Bidets are popular in many places around the globe, but for some reason Western countries have been extremely slow to catch on. Washing your butthole with water instead of wiping it with toilet paper is, in most cases, a better way to live your life.
(A bidet doesn’t have to be a dedicated bathroom fixture, by the way, but more on that in a minute.)
First, let’s consider the environmental factors: When you use a bidet, you use a lot less toilet paper. On balance, we would use far less energy, processing chemicals and even water if we all used bidets. (Water is needed in the manufacturing of toilet paper, and the amount of water used by the bidet is small in comparison.)
Second, health and comfort: If you have hemorrhoids, or any condition where wiping with toilet paper can cause irritation (such as bowel conditions causing you to spend a lot of time on the toilet), cleaning yourself with water can be more soothing and less irritating in the long run.
(There are a lot of hot takes out there about how if you’re not using a bidet you’re walking around with an insufficiently clean anus, but there’s no reason to believe that’s true. Toilet paper absolutely can wipe poop off your butt. If it didn’t, you’d have the adult version of diaper rash all the time, and you would notice.)
Some people love a bidet when they’re menstruating; with a little repositioning you can aim the stream toward your vagina, and some models have a “feminine wash” feature with a different angle and/or a gentler stream.
Whatever bidet you use, be gentle to your nether regions. It’s uncommon but definitely possible to scald yourself with a too-hot temperature setting or to irritate your sensitive tissues if the pressure is too high. It’s not that a bidet is always better for you, just that it can be.
You can start using a bidet today, if you want
While standalone bidets do exist, the simplest way to add a bidet to your life is to get one of the devices that attaches to your toilet.
Look behind your toilet, and you’ll notice that there’s a water line that supplies it with water. A bidet kit will hook into that line, providing you a separate little nozzle you can point at your butthole. Imagine the gentle arc of a water fountain, but coming from a nozzle located just under the back of the toilet seat.
I have a Tushy model like this one. It’s simple, and gets the job done. You just hook it up to the water line, and then attach it to the toilet with the same bolts that hold down your toilet seat. (I was worried that the water provided by my model would be too cold, as it’s not heated, but that hasn’t been a problem. Even in winter, it’s just cool, never frigid.) Any home improvement store will likely have a few models that work the same way.
Or you can go high-end: If you like the idea of Japan’s high-tech toilets, there are bidet seats like this one, offering multiple buttons and settings and including a heated seat and the ability to air-dry your butt after you wash it.
If you can’t install a bidet seat, or if you travel and are often away from your home toilet, try a bidet bottle or peri-bottle. (If you’ve given birth, you were probably handed one of these as you left the hospital. Same idea, but you can also get fancy ones with a more conveniently shaped nozzle.)
Will I really use less toilet paper?
Less, yes. But probably not none. Typically you’ll use the bidet to rinse, and then reach for the TP to pat dry. (Unless you have a bidet with an efficient air-drying feature, that is.) It’s also handy to keep toilet paper around for #1 and for guests who may not want to use your strange and wonderful contraption. But on balance, you’ll save on toilet paper, yes. Which is a plus in the event it ends up being in short supply again.