What Is a Bidet?

Learn more about the bathroom fixture.

Bidet handle lifted with water streaming from faucet into bidet bowl

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

A bidet is a bathroom fixture that often captures the heart of hygiene-minded bathroom users the first time they try it. For anyone who wants to stay clean and fresh on a regular basis without resorting to a shower or bath, nothing can replace a bidet.

What Is a Bidet?

A bidet is a low-to-the-ground wash basin near the toilet. It's used for cleaning private parts mostly after toilet use. The bidet has hot and cold water faucets that control a stream of fresh water that flows from below.

Some bidets clean only with the stream of water, while other bidets' basins are meant to be filled up and used by hand.

The word bidet is derived from a French word related to riding a pony. Similarly, a bidet is straddled by its user. Primarily, the bidet is meant to clean genitalia and all peripheral areas after toilet use.

A bidet offers great advantages to personal hygiene since users can clean themselves more thoroughly than with toilet paper alone. Bidets encourage regular washing, as users do not have to embark on a full-scale shower or bath to get clean. Also, bidets save water and reduce reliance on toilet paper.

Types of Bidets

Vertical Spray Bidet

A vertical spray bidet looks much like the lower half of a toilet. Instead of the toilet's large 3-inch opening that connects to a closet flange in the floor, the vertical spray bidet's drainage connects to a P-trap that extends horizontally from the wall.

As the most common type of bidet, the vertical spray bidet is the least expensive to purchase and to install.

Toilet Bidet System

A toilet bidet system is an evolved version of the vertical spray bidet. If you are a serious bidet user, this might be the bidet for you.

Bidet systems require an electrical hookup in order to power electronics that offer a wide range of features. At the touch of a button, the user can direct the water at various areas of their privates, create an enema spray, or dry with warm air. Since the toilet bidet system is also a true toilet, it can be used for all toilet functions.

Bidet Toilet Seat

Think of the bidet toilet seat as a compromise between a vertical spray bidet and a toilet bidet system. The bidet seat replaces the existing toilet seat. Water that normally fills the toilet tank is diverted to the bidet seat, and the seat is plugged into the nearest GFCI outlet.

The water heats electrically in a small tank, usually requiring three to four minutes to reach the correct temperature. At the touch of a button, the warm water is then directed to the privates. Some bidet toilet seats include a warm air dry function, too.

How to Use a Bidet

Use the Toilet First

First use the toilet before using the bidet, as the bidet is not meant for urination or defecation, nor can it process used toilet paper.

Straddle the Bidet

Straddle the bidet, with one leg on each side, and facing the bidet's controls.


If the lower half of your clothing does not permit you to straddle the bidet, you may have to remove some of the articles of clothing. Some bidets permit you to sit to the side rather than straddle it. With this type, it may not be necessary to remove any clothing.

Adjust the Bidet Controls

Carefully and slowly adjust the controls to create a water flow at a comfortable temperature. If the room is cold, begin with the hot water, then slowly introduce cold water to the mix until the water is a comfortable temperature. If the room is hot, you may wish to have cooler water.

Wash Yourself

Allow the water jet to wash your private parts. You may need to assist with your hand or a wash-cloth. Other types of bidets may require you to fill the basin, then manually splash water on the areas you want to wash.

Dry Yourself

Dry off. Some bidets have a nearby towel that you can use or you may wish to use a small wad of toilet paper. Some bidets may have a warm air-dryer function to replace the use of towels or toilet paper.

  • Allows you to clean privates more thoroughly than with toilet paper alone

  • Saves on toilet paper

  • Conserves water

  • Keeps underwear and clothes cleaner between washes

  • Helps the elderly and disabled clean themselves

  • Pregnant women may find bidets helpful

  • Uses more floor space in the bathroom since it is an extra fixture

  • Must be cleaned similar to a toilet

  • May spray or splash on the floor