Understanding Bidets | Ask This Old House (2023)


In this video, Ask This Old House host Kevin O’Connor, meets with plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey to discuss the various benefits of installing a bidet in your bathroom.

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What are the benefits and plumbing requirements of installing a bidet? This Old House host Kevin O’Connor and plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey review the plumbing requirements for installing a bidet, as well as the multiple benefits of installing one.

History of Bidets
Invented by the French in the 1600s, bidets are widely accepted in Europe, Latin America, and Japan. But, they have become more popular everywhere else recently.

Plumbing Requirements for Installing a Bidet

To install a separate bidet in your bathroom, you will need:
• Two 3/8” shutoff valves (hot and cold)
• 1-1/4” drain stub-out (in the wall or floor)
• 1-1/4” P-Trap
• Backflow preventer (air gap or vacuum breaker)

One of the most challenging components of installing a bidet is figuring out the electrical logistics. This is one of the reasons standalone bidets are becoming less popular.

What Are the Benefits of Bidets?
There’s a reason why other countries are keen to keep bidets in their household bathrooms: personal hygiene. Bidets keep you cleaner and fresher by using an adjustable stream of water to clean with. Other benefits include:

• Less waste: Using less toilet paper with each use is a significant plus for the environment.
• Saves money: Buying less toilet paper will save you money over time.

Alternative Options to Standalone Bidets
If installing a standalone bidet in your bathroom isn’t something you’re ready to tackle, there are many other bidet options and features to consider.

Bidet seat
There’s a bidet out there to meet the needs and budget of every interested homeowner. Take this one for example:

Advanced Clean 100
• Auto Open/Close Seat and Lid, Remote Control, Heated Seat, Warm Air Dryer, and Auto Flush
• Dual Nozzles for front and posterior cleaning, Deodorizer, and a Night Light
• Cost: ​​Between $4,000-$5,000

Aquawash 1.0:
• No Electricity Needed
• Fits most Elongated Toilets, Self-cleaning dual nozzles for front and posterior cleaning, Low profile, and manual side lever control
• Cost: Around $150

Things to Keep in Mind Before Purchasing a Bidet
Electrical requirements
An electric bidet seat will require a power source, but all you'll need is a standard 110-120v, 15amp, 3-prong outlet, as you'll find throughout the rest of your home.

However, since the outlet is in a bathroom where it could get wet, plumbing codes will require a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlet that protects from shock if water penetrates the outlet. Chances are you don't have an existing outlet next to your toilet, so hire an electrician.

Toilet compatibility
You can easily add bidet seats to most standard toilets with an elongated bowl. If the shape of your toilet bowl is round, however, your options may be a bit limited. Measure carefully before purchasing to ensure proper fit or consider a toilet that already includes a bidet seat for guaranteed compatibility.

Who will be installing?
A traditional standalone bidet is a big job to tackle. We recommend a licensed plumber install bidet toilets to meet local plumbing codes and prevent future problems that can be costly. Bidet seats, however, can be installed relatively easily onto an existing toilet

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From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. Ask This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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Understanding Bidets | Ask This Old House


Richard I happen to know that you're a big fan of the bidet.

How would you know that? How would you know that it's something about our relationship? I just know these things? Well, I am I'm I'm, a big fan of their function.

Now, they're, not that popular united states.

They were developed in france, mostly parts of asia with good reason, because it was a way to properly, clean someone's undercarriage.

Now in the united states, they weren't that probably because they took up a lot more space, people weren't used to them, and you needed to have a proper drain and vent and hot and cold water to them.

And you say, they took up space that's.

Because if you had a bidet, you also had to have a toilet too right for all the solids, the flush.

And so you would be able to set the temperature just right come up through a wand right here.

You'd set the pressure underneath.

So it wouldn't shoot through the roof.

It would just sort of wash right here.

And all this all the liquid would go down here.


But the functions of this are really great.

You save on a lot of toilet paper, and you can really make sure there's proper hygiene now, they're able through miniaturization and progress, they're able to take these two functions and combine them together into one fixture.


So welcome to the uber toilet.

This is the whoa, say, hello.



So, wow, that's motion activation activated, all right.

And it has a couple of wands that'll stick out right here and that'll be able to spray upwards.

But this has got a heated seat.

Really it does it has a deodorizer right? It has a night light right here.

