Bidets are not a common household item in America, at least not an item openly discussed. It’s believed that a bidet is not an item we think we need or can afford. An article in This Caring Home suggests that until we use the bidet for ourselves, only then will we begin to realize what we’ve been missing. The article says that the benefits of using a bidet are good for everyone, especially elderly seniors. Aging tends to interfere with one’s ability to reach to clean after using the toilet. A bidet eliminates the struggle and offers a refreshing and easier way to achieve that goal.
What is a Bidet
A bidet is a device used to clean your bottom or perineal area using water that squirts upward from a spout. It’s commonly used after a bowel movement. An article in The Atlantic reports that the bidet originated in France during the 1600s. At that time, the French believed they needed an extra step for cleaning their bottoms after using what they called the chamber pot or, as we know it today, the commode. In the beginning, the bidet was made to look like the chamber pot or commode and placed next to the commode or at least in the same room. The difference between the two fixtures is the bidet cleaned waste from your bottom, whereas a commode got rid of the waste from your bottom.
Bidet comes from the French root word for “pony,” which means to straddle. Users of the bidet’s early days were mostly from the French royalty and middle to upper class. This was due in part because of the cost to own a bidet. Nevertheless, the bidet became an essential part of French culture. So much so that Marie Antoinette had a stylish bidet with red trimming placed in her prison cell before she was beheaded.
America’s Reluctance to Embrace the Use of Bidets
For centuries, the use of bidets became widespread throughout Europe and other countries. However, America did not seem to appreciate the invention. The reason for this reluctance to use a bidet may come from how Americans were introduced to the bidet during World War II. According to The Atlantic, American soldiers stationed in Europe associated the use of bidets with brothels or sex workers. Since this is where they first witness the use of a bidet, it’s believed they were too embarrassed or reluctant to suggest the idea of the use to America.
Nevertheless, the popularity of bidet use continued to spread in other countries. A simple change to the design by adding a “mini-shower” attachment to the toilet increased the bidet’s popularity. This modification became more widely used than the traditional side-by-side bidet and toilet combination. Also, it caught the eye of John Harvey Kellogg, an American physician and nutritionist best known for developing dry cereals and founder of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Dr. Kellogg liked the bidet with the mini shower so much that he designed a nozzle feature that worked similarly to the mini shower. He then added his nozzle bidet creation to the toilets of the Battle Creek Sanitarium for patient use. Unfortunately, the nozzle bidet did not become as much success as his dry cereal flakes.
Bring Bidet Cleansing to American
Dr. Kellogg wasn’t the only pioneer seeking to bring bidet cleansing to America. In an article on bidet.org, Arnold Cohen, founder of The American Bidet Company, also designed a device that worked with the toilet seat. He called it the sitz bath. Mr. Cohen created the sitz bath specifically for his father, who had a condition affecting his rectum. Studies conducted on Mr. Cohen’s sitz bath bidet concluded that it helped to heal conditions like hemorrhoids, certain rashes, and other issues in that area.
However, Mr. Cohen’s sitz bath bidet didn’t take off in America as he hoped, but it was a huge hit in Japan. The Japanese modified Mr. Cohen’s design and came up with their own version called the Toto. The Toto featured a “control-panel” driven bidet toilet that still did not catch the eyes of Americans.
Americans Wet Wipes vs. The Bidet
Japan’s obsession with their innovative Toto still did not persuade Americans to accept the use of bidets. Instead, America’s choice over the bidet became the wet wipes. Wet wipes were invented in the 1950s and became more popular in the early 2000s. They were convenient and less costly than a bidet. The problem with wet wipes was their impact on the environment. After every flush, wet wipes pile up to clog sewer systems and landfills. This problem prompted lawsuits and motivated environmental groups to blame wet wipes for polluting the oceans.
Bidets Are Finally Coming to America
Americans are still in love with their wet wipes. However, improvements to the material and problems wet wipes cause the environment is changing how wet wipes are used. Does this mean Americans are finally ready to give the bidet a try? Apparently so. According to an article in USA Today, bidet seats and bidet toilets are a $106 million industry in the US and are going upwards by as much as 15 percent by 2021. Hello Tushy, the company that sells tushy portable bidets, reports profits doubling in just three years from 2016 to 2019. Another internet store, BidetKing.com, reports a 30 percent steady increase in sales over that same time period. Based on this data, it seems America is finally hopping onto the new smart toilets.
The Benefits of Elderly Seniors Using A Bidet
Now that America seems to be gradually embracing the bidet, its use is beneficial for everyone, especially elderly seniors. Maintaining personal hygiene for older adults becomes more and more difficult. The aging process often brings with it illnesses that limit mobility. An older person living with arthritis may experience pain from simply holding toilet paper or wet wipes. Likewise, an older adult with Parkinson’s or essential hand tremors may have trouble holding the tissue or wipe steady for use. Therefore, cleaning thoroughly after using the toilet is not always achieved. Illnesses like these may even require help from a family member or caregiver, which is embarrassing and humiliating.
