How does a bidet work?

On our recent vacation to Victoria, BC, Mrs. R and I stayed at a pretty posh hotel. The bathroom, in addition to being big enough to play basketball in, had a bidet, and I realized that I have no idea whatsoever how to use it, bidets being pretty darned scarce in the USA. So could some kind Doper enlighten us:

  1. What is the purpose of a bidet? Washing off sweat, or post-potty cleanup?
  2. Does one sit, or hover?
  3. Does it spray your behind, or do you splash water up by hand?
  4. Is soap used?
  5. What about when the water gets dirty?
  6. What gaucheries should one not commit?

Those are great questions–I’ve wondered about that myself–and I hope someone has the answers. But I’ll bet you could look it up on the internet, too. In fact, I did just that and found a link to a site that’s very helpful.

Here ya go!

yelling out the window in an Australian accent

“It’s for washing your backside, right?”


Mick: “For a minute there, “room service” took on a whole new meaning!”

  1. What is the purpose of a bidet? Washing off sweat, or post-potty cleanup?

Post-potty cleanup, post-coital cleanup and also feet-baths. Take into account that bidets became popular at a location (time and place-wise) in which such things as a steady stream of warm water, never mind a bathtub full of hot water, were closer to a pipe dream than something people really had.

  1. Does one sit, or hover?

Depends, among other things on the bather’s configuration and on what part she’s washing. For footbaths you sit on a stool, the toilet… and wash one foot after the other.

  1. Does it spray your behind, or do you splash water up by hand?

The majority don’t spout high enough to hit everywhere that needs to be hit.

  1. Is soap used?

Yes. Footbaths with salts are also popular.

  1. What about when the water gets dirty?

What do you do when the water in a bathtub gets dirty?

  1. What gaucheries should one not commit?

Mistaking it for a low toilet bowl.

After doing No. 2 you seat on the bidet, open the faucet and position yourself so that the spray cleans off your nether regions.
Things to remember: check that everything flushed away properly. You may use a towel to dry up or alternatively toilet paper.

Next lesson, how to use the three seashells…

Here you go

Yay! I’ve waited for a fresh version of this thread for a while. I’ve never used a bidet and probably never will. I know what bidets are used for, in general, but when it comes to the particulars I am at sea! Since Nava’s post in this thread I’ve been surfing around and found a lot of redundant and sometimes contradictory information. To be truthful, it’s the same information I’ve found every time I’ve tried to figure out how people use bidets in the real world. The sites I’ve viewed, including an old SDSAB page, get coy and euphemistic when getting to the details.

Please consider these questions as addressed to both men and women. Some of the information that I’ve gathered seems to assume a female’s use of the fixture in discussion but since I’m male I’m interested in both gender’s habits. I’ll start with Nava’s responses to the OP’s questions just as a means to get to my unanswered questions. These follow-up questions are not directed specifically at Nava, by the way.

Do you wipe your anus before using the bidet? Do women wipe after urination and then use the bidet or does the bidet suffice?Would men use the bidet after urination?

OK. There seems to be a number of permutations to this question: Male/female; urination/defecation/post-coital; pants/skirts/dresses/nude. The combinations are probably not that many but what do people actually do? And more specifically, what do men with trousers do? Do you take your trousers off before using the facilities? If not, do you do the Penguin Shuffle from the toilet to the bidet? And more importantly, which way do you face!? It seems a proper crap-shoot to divine which way the water is going to come at you. Temperature questions to follow.

Crikey! When I was surfing about the web there’s pictures of streams from bidets that would rinse out my bath if they stood in place of my toilet. Then again, others show 8" bubbly fountains or omni-directional fountain heads? Is any kind more typical?

So you give your butt a mini-shower after dropping a deuce. I like it, honestly. My question here stems from the directions on the sites I looked at. More than a few mentioned how a bidet saves toilet paper. Most of them say, “After using the bidet pat dry with toilet paper.” That sounds like a bunch of TP but I am nescient and willing to be informed.

I pull the plug. There are plugs in bidets now?

How awful would it be for anyone to pee in a bidet, considering that the drain joins up a few feet later to the toilet?