So you can find the bowl in the middle of the night, and it comes with a controller with all the settings on it all right, it'll, also, flush automatically and that's important.

Because this is a combo.

So it flushes as well as the hydraulics automatically and make it flush.

All right so it's all built in it needs electrical power to be plugged into the wall.

And this is all these functions in one.

So I guess it sounds cool.

It also sounds expensive like if it's doing all of those crazy.

Kevin, I could put you into this baby for about five thousand bucks, five thousand bucks.

You know, low monthly payments.

I don't think I'm worthy five thousand well.

So the same technology has existed for a while not in a one-piece.

It actually has been developed into a toilet seats that could go on to your own existing toilet.

So the hybrid model.

So here's, one, right here.

This toilet seat has almost every feature that that unit has.


It normally would have an automatic open here.

It has a remote right here.

And now, if you could just actually it doesn't want to come on unless someone's sitting down.

So you sit down, right there and there's a little hinge right there, oh, yeah, it no activation.

And now if we do this, this wand should come out so a little bit of water coming.

Okay, here it comes here.

Look at that.

Okay, so this has got also, uh, oscillation and pulsation.

You can change what the it's a lot of good stuff in it.

So the wand would actually move and pulses that's right, look at that.

And it also has a dryer.

So we'll try the dryer.

So in this case, you've taken a standard toilet and just added the sophisticated seed that's, right? The here's the dryer right here.

So you can just feel it that's warm air.


And the seat would be warm as well.

Oh, look at that.


And if I took my hand off, or if I should still just stop the sun, it should shut down as well.


So do I I presumably save money because you do.

Yeah, this is this is about sixteen hundred, seventeen hundred bucks.

Okay, still a little rich for my buck well, there's still options, though so here's one that doesn't have the dryer, uh and it's gonna be about half.

What that one is, I think about 700 bucks for this one, but also a retrofit right? So any of them are going to come they're going to have some connections that are consistent one's, a water connection.

Right here.

That'll intercede behind the toilet tank.

This is an electrical connection now you're going to need to have a ground fault circuit interrupted in the bathroom, which is unusual.

So that could be the one thing that makes this difficult, but otherwise it's, pretty straightforward they're, all going to have a controller and they're all going to have some adapter that's going to allow you to adapt any of the seats to any of the toilets in the marketplace.

So it starts by getting rid of this toilet seat, pretty easy because it's just a couple basic screws.

Right? Yeah? Once you get that side here.

So toilet seat comes away.

It just leaves us with the two connections there.

So this adapter is really ingenious because so many different toilets.

You might want to adapt onto.

So I've marked it.

So you you go through just right back in just snug it right back in, please make sure it's square to the back.

Okay? Right there see now on the seat itself, it has a keyway in the back that'll, allow us to slide this right on.

Okay, that's locked in this is the water connection.

You have to deal with.

So the one standard connection in the plumbing world is the size of this shank on the back of a toilet tank.


So you turn the water off first there's gonna be a little water in here, flush the toilet, and then you loosen this with a pair of pliers.

So now you can see this.

This thing comes with a washer.

And what you're going to do is actually intercede between that supply.

Look at that you see it it's, pretty straight forward.

So now this goes here, and you snug this all up.

So now water is allowed to come up through into the toilet tank.

So the toilet tank still functions, right? But it tees off some of it to go over into this reservoir where it can heat the water and use the bidet feature.

That's, an easy connection.

Right there.

I don't have a toilet anywhere near an outlet.

Am I pulling in an electrician.

And I mean what this is half the price of that.

But now I've got a wire my whole bag, there's still something to it.

There is one that I have probably for you.

You've already had three for me.

I don't know.

So this is the one that doesn't need any electricity, no batteries.

You just make your connection with the water and what you lose there is the dryer and you lose the heated water.


So use it in the summer heavens, what's that called this thing's, this thing's like a hundred and a half.

So you can give me a bidet for a hundred and a half.

I could so there's a lot of advantage a lot of choices.

And the other thing is once you own one of these it'll stay with you.

You can take it from building to building when you move it.

It becomes your permanent friend.

Okay, all right.

Good information.


Thank you.

Thanks for watching.

This whole house has got a video for just about every home improvement project.

So be sure to check out the others.

And if you like what you see click on the subscribe button, make sure that you get our newest videos, right? Writing your feed.


