In both cases, it's more effective at removing grease than is paper (though obviously in the absence of soap, paper may compare much more favorably to rinsing with water alone).

    @JonathanReez I hope someone asks it. I'd ask it myself, but I don't think I'd want either of those to be permenantly visible on my profile.

    If there is ever a toilets.SE site, travel.SE will lose many of its users.

    It's for washing your anus after defecating. You will find it in 99% of homes in Italy.

    Why does this remind me of the 3 sea shells from demolitionman? I confess I knew what it was for, never tried it, dont have one.. dont intend to either..

    @user2023861 _The people who know how to use a bidet think it's obvious how they work. The people who don't know how to use a bidet think it's obvious that they're confusing._ Very true. Also: The people who are used to use a bidet can't even think of doing without it, the people who don't use it can't see why one should use it.

    Make sure you know how to turn hot and cold water on bidet. Otherwise if there's any confusion on that, you'll have a memorable moment.

    You are assuming that kids can't read this SE. I dispute that, since there are no controls in place.

    @JonathanReez Hey!!! tampons can be confusing. condoms are pretty straight forward. but tampons don't always suit every individual. I retract my post if you can name every internal structure a tampon might effect.

  • JoErNanO

    JoErNanO Correct answer

    5 years ago

    Bidet Who Are You?

    The bidet is a sanitary installation which looks like a shallow toilet bowl with water taps. The purpose of the bidet is to clean up after you've done what you came to do in the toilet. The rationale here is that sometimes toilet paper isn't enough and you can't always shower after you went to the toilet. Enters: the bidet. I feel like I have to mention this: the bidet is not a toilet. You go to the toilet first and then you use a bidet.

    How Do You Work?

    The way a bidet works is fairly intuitive: you get tempered water and a piece of soap and you clean yourself. Like a targeted shower, if you will.

    Step 1: Sit

    There are two ways you can sit on a bidet:

    • Facing towards the water taps
    • With the water taps behind your back

    The way you sit depends on what you want to clean up, and also on the way you feel more comfortable. Below is a picture of a person straddling a bidet facing towards the taps:

    Bidet straddling Image courtesy of WikiHow, CC-by-SA

    You might need to remove your trousers to sit in this way.

    Step 2: Wash

    Having found your seating comfort you are now ready to turn on the water. You'll want to do this slowly so as to control the jet strength and the temperature. Once you are satisfied with both you start washing yourself using whichever cleaning product you require.

    When washing yourself you can either fill the bowl and splash water on your body or use the water stream directly. This will depend on personal preference. Some bidets have nozzles you can use to direct the water flow (top left). Others don't and sometimes provide holes from which flows a weak water jet (top right). Some have a vertical spray nozzle (bottom left) which is commonly used to clean the anal region. A more technological bidets can be integrated in the toilet bowl in the form of a water nozzle (bottom right). Below are pictures of these types of bidets:

    Bidet nozzle Bidet hole jets Bidet vertical spray Bidet integrated toilet bowl nozzle

    To avoid any surprises turn on the water slowly and cover the jet with your hand so as to get a warning before the water hits you.

    Step 3: Dry

    When you are done washing you can either use a towel or toilet paper to dry yourself.


    Here is a nice instructable video on how to use a bidet. You can also find a text-based guide here.

    What Else Can You Do?

    For completeness sake, note that you can also use bidets to soak and clean your feet. To do this you lower the toilet seat lid, sit on that, and put your feet in the bidet, provided the two are installed close together.

    We need a video of well-dressed Indian man showing how to use the bidet.

    Huh... and I always thought it was for washing the feet!

    All the cool kids sit facing the taps

    I seriously doubt the correctness of this answer. In the country where it was invented (France), the bidet was clearly intended for a daily wash and *not* to be used after you went to the toilet *per se*. It became less useful with the increased availability of water, shower fixtures and bathtubs and gradually disappeared. In countries where I am still seeing bidets (Italy, Spain), it's usually found in hotel rooms next to a regular shower or bathtub and *not* at every (public) toilet so again associated with daily hygiene, and not with cleaning after toilet use.