While living in Italy and working at an army base, I noticed most American couples used them to hold flower arrangements, plants, or reading material.:slight_smile:

I have similar questions. I’d like an answer that assumes complete and utter lack of knowledge. I don’t know which way to face, where to sit, etc. What do you use to wash? Where do you keep the soap? Are there public bidets where bidets are common in households?

Hey JerseyFrank - did you or yours have any need for a bidet after skydiving?

How do you use it without soaking yourself?

Is the water warm or cold?

I can answer some of these.

I guess that would be a personal preference thing, but I wipe first. It’s the same thing I’d do if I had to wash my hands. Like if I got paint on my hands, I’d wipe the worst of the paint off with paper towels before sticking my hands under the faucet, right?

I never really thought about it though, wiping first seemed like the natural thing to do.

I’ve never used a bidet after urination, preferring instead the typical wang-shake.

Bathrooms with bidets are usually roomy, so I take my trousers off and hang them up before the loaf-pinching takes place. Ergo, no penguin shuffle. The way I face depends on the model of the bidet. The one I had in a hotel had a seat that was clearly designed to face the same way I’d face while sitting on the toilet.

I haven’t seen very many models. The one I used had a couple different settings. Nava’s post actually made me realize that the one was probably for a foot bath. I couldn’t figure it out. There was no plug of any kind that I remember, it was all a running water only kind of thing.

Anyway, the one we had had a default setting kind of like a water fountain, although IIRC you could adjust the stream. I used to get the temperature set to something that appealed to my nether regions, I’d stand straddling the bidet and lower myself into place. Then I’d dry off with toilet paper. IME, you have to pat dry rather than wipe after the bidet because the excess water would make the TP disintegrate and then you’d have to use the bidet again to hose the TP lint out of yer butt.

I didn’t use soap. Not accustomed to using a bidet, the thought never occurred to me. Applying soap would require getting my hands too close to soiled butt and there must be at least some barrier (i.e. TP or biohazard rated gloves) between bare hand and soiled butt at all times—that is a law. So I just sat there for awhile with the water gently rinsing my balloon-knot.

Also, I was in one hotel in South America where the “bidet” was just a hose next to the toilet. Could not figure out for the life of me how anyone could use it without soaking the place.

Nah, he means don’t take a dump in the bidet.

Wow. Back home now after posting last night I would have figured there would be some responses. Come on. Surely there are some Dopers who use bidets regularly who can shed some light on the matter. I am in genuine earnest here.

Thanks, SMC. My response there was a slow simulpost.

You know, some things should go without saying, yet on that page we find this under “Warnings”:


And to be honest, although I used the bidet in our hotel room in Spain, I may not have been using it the right way. I just sort of figured out what seemed logical. I had a few false starts, like sitting on it, then turning it on to have a freezing cold near-enema.

I don’t think I was doing it quite right. I seemed to get too much water everywhere, like I would end up soaking the boys and a lot of my thighs.

ETA: And using lots and lots of toilet paper to dry off. That can’t be right.

Count me in as another under the heading of “can recognize them and understand their use in a general way but not the specifics.”

I used to think that the anecdotes about people mistaking bidets for anything but their intended purpose was just a bunch of vile calumny heaped on Americans… until I caught up with a friend from grade school a few years back. This was a very smart woman–bilingual, owned her own home straight out of college, finished her undergrad in three years, was about to start her JD at a prestigious university after having applied at the last second. And yet, when she studied abroad and lived in a house with a bidet, she thought it was… for washing your face. Yes, this bright woman washed her face in bidet water for at least a week or two before anyone noticed and explained her mistake. :smack:

When I hear stories like this I want to call shenanigans. Bidets are low to the ground and are usually right beside the toilet. Furthermore, there is usually a proper wash basin at the proper counter height. The set up is usually like this. They look nothing like wash basins for one’s face unless you plan on kneeling on the floor like someone who’s about to puke.

Here is a website that includes a how to with pics (safe for work, but they may think you’re weird.). At the bottom you can see the guy posing so you can see the stream and the obvious resemblance to a toilet. This one has a plug, but I swear I don’t remember the one in our hotel having a plug and I do remember a fancier spray gizmo thing. ETA: but our did have a seat like that that actually looked like a proper seat.