One way to ensure elderly seniors practice proper toilet hygiene is to use a bidet. The benefits of using a bidet are:
- Eliminates the embarrassment of having help to use the toilet from a family member or caregiver
- Ensures proper and complete cleaning of fecal matter and urine
- Help prevent urinary tract infections (UTI) and help with other skin irritants
- It eliminates the risk of falling from trying to bend or stretch
- Prevent chafing of sensitive skin from constant wiping
- Eliminates the risk of fecal matter transfer to other surfaces and objects
- Reduces toilet paper and wet wipe waste, which helps the environment
In addition to the benefits above, using a bidet will also save money by reducing the need to purchase toilet paper and wet wipes.
Types of Bidets
There are quite a few models of bidets to choose from. To help you select the bidet that’s right for you, toiletbidet.com recommends six types of bidets:
The Brondell GoSpa GS-70 travel bidet features include an angled nozzle with an airlock for spray consistency, a 13-ounce capacity squeezable bottle with a discreet and convenient carrying case. Fill this travel bidet with warm or cool water, and it’s ready. Placing your finger over the airlock at the bottom eliminates spills and prevents the water from leaking during use. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and affordable. Perfect for use when traveling, visiting relatives, or while dining out.
Toto HW300-W Portable Bidet Washlet offers Toto’s innovative technology in a convenient travel bidet. With it, you can enjoy the cleansing power of a bidet at your office, on the road when traveling, long stays with family, and while dining out. The Toto HW300-W Portable Bidet Washlet is a push-button luxury bidet with two comfortable spray settings; regular or soft. It’s easy to clean, compact for discreet carrying, and holds up to 6 ounces. Comes with a carrying case and 1-AA battery.
A handheld bidet is only similar to a portable bidet in that it is a handheld bidet device. The difference is it attaches to your toilet and manually sprays water to your perineal area to clean it. This Brondell CleanSpa Handheld Bidet features an ergonomically designed hand sprayer with two adjustment spray options; wide spray or stream spray. It is made from stainless steel metal components for long-lasting durability and is easy to install on all toilet types with a safety shut-off valve to prevent leakage. Also, it has a stylish, luxury appearance.
Bidet attachments are by far the most popular. These nifty units are easy to install and are very affordable. One of the very best featured here is the Luxe Bidet Neo 320. This innovative bidet attachment surpasses all your expectations. The Luxe Bidet Neo 320 features a self-cleaning dual nozzle with hot and cold water, non-electric selection options. A self-cleaning nozzle lowers from behind a guard gate to spray your selected water pressure and water temperature when in use. Afterward, the self-cleaning nozzle automatically returns to its original position. It’s easy to install and comes with everything needed for installation. Below is a quick installation video to show just how easy it is to install the Luxe Bidet.
Convenient, Easy To Use Bidet Seat
The convenient, easy-to-use bidet seat is another type of bidet widely used. There are several brands and models to choose from; however, this Kohler K-5724-0 Puretide Elongated Manual Bidet Toilet Seat is a true attention-getter. Features include a side handle with adjustable water spray and pressure control options, an automatic self-cleaning wand after every use, a quiet, slowly closing lid, and easy to release hinges to install and remove the seat for adequate cleaning, sleek, slim design, and a comfortable ergonomically designed seat for comfort. This bidet seat is a must-have for elderly seniors wanting comfort, affordability, and a refreshing clean. Check out this short video and decide for yourself!
Stand Alone Bidet Toilets
Stand-alone bidet toilets like this Toto Stand Alone Clayton Bidet with Vertical Sprayer can be rather costly. Adding one of these to your existing bath may require a complete remodel unless space is readily available next to your toilet or somewhere else in your bathroom. Toto’s model features the traditional classic design, making it easy to match other Clayton bathroom fixtures. It has a flushing rim, a vertical sprayer, and a built-in overflow drainage portal. In addition to the high price tag, stand-alone bidets take up space which may become an undesirable option for elderly seniors.
A Toilet With A Built-In Bidet
Toilets with a built-in bidet are by far the most expensive. Nevertheless, the functionalities are irresistible. For example, this Woodbridge Smart Bidet and Toilet Seat have everything to make you want to sit on it for hours. Features include:
- A posterior and feminine wash with pulsating action, adjustable water pressure, and built-in water filter
- Hands-free automatic flushes after you rise from the seat
- Touch button adjustable water pressure, seat, and dryer temperature control
- An automatic deodorizer that cleans after every flush
- Instant innovative water heating technology to warm the water and the seat
This Woodbridge Smart Bidet and Toilet combination take toileting to a whole new level. Check out this video giving you a complete vision of relaxed elegance!
Now that America has finally embraced the use of bidets, the users with the most to benefit are our elderly seniors. Not only does using a bidet help thoroughly clean an older person’s perineal area, but it also helps to protect against infections, skin irritations, and bacterial transfer contamination. For these reasons along, everyone should purchase a bidet for their bathrooms.