Do you wipe before or after using a bidet? ›

When you first use a bidet, clean off with toilet paper first before attempting the bidet spray. You don't need to use soap to use a bidet. Some people do use the bidet like a mini-shower after a bowel movement, sexual intercourse, or for freshening up, but it isn't a requirement.

How do people wipe after using a bidet? ›

Wiping after using a bidet is simple. Gently wipe or blot the wet areas to soak up the excess water. Remember that the area is already clean; one gentle wipe or dab should do the trick. We recommend using toilet paper, as most people already have it in their bathrooms, or a towel.

Does a bidet clean better than wiping? ›

Using a bidet instead of toilet paper provides a thorough cleansing that wiping alone cannot. Water is more sanitary than toilet paper because it gently cleans the area instead of just rubbing it with toilet paper.

Is there a downside to using a bidet? ›

Cleaning the anus after defecation using the bidets contributes to hand hygiene and local comfort, and it may be effective against constipation. However, excessive bidet use potentially causes anal pruritus and anal incontinence (AI).

Do you squat over a bidet? ›

Position yourself to use the bidet by straddling the bowl. It's acceptable to sit on the rim of the bowl, but many users will squat or “hover” over the bidet.

How do you wipe your bottom when you can't reach? ›

If mobility issues or pain prevent you from bending or reaching, there are products that can help. You can buy toilet paper aids with long handles that hold toilet paper on the end or tong-style products that grip the toilet paper between the prongs. Some even come in small carrying cases so you can use them on the go.

Where should bidet hit? ›

A freestanding bidet is next to the toilet and looks very similar, but it doesn't have a handle for flushing. It does have a faucet that you need to turn on so water flows out. Sit on the bidet with your legs over the sides and sit up straight so the water hits your bottom.

How long do you let a bidet run? ›

Once you find a setting that's comfortable for you, let the bidet spray somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute to get the job done. The control panels on an electric bidet might look more robust than your TV remote. Don't be afraid to experiment, but make sure you don't scald your butt with hot water.

Why are bidets not popular in the US? ›

In the United States, bidets recalled all kinds of feminine failings: women's sexuality, women's unwanted pregnancies, and women's biology. As such, they were shunned. Meanwhile, other countries continued to embrace the bidet. As it spread into northern Europe and southern Asia, the design morphed a bit.

Is bidet good for hemorrhoids? ›

Bidets help with hemorrhoids by keeping the anal area much cleaner than toilet paper ever could, and in a much gentler way. Many people already wipe too hard in an attempt to get clean. Unfortunately, this habit only increases itchiness and discomfort, especially if you have hemorrhoids.

Are hotel bidets sanitary? ›

Yes, bidets are sanitary. In fact, using a bidet is more sanitary than using a traditional toilet and toilet paper. Bidets use water to cleanse and wash away any leftover urine or fecal matter – no wiping required.

Can bidet cause hemorrhoids? ›

No, bidets cannot cause hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus or lower rectum and occur due to straining during bowel movements, pregnancy, aging, chronic constipation, or diarrhea.

How are you not wet after using a bidet? ›

If you press the 'Dry' button, provided there is one, the air dryer will dry the area. If you are using the traditional bidet, you can dry using toilet paper or a towel. In most public toilets with bidets, towels are provided on a ring next to it. However, using a paper towel is a more hygienic and safe option.

Can a bidet cause plumbing problems? ›

The toilet seat bidet nozzle mounted below the rim is dangerous because it could cause backflow into the home's drinking water. For example, if a toilet would clog and the waste water rise up in the bowl submerging the nozzle while the toilet is in the filing cycle, there could be an actual backflow occurrence.

Do you need to wash your hands after using a bidet? ›

You don't use your hand. The water stream is forceful enough to do it. If you want to soap up then you would use your hand. You wash hands after going to the bathroom whether you use TP or a bidet anyway.

How do you clean the toilet seat under a bidet? ›

Make use of your bidet's nozzle wash feature daily—it runs water over the nozzle to clean it. 2. For light dust and dirt, wipe the seat and crevices that you can reach without removing the bidet using a soft, slightly damp cloth. You can also use a mild cleanser, like the ammonia-free version of Windex or Simple Green.

Do you have to move around on a bidet? ›

If you're using a bidet toilet seat, you don't need to move to use the bidet when you're done; you're on it already. So get comfortable on that heated seat! Even though you're still on the toilet, your bidet wash will always be clean and hygienic.

