Chances are, you were pretty confused when you encountered your first bidet, and for good reason! They are a restroom addition that never really became standard in the United States. They’re still popular around the world in other places, and can be found in random homes across the globe, including some U.S. based luxury real estate in Essex County, MA.
Many people enjoy the extra freshness, while others find it cold and invasive. Some people who visit other countries actually fall in love with the concept, and install bidets in their own homes when they return to their home country. However, it may just be a tool left unused in some households, or something you store extra toilet paper in instead of using as intended.
In case you’re wondering if you should install a bidet in your home, or if you’re just curious about the history behind them, here is a short history of bidets including where they’re from, and where they’re common now.
Bidets seem to have started coming into use in France around the 18-19th centuries. Beautiful bowls were set into chairs, and used for extra hygiene by upper class ladies and noblemen. Even Napoleon left a (rather expensive) bidet to his son, and some bidets owned by history’s most famous people are in museums across the globe.
Whether the bidet originated in Italy or France is hard to determine, but the concept is common enough around the globe anyway. Arabic-speaking countries have records of basins used for washing, and Japan has a whole industry of automated bidet machines and toilet additions. Most hotel bathrooms in Japan come outfitted with a bidet in the toilet itself, which surprises many guests.
While they were briefly popular in more modern homes in England and France, bidets have fallen out of fashion rather quickly, being replaced with toilet paper and wet wipes for ease of access. Even so, it’s still an idea worth looking into, especially if you’ve already experienced and enjoyed it.
Many elderly households prefer bidets over papers or wipes, mostly because it is easier to access and use, and makes them feel cleaner. Many nursing homes actually include toilet/bidet hybrids known as washlets, which spray water and follow up with warm air. This makes cleanup easier, and allows older people to care for themselves safely and without the embarrassing help of nurses.
Some bidets have gone from bowls to simple sprayers next to the toilet, while in other places they are installed as separate units away from the toilet. Bidets have spread far and wide, and while the design changes across continents, the basic idea remains the same. Bidets with heated water, drying systems, and settings are also available for a little more money, and are considered luxury items in many parts of the world.
If you’re thinking about installing a bidet, look into the different kinds, the potential costs, and the pros and cons of having one in your home. Some people will pay more for a house with a bidet, so adding one to a full bathroom remodel can increase a home’s value.