    Incidentally, this also means that, unlike local forms of toilets, you can safely ignore the bidet, you will always have a more familiar alternative available (i.e. a shower) to fulfill the same function.

    Good answer, but saying "Fair Use" does not make it so. bidet.org has a copyright notice on their site and does not seem to provide any license for the content. So using this image without permission, even with attribution, is a copyright violation. You should consider finding another image or getting permission from bidet.org.

    @Relaxed I assure you that in Italy this is the way it is used. And were I work we have one in every office toilet.

    @Relaxed As already said, in Italy it definitely is used as part of cleaning up after using the toilet, whatever the reason for using the toilet was. Public toilets don't usually have bidet, and your mileage may vary when you're in a hotel, but each and every house I've been in in Italy has a bidet that is used exactly for the reason specified in an answer, and I still have to meet an Italian who doesn't use it as said. As far as I can say from my limited experience, in Spain the situation is the same; I couldn't say anything about other regions.

    @Relaxed: having grown up in a country where every single house has a bidet in every bathroom, the answer is spot on. In particular, bidets are put besides the toilet, not (necessarily) beside the shower. The reason you don't see them in public bathrooms is twofold: they are an additional expense to install and, more importantly, they would require availability of towels (where in many places it is hard even to have toilet paper), that you wouldn't want to share.

    @RobinDaugherty "reproduction "for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research" is not an infringement of copyright." http://www.copyrightkids.org/copyrightbasics.html

    @Zack this is a for-profit site, those types of fair use do not apply. It's definitely safer to get permission or use a licensed image (like the one that was switched to). http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/185934/policy-on-uploading-copyright-protected-images-to-imgur

    @RobinDaugherty Why did you link to that? *""white knighting" for some third party wholly unrelated to you, isn't particularly helpful."* seems like exactly what you are doing here.

    Linking to a publicly available content on a publicly available machine qualifies as copyright violation? I have my doubts.

    I confirm that in Italy is used this way. We ALWAYS use the bidet after using the toilet: much quicker and practical than showering every time. I found that in Spain is not as widespread as in Italy, with many households laking one.

    The amount of bidet pictures makes it uncomfortable to keep procrastinating in front of my colleagues!

    I guessed the use, but thanks for the clarification. Though I think nowadays it loses its necessity a bit with modern toilets which have this integrated together with a fan for drying afterwards. Most famously the Japanese high tech toilets.

    @TobiaTesan Public availability does not imply copyright has somehow been waived. It is a depressingly widespread misconception that anything accessible on one website has somehow been donated to the Internet at large; it is perfectly possible to reserve all rights to a photo you've displayed publically. Just because something is technically unpreventable (due to the nature of computer networks) doesn't make it legally or morally defensible.

    @IMSoP I was specifically referring to *linking* to an URL, not reuploading - which I am beginning to suspect was what OP was talking about.

    @TobiaTesan, when you link a picture on one site of the SE network, the server actually makes a copy and posts it on `stack.imgur.com`.

    @JoErNanO «The purpose of the bidet is to clean up after you've done what you came to do in the toilet» Nowadays it is mainly so. However, keep in mind it was originally born to be used in the bedroom, *before and after* engaging in intimate activities. For obvious hygienic reasons. It can still be used for that purpose as well.

    @AndreaLazzarotto: Ah.

    @JoErNanO As someone living in Japan, this answer is very wrong. A Japanese toilet bidet is always built into the toilet seat (often called a Washlet (TM)). There are no cleaning products (just the water spray) which is available for either the front (females) or the rear and squirts just water (the temperature of which you can set). Some of the newer toilet seats you can set the oscillation / massage patterns of the water and some come with a dryer built in to the unit. There is also a sensor that detects if you are sitting down so as to not squirt water all over the toilet room.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM