Using a bidet helps to maintain a high level of personal hygiene after using the toilet. Toilet paper can be an irritant and cause trauma especially for people who suffer from haemorrhoids, and is advised by health practitioners and doctors. Washing is more effective and more soothing than toilet paper.
The word bidet (pronounced: Bee Day) is french for pony, a reference to sitting astride as if on a saddle. It is a feature more common in European toilets. A bidet stands around 40cm high, about adult knee-height, and is connected to a hot and cold water supply and waste outlet in the same way as your bathroom sink. The most popular way to do this is with a single mixer tap and pop-up plug, although some bidet taps also have a variable fountain spray. The bowl area is longer than it is wide, but is fairly shallow, allowing you to crouch over it with your feet either side to wash and refresh yourself.
The standard bidet is mounted to the floor and is 15-15 ½ inch high (approximately 40 cm – knee high). The drain trap and supply lines can be brought in from the wall or the floor. A combination toilet/bidet is an excellent option where a higher seat is desired or needed.
A Very Brief History of the Bidet
The usage of bidet was recorded in earliest known written reference in 1710. originating from France, it was invented to cleanse the ‘private’ areas of the body in between (what was then) regularly scheduled baths – which is once a week. In 1750, the bidet à seringue appeared. It provided an upward spray through the use of a hand-pump fed by a reservoir.
Modern plumbing brought the bidet into the bathroom where it sits next to the toilet.
Popularity of the Bidet
The function of the bidet is understood in continental Europe and is considered to be as important in the bathroom as the toilet and the tub. Most Americans though have never seen a bidet. To some, this seems a bit strange, but the majority of Americans start their day in the shower, rather than visit the bathtub once a week. Thus the use of the bidet for personal hygiene has not yet taken on an important role in America. It is then quite a surprising fact that American plumbing manufacturers are among the top producers of bidets, and almost all of these are exported to other countries.
The Modern Bidet
Usually made from vitreous china, the modern bidet is styled to resemble the shape of the toilet and is a sit-down wash basin. The bidet is placed next to the toilet in the bathroom, an arrangement meant to encourage personal hygiene.
There are four basic types of bidets:
1. Over the Rim
Fitted with a standard faucet, the bowl is filled with water the same way you fill a sink. This is generally the cheapest and simplest type to install. Having a rimless bowl makes easy to clean.
2. Heated Rim (flushing rim)
Has Hot/Cold handles on top, but the water enters the bowl below the rim of the basin.
The more popular models are equipped with a spray, which provides a gentle shower. There are two type of sprays – Vertical, which has a fountain jet in the center of the bowl; and horizontal, which has special over the rim spout that delivers a horizontal stream of water.
These units must be installed using backflow prevention devices, as there is a possible risk of water becoming contaminated from back siphonage created by spray fittings. This should be installed by a plumbing contractor.
Some models combine the heated rim and a vertical spray option in one unit.
A bidet should be installed with a gap of at least 4 inches between the wall and the back of the bidet, providing room at the sides for legs and at the back for the knees.