Although the idea may seem new and strange – even a little embarrassing — the bidet has been an accepted method of personal hygiene in Europe for hundreds of years. Because bidets are just starting to catch on in Canada, you probably have a ton of questions about how these devices work and whether bidets are worth the expense.
We can help you choose the best toilet to fit your home and lifestyle. Obviously, these are the kind of questions you might not feel comfortable asking your next-door neighbour or your work colleagues, so we’ve provided the answers right here.
There are 2 basic types of bidets – 1) freestanding plumbing fixtures, generally positioned next to the toilet, or 2) “add a bidet” toilet seats (also known as “washlets”) that can be fitted onto any existing toilet. Both work similarly; jets or nozzles supply a stream of water to clean the anal or genital area of the body.
1. Efficient. A very effective method of personal cleansing, a bidet removes waste material rather than simply smearing it around.
2. Non-irritating. Bidets are much gentler on sensitive skin than even the softest toilet paper. This is especially welcome news for those who suffer from painful conditions like hemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome.
3. Convenient with mobility issues. Most people with mobility issues such as arthritis find using a bidet much simpler than the bending, twisting, and wiping motions involved with toilet paper usage. Installing a bidet is often recommended as part of a bathroom renovation for seniors.
4. Soothing. The gentle spray of a bidet tends to feel very soothing after childbirth or surgery.
5. Easier on your home plumbing. Avoiding the use of all those rolls of toilet paper will reduce stress and strain on your plumbing pipes and sewer system, cutting down the need for costly toilet repairs.
Washing yourself with water is actually more sanitary than using toilet paper, which can spread fecal bacteria. (Contrary to popular misconception, the bidet’s water supply is NOT toilet water, from either the bowl or the tank; it is completely clean and sanitary.) Surprised? Just think about it – what do you do when you want to get your hands really clean? Wipe them on a piece of tissue or wash them with water?
In addition, many upscale bidets feature automatically self-cleaning nozzles, making them even more sanitary. And whatever type of bidet you own, you should clean it regularly – just as you clean any other bathroom fixture.
While they do consume a small amount of water (less than half a litre per use – by comparison, even low-flow toilets swallow up approximately 6 litres for every flush!), bidets are more eco-friendly than toilet paper.
Toilet paper manufacture is far from green. It requires large quantities of multiple ingredients, including water (an incredible 140 litres of water go into the making a single roll of toilet paper), wood pulp (0.7 kilos per roll), adhesives, conditioners, lotions and artificial fragrances in some varieties, etc., etc. That’s not to mention the energy necessary to transport the finished product to your retailer and from there, to your home.
Bidet cost varies. Good, quality bidet seats that attach to your toilet usually cost around $500-1000 and are fairly simple to install.
Although you may see various bidet seats priced at a way lower fee, they probably won’t have a backflow preventer – which is against the Canadian plumbing code. Without a backflow preventer, you’re causing a cross-connection, which is when a potable (drinking) water system makes a connection with any source of pollution or contamination.
Of course, the more bells and whistles your “add a bidet” seat includes – features such as custom water temperature control, a warm air dryer, and even a built-in night light and MP3 player (!!!) — the pricier it will be.
Standalone bidet fixtures are more expensive, averaging around multiple thousand dollars. Because they are hooked up directly to your plumbing system, they require professional installation, usually as part of a bathroom renovation.
Veteran bidet users point out that the money you save on toilet paper means a bidet installation will fairly quickly pay for itself … and yes, they say, bidets are worth it!
Are you ready to try this new-old method of personal cleansing? Talk to the Out of This World Plumbing team about installing a washlet seat or a freestanding bidet in your Ottawa-area bathroom.