How should a female sit in a bidet? ›

Position yourself onto the bidet by either sitting on the rim or squatting over it. (Unlike toilets, freestanding bidets do not have a seat you sit on.) Depending on which area you need cleaned, select the setting or mode that will get the job done. To clean after urinating, select our feminine wash setting.

Do bidets have a weight limit? ›

Most bidet seats are rated to support between 300-350 lbs, but several can support between 350-500 lbs, making them the ideal option.

Why don t toilets in Italy have seats? ›

Most Italian public toilets don't have a toilet seat.

This has to do with maintenance. Since public toilets are often less than spotless, people often climb with their shoes on top of them, not to sit on a potentially dirty seat.

Why do I still see poop after wiping? ›

Common causes of fecal incontinence include diarrhea, constipation, and muscle or nerve damage. The muscle or nerve damage may be associated with aging or with giving birth.

Is it OK to not wipe after pooping? ›

Failure to wipe correctly could leave you vulnerable to a urinary tract infection or aggravate any existing rectal issues, like hemorrhoids or anal fissures. That's why Health turned to a gynecologist, a medical doctor specializing in the female reproductive tract.

Should men wipe after they pee? ›

Cleaning your private parts after peeing can reduce your risk of infections and irritations, including: urinary tract infections (UTIs) jock itch.

Should bidet be hot or cold? ›

Warm water is one of the most highly sought-after features of bidet seats and bidet attachments. Warm water makes the clean and refreshing feeling of the bidet spray feel even more luxurious and if you haven't had the experience yet, you are missing out! Both electric and non-electric bidets devices offer warm water.

Does bidet affect water bill? ›

According to Coco bidet maker Biolife Technologies, a bidet uses an eighth of a gallon of water per wash. So it will raise your water bill a bit, but not much (compare that with a single toilet flush, which uses 4 gallons). You may also want to factor in the labor and grief you'll save from fewer clogged pipes.

Can you use bidet for enema? ›

Using a bidet as an enema is safe and effective and is one of the reasons we designed the Vortex Wash. Sometimes called the “Bio Bidet Enema Function,” the Vortex Wash is a specialized water stream that concentrates water into a stronger, jet-like spray.

Do you save on toilet paper with a bidet? ›

While there is an initial investment in the seat itself, over time it will save you hundreds of dollars in toilet paper while only minimally increasing your water use.It is also great for the environment – the average bidet seat user reduces their toilet paper usage by about 75%, from 23.6 rolls per person to 5 or 6 ...

What percentage of Americans own a bidet? ›

Bidet Usage in the United States (and COVID's Impact)

Despite this surge, bidet adoption remains relatively low. In a study on U.S. bidet use, Bespoke Surgical surveyed 3,600 American adults to gauge current public opinion on the fixtures. Overall, just over 12% of Americans currently have access to a bidet.

Which country uses bidets the most? ›

In Europe, the country that uses the bidet the most is Italy. There is even a law in Italy that says that every home has to have a bidet in it. There are a few other countries where they have become popular.

What percent of Americans have a bidet? ›

An estimated 12-percent of the U.S. population has regular access to a bidet. The bidet is more popular in the South than in any other area of the nation, with 12.7-percent of the population in the South regularly using a bidet.

Why do hemorrhoids make wiping messy? ›

Hemorrhoids may make it difficult to get completely clean because stool can catch on them.

What is the best thing to wipe with when you have hemorrhoids? ›

Use soothing wipes – cleaning your anal area after bowel movements is important, as left over fecal material is irritating to the skin. While moist toilet paper or a wash cloth will work, many people prefer the pre-packaged wipes (Preparation H medicated wipes or Cottonelle flushable wet wipes are examples).

Why does a bidet feel so good? ›

A small 2011 study of electronic bidets and healthy volunteers found that low-to-medium warm water pressure can help relieve pressure on the anus, just as well as a traditional warm sitz bath. Warm water may also promote blood circulation in the skin around the anus.

How do you prevent UTI with a bidet? ›

There's little evidence that bidets cause UTIs when used correctly. Using a handheld sprayer, spray from front to back to avoid introducing fecal matter near the urethra, just as you would wipe front to back. Bidet seats and attachment sprayers won't pose any issues.

Why don t Westerners use bidets? ›

Bidets haven't ever been widely embraced in American culture. A common origin story for this reluctance is that bidets were seen as lascivious because they were used in brothels as a form of emergency contraception.

Is it safe to sit on hotel toilet seat? ›

Pathogens are not transmitted via skin contact

Of course, if there is a lot of contamination, it is better to go somewhere else if possible. However, if everything appears visually clean, there is actually no danger from pathogens when sitting down on the toilet seat.

Can bidet cause colon problems? ›

Because of the importance of bathroom hygiene and proper cleaning of soiled areas after bowel movement, the demand for bidets has increased. However, inappropriate use of bidets can damage the colonic mucosa.

Why does my bidet hurt? ›

Several models come equipped with pressure and temperature settings that could cause serious damage. Over the years, a smattering of bidet-related injuries, from burns to rectal prolapse and anal fissures, have surfaced, often linked to overuse. Even pruritis ani can (re)appear when the anus is too frequently washed.

What shrinks hemorrhoids fast? ›

Here are five ways you can help to get rid of your hemorrhoids:
  • Increase your water intake. Constipation, or hard stool, is the most common cause of hemorrhoids. ...
  • Increase your fiber intake. ...
  • Improve your toilet habits. ...
  • Take sitz baths. ...
  • Increase your physical activity. ...
  • Nonsurgical procedures. ...
  • Surgical procedures.
Jul 18, 2022

Do you wipe first with a bidet? ›

When you first use a bidet, clean off with toilet paper first before attempting the bidet spray. You don't need to use soap to use a bidet. Some people do use the bidet like a mini-shower after a bowel movement, sexual intercourse, or for freshening up, but it isn't a requirement.

What is the downside of a bidet? ›

However, excessive bidet use potentially causes anal pruritus and anal incontinence (AI). Physicians are advised to instruct patients with anal pruritus to avoid excessive cleaning of the anus and those with AI to discontinue bidet use.

Can bidet cause interstitial cystitis? ›

Some medical professionals believe that the use of a bidet could be a risk factor for cystitis, as bacteria can be washed upwards towards the urethra. It is important to see a doctor if cystitis symptoms don't clear up, as there is a possibility of contracting a kidney infection in some cases.

Why is my water pressure low after installing bidet? ›

The foremost cause of bidet spray low water pressure is water leakage from the pipes. The easiest way to find whether water leakage is the root cause of the problem is to wrap toilet paper or a piece of cloth around the line where you suspect leakage and turn on bidet spray.

Do you wipe dry after using a bidet? ›

Pat dry with toilet paper

Since you're already clean from your bidet, you won't need much toilet paper to do so–just enough to remove any excess water. Use a gentle pat-dry motion instead of a wipe to avoid any irritation. That's all there is to it.

Do you use bidet before or after wiping reddit? ›

The bidet water is to clean you entirely, not make your butt wet to then wipe clean with TP. You should be spraying for anywhere between 10 to 30 seconds and moving around a bit to clean the entire area with just the water pressure. Then you can use the drying options I mentioned.

Does a bidet help with hemorrhoids? ›

Bidets help with hemorrhoids by keeping the anal area much cleaner than toilet paper ever could, and in a much gentler way. Many people already wipe too hard in an attempt to get clean. Unfortunately, this habit only increases itchiness and discomfort, especially if you have hemorrhoids.

Do people use towels after bidet? ›

If you are using the traditional bidet, you can dry using toilet paper or a towel. In most public toilets with bidets, towels are provided on a ring next to it. However, using a paper towel is a more hygienic and safe option.

How long should you rinse your bum with bidet? ›

Step 2: Wash Your Butt

Adjust the pressure from gentle butt spritz to power wash. Let the water do the work and wash your rear free of every schmear. Spray away for 30-60 seconds.

How do you use a bidet without making a mess? ›

Make sure the spray of the bidet water does not spill over the rim of the basin. Once you've adjusted the temperature and height of the water, you can sit on the toilet seat and allow the water stream to clean your backside or genitals as needed.

Why can't I get a clean wipe after pooping? ›

Common causes include: Chronic diarrhea Constipation Hemorrhoids Crohn's disease The skin of the anus can stick to the stool and make it difficult to clean the anorectal area after a bowel movement.

Why do I have to wipe so much after I poop? ›

Having to use a lot of toilet paper after pooping imay indicate some health conditions, including hemorrhoids or fecal incontinence. If you feel like you have to use half the roll of toilet paper after you have a bowel movement, chances are you may have an underlying health condition.

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